Weeknotes: 44.2015 – More conferences, more congratulations (including the #UKMW15 funding debate and a new conference diary to share)
Congratulations to all the new members of the MCN Board of Directors, announced this week, including our very own Laura Mann! The other three new members are Elizabeth Bollwerk, Suse Cairns and Bert Degenhart Drenth. All four now begin a three year term at the MCN conference starting this week. Keep an eye on the #MCN2015 hashtag, Laura will be tweeting from the event. We’ll have a write up for you next week.
A date for your diaries, the Museums Association are holding a “digital festival for museums” – Museum Tech 2016. It will be at MOSI on the 21st January 2016. Alyson is going to be chairing the event, which will cover all kinds of tech – haptics, 3d printing, virtual reality, Raspberry Pi and more – with talks from lots of interesting people (including Pete Law on Tate Sensorium, George Oates on 3D printing and Museum in a Box), workshops and demos.
Just before we get to a write up from last week’s UK Museums on the Web conference, we’d like to share another conference related thing that we’ve been working on, a conference and event diary that we hope will be useful to others working in this area, link here. It’s a Google spreadsheet that we developed for our own use, before realising that it might be helpful to others too. Please feel free to take the data for your own purposes, or add suggested conferences to the final sheet (this is a bit of an experiment, so we’ll see if that process works).
To keep it somewhat manageable it’s broken down into different tabs with different categories, although there will inevitably be crossover. Information is based on whatever was available online, so there may be gaps, or there may only be dates available for this year’s conference, but not the next one yet. Any feedback on how to make this more useful would be very welcome! Do share with anyone else you think will be interested.
And now a report back from UK Museums on the Web from Alyson, where the biggest take away was apparently an interesting discussion about the effect of funding structures on digital projects.
“It was a really great day, with interesting speakers coming from a range of backgrounds.
Mia Ridge opened the conference and spoke about the idea of ‘digital’ disappearing; about the shift from it being a ‘thing’ to being like electricity – something that powers everything we do. This is something we’ve discussed before. I can’t help thinking though that in our sector we are a ways away from this being a reality. This is something that was reinforced by what Fiona Talbott from the Heritage Lottery fund had to say.
She shared some topline findings from research the HLF had commissioned into digital projects they had funded. It wasn’t great news. Just one purely digital project has come in since they opened up the funding to digital. Furthermore, projects using digital as part of the mix have drawn on a very limited range of ideas and approaches. The HLF are clearly disappointed with this outcome and perhaps a bit mystified having faced quite significant pressure to change and open up the funding to digital.
This talk provoked quite a strong reaction from a bunch of us in the audience who clearly share some frustrations around the funding process. For me the main issues arise from the need to get specific about the platform and activities really early in the process, often before there is sufficient evidence and thinking around audience needs and motivations, experience and service design. There is also a lack of focus on sustainability of services, and a lack of skills and experience of digital in the organisations bidding which funding bodies don’t seem to be addressing, when they could really make a difference here.
The great news was that Fiona came, listened and seemed really open to thinking through how they can make changes to support projects more effectively. Later in the day we also heard from Gillian Greaves of Arts Council England who was similarly open for discussion. It was really refreshing to see the funders engaging with the sector and up for a really robust discussion.”
You can see some of the discussion around this on the #UKMW15 twitter hashtag e.g.
— Ben Templeton (@thoughtben) October 26, 2015
Are funders too inflexible re necessary tweaks for digital? "We've made a mistake/want to iterate…can we still have the money?" #UKMW15
— Russell Dornan (@RussellDornan) October 26, 2015
For instance, I'm not sure that 'scoping out projects more up front' is considered digital production best practice #UKMW15
— Kim Plowright (@mildlydiverting) October 26, 2015
— Mia Ridge (@mia_out) October 26, 2015
We have also been doing some work that’s *not* related to conferences. The website has had a little bit of a tidy up, partly as we realised that it was overly focussed on mobile, which gave too narrow an impression of what we do (which actually covers all kinds of digital products and services and strategies). We’ve also added some more up to date case studies, more of those to come (as well as an updated list of publications and presentations). There will be a full refresh of the site at some point in the next six months or so, as well, but this will hopefully make a difference in the short term.
There has been client work going on too in amongst all the conferences! Hopefully we can share more about that soon.