Let’s play! How to block innovation in your museum?

One of the best sessions I attended at GovCamp this week was a reverse brainstorming session run by Nerida Hart on “How to block innovation”. We had to come up with the things that effectively prevent innovation in an organisation. It was great. I thought it might be a cool thought experiment to involve you in too. (It also seemed appropriate to the theme of avoiding innovation to simply take an idea from elsewhere and adapt it to my own purpose.)

So let’s play! How would you prevent your museum from being innovative? To kick off, if I wanted to block innovation I would:
– prevent social media or talking to anyone outside the institution (definitely no conferences).
– punish failure.
– not value innovation.

Since this is a game, I’m even going to offer a prize (Australian treats!) for the person who comes up with the least innovative answer (mmm… incentivising mediocrity).*

Join in! What are the best ways to prevent/block innovation and fresh thinking in (your) museums?


*NB: It’s worth noting that the winner will be chosen completely at a whim. Nothing motivates like randomness and unpredictability in reward systems.

Hey girl – (S)useum edition

If you are a museum person who is reading this, I am hoping by now that you have seen Hey girl. I love museums. My awesome friend Erica had one of her own images posted on it the other day, and that has kicked off a little Ryan Gosling creativity amongst the other geek gals I know. So here is my own contribution to the site. I’ve sent it in, but in case it doesn’t make the cut, I thought I would post it here, too.

hey girl

PS – Ten points to any museum that can actually get Gosling to do a guest voice on their audio tours in 2012!

Deaccessioning friends and Intel’s “Museum of Me”

A glib exchange on Twitter this morning left a far greater impression on me than it should have when Bruce Wyman tweeted about Intel’s new Museum of Me. In what was almost certainly trolling, Bruce mentioned his appreciation for the MoM and I couldn’t help but take the bait. My reply touched on the fact that the MoM makes poor choices in deciding which friends to highlight in it’s so-called “journey of a visualization that explores who I am”, to which Bruce replied:

This response, strangely reminiscent of something from The Importance of Being Earnest, stuck with me and gnawed at the edges of my brain. Was Bruce right? Should I start deaccessioning my friends until the MoM became more accurate? The Museum’s multimedia display was strangely lacking too where I’d failed to input data about my favourite tv shows and movies. Should I work harder to fill in the gaps in the digital collection of my life, to ensure that my exhibition stayed up-to-date with all the latest trends? I started to consider that maybe I needed a collections management policy for the digital me.

I’m sure by now you can see why I was concerned. It’s not that the MoM is a soulless and narcissistic paean to the culture of me-ism. It’s that its ‘me’ is wrong. It’s cobbled together from the leftover remnants of digital interactions, the little communicative gifts bestowed on my facebook page. And in some ways, that means that it’s just like a real museum collection. After all, museums frequently begin with an act of benefaction – a gift to a city or a university from a private citizen whose personal collecting biases inform that collection for perpetuity. Further gifts will continue to shape the collection, and so-called gaps are often only filled when their absence becomes prominent. And so although I can probably shape the message of the MoM to make it more indicative of who I am, it will take quite a bit work and there are limitations… after all, explaining to my friends that I have to deaccession them so that my MoM collection more fully reflects who I am might be a little tough. Though they might understand the problem because no doubt they all have their own MoM too.

Of course, if I was to look at each of their MoM, I’d probably be in for a fairly cold experience. By necessity (let’s be honest, it is just a quirky marketing ploy) the MoM takes a one-size-fits all approach to exhibition design and collection management. The gallery space isn’t exactly tailored to different people with different interests, needs and wants, so it’s no surprise that it can’t be all things to all people. And even more critically, without the memories and stories of my friends to animate their MoM, any pleasure that could be derived from the experience would be superficial at best.

The whole MoM experience reminds me of this post on the Interactive blog. Regan Forrest writes of her experiences preparing design proposals, and says that many of the stock portfolio images:

depicted beautifully finished, perfectly lit, crisp, clean . . . empty spaces. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for projects where the aesthetic was a big part of the whole point (fine art exhibitions for instance). But I felt they really sold interactive spaces short – even the most interactive and engaging exhibition in the world looks sterile and passive without visitors there to breathe life into it.

Which is the very point. The MoM ultimately fails for me because it is nothing more than a sterile approximation at representation, but it’s still worth thinking about for the perspective it brings.

But do I need an iPad?

At MW2011, I got some serious gear envy. I am iphone-less (although I have a ‘smart phone’ I intentionally bought a phone that I wouldn’t use online too much, so I could disconnect my life occasionally), I wasn’t carrying my laptop with me most of the time, and everywhere I looked, people were tapping away on tablets.

This, combined with the resounding cry that the future is mobile, and recent predictions from Cisco suggest that Tablets Will Generate 17 Percent of Mobile Wireless Data Demand by 2020, have got me considering whether an iPad has a place in my life (there was also some peer pressure from Tim from Museum Victoria)…

I am going to be taking the train to Sydney at least once a week for the foreseeable future, and I think the iPad would provide me with an easy way to do work whilst en route. But I think I mostly want it because it’s pretty, and I’m having a little fear of missing out.

If I get one, I could be just like this chick – see how happy and shiny she looks.

Do you have one? Would you recommend it? Or do you think this is just a case of unnecessary gear-related vanity?!?