Community

Let’s kick off 2020! A Message from your Conference Program Co-Chairs

Written by Andrea Montiel de Shuman and Andrea Ledesma, MCN 2020 Conference Program Chairs

After a lovely break, we’re kicking off the year by getting started with MCN 2020. Last year, we introduced a number of changes meant to enhance the conference experience. To all those who attended, presented, and sponsored: thank you! Your feedback helped us understand our successes, our challenges, and how we can grow.

This year we’re excited to announce two additional program co-chairs. Welcome Mimosa Shah and Meredith L. Steinfels! Together, we’re committed to designing a program that continues to be engaging and accessible, rigorous and thought-provoking. We’re eager to create a space that both spotlights innovative technologies and pressing topics in our sector and amplifies the many voices behind that work.

Also joining us is the Program Committee. They’re a fantastic crew of field experts who are crucial in deciding a theme, nominating keynote speakers, reviewing applications, ideating program changes, and more.

Get to know your MCN 2020 Program Committee below. We can’t wait to get started!

Program Co-Chairs

Meredith Steinfels
Greetings! I’m Meredith, Digital Platforms Manager and Archives Specialist at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth. I’m responsible for the museum’s evolving digital ecosystem: the collection management system, digital asset management system, collection website, discrete digital-based projects, and digitization, as well as rights and reproductions and work on the James Nachtwey archive. I am passionate about equitable digital literacy and access to information, and the intersection of social justice and technology.

When not behind a screen, I live a largely analog life: baking, knitting, reading bad thrillers, and wrangling the raddest preschooler in New England.

Mimosa Shah
Hello! I’m Mimosa, Adult Program Coordinator at Skokie Public Library, where for the past five years I’ve managed, developed, and evaluated informal learning opportunities for adults. I work in collaboration with colleagues across departments to whet our community’s curiosity, ranging from discussions around world cinema to workshops on birdwatching. I teach digital literacy classes, facilitate discussions and pop-up events, and provide advisory support. Stop by a public desk, and I’m ready to dish on the best graphic novels, the upcoming incarnation of “Blade,” or the painterly quality of Merchant-Ivory productions.

I pivot between the analog and digital in my work and beyond. Lately, my interests have focused upon media literacy and ways to deal with misinformation campaigns; digital photography and how we use various platforms to share, archive, and work against the constraints they sustain; zine-making and paper arts that memorialize stories waiting to be documented; and space-making for and with communities marginalized by aspects of their identities.

In my ‘spare’ time, I wrangle two kiddos to the best libraries, museums, gardens, and happenings around Chicago because I am a culture nerd, and hope to instill in them the same curiosity about the world around us. Having perfected my samosa recipe, I’m eager to learn how to make new street foods.

I served on MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board in 2019, and am honored to be part of the team again in 2019. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make the annual conference and by extension, our field more inclusive and welcoming. I am also very excited to be a Program Co-Chair in 2020, and to give back to a community that has provided me with such insight into how the digital transforms our organizations.

Andrea Montiel de Shuman
Hola! I’m Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Mexican immigrant from beautiful Puebla, where I grew up surrounded by great food, music, colors, and museums.

As the Digital Experience Designer at the Detroit Institute of Arts, I lead public-facing digital experiences to help visitors find themselves in art. My favorite tasks are to collaborate with community advisors, user-test & fill boards with sticky notes. I enjoy engaging in sector-wide conversations discussing moral + ethical implications of technology; Knight Foundation has supported me in joining a number of these endeavors.

In recent years I’ve been collaborating with Smithsonian Latino Center in preparing the first galleries that will honor the contributions of Latinos in the history of America and also help coordinate the annual Media & Tech MUSE Awards by the American Alliance of Museums.

When not thinking about museums, I enjoy illustrating, spoiling my cat, watching 90’s Anime or hunting for green spaces, new music, indigenous art & weird art books with my partner. After a wonderful 2019, I feel excited and honored to be back this year, now with a larger team! We have so many dreams for our MCN family.

Andrea Ledesma
Hi again, MCN! I’m Andrea Ledesma. I’m fascinated with how digital technologies impact how the public engages with history, culture, and each other. As the Web and Digital Project Specialist at the Field Museum in Chicago, I manage fieldmuseum.org and other digital storytelling projects. I weave together strategy, content, and design. I love a good spreadsheet. If not in a museum find me exploring the snack aisle and on Twitter at @am_ledesma.

Before the Field, I enjoyed working on digital projects for Brown University, the Tenement Museum, Digital Public Library of America, and National Park Service. Co-chairing MCN 2019 was such a wonderful experience, and I’m honored to have the opportunity again.

Program Committee Members

  • Adrienne Lalli Hills, Oklahoma Contemporary
  • Alison Koch, Playwrights Horizons
  • Amanda Dearolph, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Ashley Bowen, Science History Institute
  • Castle U. Kim, Florida State University
  • Cathy Sigmond, RK&A
  • Claire Blechman, Peabody Essex Museum
  • Claire Pillsbury, Exploratorium
  • Devon Armstrong, Boston Children’s Museum
  • Eric Longo, MCN
  • Erin Canning, Aga Khan Museum
  • Gavin Mallory, Cogapp
  • Heather White, Yale University
  • Jennifer Foley, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Jessica Milby, Penn Museum
  • Jessica Warchall, Terra Foundation for American Art
  • John Turner, University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Max Evjen, Michigan State University
  • Miranda Kerr, Shedd Aquarium
  • Pamela Martin, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Rana Chan, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Roger Tuan, Field Museum
  • Sean Blinn, Consultant
  • Susan Wigodner, Obama Foundation / Obama Presidential Center
  • Tricia Robson, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
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Apply to serve on MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board (2020-2021 term)


We are recruiting 6 to 10 individuals to serve on the second year of our Advisory Board dedicated to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

RESPONSIBILITY

Governed by a Charter, MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board is a consultative body made up of community members tasked with representing and advocating for the interests of the MCN community on DEAI matters. The Advisory Board supports and guides the work of MCN in DEAI initiatives and begin our ongoing process to make the organization—and the field of museum technology—more inclusive.

COMMITMENT

This is a two-year commitment. The Advisory Board will meet at most on a quarterly basis. We encourage one face-to-face meeting per year at MCN’s annual conference, although the ability to attend the conference is not a prerequisite for joining the advisory board.

SELECTION CRITERIA

We hope to bring on around 6 to 10 new members who represent wide-ranging dimensions of diversity, with an eye towards giving voice to under-represented groups. For our organization, diversity means a lot of things. Advisors will advocate for groups that are historically marginalized due to race, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, economic background, and age. We’re also looking for members from a wide range of cultural institutions and professional roles, considering dimensions such as subject matter expertise, organization size, and stage in career.

APPLY TODAY!

Application are due by 11:59 PM PST on January 31, 2020.

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Guest post: Insights from NEW INC’s Museum Technology Track


News from the larger musetch community.

This month, we’re delighted to feature a guest post by NEW INC‘s Director Stephanie Pereira.

NEW INC Director Stephanie Pereira

NEW INC is the New Museum’s incubator for people working at the intersection of art, design and technology. We recruit about 100 members each year through an annual open call process, and through our program provide shared workspace, professional development, mentorship, and participation in an exceptional community.

For the past three years, a core part of our program has been our Museum Technology Track, funded by the Knight Foundation. Members in the Museum Technology Track are provided with a fully subsidized, year-long membership at NEW INC where they participate in field-specific workshops and guest lectures, and have access to mentorship and stipends to support research, prototyping and wider participation in the museum technology sector.

During year one of our Museum Tech track, we invited six teams to join the track program. As a group, we engaged in a field study where we traveled to three cities and met with over a dozen institutions to learn about how the museum sector uses technology. Through our travels, we met with museum leadership, educators, exhibition directors, IT staffers, and development and marketing teams to learn about both the successes and challenges of employing technology in a museum setting.

NEW INC MoversShakers-Detroit

Installation view of public AR video art series NEW INC member Movers and Shakers prototyped during Detroit Art Week with partner Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The experiment was focused on testing the idea of getting digital media artworks and other items from current shows at MoCAD out into the city.

Our key insights from this initial research period revealed quite a bit:

  1. Feelings about technology are mixed. Many museum professionals we met with reported that they’d been burned by an over investment in software or hardware previously, and are often skeptical of tech offerings as a result.
  2. Technology is not a priority for resource strapped museums, especially when previous investment has not paid off.
  3. Museums have plenty of content, but don’t know how to serve it up to their audiences in a way that is meaningful. Ironically, many people we met with felt that their inability to engage their audiences was due to a lack of understanding of who their audiences are, and what they expect from a museum…which is an issue that could potentially be solved with technology.
  4. A depth of understanding on how technology can be used by non-technical museum staff is lacking. And even in the case of staff who are technologically fluent, there is often a gap that inhibits the successful integration of technology with museum mission and goals.

Building on our year one insights, during year two we pivoted the approach of our program so that our six teams would instead focus on partnering with a small or mid-sized museum to research, design and prototype accessible, off-the-shelf technology solutions. Over the course of year two, our teams partnered with 8 museums in 3 cities. We approached each museum partner with two key questions: What are your major barriers for using technology? What are your major barriers for engaging your audiences?

sticker driven audience research

Rendering of simple, sticker driven audience research methodology that NEW INC member Dome tested with San Jose Museum of Art.

As part of their research, one of our member teams interviewed museum staff from ten different institutions and their findings consistently pointed to this issue around lack of understanding in terms of audience. Additionally, across all our work during year-two, we discovered that “access” is a key concern for museums right now. Their own inquiry questions took ours a step further: How are museums better serving and reaching more diverse audiences? How can they use technology as a tool for scaling their reach?

Using these questions as a baseline for building and testing prototypes, our teams developed six products designed with small museum staff and budget resources in mind. As part of their work, we asked them to develop a case study sharing their process for research, development and testing of their work.

All six case studies are available on our website. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Stephanie Pereira, Director
NEW INC at the New Museum

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Meet the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG

A visitor interacts with a table and collections items

A visitor engages with All At Once at the Williams College Museum of Art

Thanks to an ever-growing number of interactives, apps, and online platforms, museums can engage with their audiences in more ways than ever before.

With so many tools available, staff often find themselves discussing the role technology plays in visitor learning:

  • In what ways can technology help provide inclusive and accessible interpretation of the museum’s
    collections?
  • How can digital media be used to connect with visitors both onsite and online?
  • What stories can the museum’s content tell and how can we create that content collaboratively?

Conversations around these topics are the central focus of the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG. As a community of practice, our mission is to build knowledge and skills around the planning and implementation of media and experiences that support visitor’s connections to collections and ideas. Through our messaging board on Basecamp and regular google hangouts, the group addresses the role of digital interpretation and educational tools in the museum.

Interested? Come join us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn from each other.

 

SIG Chair – Alicia Viera, Interpretive Planner, Detroit Institute of Arts

SIG Co-Chair Melissa Mair, Senior Interpretation Planner, Carnegie Museum of Art

 

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Meet the Human Centered Design SIG

Human-centered design (HCD) is a process for understanding problems and creating solutions that meet real people’s needs. It emphasizes research and ideation, and can be applied to any type of product, service, or experience, inside and outside museums.   

The HCD SIG is a network for anyone who wants to learn about using human-centered design in your museum work. Anyone interested in using HCD to improve people’s experiences in museums is welcome, no matter your role or level of design experience!   

 

What have we been up to lately? 

Earlier this year, we hosted a webinar with Kathi Kaiser of Centralis. Kathi shared three case studies that took different approaches to usability testing and factors to consider when using this methodology.

We also publish monthly newsletters on our message board with HCD resources that catch our eye. 

 

What’s coming up? 

Since we are a relatively new SIG (only 2 years old!) we’re hoping to use this year’s conference to bring together existing and potential members to brainstorm and iterate on what our SIG should look like moving forward to be the most effective and useful for everyone involved. Stop by the HCD SIG area at the SIG Open House, where we’ll be applying the HCD process to our very own SIG! 

Additionally, Seema Rao will step down from her role as a SIG co-chair after this year’s conference. While we’ll be sad to see her go, we also can’t wait to meet the next SIG co-chair who will help shape and grow the SIG. If you have expertise in HCD or are simply really excited about diving deeper, consider running for co-chair next year! Want to discuss before the conference? Contact Cathy and Seema to learn more.  

Not a member of the HCD SIG yet? Sign up today!

 

Cathy Sigmond, HCD SIG co-chair

 

Seema Rao headshot

Seema Rao, HCD SIG co-chair

 

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Meet the Digital Asset Management SIG

 

A group of people around a table at the Digital Asset Management SIG happy hour, 2017

Photos, videos, audio files! Every museum produces thousands of them – documenting collections, capturing events and exhibitions, marketing the work of the institution. Digital Asset Managers are here to organize, preserve and make accessible all of these priceless assets for research and reuse.  Our SIG supports knowledge sharing, strategy and best practices for DAMS based on the practical knowledge gained through years of experience implementing and working on these systems.  

We have a robust Basecamp group where members share tricky situations and pesky problems to generate solutions – there’s always someone in the group who’s tackled something similar! We also like to collaborate with other SIGs because content users, producers and intrepid IT professionals all have valuable feedback on how these systems function. 

Our interests go beyond what is already available and into what’s coming up in advances in imaging techniques, making connections in meaningful ways through machine learning and feeding new frontiers such as augmented and virtual reality.

We’re a fun SIG that likes to chat about metadata during happy hour – keep your eyes peeled for one coming up soon!

Interested in joining the DAM SIG? 

Fill out the Google form here, someone will be in touch shortly.

 

CO-CHAIR – David Garfinkel, Senior Digital Asset Manager Technician, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet the Digital Imaging SIG

A photographer setting up a shot for a museum object

 

Even if you’re not familiar with institutional digitization programs, book scanners, rapid imaging or FADGI standards, chances are you’ve seen the result of these ideas and by extension, the work of members of the Digital Imaging SIG. Images are the face of museums in the public sphere, from bus and transit ads, to instagram posts about the newest exhibition.

 

The Digital Imaging SIG provides a place for museum photographers and imaging professionals to discuss ideas, explore technical problems and discuss the latest color to be removed from the spectrum. We also organize dinners, happy hours and meet-ups for members to meet face to face and provide a forum for more informal discussion.

 

In May, we held a dinner/social event during the 2+3d conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and we are beginning to plan a similar even during the MCN conference in November. A new initiative for 2019 that we are excited about working on is several virtual studio tours, which will take the form of videos partially driven by member questions.

 

We hope this will help build a more collaborative network amongst small studios, by sharing knowledge and innovation that might otherwise be glossed over, or not mentioned in conference talks. More on this in the coming months! If you aren’t currently a member of the Digital Imaging SIG, following along on our Basecamp for updates and to join in the discussion!

 

Ben Cort, Collections Photographer, Portland Art Museum and SIG Chair

 

Christopher Ciccone headshot

Christopher Ciccone, Photographer & Digital Asset Manager, North Carolina Museum of Art and SIG Co-Chair

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Join the MCN board in 2019!

 

We’re pleased to announce the 2019 call for candidates to be considered to serve on the Board of Directors of MCN. MCN is looking to recruit four (4) board members to replace those whose 3-year term will be ending in November.

