Community

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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SIG Corner: Meet Information Technology!

Stock image of a right hand typing on a keyboard
The IT Special Interest Group focuses on the nuts and bolts of everyday management of IT departments as well as emerging technologies, all while members help members by being a sounding board, giving advise, and sharing our experiences. Our group holds monthly online meetups, including a live intranet software demo in February.
In March we’ll host a roundtable discussion on current technology issues. Just in the past month our Basecamp chats included the topics of intranet technology, email security, music performance rights, information security consulting, ticketing systems and more.
Sound up your alley?
Janice Craddock headshot
Janice Craddock (Chair)
 Brian Dawson headshot
Brian Dawson (Co-Chair)
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The Museum Technology Charter

A visitor engages with technology and the collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art

By Koven Smith

The nature of how museums use technology and digital tools has changed significantly in the last ten years. Perhaps even more critically, the expectations of what museums should be able to produce using digital tools have increased significantly in the last decade. Given this, what is a museum of the 21st Century expected to do in order to deliver on these increased expectations? What is required for a museum to be digitally literate, and what are the appropriate means for achieving this literacy? These questions are particularly acute for smaller museums, who often lack the resources to investigate these questions, or even to assess their own digital literacy. Sector-wide publications like the Horizon Report: Museum Edition once provided peer-reviewed resources (and a critical lifeline) to these museums. These publications no longer exist, but the need they satisfied still remains.

In seeking to address this sector-wide need, the Museum Computer Network is developing a prototype online publication called The Museum Technology Charter, which will be unveiled at MCN 2019 in San Diego. The Charter will be a handbook for museums seeking to develop their own technology and digital capacities in effective and ethical ways. As the end result of six months of deliberation and discussion among leading thinkers in museum technology, the Museum Technology Charter will serve as a sector-wide benchmark against which a museum’s own digital efforts might be evaluated.

The Museum  Technology Charter will be an online publication consisting of four primary components:

  • The Technology “Stack”: The first component of the Charter will be a comprehensive list of technology elements that project participants consider to be sufficient (and in some cases critical) for the normal operation of a museum. These elements will be inclusive of more obvious considerations (websites, mobile apps) to the less obvious (time-based media acquisition strategies), to the future-focused (AR/VR implementations).
  • Values and methodologies: There are multiple ways to implement a given element in the technology stack, some of which are consistent with museum values and some of which aren’t. The goal of this component of the Charter will therefore be to identify values that are non-negotiable (such as accessibility) and those that might be ideal and reflective of a more digitally mature organization, but not necessarily critical  (such as open licensing of digital collections).
  • Maturity matrix: Once the technology stack elements and values have been identified, these two components will be combined into a matrix that will allow a museum to self-assess its own “technological readiness.” This matrix will, in effect, have capabilities on the x-axis and values on the y-axis, allowing a museum to take both elements into account when assessing its own maturity.
  • Skills identification: The final component of the report will be to identify skills that are necessary for moving between capability areas of the Maturity Matrix. This will help museums to better understand what training might be required or what roles may need to be hired in order to improve their overall technological maturity.

With these four components identified, the hope is that The Museum Technology Charter will provide a comprehensive accounting of the state of museum technology and digital efforts circa 2019. Stay tuned for more updates as this project evolves leading up to MCN 2019.

The Museum Technology Charter is made possible with the support of MCN (Museum Computer Network) acting as fiscal sponsor.

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The #MuseTech Water Cooler

If you have an update or announcement, an upcoming event or call for proposals, a new job, an important blog post or other museum technology content that you’d like to share in our monthly newsletter, submit it using the form below no later than the 10th of each month.

 

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MCN statement on the government shutdown

MCN would like to express its support of our colleagues in the community who are experiencing hardship as a result of the government shutdown.

