Tag Archives: MCN

On doing the hard stuff

I spent my last weekend before vacation at Princeton University, taking part in the Museum Computer Network’s Board of Directors Strategy Retreat. It was long, it was painful, it sucked at times, and it was great!

Both signs were apt.

Both signs were apt.

A problem that the Board had been grappling with for some time was that we were feeling a bit unfocused, yet too busy with our jobs to really tackle any of the endemic, intractable problems that any long-lived organization faces. It’s a classic work problem; busyness preventing the concentrated effort required to replace busyness with targeted action. Our regular board calls are always full of agenda items, and our twice yearly meetings are great at surfacing issues, but not at digging into them. So we made the decision to convene an extraordinary board retreat at a location as convenient as possible for as  many directors as possible and lock ourselves in a room until we’d come out with a revised vision for the organization, a list of programs we’d like to see MCN undertake in the next three years, and a series of roadmaps that would help us drive the three top priorities forward. A daunting list!

Here are some takeaways from the event.

Hard stuff can be fun
What I took away from the retreat was that it’s good to feel stretched. The exercise was a classic example of Seymour Papert’s idea of hard fun. While we were at it, we were operating near the limits of our ability. Managing to do the job created a particular type of hard fun that Nicole Lazzarro called fiero, “triumphing over adversity”. The joy of successfully taking on the hard work and making progress against it is intoxicating. Nietzsche defined happiness as “The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.”

Friday, 10:30 PM. Catching up.

Friday, Midnight. Catching up.

Facilitation matters

Carolyn Royston, the Treasurer of MCN and a stellar facilitator, agreed to take on the formal role of facilitator for the retreat, and it was central to our success to have someone who was only looking at the goals for the event, setting the agenda, keeping us honest, reminding us to be respectful of each other, and encouraging us to keep at it. Too often, I’ve been in meetings and groups where its not clear who’s taking care of the meeting. Carolyn also made it quite clear to us that she could not and would not participate in the event, even though she’s an integral part of the group, because she knew we’d need someone dedicated to the task at hand, not another voice trying to participate. That was a big sacrifice for her, because she’s passionate about the work we do and going it better.

Saturday, 7AM. The Executive Committee plots out the day.

Saturday, 7AM. The Executive Committee plots out the day.

The Executive Committee also took it’s role in shaping the conversation very seriously and was able to be a united front, even when things got messy. We all at various times were called on to jump in and lead a conversation, do a job that suddenly needed to be done, and help facilitate when the discussions got hot and heavy. Each morning we got up stupidly early, so we could go over what we wanted to do that day, and assign roles. Even that little bit of extra effort paid off handsomely. It would’ve been easy to lay the burden entirely on the shoulders of our facilitator, but having the job distributed among five people made it much more doable.

Having the right people in the room

We had previously surveyed a number of past presidents of the organization about our plans, and asked two of them to join us to provide their experience. The fact that they were willing to give up a weekend was impressive. They were able to provide the kind of institutional memory that is always bleeding out of volunteer-run organizations, and we needed it several times when we got lost in our own particular circumstances. Rob Lancefield in particular, a long-time MCN member, was great at having a long duration view and helping us contextualize what we doing. There was no other way we could have known the things they did, so bringing them along essential.

Saturday, 9AM. All brightened and bushy-tailed and ready to work.

Saturday, 9AM. Two ex-Presidents, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and ready to work.

Working smart, and small
With such a huge pile of work and a large group (15) it would’ve been unwieldy to try to do all our work in one large discussion. Carolyn did a great job of using the whole group to set agendas, surface issues, and then divided us up to work on pieces in parallel. We would then reconvene to comment on the work of the small groups and refine, argue, and add.

Saturday, Noon. Breaking down big problems into manageable pieces.

Saturday, Noon. Breaking down big problems into manageable pieces.

Working in small groups and then coming together to discuss really helps.

Working in small groups and then coming together to discuss really helps.

Acknowledging that it’s hard and sucks sometimes is important
One thing I’m surprised by is how many people equate hard with bad. Throughout the weekend, Carolyn reminded the group constantly about the difficulty of trying to do what we were doing. “Why wallow in it?” you might ask. I think it’s important to recognize the difficulty of what you’re doing, and communicate that. Especially when it feels like it’s not working out, having that validation that “This is hard, and its going to be harder, but you can do it.” can make the difference between people buckling down and giving up. It also makes getting it easier to acknowledge the accomplishment of getting through it.

Sunday afternoon. Hitting that point in Day 2 when the wheels feel like they're coming off.

Sunday afternoon. Hitting that point in Day 2 when the wheels feel like they’re coming off.

Sunday 2 PM. Pulling it together in the end. From chaos, order emerges.

Sunday 2 PM. Pulling it together in the end. From chaos, order emerges.

Taking the work seriously and taking yourself seriously aren’t the same thing

If you were wondering what fiero looks like in a professional context, I present Exhibit A. Stay tuned for details about what we’ve got in store. 2017 will be MCN’s 50th anniversary, and the Jubilee Year is going to be great!

Feeling giddy with excitement that we did it! This is my kind of Board of Directors.

Feeling giddy with excitement that we did it! This is my kind of Board.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital

Empty Seats CC-BY-SA 2.0 image by Flickr user Benson Kua

Empty Seats
CC-BY-SA 2.0 image by Flickr user Benson Kua

So I’m missing Museums and the Web, wondering about MuseumNext, and planning for MCN. So. Much. Conference.

