Tyler! I think that there might be a comparative bioluminescence exhibit review in your future…
Tyler! I think that there might be a comparative bioluminescence exhibit review in your future…
This is the TED talk that Bardia referenced in his presentation today: http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html
Hi everyone, thanks for your great comments. Jeremy raises an important question about the definition of social media, and the extent to which platforms like YouTube constitute social media. You may have seen this video before, and if not I think it is a fun way to think about the social effects and relationships that YouTube at least initially promoted. Mike Wesch argues pretty convincingly that YouTube began as a profoundly social medium–“a celebration of new forms of communities…allowing us to connect in ways that we have never connected before”. Has it been able to persist in this way? Watch the first 5 minutes at least if you have time, and let me know if you agree…
In this article, I would like to explore the social media space in the context of Museums, and investigate different critical challenges in bringing museums experiences to social media space exposed through the body of related literature.
Recently, there has been a popular trend to introduce museum institutions and their digital contents in social media space in order to reach more audiences and build an online social community which better establishes the relationship between people and museums.
However, emerging museums experience and contents in social media space has created several challenges such as privacy issues, cultural ethics, authority management, tailored experience issues, educational role preservation, and so forth.
Meanwhile different aspects of social media exposition needs to be addressed, such as using this medium for marketing (effective ways Vs branding techniques), building social communities, Creating active collaborative environment for creation, and socio-cultural exchange, and finally collective intelligence computation power.
First, I will introduce the main perspectives and challenges, and then I will summarize this week papers while trying to connect their perspectives with introduced subjects and challenges in former section.
Social Media and new Challenges for museums
Social media is playing an over growing role in humans’ everyday life, while trying to address different needs such as social awareness in social networks, and promoting new dimensions in human life, by providing a set of tools for collective creation, socio-cultural exchange, media sharing, online community management and etc. It will be beyond of this article to explore these different dimensions, meanwhile it worth to investigate how museums benefits from this medium to increase their accessibility, and addressing their audience needs through social contents, and building an active collaborative environments while addressing issues such as user privacies, cultural ethics and authority management.
Museums as institutions which tries to preserves history, tangible and tacit cultural heritages, are trying to be responsive to social media phenomenon and connect its content and educational plans with this over growing medium. One of major goals in using social media space is to benefit from its accessibility power to outreach a larger number of audience and communities. Mediums like Facebook, and Twitters can be very effective is this domain, meanwhile Twitter is getting used mainly for marketing’s paradigms which might makes museums promotions as brands rather than symbols of cultural and historical centers. This can make the museums sort of distant from its audience, meanwhile a good social media strategy can better initiate connections which are more reliable and trustful, This can be reach either through community ambassadors or tailored invitations sent from existing trusted social groups.
Furthermore building online social communities is quite a challenging problem, which does not necessarily can be reached only by increasing the number of followers or friends, and it demands a good level of trust for bringing people in and keep them motivated and engaged with interesting contents. Using social ambassadors and active group of content creators, and many to many communication models can be effective for this case though.
Finally, having an active and collaborative environments, which lead to a better dialog demands a good level of collective intelligence, which can be achieved either by story-making or crowd-sourcing techniques, while the latter one is more engaging and effective, However it creates a shift in authority of medium from the expected experience initiated by museum designers to personalized and collective experience by social groups.
In addition to mentioned perspectives, in connecting museums to social media, there are several concerns and questions raised by community of intellectuals and critics about the limitations, and potential problems of this new space, the following papers and their summaries address these issues:
Museum Management and Curatorship : Ethical issues of social media in
museums: a case study
Amelia S. Wong a
This article explores the ethical issues raised from intertwining modern museum practice with social media space through a case study of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It investigates how this new medium can create synergy by increasing the size of audience and bringing the museum educational practices in humans’ everyday life, while exploring tensions raised from ethical questions around transparency of goals Vs process, Censorship of socio-cultural comments, and privacy of end users.