Museums, libraries, parks, monuments, and other cultural heritage agencies funded by the United States’ federal government provide vital services and economic contributions. They enrich the lives of all Americans and strengthen American democracy. In addition, federal granting agencies, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services, serve the work of many private, nonprofit institutions, and the cultural heritage sector as a whole.

Dedicated to growing the digital capacity of museum professionals, MCN believes a political impasse simply should not disrupt or threaten these critical services. Thousands of federal employees – cultural and information professionals, support staff, and contractors – are currently furloughed without pay, unable to perform their duties or carry out the essential missions of their agencies. All workers, including non-federal contract workers, deserve to be paid in a timely manner, and to be able to work without threat of future disruptions.

We urge our government to find ways to end the standoff and allow everyone to return to work as soon as possible.

MCN (Museum Computer Network), Board of Directors and staff

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Elect SIG Chairs for 2019!

Each December, we ask the MCN community to elect the Chairs of our Special Interest Groups. SIGs, as we call them, are volunteer-led MCN members’ communities of practice that operate under the oversight of the MCN board and Executive Director. SIGs are organized around specific topics of interest or niche practice areas that reflect the diversity of the many technology and digital practices in the museum field (curious about how SIGs are governed? Read the SIG Charter).

These community led groups embody MCN’s grassroots’ history and the dynamism that drives the larger musetech community. Two new SIGs were created last year: Human-Centered Design SIG and IIIF SIG.

SIG Chairs are all volunteers with a passion for their work and for helping their colleagues and the community around their specific practice area and beyond. This year brings many changes with 12 SIG Chairs stepping down. On behalf of MCN, I’d like to thank them for their service and their work over the past years: Kristin Bayans, Christophe Buffet, Daniel Dennehy, Brad Dunn, John ffrench, Jennifer Foley, Melissa Fournier, Elissa Frankle Olinsky, Kurt Heumiller, Mandy Kritzeck, Jennifer Sellar and Elena Villaespesa.

As you review this year’s slate of candidates, you’ll notice 11 new faces, some familiar, some brand new, ready to lead your SIGs next year. Please take a moment to cast your vote now through December 15 and help support the leadership and future direction of our community.

ELECT YOUR SIG CHAIRS! (now closed)

Headshot
Eric Longo
Executive Director, MCN
eric@mcn.edu

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Volunteer and Join the MCN Community!

The end of year is a busy time for everyone, but it’s a particularly busy time at MCN this year! Between now and early January, MCN offers a number of volunteer and professional development opportunities whose deadlines for application are fast approaching. Apply today to shape MCN and its programs, take advantage of professional development opportunities, expand your network, and add a line (or two) to your resume.

So to make sure you don’t miss that precious deadline, we’ve clarified all the available options!

MCN 2019 Mentorship Program

Application deadline: November 30, 2018 EXTENDED THRU DECEMBER 3, 2018 EOD
Program duration: 9 months (January-November 2019)
Openings: 20–24 spots for mentor/mentee pairs
Questions? Email: profdev@mcn.edu
InformationMentor Application | Mentee Application

Now in its third year, MCN’s mentorship program offers a unique professional development opportunity whether you are a veteran or a newbie in the museum tech community. Expand your professional network, build and grow leadership skills, practice personal communication strategies, and much more.

DEAI Advisory Board

Application deadline: December 1, 2018 EXTENDED THRU DECEMBER 3, 2018 EOD
Term: 1 year
Openings: 12–20
Questions? Email: diversity@mcn.edu
Information | Application

We’re assembling a new advisory board to focus on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion at MCN. Members will meet on a quarterly basis to share their expertise, advise on DEAI policies, help prioritize strategic goals, and support new initiatives.

Conference Program Co-Chairs

Application deadline: December 16, 2018
Term: 2 years (2019-2020)
Openings: 2
Questions? Email: program@mcn.edu
Information & Application

Program Co-Chairs will provide leadership for the annual MCN Conference in 2019 and 2020, from sourcing members of the Program Committee to leading the conversation around a theme for the annual conference to developing general topic guidelines and organizing and scheduling a range of creative formats from workshops, to panels and presentations.