Why serve on the MCN board of Directors?

Envisioning a world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions, MCN’s mission is to grow the digital capacity of museum professionals by connecting them to ideas, information, opportunities, proven practices, and each other.

For many past and current board members, serving on the board of MCN is a way to give back to an organization and a community that have supported them throughout their careers in museums. It’s also an invaluable opportunity for personal and professional development: join a great team of talented museum professionals who, together with MCN’s Executive Director and staff, shape the strategic direction of the organization and continually find ways to better serve the needs of our community.

What we’re looking for?

Since the new year, the staff and board have been actively engaged in implementing the vision of MCN’s new three-year Strategic Plan (2019-2021) called “Achieving impact through inclusion, innovation, and community building”.

MCN is looking for community members from diverse backgrounds, and with varied skill sets, perspectives and voices to help MCN execute on its strategic vision and contribute their expertise to grow MCN’s capacity and impact. As a newly appointed board member, you will join us in San Diego for your first board meeting on November 4, 2019 to develop a tactical Work Plan that will guide the work of the organization and the Board throughout 2020 in support of the larger 3-year strategic vision.

While all members of the community with an interest in serving MCN are welcome to apply, this year we are particularly interested in candidates who can bring specific expertise, or have a background and experience, in one or more of the following key areas:

  • Sustainable practices, business modeling and development
    As a community organization, MCN’s sole purpose is to serve its members. Over the next three years MCN’s leadership will make strategic changes in order to mitigate risks and increase the organization’s long-term financial and operational sustainability. If you have expertise running programs or organizations that resulted in demonstrated sustainable outcomes, we want to hear from you. Skills or expertise in business development, strategic partnerships, securing sponsorships and fundraising are equally desirable.
  • Grant Writing and Fundraising
    MCN recognizes that it must diversify its revenue streams as well as leverage the organization’s non-profit status to support its expansion in various programmatic areas. We are seeking a board member who has a successful track record in securing grant funding or fundraising for program development, and can help us select funders and communicate our vision to them.
  • Program Development
    We’re seeking a board member who has experience developing organizational programs, such as professional development (that includes mentorship), designing a content strategy, events & conferences or teams that empower community members to act with more autonomy to address their needs. If you’ve designed and led volunteer programs that are anchored within the community, or helped existing programs successfully expand their capacity, we’d like to hear from you.
  • Digital/IT strategy and systems infrastructure
    Over the next two years MCN is committed to transforming our online tools to create a better user experience, and revamping our backend infrastructure to streamline organizational processes. We’re looking for someone who has experience designing or integrating backend infrastructures or architecture, or with a strong background in systems administration.
  • Marketing, Communications and PR
    Clear, effective, and open communication with our members and the broader MCN community is critical to the success of our organization. Over the next few years MCN will develop, implement and expand the range of products we offer with the goal of increasing the value of membership for MCN members. We are seeking a board member with skills and experience in marketing and communication practices to design and implement new messaging and communication practices around these products and help us demonstrate their value to our members.
What’s expected of MCN Board members?

MCN’s board of Directors is both a governance and a working board. This means that in addition to being fiduciary guardians of this 503(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, our board members roll up their sleeves, put on their thinking caps, and dedicate a good portion of their time working on organizational projects. For most, this means taking an active role on one or more of our board committees.

As a working board, MCN Directors are expected to dedicate about 8-12 hours per month working on MCN business, including attending a monthly conference-call board call as well as other committee meetings. Additionally, you will be expected to attend two (2) annual board meetings in person: one the week of MCN’s annual conference (typically in November), and another, generally in the spring, the week of the Museums and the Web conference wherever that location may be. Directors cannot be compensated and MCN is not currently in a position to support its Directors for travel related expenses to attend these two annual in-person board meetings (expenses to attend board retreats are however fully covered).