The paper mainly address questions like: “Can we selectively delete comments, feeling the museum’s memorial function affords the people lending their stories to these videos respectful treatment? Or should we allow any comment to stand in the name of free speech, even when it is hate speech?”, and it tries to provide a context to better understand whether the social media is appropriate for every museum practice or not.
Finally it discusses that modern museums largely motivate the inclusion of visitors’ views in social space, without considering the level of privacy that their users might be interested to be involved.
My critical point about this paper is about the authentic nature of some museums like one explored in this case study, and the openness emerged from bringing the museum experience to everyday life of a large audience which might not share the same cultural ethics.
Question: Social media can create a diverse audience for a museum which can cross the geographic and cultural borders, Should Museums expect to preserve their cultural ethics which might not be common among different communities?
Enacting engagement online: framing social media use for the Museum
This article demonstrates museums’ uses of social media by analysing critical frames which their use is currently being configured. It inspects the intersection of social media space with museum practices in Marketing, Inclusion, and collaborative intelligence frames, and tries to address the problematic views in each different frame. For example, how using marketing techniques widely applied in social media like Twitter can create a distant between museum and its audience mainly because of this fact that museums are quite different than brands.
It also investigate methods like creative ambassadors, many to many communication models, and creating shared knowledge and believe as important factors to initiate and build an online social community for museums, which cannot be necessarily reached only by having a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a Youtube channel.
Finally it compares story making and crowd sourcing techniques for maintaining an active online community, while recommending the second approach as more effective one.
Questions: Why does a museum need to have an active and collaborative online community meanwhile the social media can play an effective informative role about museum events, and contents and encourage people to visit the physical space?
Can models like collective intelligence in systems like Wikipedia be a good suggestion for museums in domain of social space?
The Use of Social Media in the Danish Museum Landscape
Nanna Holdgaard, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
The aim of this paper was to investigate how social media and their online communications has been used in museums in Denmark Content analysis is considered as their basic systematic and reliable technique to infer generalizations of representations and meanings of media content. Different museums have been explored by considering following categories:
Language (usage of Danish language or other languages)
Videos (moving images)
Games (interactive features)
Findings suggest that the majority of museums communicate with a low degree of user interaction, participation and engagement in social media space. While benefit from this medium in order to attract more visitors to the physical museums instead.
Question: Why museums only consider serious games (interactive and educational programs), while they can benefit from social gaming frameworks for a larger education, with better motivational derives. Is entertaining nature of these applications in contrast with new museum practices?
Many thanks to Claude for her great synthesis of this week’s readings on virtual museums, and for many excellent questions for discussions. I am looking forward to Tuesday’s class. In the meantime, I wanted to link to a few examples of virtual museums that are worth spending some time looking at and thinking about in relation to the readings from this week (which of course build on the conversations we have been having all term).
What do you think of the Google Art Project? The Virtual Museum of Canada also hosts hundreds of online exhibits. We looked at the Adobe Museum and its exhibits in class, which is intriguing and clearly demonstrating the strength of Adobe software and some virtual curatorial vision. A student recently showed me the Valentino Garvani Virtual Museum, for lovers of fashion (thanks Serge!)… There is the BBC and British Museum’s A History of the World in a Hundred Objects; or MOMA NY’s virtual exhibit produced for their Cartier-Bresson exhibit…. all so different, all playing with the medium and searching for a new way to communicate the collections and mandate of the museum. Have you encountered any sites worth exploring in your online travels and research?
Abungu (2010) paints a picture of the contemporary museums in post-colonial Africa as working to move away from “the old style of exhibition (eg. Dusty objects hidden in glass cases)” (181), and to address the changing face of African society that museums now represent. Part of decolonization, she argues, is a move away from a western museum model, and the positioning of the museum as a tool for social and cultural development. Capetown’s District Six Museum, for example, represents a shift from a focus on objects to the memorialization of the atrocities committed under apartheid––a move from exhibiting tangible heritage to featuring, promoting, and actively documenting and communicating intangible heritage in digital form. Digital cultural heritage from her perspective has the potential to be an agent in the social and cultural work of the museum, telling stories formerly denied heritage value by an oppressive regime, breaking down walls of institutions and creating access for the marginalized; at the same time, its reach is limited by aging telecommunications infrastructure, lack of access to Internet and computers, and conditions of poverty. Abungu’s article points to the role of new media in facilitating access to digital cultural heritage (see Christen’s 2009 piece, and my piece (2009) assigned for this week as well) and the challenges of access outside of urban centres.
Abungu’s analysis of the museum in post-colonial Africa speaks to Fiona Cameron’s assertion that heritage discourse––which has come to include digital heritage––is culturally and politically produced. She argues:
“Choices as to what to keep and criteria in which to define objects are made at the expense of others and as Hall (2005) suggests is one of the ways a nation slowly constructs a collective memory of itself. Clearly the same is true for digital heritage items. The value of the past for the future and the nation hinges on these essentialized meanings” (Cameron 2008:177).
Reminding me of Jeremy’s post last week, Cameron argues that Western societies have been largely object centered, “where notions of heritage place the accumulation of objects of critical importance is the transmission of cultural traditions” (Cameron 2008:178). She contrasts this object-orientation with societies that are concept centered, in which objects are preserved because of their ongoing functionality, and in which cultural is transmitted orally––what is now known and codified by UNESCO as the intangible cultural heritage. As tangible and intangible heritage are being digitized in the name of preservation, they are rapidly being inducted in a process of “heritigization”, which Cameron sees as reinforcing Western paradigms of historical materiality (think Walter Benjamin). This process of heritigization is further steeped in the discourse of loss, in which digital heritage is valued if it is perceived as being lost to posterity, rather than for its value in the present. What are the consequences? Should heritage preservation be about more than the archiving of a record, of documentation, of an object? What is the role of the digital object in heritage preservation, and in keeping intangible cultural heritage alive and reproducing? How do we understand the digital surrogate in relation to the original?
Alonzo Addison (2008) reflects on the need to safeguard heritage’s endangered digital record through the lens of built-heritage documentation. By his definition, virtual heritage is practice oriented: “the use of digital technologies to record, model, visualize, and communicate cultural and natural heritage” (2008:27). This work is producing digital heritage, which itself is threatened by changing technologies, data storage challenges, and a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation. Addison’s work, scanning and digitally documenting endangered world heritage sites, is grounded in discourse promoted by the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which “formalizes the concept of places of ‘outstanding universal value’ to all humankind and proceeds to encourage their protection and preservation for all” (2008:30). (Note that intangible cultural heritage was only formalized as a heritage concept in 2003). As you can see in this message from the Irine Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, on the 40th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the discourse of universal value is alive and well (but of course depends on ongoing international support. Lack of support makes even more visible the ideological underpinnings of world heritage policy…). World Heritage, according to UNESCO, “is a building block for peace and sustainable development. It is a source of identity and dignity for local communities, a wellspring of knowledge and strength to be shared. In 2012, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, this message is more relevant than ever.”
Addison’s chapter is well illustrated in this recent TED talk by Ben Kacyra (below), who has developed technologies for extremely fast, high resolution 3D scans of heritage spaces, and is currently building a global network with the goal of scanning and documenting all of the world’s endangered heritage. He reiterates that the loss of world heritage––heritage that essentially belongs to us all as humans on earth––is a loss of the stories (the intangible) that these places represent, and a loss of the collective memory that tells us who “we” are. Without our heritage, he asks, how will we know who we are?
