On bravery, risk-aversion, and hand-slapping

April 6, 2019

It all started with this tweet from Louise Cohen, recapping something Douglas Hegley said in a session at Museums and the Web 2019:

Which is a great sentiment (more on this below), but it was Emily Lytle-Painter’s response to this question (and Tracey Berg-Fulton’s follow-up) that really hit me hard:

Suse makes a really important and terrifying point:

I kept chewing on Emily’s and Tracey’s responses throughout the day. Everything about them felt so familiar, yet so rarely expressed so openly in our sector.

I suspect (I unfortunately wasn’t there) that this was the context of Douglas’ original statement. Museum technology has for so long been framed as an ongoing fight against conservatism, and in that context, there were (and still are, if perhaps less often) these moments of bravery where we find ourselves forcing our museums to face the future, as it were. Unfortunately, the daily reality for many museum workers looks more like the one that Emily and Tracey describe:

This conversation seemed to strike a chord with a few people:

Louise focuses us, and starts thinking about constructive ways to address it all:

I’m ashamed that I haven’t picked up my copy of “Humanizing the Digital” yet, but this approach sounds extremely interesting and constructive. If part of the problem is that we don’t understand each others’ work, and therefore can’t respond to it in an organizationally constructive manner, something like this might work:

Related to this issue, I started wondering if the diversity of expertise present on our staffs, which is part of what makes them such interesting places to work, is partially at fault for some of this.

I think this encompasses most of what we discussed. It’s hard to always follow branching Twitter threads, so if I missed something, please let me know!

If you enjoyed reading this, just imagine how much fun it would be to work with me! I am available for all manner of museum and non-profit digital engagements.

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February 12, 2019

In an article originally published in Museum magazine, I argue that museums' increased use of digital solutions provided by third parties is proving to have unintended consequences for the sector as a whole.

April 19, 2018

As more and more people leave the field, some thoughts about where musetech is now and where it might be going. Are we victims of our own success?

April 18, 2018

Thinking about how discourse has changed on social media as the result of a few design decisions, and how that's changed the musetech conference backchannel.