Conference Scholars (Session 3)

Hear from the 2019 cohort of MCN scholars! (3 of 3) These lightening-talk-style presentations showcase the work and research by the next generation of emerging museum professionals.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us in this very intimate lightning talk session. I'm Andrea Ledesma. I'm the advisor for the scholarship committee. So thank you for joining us. Each year MCN welcomes 15, emerging leaders in museum technology to bring them into the conference. And you see five of them here today. This year with support from the crest Foundation, we welcome scholars from US, Canada and Europe. And their work is so exciting and diverse, and we're glad to share it with you. So today, each of these scholars have five minutes to share a portion of their work, they go back to back so if you have any questions, please save them for the end, or find them they're still here. With further up further ado, I'm gonna just gonna hand it over so we can get started. So professional

Unknown Speaker 00:52
Hello, everyone. My name is Amy. I'm a museum educator at Munson Williams proctor Arts Institute. So I'd like to talk to you today about something that I'm passionate about. And what I'm passionate about is content creation and digital platforms election when working with very specific audiences. So we all know what mobile platforms are capable of at this point. So I won't harp on it. But what I'm going to do is focus on not so much the tech but why we use the tech that we do and to what end. So I think we often create mobile guides with, you know, sort of as wide an audience as possible in mind. And it's usually centered around a specific exhibition, or maybe our collection as a whole. But where I think mobile guides, really excel is in targeting these really specialized populations. So I'm going to tell you just a little bit about my institute. So we are a fine arts museum, in the inner city of a rural county in upstate New York, right in the Rust Belt, we have a large, elderly population, and a lot of these folks have difficulty getting to our museum, they live outside of city limits. And if you're at all familiar with upstate New York, we have really harsh winters, it's kind of prohibitive for them. We also have a lot of underserved inner city schools, there are 13, Title One schools across nine districts in our county. And this particularly affects teens and middle schoolers. So we wanted to do was find a way to serve these groups. So the first step is to assess the needs in your community. And I'm gonna apologize, the text is a little wonky in some places. So for both of these groups, were building apps that are going to be free to use, they're going to have digital and real world components. And they're also going to be available on iPod touches that we will have available for everyone just to rent for free. So group one. So this is the elderly population, and it gets more specific. They are elderly, that are not necessarily living in a residential facility because we have programming for those folks already. And they're going to be folks that live with or with or without memory care concerns. More often, we're leaning towards those with memory care concerns, like Alzheimer's or dementia. And so their needs are companionship, the option to participate remotely, cognitive stimulation, via the senses, cognitive stimulation via conversation, and interpersonal connection. And something that's easy to use. Group two are these inner city teens. Many of these are from low income or single parent families. A lot of these are refugees. We no longer have boys, boys and girls clubs in our city. So a lot of them don't have access to after school resources or entertainment. So their needs are safe, interactive and free programming access to content independent of Wi Fi or cell service content that's engaging and empowering and increase familiarity with local parks and resources, the local resources like parks, museums and libraries. So step two is to develop engaging and accessible content. So what that's going to look like for this first group is an app that's called Let's Talk About RT. And both of these apps are currently in development. So this is a conversation based mobile experience that's geared towards memory care patients and their caregivers. So the idea is that they would be doing it together, the content is focused on improving quality of life and lessening museum anxiety. Among other things, this is going to feature an emoji module and this is going to promote self expression and facial expression awareness and recognition, which is really crucial for Alzheimer's patients. It's also like many mobile apps going to be capable of offsite use so they can do this right from home and not have to worry about breathing, you know, the winter roads. For our second group, these are inner city teens again, and we're focusing on teens that live right in our immediate vicinity. So this is going to be called Hidden Treasure mystery in plain sight. This is a scavenger hunt and geocaching mobile guide. And it's a mobile experience, I guess, geared towards these teens. The contents focused on community engagement using public resources that are right at their fingertips, but they might not necessarily know that they're there or for them. So among other things, it's going to include real world and in app interactives. And both of these Things are going to have the ability for them to share the content that they create with their peers. We're also going to have social media sharing and follow up resources in the real world. So at these libraries, museums and parks are going to have things that they can access after they finish the app. So it will continue on.