Realizing that the window to submit proposals to MCN was fast drawing closed, I decided the time had come to dare an Ignite talk. One of the my personal highlights of the conference, these short presentations are no walk in the park. You’ve got five minutes, and 20 slides. The slides automatically advance every fifteen seconds, and there’s no do-over if you get lost. It’s work to pull off a good one. But a good one is great, and a great one is sublime! And having survived doing a Moth-style storytelling session at AAM last year, I figured it was high time to step up submit something.

But what to talk about? Ignite-style talks are great for pithy provocations more than lengthy discourse; short stories rather than novels. A tweet from Seb Chan had been stuck in my head for the past couple of days.

And since he was sad, and I was thinking of Ignite talks as short stories, the two ideas turned into a Raymond Carver story and I wrote down “What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital.” Unpacking that title is going to take some time, and it’s unclear where it’s going to end up, but that’s why I started blogging. I’m quite excited too!

The idea
What I told MCN I’d do is present a freewheeling meditation on how we frame the problem/challenge/opportunity of “digital”, and how those frames can limit us. I’ll poke at the tensions and conflicting definitions we use for “digital” and wander into the anthropological to posit that in these days of an Internet of Things (where there are more things talking teach other on the Internet than there are people) Alfred Kroeber’s idea of the Superorganic might be applicable to the digital realm.

I know I want to build off my CODE|WORDS essay on the virtues of promiscuity, in parts. That’s a whole ‘nother topic, which I’ll have to explore. It’s one of my favorite pieces of writing I’ve done in a long time, but it’s not quite there. That was one of the points of CODE|WORDS; to be faster, looser, and more discursive and less worried about polish. That said, it’s only about 80% of what I think it should be.

The meat of the piece will be to problematize the way we talk about “open” instead of “free”, “content” instead of “objects and ideas”, and “engagement” instead of “relationships between people”. There’ll be more as I explore the idea, but that’s what I’ve got for now. Hopefully, you’ll help me fill in the missing bits?

Highlights from MCN 2014

I’ve been meaning to write up a recap of my experience at MCN 2014 for some time, but am only now getting around to unearthing my notes and pictures.


I was one of the conference program co-chairs, along with Morgan Holzer from NYPL, and had spent the better part of 2014 getting ready for this party to start. And one of the biggest takeaways I had was that I find it harder to be in the moment when I’ve had a hand in setting up the program. Like the host at a party worrying if the guests are having a good time, I spent a lot of time shuttling back and forth between sessions, poking into workshops, and constantly taking the pulse of the conference to see if there was anything that needed doing. And it felt good to have care of the event in that way, but it was very different than just being there as an attendee. In many ways, this was the perfect bookend to my visit to MW 2012, when I didn’t go to any sessions and just sat in the lobby of the conference hotel for a day. So, what was the 30,000 foot view like?

Conference Highlights

If you want a quick promo for the conference, check out this snazzy highlight video.

For the Record…

MCN has been getting more and more into capturing and disseminating video of presentations and I actually find myself going back to them in ways I didn’t think I would a couple of years ago. The MCN YouTube channel is worth a visit. Papers rarely capture the performative aspects of a public reading, slide decks are usually woefully incomplete, and neither capture the dialogue that occurs. So I’m glad that the investment in video continues to grow and hope you find it useful to your work.

Ignite on-site

The first night Ignite talks have become one of the cornerstones of the MCN conference. They deliver a jolt of energy to the proceedings that is hard to beat. The format is a tough one, and the hardy souls who volunteer to do it are inspirations to us all. Normally, we’ve had to go off-site to find a venue that is set up with a stage, the right AV system, booze, and the ability to accommodate a couple hundred people. Luckily, this year we didn’t have to pile into buses and go to a bar.  One of the most unusual features of the Fairmont Dallas hotel as a conference venue was the Venetian Room. Think early 1970s glitz, and you’ve got it.

The Venetian Room, courtesy of Fairmont Hotels

The Venetian Room, courtesy of Fairmont Hotels

Robert Goulet was the first performer to grace the stage, Sonny and Cher played there, Ike and Tina Turner, etc. And it was right in the building!

The curtain on the Venetian Room stage. Swanky!

The curtain on the Venetian Room stage. Swanky!

So swanky, I bought a tux to go with it.

So swanky, I bought a tux to go with it.

Two presentations really stood out for me. Max Anderson, the director of the Dallas Museum of Art (you should follow him on Twitter if you don’t already) delivered a no-holds-barred talk on how art museum directors think. It was full of insight into the issues directors are faced with, and especially cutting in regard to how they view digital technologies and staff who want to innovate. If you’ve wondered “What does my director really think about?” check it out.

Greb Albers from the Getty had the unenviable job of batting cleanup (going last for you non-baseball fans) and not only gave a great performance, but gave the conference it’s first (and most inspirational) meme. For the rest of the conference, I heard people exhorting each other to “be tugboats”. Watch the talk, you’ll get it.

The Keynote

 Lance Weiler, filmaker, writer, teacher, and incredibly promiscuous collaborator gave a great, provoking keynote on storytelling and technology, drawn almost entirely from his own impressive body of work. If you haven’t seen works like Bear 71, you really should. Incredible stuff. The whole talk is worth a watch.

