On bravery, risk-aversion, and hand-slapping

Recapping a Twitter conversation among museum colleagues about risk-aversion and bravery. 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!

Of possible further interest: