MCN Blog

Let’s hang out! Social Experiences for MCN 2020 Virtual

Like you, we’re counting down the days to MCN 2020 VIRTUAL. Many have shared their excitement about the program. Now, next to our wonderful lineup of speakers, we’re thrilled to announce the social events for this year’s conference. 

As Conference Program Co-Chairs and members of the MCN community, we know that much of the value of the conference comes from moments between the sessions. Think of all the connections made and ideas shared in hallways, over dinner, or on a much-needed walk. These serendipitous and meaningful interactions are a big part of why we gather annually. When we moved the conference online, we knew the program needed to not only replicate these social experiences, but also recognize the limits of our virtual (and unpredictable) circumstances. How can online events bring attendees together remotely and create shared spaces for connection, decompression, activation, and support? 

Well, that’s for us to experience and create—together!

Browse this list of all the ways you can hang out at MCN this year. The Program Committee joined forces with our Special Interest Groups (SIG) and MCN’s board to offer a range of sessions: live and asynchronous, professional and playful. We’re also eager to see what you spin up for your old—and new!—MCN friends. (Karaoke, anyone?) 

Tune in for live events

Welcome Session

We’re things kicking off with our live Welcome Session on Tuesday, November 10 at 11am ET. Join us, whether you’re a first-timer or a conference pro— since we’re all new this year! . We’ll share everything there is to know about enjoying and navigating MCN’s first virtual conference. 

Ignite

What’s MCN without Ignite? Tune-in for this massive watch party that same day at 5pm ET. Nine of the best (and bravest) speakers share seven, five-minute presentations and performances around the central theme of “creative inspiration.” Our speakers are: 

  • My 2D World” by Sandy Goldberg
  • “Communities of Imagination & Learning” by Michael Riordan
  • “Your Data are Probably Racist” by Yvonne Lee & Meredith Steinfels
  • “Audience Engagement Is Dead” by Kyle Bowen
  • “We Have Not Come This Far to Only Come This Far” by Virginia Poundstone & Garrett Graddy-Lovelace
  • “Craft, Work, & Kraftwerk” by Tim Boutelle
  • “They Will Save Us If We Let Them” by Jeremy Munro

This watch-party will get interactive. Come prepared with your favorite beverage, snack, and/or watch partner (pets count!), and get ready to cheer on our speakers. Tweet at your favorites, drop some emojis in the group chat, or film your reaction to share online. Just because we can’t get together IRL doesn’t mean we can’t still get a little rowdy.

Speed Networking

No business card, no problem. Meet other MCN attendees in any one of our six speed networking sessions during the conference. Each session accommodates up to 80 participants who’ll chat with others in a series of breakout rooms. Sign-up for your preferred session(s) by adding it to your schedule on Sched:

SIG Meetups 

Special Interest Groups are the lively and creative heart of MCN. Get to know a SIG and its members in any one of their live meetups. Note that some SIGs have combined their sessions. Let the collaboration magic happen!

Slack

We’ll miss the hallway chatter too, but don’t fret! We’re outfitting MCN’s Slack workspace to keep us connected in real time between sessions. 

Everyone who has registered will get an invite to join the workspace before the conference or get added to the channels if you’re already in. On Slack, you’ll receive updates about the program and have a direct line to our conference management team. You’ll also get access to channels exclusive to conference attendees. Yes, there will be a channel for pet pictures.

Check out the ”How to MCN VIRTUAL” guide for more information about setting up Slack—including a full list of channels, recommended notification settings, and updates about custom commands.

Karaoke

Yes, it’s still happening. Line-up your playlists for the evening of Wednesday, November 18 for MCN’s favorite unofficial tradition. Adrienne Lalli Hills, Jennifer Foley, and nikhil trivedi will be in touch with more details… 

Museum of Portable Sound

Take an online field trip to the Museum of Portable Sound (MOPS)—an independent museum that collects, preserves, and exhibits sounds as objects of culture and offers visitors a unique, listening-based experience. Chief Curator John Kannenberg will host three, 20-minute trips on Wednesday, November 11 starting at 5pm ET. Space is limited to five attendees per trip. Advance sign-up required. Save your spot for one of the field trips by adding it to your schedule in Sched: 

Browse all the official, live social events (We expect Drinking About Museums to make an appearance soon!) on Sched under the “Social Events” venue. 

Multi-Robot Comedy Performance

Who knew robots could have such impeccable comedic timing? On Tuesday, November 17, at 5pm ET sit-down for a Multi-Robot Comedy Performance. Oregon State University computer science professor Heather Knight will not only be joined by Janani Swaminathan and Jujjuri Sowmya, but also her robot friends in a 30-minute interactive performance that shines light on how funny human-robot interactions can be. 

Connect on your own schedule 

Live events are fun, but we also want to be sure that all attendees can get social at a time and in a manner that fits their needs. Here are a number of asynchronous activities to enjoy solo or in a group, whenever the mood strikes. 

Museum Chill Network

Relax or activate your body and mind with the Museum Chill Network. Browse the toolkit that compiles resources for stillness and movement, including: video playlists to help you relax, guided meditations for mindfulness, somatic practices for de-escalating anxiety, and more. If you need to shake and/or shimmy the digital fatigue off, there’s dance parties, yoga classes, sound bathing, and other resources to get you moving. 

Do you have a favorite digital tool to decompress? Share your ideas on Slack or at program@mcn.edu to help us create an ongoing list.

Scavenger Hunt

The challenge: tracking down clues across conference sessions and attendees. The prize: one delightful mystery trophy and 364 days of bragging rights. Join in on the great MCN 2020 Virtual Scavenger Hunt. Sign up opens October 24. 

Museum Cooking Network

Whomst among us hasn’t made banana bread in quarantine? Share your recipes for that and more in our crowdsourced cookbook. We’ll share all the recipes in the days leading up to the conference, so that you can find some inspiration to cook up your own conference reception. 

Get a group together

Just as attendees found their own favorite spots in conference cities, we want to encourage you to organize your own online gatherings. Check out this guide to learn how you can host an event during the conference. 

Events organized by attendees are not considered official, MCN-sponsored activities; however, they are still subject to MCN’s Code of Conduct and our Community Guidelines. Keep it chill. Be kind. Stay respectful.

To send out an invite for your event or find others to participate in, drop a word and check in with the #mcn2020-meetup channel on Slack or #MCN2020 on Twitter. 

Interested in testing a new platform for your own online get-together? Try SpatialChat

This nifty product uses the approach to sound levels by proximity (as found in VR spaces) but in a simple 2D browser window. Share images, video, screen share, and move around the screen to have conversations with different groups in the same “room.” 

See the How to MCN VIRTUAL guide for updates on accessing SpatialChat and more information about the product.

While it is fun to play with, keep in mind that SpatialChat has yet to tackle accessibility. Before using the product, please check in with your group first to make sure you won’t be excluding anyone or giving them a crappy experience. The inclusive option would be to use Zoom to chat after sessions. 


This year’s conference will be a wonderful experiment, and admittedly we’re equal parts nervous and excited. We’re doing our best to ensure that the conference remains an impactful, supportive, and restorative experience. Thank you to everyone joining us—our speakers, attendees, and volunteers. 

We’ll see you soon

Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Mimosa Shah, Meredith Steinfels, and Andrea Ledesma 

Conference Program Co-chairs, MCN 2020 VIRTUAL