One of the most interesting parts of his talk was the “Five Times Why” exercise he made all 400 people do. Everyone was given cards, pencils and told to find a partner they didn’t know. They would then ask them the question “Why are you here?” five times, record each answer and then write a summary of why that person had come. Then they’d switch roles. It was a great ice breaker! As an unintended bonus, we collected all the cards and spent part of the last day coding the responses. Some very interesting insights will help us with next year’s conference.

The Layer of Chaos and the joy of HOMAGO

One of the things I like most about museum technology events is that they tend to be HOMAGO kinds of affairs.If you’re not familiar with the term, HOMAGO stands for Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, and is an experiential learning theory expounded by Mimi Ito, and popular in digital media and learning circles. It’s social, peer-oriented, and interest-driven. HOMAGO is generally used in youth experience contexts to describe the ways they make sense out of the constantly evolving sea of new ways to be and create that digital media present. I think that same spirit underlies both the formal *and* informal making opportunities that MCN provides to attendees. Our demographic may be a bit older, but the phenomenon feels the same to me.

The energy in the workshops was great to see. People learned to use microontrollers and sensors and actually make physical stuff.

The Arduino workshop

The Arduino workshop

The conference workshops certainly had that spirit, but the Layer of Chaos, MCN’s three year-old collaboration with New Mexico Highlands University and the Parachute Factory makerspace, really embodies that spirit and runs with it. Part artist residency, part drop-in program, part adult fun night, the Layer of Chaos has it all. Great peer-to-peer opportunities to engage with new technologies, lots of alcohol-aided socializing, and can-do experimentation that is a great creative lubricant. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for Minneapolis this November. This year’s theme, the MuseTech Shipwreck, was partly my fault, so I got the task of welcoming attendees to the opening of the Layer of Chaos. There were interactive light and sound installations, an visitor-operated barrel of rum (you had to hit a target with retrofitted light guns fr old consoles) and a dancing skeleton made from a pico projector, ultrasonic humidifier and a bunch of drinking straws.

The High and the Low Tech

William Gibson wrote that “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” And that was in evidence at MCN. There were the obligatory high tech devices, like the Beam telepresence robot I got to test drive around the Exhibit Hall. But there were also great examples of low tech solutions. Google Cardboard, their “turn your Android phone into a 1970s Viewmaster” was a surprisingly successful product. Even with an iPhone, I was able to enjoy most of the experience, and get a sense of the kinds of things we can expect to see from the Google Cultural Institute Lab in Paris.

Look, ma! I'm a robot!

Look, ma! I’m a robot!

Google cardboard. The advance mechanism (only works w Android phones) is just a washer and a magnet.  Genius!

Google cardboard. The advance mechanism (only works w Android phones) is just a washer and a magnet. Genius!

It’s the future in here!

The MCN 2014 Scholars. What an inspiring group!

The MCN 2014 Scholars. What an inspiring group!

 Most random moment

I was in the Exhibit Hall and turned around to see Leo, Douglas, Loic, and Don talking. Nothing unusual there, except Don was actually in France, not Dallas, and was using a telepresence robot to hang out with us. That kinda stuff happens at MCN. You should come this year. It’ll be a blast!

3 folks in Dallas, one in France

3 folks in Dallas, one in France

Unpacking MW2014 – Part One

by Ed Rodley

March has been a busy month at work, and when that hasn’t been occupying my attention, CODE | WORDS has. Think lots and lots of phone calls, Google Hangouts, and collaborative editing of documents. It was therefore a wonderful break to escape to Baltimore for a few days for the Museum Computer Network board meeting and Museums and the Web 2014. 

Museums and the Web 2014 has ended, and I am so glad I was able to attend! The sessions were excellent, the conversation lively, and I came away feeling energized and excited about what the coming year holds for us. There was so much going on that my attempt to unpack it in a nice, brief post failed before it even left outline form in my notebook. So, I’m going to have to spread it out based on the themes that emerged for me.


After you’ve been in the business awhile, one of the reasons to go to conferences is to see who’s moved in, who’s moved up and who’s moved along. And there was plenty of two of the three. Which is both encouraging and discouraging.

Given the price tag of conferences these days, it is always a pleasure to see younger colleagues, and particularly students coming and participating. I had some great conversations and inevitably, a lot of “What should I do?” talks with people. Some of the things I found myself saying over and over again included the following observations.

  • I think Museum Studies certificate/degrees continue to become less of a differentiating variable, and more of a box to tick. The resumes I see will almost all have some kind of museum studies credential on them, so if you’re looking to stand out from a crowded field, that will only save you from the initial cull. All of the resumes I’ve seen in the past few months that really caught my attention had something else in them; a concentration in media studies, design courses, education, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I think Museum Studies credentials have merit, but I don’t think they’re enough to get you into the field. And if you’re just embarking on your career, getting in is all that matters, right? I’m also not suggesting getting even more degrees. Just look at your courses, and your peers’ courses and find that thing that’s  going to make you stand out.
  • It’s nobody’s job to get you unstuck other than you. Can’t break into the sector? Can’t move on? Difficult boss? Visionless administration? Chronic understaffing/budgeting/resources? Whatever the problem, in the end, it comes down to you. Seeking outside advice and counsel is a great tool to helping you get clear about your goals, but it’s no substitute.
  • Stop thinking about where you want to work, and think about who you want to work with instead.  Given the peculiarly public-facing nature of digital projects and products and the small size of the community, it’s relatively easy to look at interesting, innovative work and figure out who made it. They also move around, so if you focus on the museum instead of the person, you run the risk of applying somewhere where someone innovative used to work. Do your homework. Find examples of work that speak to you, figure out who made it, and find out where they are. Go to the conferences. I know they’re expensive, but most of them offer scholarships and/or volunteer discounts. Find them and ask them about their work. Very few people I know hate to be asked about the work they’ve done. It’s a great conversation starter.

