Updates from April, 2009 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Erin Milbeck Wilcox 5:42 am on April 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Music, platform, ,   


    Just to get in the mindset of choosing a direction for our group project, and to begin thinking about the individual project, I thought I would flesh out the concept of platform for myself once more.

    Essentially, the platform is the way your project works, kind of the backbone of your relationship building, as far as I understand from our conversations in class and from Groundswell. Taking a look at Last.fm, a social networking site that focuses on music, I just want to point out some key things that the site does for users.

    1. You create a profile with information that you provide, including photo, your favorite music, where you are, etc.

    2. When you listen to music on your computer it is synched to the site and it uploads what you’re listening to in real time (it does this with your mp3 player as well, and updates when you plug it into your computer). This is called “scrobbling” and is the focus of the site. These songs become part of the users “radio” and can be listened to by other users.

    3. You can have friends and search for strangers who have compatible taste to you, which you can see from their recent music queue and their listed favorites. You can see what they are listening to and find new music from them.

    4. You can also search for band profiles, much like myspace pages, where you can listen to their latest hits.  But for the most part, only songs that are scrobbled can be listened to by other users, which means that bands don’t just upload all of their music, i.e. they must have fans who want to share their music with others.

    5. Lastly, you can search for live performances in your area (or anywhere) for all bands or just those you list as favorites.

    Last.fm is focused around music and finding other people and artists with similar tastes. It is a community that needs joiners to create profiles, collectors to share what they already like and find new music, and spectators to watch it all happen. The activities are working online and in real life, creating a personalized, customizable space for visitors to list their music and share it with others, and allowing users to take control in suggesting music to each other. Hopefully I can stay focused when thinking about creating individual and group social media projects.

  • jillghardy 5:25 pm on April 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Groundswell: corporate models and community models 

    I’ve been thinking about the book we read, groundswell, and if it’s appropriate to borrow groundswell techniques used by corporations and apply them to museums.  To me, corporations and museums are fundamentally different institutions and it’s important to acknowledge their differences when trying to understand and apply appropriate groundswell and social media strategies.  Initially, my question started off as: are these groundswell techniques universal in the sense that we can apply them across the board to for-profit corporations as well as non-profit institutions?  Now, my question has just evolved.  Maybe it’s my hippie parents and my punk rock youth, but I’m skeptical of corporations and their business models of unlimited growth cultivating a dept society that perpetuates the wealth of wealthy shareholders.  We are currently witnessing the collapse of this unsustainable Wall Street model.  So, if this business model is failing can we still gain insight from the groundswell techniques that are employed by these businesses?  Or, to ask the question differently, is it important that we are looking at groundswell techniques that are designed solely to increase corporate profit? And how, if at all can we apply these techniques to museums? I think it’s an interesting time to be looking at business models and comparing them to museums.

    Museums, I think, are actually at a significant advantage when we consider our economic unraveling and restructuring. While reading groundswell I kept thinking, man, museums are in such a sweet spot and corporations have it so hard!  Museums have real community, where as corporations have to cultivate a facsimile.  Corporations have to convince people to buy stuff that they don’t really need and they go to great lengths to do so.  They execute elaborate advertising campaigns, fabricate “community”, and buy evangelists to hype up their products.  Proctor & Gamble’s beinggirl.com was about as insincere as it gets.  So, this is where museums come in.  People trust museums, unlike corporations, because we’re not trying to sell something people don’t need.  What we have is something people will always need.  What we have is sustainable and authentic: continuing educational, collections that the public cherishes, and beautiful public spaces.  People come to museums and have an experience.  During our economic restructuring I think it’s important to focus on this.  We have a built in community.

    Ultimately, I think the techniques employed in groundswell originate out of a community model, not a business model.  In a slightly different way we can now listen to our visitors, talk to them, energize them and provide them with opportunities to contribute.  But this has always been there; perhaps we’ve just lost sight of this or taken it for granted. Groundswell offers some concrete steps for formulating a social media plan if you don’t have a built in community.  Now, imagine what museums can do with the communities we already have.

    • ninaksimon 9:27 pm on April 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great post. I really like your thinking here, and am curious where this beginning could take you. I totally agree that museums already have the community, and unlike most retail etc. corporations, direct access to users anytime we want. So the question is why aren’t museums doing this/leading? Is it because they think they already have fully functional communities and don’t need it? I meet a lot of museum folks who don’t know why they would need social media. I think analyzing the communities you already serve, the relationships you already have, and identifying the gaps is the way to figure out what would be smart for your institution. We don’t want to rest on our laurels too much…

    • kyliepine 5:39 am on April 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      “People trust museums, unlike corporations, because we’re not trying to sell something people don’t need.”

