MCN 2020 Opening Remarks

Matt Tarr and Eric Longo welcome the MCN Community to the first-ever virtual MCN conference. A part of MCN 2020 VIRTUAL


Museum Computer Network 00:00
Hi everyone. Welcome to the opening remarks of MCN 2020 virtual America from Golden's executive director of MCN. And I'm just here to introduce our outgoing president who's busy with his bikes. Matt Tarr for opening remarks. Over to you.

Matt Tarr 00:20
Hello. Thanks, Eric. Welcome to MCN 2020 virtual. Whether you're new to this community or a longtime member relaxed, you're in the right place. I can't see you. But I'm told that there's about 740 MCN members registered this year. I'm not usually nervous when I'm speaking in front of people. But of course, I'm not actually in front of people and just staring at the same computer I look at all day, so bear with me a little bit. Thanks. Yes. So thanks for joining us. I'm again Matt Tarr, the Director of Digital Architecture at the American Museum of Natural History in my day job. But here I have the distinct honor of dubious honor of serving as MCN board president during the year that really defies a simple description, of challenging and tragic in so many ways, like, like too many ways to count, the covid 19 pandemic, a global pandemic that is too often confused with a political movement, the murder of unarmed black people by the police and just the latest in a long history of systemic racism and violence in the US, that disproportionately affects the black communities our record voter turnout in a contested election. In a country that is so divided, it can seem on the brink of disillusion I just found out yesterday, it's a record setting hurricane season as climate change refuses to be ignored. But these aren't just numbers, they're sort of personal or professional traumatic events. Many museums remain closed or at reduced hours and capacities. Many of our friends and colleagues have been furloughed or terminated. I hope though, that each of you can find some light in all this, I know I'm looking forward and I want to recognize my own privilege and positionality as a white middle class male, more specifically, I've been able to keep my job. I've been able to work from home remotely alongside my family, my wife and children. Everyone has stayed fairly healthy and reasonably happy and almost sane. But mcrn, you know quite a year, we actually it's the first time I'm doing a virtual event. So cut some slack. But as we learn on the fly, MCN entered 2020 with some significant budget challenges. And as we sort of the board and Eric and I set about trying to address those challenges COVID-19 hit and you're smashing the idea of any kind of physical gathering. You know, this forced us into sort of a deep reflection of what is MCN? And what does MCN need from us? What does the community need from MCN in the organization, it became fairly clear fairly early that we needed to go virtual. And we embraced this probably tunity and said about planning MCN 2020 virtual conference, which we are now beginning, it's the first time in our 52 year history that we won't be gathering physically, it's a little sad not to be in the same room with all of you, but but we were committed to still having MCN and to bring us all together so that we can connect at a time when we really do need this community. And I think the world needs this community. But But the question was then Okay, so how are we supposed to do this? It's an all volunteer organization. How are we going to deliver on this commitment and gather the community. We're all being pulled in so many directions. I don't know if my kids in the background yelling right now. Well, for one enter the Knight Foundation in July, after tremendous amount of effort from Eric and others. We received a two year $211,000 capacity building grant from the Knight Foundation so we could transform MCN from an organization that hosts a single annual in person event to an on demand year round 24 seven professional development community portal that really supports the community in a way that that it needs right now. A huge thank the Knight Foundation for their support. It is a really, truly transformational gift. So we still had to deliver this conference. And so a question of platform came up and you know, when you're in front of with the youth ecosystem of full, Mike, all in one expensive conference platform software, we really want not impressed by their flexibility or especially their ability to handle accessibility issues. And so we ended up opting for sort of the scrappy. We're nerds anyway, so we ended up opting for this scrappy collection of tools that most of us are using every day already. Zoom, Slack, Twitter sketch, an honor for live captioning, which I hope you're taking advantage of.

