Monday, April 28, 2008

Live Blogging from AAM: Recommended Social Media from the "Can and Should Small Museums be Leaders in Technology?" Session

Technologies that the panelists recommend small museums use in order to be leaders in new technology:

Podcasting--Make use of already existing content--podcast your lecture series. Try to use software and hardware that can be used for other things as well, even when the tools are free. Be aware, however, that podcasts take up a fair amount of server space, so you may need to purchase more space.

Blogging--However, blogs are not always well indexed on Google. (Instead they use social tagging and keywords...) As with podcasting, make use of content you already have on hand. Blog your press releases, blog whatever you already have to type up for your museum. There are still issues of transparency and content control with blogs. Is it always appropriate to offer such a free and unmoderated form of discussion? Or do some museums address such controversial subject matter that blogging would be inappropriate? Remember: blogging is not about being a broadcast medium; it is about dialogue and interactivity. Remember, too, that if you don't take part in blogging or photo-sharing and so on, others will do it for you.

Social Networking--George recommends MySpace. The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas will conduct an experiment similar to the one conducted by the Brooklyn Museum: they will hold an event but post a different time for the event on MySpace to see how many people get their museum information from MySpace. George advises against Facebook because in the past they did not support organizations, however, this has changed. What's more, while MySpace has been the primary social networking site for younger people, this is changing. Just as Friendster fell out of favor, MySpace is now following that same pattern while Facebook is rising and offers philanthropic opportunities. LinkedIn is good for professional networking but not for audience outreach.

Virtual Worlds and SecondLife--I agree with George that SecondLife "isn't there yet" in terms of getting museums up onto the site. Generally only larger museums or people from outside of the museum world have experimented in SecondLife. The Van Gogh museum in Second Life doesn't appear to be affiliated with the actual Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Again, if you don't do it, someone else very may well. The barriers to entry are high and the learning curve steep with SecondLife, but this is really just the first wave of its kind. However, if you want to get involved, contact your local new media department at a university and they can help you.

Photo and Video Sharing--Yahoo! owns Flickr and indexes the photos really quicklymeans that your photos will be found through Yahoo! searches relatively soon after posting them. This makes Flickr a valuable marketing tool, but you must fill in all titles and keywords for each photo. Flickr can be used with mashups as a cost-saving device--you can also use Flickr as your online image database for things like online exhibitions, however, beware of using it as your actual database; these sites will change, or change their terms of use or go out of business and so on.

There is a penalty for not participating in web 2.0--you will become less and less visible in Google and Yahoo! searches if you are not engaged in these ways.

Be aware that if your museum is part of a government, many or all of these social media sites may be blocked, prohibiting the use of these technologies through third-party sites.

And beyond all else, while the technology is fun, be sure to only use strategies and sites that really fit with your mission and vision and make the best, most appropriate use of your assets and resources. Find young people to implement these technologis for you.


uncle george said...

Thanks, Allyson. I didn't use the word "stupid" really, did I ? -- also thanks for the correction to my information about FaceBook. Glad they have changed policy. I wasn't aware of that. Best, George

uncle george said...

Added: Original IBM podcast with Tim Berners-Lee where he talks about Web2.0, et al.

I think it has been misquoted a lot.

Allyson Lazar said...

Not sure why, but the link you posted in your comment didn't format correctly. I suspect this is some sort of limitation on blogspot's part. I will have to do a search to find the podcast because I'm interested in checking it out!