Unknown Speaker 05:18
The last step is to choose your vehicle and forgive the car metaphor. This is me the day that I bought my current car. And as you might guess, from the background, it is not fancy manual everything, literally, Windows and all. But because I can drive stick, I get around just fine. And so the thing to remember here is that the content of your mobile guides is the driver, and the tech is the vehicle. So the tech doesn't need to be fancy, it's just a means to get you where you want to go. So that being said, if you're in the market for mobile platform, here's some things to consider. functionality, cost, scalability, accessibility, and staff time and training. These are going to vary in order of importance depending on you and your institution. But this is a good place to get started. When all else fails, make do and make something. So how do we make engaging content, have a goal, have a message, have a specific target audience have an element of entry because it never hurts? make it meaningful and relevant, mind your existing resources, there's no need to go and dump a bunch of money into a new platform that you're unfamiliar with unless you absolutely need to use what you have, and make it fun. I'm sorry, let me just get to my notes. So as long as you're being intentional about intentional about the content that you're creating, the tech is going to be secondary. So make what you have work for you. My final advice is to slow down, start small and build on your successes. So thank you so much to the MCM Scholarship Committee for letting me be here. And if you have any questions, come and find me. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 07:04
Hi, my name is Alyssa Machida, I'm currently working as the Asian art learning resources Fellow at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I've worked in a lot of different museums and had different titles and responsibilities. But if you distill my current work and roll down to its essence, I'm an educator focused on human centered and community empowered methods for designing learning experiences that meow. And in this picture here, that's me on the climbing wall, one of the first times I started climbing a little less than a year ago. Now why am I talking about climbing? Don't worry, I know it's MCN I didn't stumble into the wrong conference. In this five minute session today, I really wanted to share with you who I am and what I'm passionate about. And before I started working in art museums, over two decades of my life has been dedicated to sports and being an athlete. And they didn't teach me in K 12, or undergrad or grad school, how to problem solve in real life and how to be on teams and tackle tricky projects at big organizations. The way I learned these lessons and develop these skills is through not only museum work experience, but also in places like on the climbing wall. And when I started climbing, I was super intrigued by the words and the terminology of the sport. So in climbing problems are the sequence of moves required to successfully complete a climb. The word project, interestingly to me, is actually used as both a noun and a verb. So a project is any problem that you can't successfully complete in one pass. And the act of continually attempting the problem is to project or projecting and so working on big ambitious creative projects in the museum feels a lot like when I go to climbing when I go climbing. When I step up to the wall, I need to figure out what is the successful sequence of moves. And it's usually really hard, takes a lot of trial error and iteration. And climbing is what for me has helped me develop skills and patience, persistence and openness in approaching navigating and tackling projects. Now I have three key lessons that I've learned that I would like to share with you today. A very important disclaimer that climbing is not required nor recommended in order to learn these lessons. It's just how it happened for me. So the first lesson is the importance of project being together with team members in order to build shared understandings trust collective ethos, and to witness each other's learnings, trials and failures together. This is my friend and close colleague, Gretchen I'd never met her before we were thrown together to figure out how to successfully complete a big project at our museum. And in the early stages of working together we started going climbing together Now this wasn't planned, I didn't intentionally suggested for the purposes of team building. We just tried it and it while it might not be the one singular thing that brought success to our project, it got to is out of the office to give us the opportunity to get to know each other as real people. We were having conversations we wouldn't be having in meetings and we talk shop on and off the wall. And essentially, we were in an environment designed to practice the act of solving difficult problems together recreationally and just for fun, we are able to form a collaborative trust based relationship for problem solving in a way that just doesn't happen in a formal Office meeting for an hour once a week. So the second lesson that I've learned, that was almost like an epiphany for me was to approach to have the mindset of approaching museum projects like a problem to solve. So I now know that that is a mental framework that exists in experience design, but for me, it was climbing that ingrained in me the understanding that problems are inherently difficult. And to not let that be a barrier for frustration, or paralysis or abandoning it just because it is difficult