Unknown Speaker 05:21
And then we throw in some fun, experimental platforms for some of the more social moments to see how that goes, right, sort of as a living experiment. The next question was, at what price point, we had some support. But we all and we also knew that professional development funds in the community were going to be nil. I mean, jobs are in short supply. So without the usual cost of a physical gathering, and the expensive hotel and catering and travel, we knew we had an opportunity and an obligation to live up to our strategic priority of equity and inclusion. But also to sort of match this year's theme of sustainability. We needed to hit that sweet spot, you know, so we did the math. And then the Finance Committee corrected her math and, and we were able to offer what I think is the lowest price since in a really long time, we also introduced a hardship pricing, which is a no questions asked pricing option for those that needed it. So once all this is in place, we got to work, the program committee crafted the theme, which we're going to talk about in a minute. They defined the strands, session types, and we send out a call for proposal and then just, you know, cross our fingers that that you all were out there and ready to participate. And spoiler alert you did. You blew us away with a number of submissions. We couldn't include them all. What we have is 77 sessions. Six days, over two weeks, over 150 of you are presenting at MCN 2020. Virtual up, I almost forgot one other aspect is it with the urging of our program, committee chairs and the DEA advisory board, and especially Yvonne Lee and coming aboard VP, the MCN board voted to establish our first black speaker fund this year. And that allowed and provided an opportunity for you to contribute to a fun which was distributed among the self identified black conference speakers. It was so successful that we were able to extend it to include volunteers. So that's been that's been a real success. And we know ncn can and must do more. And we're committed to working together to envision a more inclusive and welcoming community that work continues. You'll hear more about that as the conference progresses. Speaking of the program committee, huge shout out to the all volunteer program committee members who have volunteered not knowing that this is going to become an all virtual conference. Under their masterful leadership. The four amazing co chairs Andrea Ledesma, Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Meredith Steinfels and Mimosa Shah, let's give them a hand. I can't, I can't hear you. But you can hear me I hope. So the theme they came up with for MCN in 2020, virtual is sustainability, preserve slash progress, progress, both. Since the pandemic hit us last March, the idea of sustainability is rapidly taken on a whole new urgency for museums in all its facets, technology, finance, environment, culture, sustainability is at the forefront of our practice, as we strive for both survival and relevance age old question of relevance. This session is over the next couple of weeks really are exploring that tension between transformation and longevity that we struggle with that we work on all day in our organization, MCN as well as where we work during the day. I know that co chairs have gone over the program with you earlier today. So I'm not going to do that. But I do want to say something about the challenge that we face that we all face. You know, MCN, we have 52 years of experience for producing a single conference every year physical conference, hotel. And we have nine months and 10 days of experience putting on a virtual conference. Certain types of conferences, sessions translated really well very easily others you know, we sticking our neck out a little bit. networking and how to create opportunities for people to hop in and hop out, take what they want, leave the rest, that kind of stuff has been a real challenge. So we really tried to design this experience with you in mind spread out over two weeks six day conference, a much less dense program tried to focus most of the sessions in the afternoon East Coast time to get the mornings in the East and in sort of a sweet spot across the globe, although obviously that is an impossible challenge. Um, but you know, you can hop in and out and

Unknown Speaker 09:55
remember all the sessions are recorded and be available after the conference except of course Those that involve Chatham House Rules, hundreds of hours went into creating this event, probably hundreds of people and for that we need to provide some facts so you can see on screen here, we've got we'll start with the ncn. Board outgoing board members Susan Edwards, Samantha Diamond, Keir Winesmith Daisy Gonzales myself, we are all kicked to the curb. Although Stay tuned. Hopefully there will be more about that kind of stuff later. I'm super stoked to welcome the class of 2020 like seriously stoked and become friends Erin Canning Claire Pillsbury, Lisa Schermerhorn, nikhil trivedi and Don Youngberg very excited about that the thank you to the program co chair committee co chairs. Again MCN has a long tradition of scholarship. And the Kress Foundation came on last year to provide support to allow scholars to travel stipend course that's not applicable this year. So what we've done is pivoted to their writing short research papers about the work in their area of practice. And that combined work will be put out an impurity paper or those excuse me, those peer review papers will be put out in a book published soon called what's emerging in the field. So many thanks to the Kress Foundation for that. Of course the scholarship committee co chairs who have been shepherding this along Jessica BrodeFrank, Isabel sands and Beth Bollwerk and I mean the volunteer committee co chairs Marty Spellerberg and Grace Poole, of course, and all the volunteers who are making this possible right now there's probably 30 of them behind the scenes making this all work there's the SIG chairs I mean, if you're not in a cig get in one or two. They lead the conversation produce webinars year round create resources. This is really where the magic of the MCN community happens. You know, get the two n MCN SIG thank you to them for serving our community. And of course, the staff of MCN. Eric and especial extra shout out to Anna, who's in you know, couldn't have done without her, then thank you for the generous support of our sponsors, Microsoft who came on as the registration Assistance Fund sponsor that helped to offer that $40 hardship rate I mentioned a minute ago, thanks to axial, who is our Ignite, Ignite sponsors See you there tonight. Can't wait for that. Of course, all of our other sponsors here on the slide. Without them really could not happen. Last thing I promise a couple of important points that were made this morning, I'll make them again. MCN has a code of conduct. That is doesn't matter virtual not virtual, it is the same community guidelines in full effect, make sure that you read them. Speaking of rtfm and and Andrea spent hours writing simple clear how tos to help you navigate the virtual conference space. They're only good if you read them. So please do. We'll quit this in about 30 seconds so that you can go do that before the next session. And then if something does go wrong, it's not covered in those documents, be patient, go to slack, reach out, there's channels there for help desk and things like that. But you know, remember there's a there's a lot of work to be done a lot of live sessions running concurrently that needs support, so it might take a minute to get back to you. And with that, I officially declare MCN 2020 virtual open enjoy the conference.