2019 Conference Program Committee members

Application deadline: January 12, 2019
Term: 9 months (January-November 2019)
Openings: ~40
Questions? Email: program@mcn.edu
Information & Application

Under the leadership of the Program Co-Chairs, the Program Committee helps establish the conference theme and identify a keynote speaker. Committee members also review between 10-15 proposal submissions according to a variety of criteria designed to ensure quality, expertise, innovation and a fair representation of different perspectives and voices, especially from communities that are traditionally under-represented or minorities to ensure that the program of the annual conference reflects the diversity of the MCN community and the extended musetech community.

Wait, there’s more …

SIG Chairs Annual Elections

Application deadline: November 28, 2018
Online Elections: December 1-15, 2018
Term: 9 months (January-November 2019)
Openings: 12
Questions? Email: sigs@mcn.edu
Information

MCN members can join SIGs for free, and elections to elect SIGs’ chairs and co-chairs are held annually from December 1 through 15, 2018. If interested, ask SIG chairs.

Share you IT/digital skills to help improve MCN’s digital platforms!

Application deadline: December 15, 2018
Term: 12 months (January-December 2019)
Openings: 5-10+
Questions? Email: tech@mcn.edu
Application

MCN is calling out to all the tech/digital nerds out there to put their talent to work by contributing their time and effort, including product/tool research and assessment, coding, strategy, communications and writing, to improve MCN’s digital platforms so you can be a part of the greater sum of all of us by supporting MCN’s new strategic objective “[To] transform MCN’s online presence into a powerful and intuitive user-centered destination”.

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MCN’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, & Inclusion

 

Post by MCN Board Member, Desi Gonzalez

MCN 2017 keynote crowd photo with Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion overlaid text.

One of the things I’ve found to be special about the MCN community is that it’s made up of people who are genuinely interested in building inclusive museum technologies for diverse audiences. You can see this grassroots energy each year at the annual conference, where sessions titles such as “Accessible, Inclusive, Digital Design” and “Taking Action on Inclusion” feel right at home. Over the last year, a small working group has been meeting regularly to investigate how we might be able to weave this culture of equity and inclusion into the organizational fabric of MCN. We began by conducting research into proven practices in diversity and inclusion in peer organizations, as well as examining areas in which our own organization can grow.

 

Today, I’m thrilled to publicly announce MCN’s commitment to holistically reexamining all of its programs, practices, and policies from the lens of equity and inclusion. We’ve developed a statement that describes this commitment. We back up the statement with definitions that outline what we mean when we say we value things like diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). This area is so important to us that we made “Embed diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion in everything we do” one of the five pillars in our new 2019–2021 strategic plan.

 

The work MCN has done in the past has come from a good place, but it’s been piecemeal and primarily focused on the annual conference. A few years ago, we implemented a Friendly Space Policy, establishing shared guidelines for making the conference a safe and respectful place for all attendees. Through our scholarship program, we are able to offer financial support to attend the conference for individuals who Identify as part of a group that is traditionally underrepresented or otherwise marginalized.

 

MCN is much more than a just conference, and thus our future DEAI efforts will extend much further. Over the next few years, we hope to pilot professional development opportunities and programming that critically address the role of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in museum technology. We plan to examine how we might be able to institute more equitable recruitment as well as provide support or compensation for people who contribute their time and labor to the organization; this includes but is not limited to MCN Board Members, Conference Program Chairs, SIG Chairs, conference presenters and attendees, scholarship recipients, and volunteers. And finally, we want to support the wonderful DEAI organizing that is already happening within our museum technology community.

 

Of course, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work is never complete—it’s not something that we can check off a box and say we’re done after a three-year strategic plan. Additionally, it’s not something that only a small group can accomplish; it requires input from our whole community.