and hard. I learned through climbing that hard things are possible, you just have to keep at it. And the last lesson I want to share with you today is the importance of acknowledging and addressing our weaknesses openly and without the stigma of risk or shame. Now, I don't know how much you can see in this image. But this is me on the wall on some starting holds that I personally call credit card holds. So they're crimps that are so slender and thin, you're essentially supporting your body weight with your fingers on holds that are as slim as credit cards. Now, the first time I tried this, it was impossible. And if I forced it, I would have really injured myself. But I was really surprised that after a few attempts, over a few weeks, my fingers adjusted and they strengthen and I was able to do something previously physically outside the realm of possibility for me. So in museums, urgency, and sometimes absurd ways of keeping time and deadlines and a sense that we need to be perfect or professional all the time can really limit opportunities for us to slow down, take stock, learn, iterate, pivot and grow towards something really great, unprecedented and innovative. So I learned as a climber that our weaknesses don't limit us or make us fail unless we ignore them. I know that was super brief, but I wanted it to be a conversation starter and an opportunity to share with you the real meat. Please feel free to connect with me and talk with me about climbing museums or literally anything else. I really look forward to connecting with you. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 12:37
Okay, hi, everyone. I'm mydailychoice limit Rojas and I work as a digital initiative metadata librarian at IUPUI University Library in Indiana. And I'm going to talk to you today about projects I've been working on to contribute to a representation of winning artists in wiki data. So wiki data as you probably have heard the past few days. You might be familiar with this is a multilingual knowledge base that stores structure LinkedIn data on their CCSU license, which means that it can be reused and repurposed by anyone. For instance, we have Google Making use of wiki data stata to generate the the knowledge cards. This is a project that was launched in 2012. By Wikimedia doston it already has over 60 million items. Wiki data, sir, serves as a central repository for all Wikimedia projects. So here we see on the screen an entry for the artists use Chicago, we can see that wiki data does not exist in isolation. So we have an entry for you, Chicago and wiki data. And it's connected to three different projects in this particular case. But despite the fact that there are over 60 million items in beauty data, there is a huge gender gap in the project, if we see here in the table 82% are entries that have been identified as males and only 17% for females. So there's a lot of work that needs to be done. And so, there are two projects that have been working towards not only providing a representation in wiki data on Wikipedia for women, but also making sure that they are properly described and these there will be project women in red and they will be project women. So one of the things that I worked on last year in an effort to you know, make micro contributions toward this, you know, bridging this gendered divine was working on this 100 Wiki days challenge on wiki data. Essentially this is this was a way A two, no, everyone can do this. And it's a way to make yourself accountable. And so creating this entry, so it will be creating an entry every day every day for 100 consecutive days, which can be challenging, especially if you're traveling. But it's, again, it's a good way to make smaller contributions. And so, in for this particular project, I focus on female Kubang artists, because I found that they were not well represented in wiki data. And the other project that I've been working on is again, related to women artists, but in this particular case for Indiana or Hoosier women artists. And for this, I have been collaborating and contributing and using the resources funding from the Indianapolis Museum of Art to essentially going there physically, and looking through their eyes fi or some pulling information to be able to create these entries. So so far, the outcomes of this project have been, you know, creating 40 new entries in wiki data for RAs and or enhancing existing entries, and also creating entries not just for the artists, but for things that that might need to be linked to the artist like for in this case, I'm going to do for a school or a newspaper so that it can be used to support the statement for the artists or a cemetery where the person had been buried and things like that, since everything in wiki data needs to be, you know, the data structure. So everything needs to be in wiki data, in order for you to be able to link it. And the lessons learned with these two projects on surprising. Essentially, you know, finding biographical information about women is is challenging. I mean, I will say that it's challenging finding information about women in general, and even more so finding reliable resources. But the work can be done, it just takes a little bit more time on a four. But all of us working in cultural heritage institutions have access to databases and data sets with information about women artists that if shared in wiki data could bring us a step closer to bridging the gender divide. So our encourage you all to check out wiki data is is really fun, I think you will be making a contribution to this knowledge ecosystem. Thank you and wiki data.