I am interested in one particular moment in the talk, when he describes how the scanning and digital modeling of a ritual structure in Uganda was put to use after the original structure burned down. In this case, I see potential for intangible cultural heritage–the knowledge of how to build a traditional form of architecture––to actually be revived with the use of digital documentation. Because of the 3D model, the structure could be rebuilt, and in the course of doing this, new knowledge was generated, and potentially passed on. So, what is the relationship of the digital file to the original? In this case, the digital file could be used to recreate the original, but most of the scans by CyArk will simply be archived. What will be documented along with them? Are they removed completely from their contexts of production—do they maintain a connection to the original or do they take on new heritage significance on their own?
Finally, Last week we discussed the news that the US Library of Congress will begin to archive all tweets being generated through the platform Twitter. The response to this announcement is interesting, coming from those who are eager to be able to search the archive, to those who feel that their privacy has been invaded (I never signed up to be archived by the Library of Congress!), to those who think that archiving more than 50 million tweets every day is a colossal waste of financial and human resources. The New York Times discusses a new kind of researcher—the twitterologist––and indeed, the data is tremendously useful for researchers of all kinds, but is it heritage? Why or why not?
Lyman and Besser (2010) discuss the Internet Archive as representing another example of the desire to preserve and archive as much of the emerging digital heritage as possible, before it is “lost”. Through the Wayback Machine, over 150 billion web pages are available, reminding users of the dynamic and contingent nature of the Internet—it is always changing, or more accurately, we are always changing it. Is it heritage?
What heritage should be saved? Who should save it? Does documentation of heritage amount to preservation, to ‘safeguarding’? How is local heritage translated into heritage of “universal value”, and what are the implications? What of the question of cultural property, of intellectual property rights, and copyright in this mess? I like Larry Lessig’s TED talk, in this regard, for the way it spells out some of the legal and cultural foundations of current IP and copyright law. But, to connect a thread back to some of our earlier conversations, what are the some of the ethical issues related to digitizing and making formerly analogue heritage digital—should digitized cultural documentation automatically be inscribed as heritage of universal value, that should be open for access by all… or can we come up with alternatives that contest this emerging norm?
There is clearly a lot to discuss in the seminar this week, from digital cultural heritage as access, as documentation, as ethical and legal touchstone, as cultural policy, as memory and identity, to its representation of shifts in relations of power… I look forward to your thoughts on this post or any of the readings for this week.
Abungu, Lorna (2010). Access to Digital Heritage in Africa: Bridging the Digital Divide. In Museums in a Digital Age. R. Parry, ed. Pp. 181-185. London and New York: Routledge.
Addison, Alonzo (2008). The Vanishing Virtual: Safeguarding Heritage’s Endangered Digital Record In New Heritage: New Media and Cultural Heritage. Y.E. Kalay, T. Kvan, and J. Affleck, eds. Pp. 27-39. London and New York: Routledge.
Cameron, Fiona (2008). The Politics of Heritage Authorship: The Case of Digital Heritage Collections. In New Heritage: New Media and Cultural Heritage. Y.E. Kalay, T. Kvan, and J. Affleck, eds. Pp. 170-184. London and New York: Routledge.
Christen, Kimberly (2009). Access and Accountability: The Ecology of Information Sharing in the Digital Age. Anthropology News (April):4-5.
Hennessy, Kate (2009). Virtual Repatriation and Digital Cultural Heritage: The Ethics of Managing Online Collections. Anthropology News (April):5-6.
Lyman, Peter, and Howard Besser (2010). Defining the Problem of Our Vanishing Memory: Background, Current Status, Models for Resolution. In Museums in a Digital Age. R. Parry, ed. Pp. 336-343. London and New York: Routledge.
I had a good chat with Bardia today about his final project. One of the resources that we discussed is the MOV’s OpenMOV archive, which lets you search the contents of the museum’s collection. If you are trying to imagine how to involve the MOV, neon signs, or other objects from the collection into your project proposal, this is a useful tool. I am looking forward to discussing the final project with you all next class.
Jonathan Harris’ The Whale Hunt.
I wrote a review of this site, which you can find here: http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/article/view/97