It was a lovely pre-conference gift to hear in January that Nancy Proctor had been appointed Deputy Director for Digital Experience at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Nancy has been a friend and colleague for many years and it was heartening to see another colleague who combines a passion for museums with a deep understanding of digital technologies climb into the senior management ranks. I look forward to seeing what she’ll do in the coming years. There’s a lot to look forward to. The number of C-level positions like Nancy’s being created seems to be going up every year. And the pool of candidates is full of some of the brightest, most committed, thoroughgoing professionals you could ask for.

…and Goings

I only worry that the growth rate of CDO-type positions won’t match the rate of colleagues leaving the field. Some flux is inevitable in a workforce, but this year has been particularly turbulent, and mostly flowing out of the field and not so much in. A couple has turned into more than a handful very rapidly.  I joked with someone that in a few year’s time, I’d find myself sitting alone at the bar at MCN or MW if things don’t change. It wasn’t a very pleasant picture. And I don’t know what to do, other than hope at this point.

That’s a bit of a downer, I realize, but one of the wonderful things about conferences is that they crystallize things. You start to see big pictures arise out of lots of little things. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes not. But I’d always rather have specific fears than vague ones. The next post will be peppier and look at all the energy around grass-roots museum advocacy. There’ll be invasions, clubs, and drinking!

MCN 2012 – Directors’ Roundtable

  1. This is going to be a long post on love. If you’re feeling a bit jaded, or just not in the mood, you may want to come back another time when you’re more open. You have been warned…

  2. The thing I love about conferences is the way they surface themes and trends that may lie bubbling in the minds of colleagues all over the world. Put a critical mass of people in an anonymous hotel and suddenly; magic happens! For those of us interested in museums and digital technologies, we are doubly blessed, because of this weird dynamic where we have two intensely dynamic, fruitful international conferences that happen six months apart; Museums and the Web (MW) in the Spring, and the Museum Computer Network (MCN) conference in the Fall. Ideas that arise in one venue often get expressed in the other in a kind of virtuous circle of innovation that I’m not sure would work if there were only one conference or the other and there was a year-long gestation cycle.

  3. Months ago, a group of us had a long talk about strategy and leadership over Twitter and then a shared Google doc which bore some wonderful fruit. The two main strands of that discussion involved broadening the voices in our discussions of how digital technologies can advance our practice, and figuring out ways to provide professional development around digital technologies, so more people are able to participate. At the Museums and the Web conference, which I only sort kinda went to, a lot of these ideas reappeared and got processed. This was timely beyond belief, because the MCN Board of Directors was starting to consider major new initiatives like MCNPro, as well as more low-hanging fruit, like “should we suck up the not-inconsiderable expense of videotaping all the sessions, and livestreaming select ones to maximize their impact?” I love that feeling of flow, when everything seems to build on everything else and new understandings rise up. I also love the way MCN commits to translating that into action, and follows through.

  4. The professional development part seemed to be well in hand, so I decided to focus on bringing new voices to the table. If you’ve ever been to one of these conferences, you quickly find out that there are two major tribes of people who don’t attend: curators and senior managers. And common conversational tropes are, “I’d love to try ____, but our curator would never go for it.”, and “if only my director would ____, we could ____”  What would a group of directors have to say about our pet issues? What kinds of questions would an audience at MCN want to ask? So I started sending out emails.

  5. And you know what? Nobody said “Get lost! I’m busy.” Janet Carding had never been to MCN and thought it would be good to see what it was about, and agreed to come with only the vaguest assurance from me that there’d be some useful role she could play. Eric had been once and thought the idea was important enough that he invited Dan Spock, who said yes immediately, and *then* asked for details. Brian Ferriso agreed, even though he had just about enough free time to drive up from Portland, attend the session and drive back. Even the people who declined, declined for solid reasons, Stephanie Stebich, who was flying to New York for a dinner event, even offered to Skype in if we needed her. Thus was the Directors Roundtable put together. It was my first inkling that the tribe of unconcerned, aloof “Directors” might be more of a mental construct we create to disenfranchise ourselves than a reality. By the time our session ended, that idea had been pretty well destroyed.

  6. I don’t know about you, but I am *not* one of those people who can participate in an event and live-tweet it, or even take decent notes. As the moderator, I was focused so much on the time, the mood of the speakers and the room, whether anybody sneaking out due to boredom, etc… that I didn’t have a chance to really process everything that came up. I can’t wait for the video to get posted so I can relive it. I’ll post a transcript too, because I think there are are cite-able pieces of wisdom in there. For now, though, here are some of the moments that stuck out for me.

  7. Everybody reports to somebody

    I’ve known this intellectually for years, but hearing museum directors talk about how they have to manage up just like the rest of us was instructive.

  8. It’s not just somebody else’s job to understand your museum’s finances

    Money and the lack thereof is such a sore spot. The panel was pretty clear, though, that nobody has unrestricted income sitting around any more. The notion that directors hoard piles of money that they don’t bestow on new initiatives was roundly dismissed. The money that does exist is usually restricted in some way, so everything boils down to making the case for why something has strategic value to the museum. If you can’t make that case, chances are good that it’ll never happen. And who’s job is that? Anybody who wants to get something done. Coalition-building, horizontal management, and just getting together to discuss how to do things better came up repeatedly. And none of these things require a huge budget and much, if any, managerial buy-in.

  9. PDXCollections
    “Technology is part of what we do; it’s not an add-on.” RE: Science/Tech museums . . . how to make this true of ALL museums? #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:27
  10. PDXCollections
    Great question, @shineslike re: strategic thinking vs. good ideas and how to teach not-yet-senior-staff how to translate/learn #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:30
  11. richbs
    Using technology to increase access to collections will help protect tax-exempt status #mcn2012dir #mcn2012

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:29
  12. sluggernova
    Yes! Janet Carding: staff reluctant to bring new ideas thinking they wouldn’t happen. Started workshops to change culture. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:34
  13. It’s not just somebody else’s job to understand your museum’s mission

    One of the most unexpected moments of the session was delivered by Eric Siegel, who said that one of his most intractable problems was getting his staff to actually communicate up. People come to him and say, “I’ve got a great idea!” to which he would respond, “Great! Write it up and send it to me!” and that will all too often be the end of the story. Anything less than an unqualified “Let’s do it!” from him would seem to be received as a “No.” And to drive home his point that this is a common problem he offered up his services to anyone in the audience who had a great idea they needed or wanted feedback on how to turn into something actionable. He gave out his email address and promised to respond with comments in short order. And he bet the audience that his inbox would not overflow. And Dan Spock joined the offer. Two museum directors at your beck and call to give you personalized feedback. What an offer! And the silence that followed it was deep and complete. You could almost hear the crickets chirping. It was exactly the kind of dialogue that couldn’t happen inside our community of practice. I love being challenged like that! I’ll have to ask Eric if he’s gotten many responses. And, yes, I’m working on my idea to send him. And, no, I haven’t sent it to him yet. Go figure…

  14. PDXCollections
    Eric Siegel reiterates the importance of integrating/incorporating more people into strategic thinking at high levels. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:28
  15. sluggernova
    Yes! Brian Ferrizo @PDXArtMuseum: Managing up. Try to put yourself in your bosses shoes. #MCN2012 #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:30
  16. PDXCollections
    “What are the practical steps that we can do so that the ideas that you think are important can gain traction?” Eric Siegel #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:28
  17. sluggernova
    Eric: working on coaching people thru steps to success. Need to work on communication & involving others #MCN2012 #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:30
  18. PDXCollections
    We have a social contract that constantly needs to be renewed. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:28
  19. sluggernova
    .@shineslike: How can staff learn language of sr. mgmt to communicate more effectively re: new ideas? #MCN2012 #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:30
  20. PDXCollections
    “There are things you can make irresistible if you have allies.” Daniel Spock #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:31
  21. PDXCollections
    BEST QUESTION: What is the ratio of people coming to you with problems : people coming to you with great ideas? Which is worse? #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:33
  22. caw_
    Lateral learning, invite staff to teach you (before you complain that you don’t know) Likewise, be open to teach @janetcarding #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:32
  23. PDXCollections
    “Learn how to communicate the core of your idea. [In two pages with pictures.]” Eric Siegel #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:31
  24. richbs
    Teams are human dynamic chemistry sets #MCN2012dir #mcn2012

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:34
  25. Leadership is about creating disruption, management is about avoiding disruption

    Janet talked at length about the joys of working at a large, encyclopedic museum where you can’t even assume that people have ever met, let alone worked together. I was struck by a remark she made about expecting something to be transformative being unrealistic unless it was intentionally transformative. Doing something new and expecting things to change is not how things change. And that’s where leadership comes in. Good leaders disrupt the status quo, and work to create a new normal. Janet’s example involved launching ROM’s latest website and how it is being built to democratize staff access. Everyone will be able to blog or tweet, without moderation or asking someone in IT to post something for them. The product is the same – a new website. But the kind of product ROM is making is much more likely to be a model for the field, because it was designed to be disruptive.

  26. PDXCollections
    “Museums have a built-in public face. Let’s use it correctly.” Janet Carding #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:33
  27. sluggernova
    .@PDXArtMuseum Director Brian Ferriso: “I think NOT having technology is disruptive” #MCN2012 #MCN2012dir #MCNbuzz

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:29
  28. PDXCollections
    “I assumed that any big project would be transformational, but learned that projects have to be intentionally transformational.” #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:35
  29. PDXCollections
    “I don’t care what the technology is. It doesn’t work if you don’t have the right people.” Again, well said, Brian Ferriso. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:29
  30. rondlg
    Giving people the open access and the ability to reuse data/information freely helps to make museums relevant. #mcn2012 #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:31
  31. And as a delicious little bon bon after that, Janet said she obviously couldn’t expect her staff to blog if she didn’t, so she guessed she was going to have to learn. That’s what leadership looks like. The whole panel demonstrated that same quality at one point or another. To say it was inspiring doesn’t do it justice. I learned a ton just from being in the room.
  32. PDXCollections
    Listening to @JanetCarding talk is like hearing lightbulbs pop all over the place. Totally inspirational. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:35
  33. sluggernova
    Leadership: @janetcarding joined twitter to model behavior for staff & move things fwd. Soon she’ll start a blog #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:36
  34. shineslike
    Cannot wait for @janetcarding to start blogging! Great to hear directors talk about modelling behaviour. #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:35
  35. cb_sexton
    @janetcarding You are inspiring me! Great leadership advice. Thnx #mcn2012dir #mcn2012