Unknown Speaker 17:56
Hello, my name is Tracey help. And I am a graduate student at the University of Maryland, where I am pursuing a master's in American history as well as a master's in archives in digital curation. And I'm also doing a certificate and museum scholarship and material culture. I'm going to be talking to you guys today about a project to increase accessibility to records related to Japanese American internment camps during World War Two. This is a project that was taken on by the digital curation and Innovation Center at the University of Maryland, which is a unique group that's comprised of undergraduate and graduate students collaborating together to bring the tools and ideas of computer science to various archival projects. So the digital curation and Innovation Center was granted by the National Archives exclusive access to the War Relocation authorities internal security reports. They were similar to police reports. And they take the form of 25,000 index cards which are organized like you see on the screen and boxes. And these records are important because they demonstrate the very harsh and arbitrary nature of living in these camps under martial law. But they also demonstrate powerful acts of survival protest and resistance. And I have on the screen a breakdown of the the amount of cards that are in the collection for each camp. And you can see that the largest amount of cards is for Tooley Lake, which is a camp that they sent to people who had been considered troublemakers and other camps. And typically, these were people who were organizing various political protests to protest their treatment in the camps. Now, there's a couple of different problems if you are a researcher who wants to do research with this collection. The first problem is that because these are considered analogous to criminal records, any cards that contain information about someone under the age of 18 could not be released. And because the National Archives lack the resources to be able to individually check every single card, they shut down the collection as a whole for researchers. But even if you could overcome that problem, there's also the issue there's limited ability to search this collection. So if you want Just search what was in the cards about a particular person, the organization of the collection would support that. But if you wanted to do research, for example, on who participated on a particular protest on a particular day, you would find that to be very difficult with the court current organization. Also, if you wanted to study broader patterns in the cards, like what activities were police the most by the guards in the camp, it would also be very difficult to do that type of research. So address these problems, I'm going to tell you the steps that we followed. The first step was to extract data from the index cards. So we performed OCR on the cards after we scanned them. We also did named entity recognition using gait to textual processing. And because the cards all follow generally the same format, which you can see on the screen, it was easy for us to be able to train a computer to know when the information appears in this particular area of the card, then put in the date field, if it appears in this area of the car, then put it in the name field. And then we were able to turn these index cards into beautiful Excel spreadsheets. Now anybody who's ever worked with OCR in old documents, probably knows that it's not going to come out perfect. So we also had to clean the data. And that would correct for any types of typos or any types of problems with the OCR. Another thing that we encountered is that the people who recorded information on the cards didn't always use the same vocabulary or the same abbreviations or the same spellings. So we wanted to be able to create some consistency as well as a check for accuracy. So we use Google Open refine, which is a free tool that allows you to to clean and manipulate data. And that helped us to create the usable data that we wanted. Now the next thing that we did, is we wanted to solve the problem of making sure that these records could actually be released. So now that we have a data set, what we can do is we can take the date of the card, and then we can look up the individual who's named on the card. Based on we have the final accountability roster, we also have some information on form 26, when we can calculate that person's age at the time of the incident on the card. And using Python, we were able to automate the process of checking is this person over the age of or over the age of 17, at the time of this incident, if so release a card if not, do not release the card.

Unknown Speaker 22:27
Now also, because we had all this information on a spreadsheet, that opens up a lot of other different possibilities, what you see on the screen are just some very brief examples of just some of the things that we've been experienced or experimenting with. The first is using QGIS, we've been plotting the different incident cards on a map of the camps. And we're hoping to develop that into maybe a more sophisticated interactive map of some of the things that were happening in the camp. The other thing that we can do is we can take some of the information from the cards and also from the registers of people and we can analyze them and to create data visualizations that might tell you a little bit more about the people in the camp. So the example that's on the screen is the age of the people that were incarcerated at to the lake. I know for me, one of the things I found most shocking was to realize exactly how many other people that were in the camps were children and young people, I found that that to be a very effecting thing to know. Now, I do want to be clear that we believe that turning these cards into data and being able to do all these different visualizations and such is interesting for creating new insights and allowing new opportunities to explore the topics in the cards. However, we understand that these are the stories of real people. Well, they're not just data points. And to that end, we've been partnering with ever or other organizations for outreach and interpretation. Because we don't necessarily feel like we are the people that are most qualified to tell these stories. So one of the groups that we've been partnering with is Densho, which is the Japanese American legacy project, which works with survivors and survivors, families, as well as scholars who have been specializing in this particular topic. And they're going to be hosting the digital database of records. And they're also going to be providing interpretive content and guidance on the various privacy issues constraint. This is a various or I'm sorry, a very sensitive topic. Another thing that we did recently is we sponsored an event on campus with the filmmaker Conrad attr, he did a documentary called resistance to the lake. And in that documentary, he talks about the different protests that happened, actually late camp, and a lot of the individuals that are mentioned in his documentary also appear in our cards. And so we thought that that was like a really interesting way of bringing context to the project that we're working on. So we staged an event where in the beginning of the event, students presented on the different research that we've been doing, and the different processes that we've been following to try to make these cards more available. And then we screened the movie and we did a q&a with the filmmaker to sort of show how those two topics are relating to each other and how we're contributing to the research. Sorry, I think there's supposed to be another card there about that just had my contact information. If you You wanted to contact me. But otherwise you can just find me after the presentation and I can give you my contact information. Thank you

Unknown Speaker 25:20
Hi, Hi Ron. My name is Clemens polygyny, I'm Head of Development for the England fun for endanger heritage. We are based in Paris in France. And today, I will tell you how I think we are can generate empathy. To start very briefly on Conan, so he got me the company doing 3d digitization of endanger heritage, while working in Saudi countries, mostly in the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan. And we also have a nonprofit Fund, which I'm working for. The nonprofit is mostly dedicated to training local experts into new technologies, in order to make them independent towards the heritage production. We use a technology called photogrammetry, which I think some of you might have odd might have have. And it consists in collecting a very large number of 2d pictures, and then creating a 3d model using pixel of these pictures. And usually it's a hyper realistic 3d model. Last fall, we created an exhibition at the art world Institute in Paris called Angel cities. It has been the most visited exhibition ever for this museum. And the one is the youngest audience by ATL. In partnership with for example, the UNESCO, Ubisoft, it's not traveling, it went to Saudi Arabia's and to Germany. And actually, it's coming to DC in December, at the Smithsonian Museum. It showcased through immersive projection for city for cities or archaeological sites in the Middle East. Aleppo, in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, which are both cities and time era in Syria and Leptis Magna in Libya, which are archaeological sites. And along the exhibition, will display testimonies of people directly affected by the destruction or looting of heritage displays people, for example, who used to live in the cities are archeologist, heritage experts who has worked for decades on the sites, it allows the audience to have an insight on how heritage Exogen really affect lives of people as it isn't just a bunch of all drugs, like hanging together. But it also made the exhibition more human oriented. Because behind every site, and every landmarks are people living there and people walking down. We also decided to form a partnership with Ubisoft, which is of a French video game studio. I was the one who created Assassin's Creed, for example. And the other buildings are the art department. So they were interesting to make a partnership with us for this exhibition has made the VR work more known. So we created the VR experience at the end of the exhibition to discover six landmarks in those four cities or archaeological sites. The goal well values of course, it was to innovate, but also to attract a younger audience and to continue the creation of empathy through a real physical experience. It's supposed to be a video that, sir. Okay, well, it was supposed to be a video to show you how VR was that I'll still be talking about it. So the VR experience allowed everyone to interact into the site. We created a deep connection between all the testimony inside the exhibition and the VR experience as lived by surgeons. It was driven by the idea to leave it in order to understand what it's like to see your city destroyed by Well, we work with Ubisoft on a multi sensorial experience, we created a perfume we put near the VR experience, I have a smell that was to send like dust and rocks under the sun, which I'm quite skeptical about it but I'm still saying it. And we will get that specific sound directly from the field because we go on field to get it created an emotional and like lasting experience for the audience. And a lot of people for example, were crying and a lot of schools came to go to see the exhibition to understand really what the conflicts was, the conflict was about. Ultimately, this VR experience created the realness around the war and empathy for the victims, especially towards refugees and displaced people, as you're just as been given a chance to show briefly the experience.

Unknown Speaker 30:19
It showed that, for the first time in an exhibition at General Institute VR is a great tool to share personal stories and create emotional experiences for all ages. And also that partnerships can be a real trigger for VR. Thank you