Once appointed, MCN Directors serve a three-year term. For reference, we invite you to familiarize yourself with MCN’s By-Laws.

The MCN Governance Guidelines outline the expectations and responsibilities of board members:

  • 8-12 hours of MCN-related work per month, depending upon activities
  • Play an active leadership role in delivering on MCN’s overall business in general and on assigned strategic priorities specifically
  • Attend and prepare for each board meeting
  • Be prepared and willing to lead the board and/or a committee
  • Join and participate actively in the activities of at least one committee
  • Follow, participate and contribute to online board discussions in a timely manner
  • Make every reasonable effort to bring financial support to the organization annually from external sources, e.g. identify and introduce sponsor prospects and secure sponsorships
  • Leverage personal relationships with others (including corporations, professional service firms, vendors, foundations, and individuals) to assist the staff of the organization with implementing fundraising strategies, including adding names of potential sources of support to the organization’s mailing list
  • Actively participate in the development of the annual conference
  • Attend the annual conference (board members receive a special discounted registration rate)
  • Actively participate in MCN fundraising efforts
  • Travel at their own cost (MCN is not currently in a position to cover travel expenses for board members) to attend two (2) annual board meetings in person: one the week of MCN’s annual conference (typically in November), and another, generally in the spring, the week of the Museums and the Web conference wherever that location may be Directors cannot be compensated and MCN does not pay Directors for travel or other related expenses (expenses to attend board retreats are however fully covered).
Who we’re looking for?

MCN encourages people from diverse backgrounds, institutions, and experiences to apply. MCN does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression and identity, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

In addition, to ensure that a diverse range of institutions are represented on the board, each individual institution may be represented by only one member of the board at any given time. Candidates are encouraged to review the current board members’ list below to check the institution that they are currently affiliated with.

What’s the nomination and appointment process?

To be considered by the 2019 Nominating Committee, please fill out and submit the online application form. If you believe someone you know would be a qualified candidate, please encourage them to apply. Applications are due Sunday June 30, 2019 at 11:59pm PT. We will let you know if we require additional information about your application.

What’s next?

MCN’s 2019 Nominating Committee will review all applications and propose a slate of candidates to the board of Directors for discussion, followed by a vote on the individual appointment of each proposed candidate for Director. We anticipate notifying successful candidates by late August 2019 at the latest (it’s often sooner). The announcement of newly appointed Directors will posted on our website and shared with the MCN community on MCN-L.

If you have any additional questions, please email the Executive Director.

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We encourage all qualified candidates to apply or hope that you will refer someone you think would be a qualified candidate.

Thank you for being a part of MCN.

MCN 2019 Nominating Committee
Elizabeth Bollwerk, President
Matt Tarr, VP-President Elect
Lori Byrd-McDevitt, Director
Courtney OCallagan, Director
Eric Longo, Executive Director

Current MCN Board members list with terms
  • Elizabeth Bollwerk (2015 – 2019), Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  • Greg Albers (2016 – 2019), The Getty
  • Lori Byrd McDevitt (2016 – 2019), Children’s Museum Indianapolis
  • Darren Milligan (2016 – 2019), Smithsonian, Center for Learning & Digital Access
  • Deborah Howes (2016 – 2019), Johns Hopkins University
  • Matt Tarr (2016 – 2020), American Museum of Natural History
  • Keir Winesmith (2017 – 2020), Winesmith Digital Studio
  • Samantha Diamond (2017 – 2020), CultureConnect
  • Susan Edwards (2017 – 2020), Hammer Museum
  • Desi Gonzalez (2017 – 2020), City of Austin
  • Mitchell Sava (2017 – 2020), Museum of Life and Science
  • Mara Kurlandsky (2018 – 2021), National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Courtney OCallaghan (2018 – 2021), Freer Gallery of Art & Sackler Gallery
  • Nathan Adkisson (2018 – 2021), Local Projects
  • Doug Allen (2018 – 2021), The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
  • Kai Frazier (2018 – 2021), Curated x Kai

 

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Meet the Strategy SIG

Strategy is integral to the success of our projects and organizations. The Strategy SIG brings together change-makers to learn from one another’s experiences in developing and  implementing strategies.