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:33
  36. innova2
    @janetcarding you’re an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your fresh ideas #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:36
  37. caw_
    Impt to see directors leading by example : twitter, blogs, etc @janetcarding #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:36
  38. Tribes are useful, to a point

    The “us vs them” mentality is a natural one, and conferences, even ones as diverse as MCN tend to be tribal.  Sometimes, it’s wonderful, like when a newcomer realizes that they’ve found their tribe and that there are others out sharing their passions and concerns. Lots of hugging happens at the beginnings of these conferences, which I’ve never seen at AAM.
    That said, tribalism is a way to downplay one’s own ability to affect change. Which was part of the reason to have this discussion in the first place.

  39. PDXCollections
    “We need to be GREAT listeners. Much better than we are.” #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:27
  40. richbs
    Avoid “them and us” conversations. Different points of view are a strength #mcn2012 #MCN2012dir #MCNbuzz

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:37
  41. sluggernova
    Hear, hear! @janetcarding recommends no more “us and them” – embrace variety of perspectives & see it as a strength. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:37
  42. PDXCollections
    “See the diversity of perspectives that you have in your organizations as a strength and not a weakness.” @JanetCarding’s advice #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:37
  43. caw_
    This session a great solution to that RT @richbs: Avoid “them and us” conversations. Different points of view are a strength #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:37
  44. (As usual) It’s not about the technology

  45. sluggernova
    .@erodley at Director’s Roundtable “I’d like everyone to notice how little we’ve talked about technology.” #MCN2012 #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:32
  46. PDXCollections
    “It’s not so much about technology. It’s about doing good work.” Eric Siegel #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:36
  47. rondlg
    Technology isn’t a bauble any more it’s a given. #mcn2012 #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:37
  48. weatherlore
    @danspock: Museums are better at generating curiosity than answering questions. #mcn2012 #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:33
  49. rondlg
    #mcn2012dir People live their live anecdotally, the world behaves statistically. How do you link them? With stories. #mcn2012

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:30
  50. PDXCollections
    “There is a difference between a thesis and a story.” Daniel Spock #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:29
  51. PDXCollections
    “We have a desperate need for safe, rich environments that have the potential to make your kids’ lives better.” Eric Siegel #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:33
  52. rondlg
    No idea is too ridiculous: An Experiment in Creative Practice. #mcn2012 #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:34
  53. And of course, the quotable moments…

  54. shineslike
    Love that @danspock just referred to himself as a “meat space guy”. #mcn2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:32
  55. PDXCollections
    Best quote of the directors’ roundtable MIGHT be “Boop beep bop boop.” Thank you, Eric Siegel. #MCN2012dir

    Tue, Nov 13 2012 19:30:32
  56. My personal favorite was when Dan Spock said that he saw his job as “not being a dick.” Priceless.
  57. For more information:
    The conference video (coming soon)
    The transcript is here! 
    Download and take a read.  

Next Drinking About Museums: BOS, Nov. 28, 6PM

Outtake 38:365 CC BY-ND 2.0 by Flickr user david.dames

Greetings, y’all!

We’ll be kicking it old-school this month and just hanging out. Fear not, though! Your continuing professional development/drinking needs will not be neglected. Jenn Schmitt from the De Cordova, Jim Olson from PEM, and I will be happily  discussing our experiences of the MCN conference in Seattle (which ruled, btw).

Come join us at the  Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square, Cambridge on Wednesday, November 28th at 6PM. I’ll be there a bit before 6PM and try to scope out a good spot. Call or DM me if you need directions.

See ya there,


P.S. As always, forward this to your friends and colleagues you think should join us!

Tales from the Blog @ MCN 2012

  1. My bit

  2. As the organizer of this little carnival I went first and for the first time ever told the story in public of how and why I started blogging, which was something I’d avoided for some time, and later told people in small groups, over drinks, and informally. Doing it in front of an audience while being filmed was a bit more nerve wracking than I let on, but boy am I glad to have come out! “Hi! My name is Ed, and I blog.”
  3. cshteynberg
    The blog post that started it all for #erodley: seeing two amazing exhibits and writing down observations #mcn2012tales http://ow.ly/f8lQ7

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:19
  4. adriannerussell
    Tales from the blog! I’ve found my museum blogging tribe. :) #mcn2012tale #MCN2012

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:19
  5. shineslike
    @erodley’s post that he’s referring to is the first post I remember reading of his. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:19
  6. 5easypieces
    Shoutout for Halsey Burgund’s “Scapes” Roundware app at #mcn2012tale Evolver article here: http://bit.ly/RlWbQW

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:19
  7. 5easypieces
    @erodley sez: “We’re a niche community; it’s not like we’ll ever rise to the top of Reddit.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:20
  8. adriannerussell
    “Blogging is way to explore ideas that are interesting to you & your colleagues.” via @erodley #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:20
  9. adriannerussell
    Blogging is fast, responsive & a vehicle for engagement and immediate conversation. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:25
  10. DWCabinet
    When thinking about blogging – “Feel the fear and do it anyway” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:21
  11. cshteynberg
    @erodley: “If I had to describe blogging in one word, I’d say ‘terrifying'” But there’s no substitute for it. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:21
  12. 5easypieces
    @erodley made a conscious choice to separate his blogging persona from his work persona. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:22
  13. forwardretreat
    “Tales from the Blog”: Confession: I was busted for blogging in 2001, as a curatorial assistant. http://bit.ly/PH9aOY #MCN2012tale #MCN2012

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:22
  14. cshteynberg
    .@forwardretreat What happened as a result? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:22
  15. forwardretreat
    I never stopped, & the folks who were upset now get it (and me!). Moral of the story: Blog carefully, but blog no matter what. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:22
  16. forwardretreat
    @cshteynberg In 2001? Not much—Internet was a smaller place; no FB, no Twitter though I would re-pub anything from then, now. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:23
  17. cshteynberg
    @forwardretreat Glad you were brave enough to do so! #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:23
  18. cshteynberg
    No surprises here: content is king, traffic comes from search engines, and it’s not all the same people talking to one another #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:23
  19. 5easypieces
    @erodley sez: “Blogging makes me do my thinking properly.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:24
  20. Mike Murawski, Portland Art Museum

  21. When I was putting the panel together, I looked for someone who ran a collaborative blog as a way to round out the kinds of blogging represented. I had just started reading Mike’s fabulous “Art Museum Teaching” blog, and I am so glad he agreed to join us. His presentation was great and the discussion it triggered was fascinating, both in the room and in the Twitter backchannel. And I’ve made another professional contact.  I may have moaned about how oversubscribed I was at MCN2012, but getting to really connect with the people who I served with on panels was a highlight of the event. I recommend it. If you’ve got people you’d like to meet, then coming up with a conference session that you can invite them to is a pretty neat way to meet and work together.
  22. cshteynberg
    Blogs as way to continue awesome conversations that start at places like #mcn2012 #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:24
  23. cshteynberg
    @murawski27: How we should blog: less about “look at how awesome I am” and more about testing ideas/experiments #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:24
  24. 5easypieces
    Wow–@murawski27 says that http://artmuseumteaching.com is 25% posting and 75% commenting. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:24
  25. DWCabinet
    Clickership = understanding your audience. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:25
  26. 5easypieces
    @murawsi27 estimates that museum blogs reach several million people a year. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:25
  27. cshteynberg
    @murawski27 Sometimes museums do suck, so need space to talk that through (for example, teen engagement: http://ow.ly/f8o2O ) #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:25
  28. cshteynberg
    @murawski27: instead of waiting three years to publish article in journal, start conversation now with colleagues by blogging #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:26
  29. forwardretreat
    “How well do we, as bloggers/digital authors play across national, global boundaries, fields, networks?” Excellent question. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:26
  30. erob1
    @5easypieces Wow, looks like some good convos happening at #MCN2012tale. Think I might have to make the trip next year

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:26
  31. DWCabinet
    How do we connect cross disciplines and professionals in the blog sphere? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:27
  32. adriannerussell
    @shineslike “kamikazed” her way into blogging. Nice! #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:27
  33. 5easypieces
    @shineslike sez: “My blogging persona defines my professional persona.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:28
  34. Suse Cairns, University of Newcastle

  35. Suse is a dear friend and her blog “MuseumGeek” has really blown up over the past year. It’s a delightful blend of deep thought rooted in theory (PhD programs can do that you, I’m told) and soul-searching questions about the profession that hooked me and loads of other people almost immediately. Her experience of blogging really being her persona, as opposed to the rest of the panel, made for some lively back and forth.
  36. forwardretreat
    @shineslike: “My blogging persona defines my professional persona.” But ideas aren’t smart just because they’re spoken loudly. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:28
  37. cshteynberg
    @shineslike: no institutional affiliation can be freeing for blogging, but sometimes cowgirl approach can get you in trouble #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:28
  38. DWCabinet
    Many different approaches to blogging – cowboy and kamikaze #mcn2012tale can be scary and risky

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:28
  39. 5easypieces
    @shineslike sez: “Hitting ‘post’ right before you go to bed is a really bad idea.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:29
  40. cshteynberg
    @shineslike conflict is worth it if your blog creates genuine, thought-provoking conversation! #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:30
  41. Eric Siegel, New York Hall of Science

  42. I’ve known Eric longer than anybody else on the panel and his work at NYSci and now online is amazing. While we slave away in our cubicles, he’s working with MakerFaire, Björk, TMGB, and loads of other interesting folks.  And blogging as a senior manager carries even more burdens than other kinds of blogging.
  43. innova2
    Blogging allows you to share the behind-the-scenes of your museum and richly interact w/ ur users/readers #MCN2012tale #mcn2012

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:30
  44. Jennifer_Dick
    #mcn2012tale Speaking truth to power is important! Marketing voice v. authentic voice in museum blogs; there’s a way to balance I hope

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:30
  45. 5easypieces
    Eric Seigel sez: “In order to keep a listserv healthy, people need to meet in person at least once a year.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:30
  46. 5easypieces
    NY Hall of science encourages staff to blog within an “ecology” of blogs. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:31
  47. cshteynberg
    Listservs don’t always make people think long and carefully before talking, plus the convo is clunky = why I like blogs better #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:31
  48. nealstimler
    @5easypieces ? utility & real connective power of listservs. Can they be reformatted for social media environment? #mcn2012tale #MCNbuzz

