Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Making Use of Ubiquity: CAM 2010

The mash-up above represents the feeling I had while attending C.A.M. “Museums and Technology” 2010. From the comments at talks I attended, smaller institution folks are not quite feeling the love. I think in the under-funded, under-staffed mass scramble to make sense, utilize, and wow their public, museum infrastructure and staff have gotten a bit overwhelmed.

There's a big paradigm shift going on. A major take-away for many was the idea that technology is a tool that the public brings to the museum and that the museum can use to engage with their public.

In ye olden days (like, 3 years ago), when I heard “museums and technology” it meant a computer-based interactive in a museum. Now we bring it with us– it’s so ubiquitous that it’s gotten confusing. Instead of pushing content, we’re pulling, sharing, dishing, and mashing it up.

As many of us know however, web 2.0, smartphones, etc. have given all of us the opportunity to:
  • Expand their audience in ways they never thought possible, including caring about an audience who may never walk through your door (think of a researcher in the UK who wants to access your collections data in Southern California)
  • Enhance the existing experience by designing to leverage the technology visitors have with them, or build new experiences that are more social or more open-ended
  • Get your museums’ information, expertise out there in ways that were not possible before (beyond the web site).
Developing or implementing a strategy of how to phase-in or start fresh to engage with this shift takes some thinking and prioritization-- but the payoffs are huge. In coming posts we’ll look at some of the good ideas the conference raised. 

It may be that the most effective thing to do is not to reinvent the wheel, but reinvent... or reinforce your thinking.

Wouldn't that be nice?

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