The Strategy SIG strategy

Since the Strategy SIG is about strategy, we thought that we should have a … strategy. Like any good strategy, ours starts with our objectives which are to facilitate the sharing of experience and expertise; and create opportunities for community and collaboration around the conference.

With these 2 goals, we have come up with the following 4  tactics to achieve them.

– Professional development  via online meetings

– Basecamp conversations

– Promote conference proposal collaboration

– Meetup for dinner or drinks at the conference

April 2019 update

– This month we have a professional development call Strategies for Preserving Digital Assets. We’ll be recording the webinar and posting it to the Basecamp, in-case you miss it.

– It’s conference proposal season. Conversations are happening on Basecamp. Got an idea or looking for someone to partner up with? Post to Basecamp.

– We’re planning an offsite for the conference. We’ve got San Diego native Nik Honeysett planning a social. More details to come and guaranteed to be a good time.

– Not a member of the Strategy SIG? Click here to sign up by filling out our Google Form

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Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference


Post by Suse Anderson

 

MCN’s 2018 conference, Humanizing the Digital, explored how museums can use technology to foster human connection and dialogue, advance accessibility and inclusion, and champion inquiry and knowledge. After witnessing the presentations and rich conversations that arose from them, a group of practitioners came together to explore how best to capture and disseminate the learnings that occurred at the conference. The outcome was a decision to solicit and publish a book inspired by the conference and its ideas.

A call went out in December requesting submissions from both conference attendees and presenters. Essays were encouraged to synthesize an idea that emerged over the week, dive deeper into a conference session, or speak broadly on the theme, including opportunities for non-traditional submissions.

The result, released this week, is Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference. The book contains 17 conference-inspired responses to the state of museum technology in 2018, including essays, reflections, case studies, conversations, and an experimental in-book zine. The topics explore areas as diverse as calm technology, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, visitor-centered communication, interpretation and programming, empathy, inclusion and slow change.

It is worth noting that we were midway through the process before it occurred to us that it might be a good idea to notify MCN that we were doing this. Thankfully, MCN thought that this kind of community-driven effort was worth embracing. Though unofficial, it is definitely aligned with MCN’s mission of connecting people to ideas and each other. It is also a great example of the kind of community MCN has developed; one that is deeply collegial, true to its grassroots origins, geared toward action, and likely to ask for forgiveness before permission.

It is also worth noting that our editorial process followed (or, at least, tried to follow) those same principles. Editors and authors volunteered their time to this publication, which involved a social-media-based Call For Proposals that was open to anyone willing to put in the time and energy to turn something around within a matter of weeks. We did a bit of peer review for clarity, but relatively little editing of our submissions, so what you are about to read represents the varied voices and styles of the authors. While not every initial proposal ended up in this collection, we heartily thank all the members of the MCN community who shared their thoughts with us.

Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference was produced using Quire™, a digital publishing platform created by Getty Publications and owned by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Thank you to our Production Editor, Greg Albers (also an MCN Board member), whose work was invaluable in turning our idea for a responsive unconference publication into reality.

Members of the Ad Hoc Museum Collective will be at Museums and the Web, the American Alliance of Museums conference and MCNx New Orleans and will have copies of the book available for purchase for a special price of $10. You can also buy the book from Amazon now. If you’re looking for another way to access the essays, we plan to make the full collection available online and for download for free in time for MCN 2019.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to support the MCN scholarship program.

Ad Hoc Museum Collective Editorial Team

Suse Anderson, Isabella Bruno, Hannah Hethmon, Seema Rao, Ed Rodley, and Rachel Ropeik.

Production Editor

Greg Albers

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