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:32
  49. shineslike
    @nealstimler @5easypieces Or do you think their power is the fact that they aren’t visible? A safe space. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:32
  50. nealstimler
    @shineslike @5easypieces if we support openness & transparency as #musetech values – why hide ideas in listserv silo? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:32
  51. cshteynberg
    Plus, if search is king, than as @nealstimler says: transparency and searchability is important #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:32
  52. shineslike
    @nealstimler @5easypieces Because not everyone is comfortable in public. Different affordances. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:32
  53. forwardretreat
    @shineslike Yet, that is precisely what subject-specific blogging does: establishes authority by creating a public record. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:33
  54. forwardretreat
    @shineslike The professionalization of blogging has reified this authority. See also: blogger payment models (i.e. Gawker). #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:33
  55. forwardretreat
    @shineslike So, subject-specific blogging is an ongoing public job interview, in essence. Establish authority –> hired. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:34
  56. Question and Answer

  57. adriannerussell
    Museums can use blogs to share information, archive work, & encourage conversation. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:34
  58. cshteynberg
    With professional writing, you what kinds of people are going to read a piece of writing, with a blog, that’s up for grabs #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:34
  59. DWCabinet
    How far is too far and how do you know when to filter yourself when blogging? Do you ask colleagues? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:34
  60. forwardretreat
    @5easypieces @erodley Let’s discuss separation of personal/professional personas online. Functionally impossible, I suspect. #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:35
  61. cshteynberg
    Many props to those bloggers in #mcn2012tale who risk job security and put the risky ideas out there to have the meaty, difficult convos.

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:35
  62. shineslike
    @erodley “Blogging is a place to ask questions.” Yes, I think so. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:35
  63. Decipher_FP7
    Completely agree we need to focus on discussing process not product. But it can be scary! #mcn2012tale #MACDecipher

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:36
  64. DWCabinet
    Blogging about process- just as important as end product &excellent way for us to learn from each other during building stages. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:36
  65. forwardretreat
    @thisisaaronland Re: Blogging: “We are terrified of being wrong in public.” This is radically, palpably true. #MCN2012tale #MCN2012

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:37
  66. cshteynberg
    @5easypieces: on an individual level we’re able to go out on a limb, but institutionally we’re not–why? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:37
  67. innova2
    The most succesful posts when I blogged at the Museu Picasso where always those abt processes not results #MCN2012tale #mcn2012

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:37
  68. cshteynberg
    Part of problem: until blogging is part of job description, people won’t be able to have convos online. Must be sanctioned! #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:38
  69. nikhiltri
    Is remaining anonymous the only way to separate your personal and professional personas? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:38
  70. forwardretreat
    @thisisaaronland #MCN2012tale #MCN2012 What is your most favorite mistake on the Internet? When were you *most* wrong in public?

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:38
  71. DWCabinet
    “Send us your resume and link to your blog” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:38
  72. cshteynberg
    What role does individual “brand identity” play in professional blogging? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:38
  73. Polackio
    @cshteynberg Individuals face smaller risks. Individuals also have less robust mechanisms for assessing risk so cognitive bias. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:24
  74. adriannerussell
    Blogging definitely = branding. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:39
  75. dustinkyle
    Is it a “build it and they will come” type of thing? How do you build an audience? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:24
  76. shineslike
    The best thing aout my blog is the community around it. It’s the people who respond so thoughtfully that define it to/for me. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:24
  77. Jennifer_Dick
    #mcn2012tale attendee: “Blog is for process. You can put results at the website.” Awesome distinction.

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:25
  78. shineslike
    If you want to get comments, you need to ask for them. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:25
  79. 5easypieces
    @DWCabinet Anonymity consistency is authoritative. Lack of either of those is somewhat problematic. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  80. shineslike
    I want to know who in this room either blogs, or has thought about it. Why, why not? #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 07:47:36
  81. 5easypieces
    “Hello, my name is Judy and I’m a lurker.” “Hi, Judy.” #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  82. innova2
    Blogging is about storytelling & offering a personal approach. For the neutral, institutional communication there’s the web #MCN2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  83. micahwalter
    Internal blogs are called meetings #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  84. 5easypieces
    Great point. RT @ChristineHealey: @shineslikeconcerned about the IP issues around it. Personal vs Professional boundaries… #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  85. cshteynberg
    Key to increasing blogging audience/convo: Identifying key people in field and directly contacting them by email to weigh in #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:26
  86. shineslike
    The Q about time is interesting. How long does everyone spend on the blog a week? For me, it definitely eats up hours. #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:27
  87. 5easypieces
    @shineslike I try to keep up with a demanding 2-posts-per-year schedule at http://kovenjsmith.com #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:27
  88. erodley
    @shineslike How do you manage to live-blog *and* present? #mcn2012tale #overachiever

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:27
  89. rosemarybeetle
    @5easypieces: List of museum blogs http://bit.ly/XnNXNa from #mcn2012tale updated

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:28
  90. cshteynberg
    @shineslike: Even though it’s slightly corporate, this WSJ article made me think of #mcn2012tale discussion re: brand http://ow.ly/fbsqR

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:28
  91. The Aftermath

  92. And now, the processing begins. Mike was first out of the gate with a great recap. This counts as my recap. Soon the actual video will up, courtesy of MCN and your registration fees. I’ll add that link when I get it.
  93. murawski27
    @shineslike @erodley @erictsiegel @5easypieces let the post-MCN blogging begin – “When Bloggers Collide” http://wp.me/p1V79B-ix #mcn2012tale

    Mon, Nov 12 2012 09:18:28