 

We’d like to invite you to take part in our DEAI efforts. We’re forming an advisory board that will meet on a quarterly basis to share their expertise and help prioritize strategic goals. We hope to select 12 to 20 members who represent wide-ranging dimensions of diversity, with an eye towards giving voice to underrepresented groups. For our organization, diversity means a lot of things. Advisors will represent groups that are historically marginalized or excluded due to race, gender identity and 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.

 

Applications are due December 1, so submit yours now!

 

And whether or not you join the advisory board, we’d like to hear from you about how MCN can foster inclusion and equity within the organization. Another pillar in our new strategic plan is to identify opportunities for, connect with, and involve all of our members who want to contribute to work going on within our organization.

 

To learn how you can be involved, or to share any questions or concerns regarding DEAI at MCN, please contact diversity@mcn.edu. Additionally, we encourage you to swing by our annual conference session MCN Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: Where are we, and where are we headed?, where you can voice how you’d like to see DEAI initiatives go in the future.

 

Headshot of Desi Gonzalez, MCN Board Member

Desi Gonzalez, MCN Board Member

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Announcing MCN 2019-2021 Strategic Plan: Achieving impact through inclusion, innovation, and community building

 

Updated mission and vision statements, summer 2018

  • To grow the digital capacity of museum professionals by connecting them to ideas, information, opportunities, proven practices, and each other.
  • A world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions.

 

We’re pleased to announce MCN’s new three-year strategic plan (2019-2021), which was developed following a productive and energetic strategic retreat with the full board in Washington, DC this past June.

Board strategic retreat June 2018

Three years ago, in June 2015, the then-board of MCN convened in Princeton, NJ to develop a 3-year strategic plan: “Celebrating 50 Years: Advancing Transformation & Innovation in Museums” (2016-2018). MCN had operated without a formal strategic plan for roughly five years, and it had become necessary to get back on track.

The four-page document was intentionally brief: it cast a vision around five strategic priorities each with a set of non-exhaustive success criteria designed to give future board members buy-in, agency, and creativity to develop a series of tactical tasks under each of the plan’s larger objectives. These tactical tasks were documented in three successive annual “Work Plans” that also served as a tool to track progress. Much was accomplished over the past three years: increasing year-round professional development opportunities with the launch of MCN’s mentorship program (now in its second year), growing the SIGs, and improving MCN’s governance and operations, culminating in 2017 with the celebration of MCN’s 50th anniversary, which galvanized our community and resulted in many inspiring community-led projects such as MCN50 Voices.

Going into this year’s strategic development process, we started by looking at what was achieved and what wasn’t, before identifying the most urgent challenges and risks that MCN currently faces. We found ourselves asking many of the same questions we had three years earlier: What is MCN’s core purpose? How do we best serve the needs of our community? How do we ensure that we have adequate resources to support and deliver on our mission? And perhaps, more fundamentally, how do we ensure MCN’s long-term sustainability?

To respond to these questions, we developed five key strategic priorities to focus MCN’s work and frame our decision-making from 2019 through 2021:

  1. Mobilize members of the MCN community
  2. Refine our products and value
  3. Achieve long-term sustainability
  4. Transform MCN’s online platforms
  5. Embed diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion in everything we do

Lastly, in spite of many recent improvements in governance and operational principles that give MCN the support it needs to run effectively, we noticed a few issues calling for our attention. Among them, a lack of continuity in the transfer of institutional memory from outgoing to incoming board members, at a time when the former’s knowledge and experience are at their peak. So the Governance Committee will look at ways to remedy those issues.

Since its beginnings, MCN has been, and remains today more than ever, a community organization. The work invested behind the scenes to strengthen MCN is only driven by our desire to serve the needs of our community and to support each an everyone of you throughout your professional lives in museums. This next strategic plan is designed to grow MCN’s capacity to deliver on its mission so all museums are empowered digitally to achieve theirs.

Eric Longo
Executive Director

MCN 2019-2012 Strategic Plan

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