Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#NDPthree : Museums and the National Digtal Platform

Paula Gangopadhyay, IMLS - Moderator
Museums and libraries have their similarities and uniquensses. There are some different IMLS grants for museums. In 2017, that received nearly 900 grant applications.  Two priorities: professional development and digital projects. 70% of the grant recipients have been art museums. A high percentage of those (40%) are around digital asset management.  However, the vast majority of small and mid sized museums are behind the curve.  She noted three challenges including the absence of a skilled workforce. There is a need to collaborate across sectors. 

This panel was more free flowing.  The panelists were:
  • Greg Albers, J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Samantha Blickhan, Zooniverse and Adler Planetarium
  • Michael Edson, Museum for the United Nations 
Where have you seen the biggest ROI for museums services in the last three years?
Samantha - They are offering support to museums in building crowd sources projects.  The biggest ROI is the application of digital tools in unique ways, such as in accessibility.  Visualizing data in new and specific ways, e.g., dome-casts in planetariums. They want to get to a place of being software neutral.  In terms of Zooniverse, she talked about a project builder that allows more projects to be built.
Greg - What came to his mind was the word “open.” Open access.  Open data.  

Michael - A move from focusing in technology to focusing on social impact. How do you put tech to use for something that matters.

Samantha - How do you create tools that support the use of data/digital assets?

Michael - Need to use the word “platform” more broadly. He pointed to Zooniverse an their work to help people do work faster and at scale.  Good technology is rooted in good human interactions.

Greg - It is hard for museums, etc., to compete for staff with for profit companies.

Michael - People - perspective employees - need to see cultural heritage institutions  as places that is making a difference.

Michael - What are the super practical things that have changed? 

Greg -There is an understand of what makes up a digital museum, although smaller institutions cannot do it.

Samantha - One institution has a VP of user experience.

Michael - It used to be “illegal” to talk about Wikipedia in museums, but not talking about Wikipedia is normal.

Where do you see the biggest gaps, needs and challenges over the next 3-5 years?

Greg - The capacity is people.  He is interested in top to bottom digital literacy at the Getty.  People who are focused on the digital are throughout the institution. Because they are spread out,they are not good at talking to each other.  They share baseline skills and a language for talking about things. Literacy can include being aware of “X.” The digital share is a full day staff retreat.  All people focused on the digital come in the spring and must share.  (You can come, but you must share.)  All people need to have a shared understanding.
Samantha - Zooniverse worked to produce data and analysis after Hurricane Irma.  Great work that needed more publicity.

Greg - People are willing to share, but the institution needs time to do the sharing.

Greg - How does the Getty decide what to do? Now have a VP level digital content person, who has a team of digital architects, including metadata creation.  They are updating their governance model in recognition of the digital work they are doing,

Paula - Some of the work Getty is doing could be scaled down and be used by smaller institutions. Digital is not the responsibility of one person or one department.
Michael - Step 1 is that someone somewhere in the organization is focused on digital.  Step 2 is that a department somewhere  in the organization is focused on digital.   Step 3 is that the department in charge of the organization's digital presence/content has been more purposefully selected.  Step 4 is that there is someone in upper level management who is focused on the organization's digital content/life.

Samantha - The Department of Citizen Science is also where teen programs are housed.  This means that design and use are in the same department.

Greg - When a smaller institution can’t grow to build a department, it needs to look for cross fertilization.

Michael - Do what you do best and network the rest.  Are there members of your audience who are doing what you need to do?

What are the intellectual property issues?  
  • Greg - Look for low hanging fruit.  It is becoming more acceptable to put things online.  Take advantage of Fair Use.  
  • Samantha - Doors open when you start with the access that you have.  Show what happens - positives - when you provide access.
What are some of the opportunities and resources that museums should be leveraging?
  • Michael - Super serve your niche.  Focus on basic access and basic service.  How do our museums help us make good decisions about our future?
  • Samantha - Talk to your user base because they are the ones using your collections/projects. You have to give them the opportunity to share their ideas.
  • Greg - We need to connect with each.  Both in connecting with people and interoperability. 
How do you assess where your social impact is? 
  • Michael - Sometimes the last e where the social impact will be is baked into the project.  Where will meaningful change occur?  Most change happens in small local groups, not online.

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