      I agree with you that museums house important resources and that this fufills an important function in our society that will transcend economic pitfalls. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that everything a museum does is an important resource to the community. I think many museums these days are trying to convince vistors to spend precious leisure hours on stuff they don’t need (or perhaps want is a better term). I’m thinking particularly of exhibits and programming without relevance or resonance within communities.

  • Erin Milbeck Wilcox 5:28 am on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s the end of the world… 

    This week, New Curator made a troubling post about the future of the curator, and made a comparison between it and the fate of many journalists.  To summarize, he (Pete) believes that social technology and the use of polls/ratings will make the curator obsolete, much like youtube and online news sources have wounded the role of the journalist.  Pete writes, “Crowdsourcing the curatorial decisions of an exhibition. The process of museums has been brought to the lowest common denominator, pitched somewhere between reality TV and youtube’s most-viewed list. My point is about individualism in museums is entirely proved.”

    Groundswell deals a lot with crowdsourcing, especially in chapter 9, “embracing the groundswell.”  Li and Bernoff explain that crowdsourcing can be useful for marketing, but cannot replace the professional; the marketing team takes suggestions from the customer to make the product better in a fraction of the time it took before, if the marketers listened to the customer at all before the rise of the groundswell.  This makes the company more responsive to the needs of the customer, and therefore more competative and probably more successful.

    I think what might bother people like curators, and maybe journalists, is the idea of being humble enough to allow others a stake or a decision in their job.  Curators study like mad to become incredibly knowledgeable about their field and often become very territorial, so it’s no wonder they might feel threatened by the uprising of the common blogger/viewer.  Li and Bernoff write “muster up the humility to listen and tap into the skill to take what you’ve heard and make improvements.”

    No one wants the death of the curator; we need their expertise to understand works of art and objects, and to present them to viewers.  No one is trying to replace a curator with, I’ll say it, Joe-six-pack.  In class we discussed the clear labeling of news reports verse public opinion on the NYTimes website which aides readers in their search for “objective” reporting; readers want to know when they’re reading an article written by a reporter because they can trust it more than a blog post from a critic.  Museum-goers can trust an interpretive panel because they know that a lot of thought and studying has gone into that content.

    I find it surprising that someone who writes a blog, twitters, etc, would feel so negatively about the groundswell and basic web 2.0.  I would hope that Pete understands the opportunity curators have today; so many more artists to meet and things to learn. And I don’t think it’s wrong to ask curators to step into a new world that includes blogs, tweets, and tags.  Everyone else has to change something in their profession, too.  What’s the big deal?  The groundswell is really not the apocalypse. It can make us more successful at our job, sharing and preserving history and culture, if we choose to use it wisely.

    Maybe this all just relates back to museums being a place of informal learning that doesn’t have to come from a teacher or a book; learning in a museum can come from a curator, an educator, a friend, or a stranger.  Now that we have such a huge wealth of knowledge why not take advantage of it and appreciate it?

    • museologiste 9:21 am on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I sure hope curators stick around. I really do think its important to have people who have a great depth of disciplinary knowledge working for museums. And, not only are curators content experts, they steward collections and are equipped to cultivate them in ways that a Top 10 list could never even come close to doing.

    • Jais 2:19 pm on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Humility seems to be the key here. It’s really difficult to give up even a small amount of control and authority.

      I think crowdsourcing can be a definite blessing, especially as we’re trying to get visitors to become more actively engaged into museums. Even if it becomes an essential and viable curatorial technique, the authority of the curator remains not only in deciding what gets originally put into the poll in the first place, but also what specific information and messages will be conveyed by the chosen paintings. The crowds won’t replace the overall job of the curator.

    • Lace 3:14 pm on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Erin! I like how you capture the tension on this issue, but take a clear stand.

      I wonder if part of people’s fear about “crowdsourcing” is what they’ve seen in the past as a result of “groupthink” or “design by committee” in which a singular artistic vision can be sacrificed to consensus.

      I am curious about the specifics of how crowdsourcing brings about better/different results than groupthink.

    • Nicole 4:17 pm on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with Lace. I think people feel like we cave in to the lowest common denominator when we hand control to a group. Management by consensus is a challenging process! What we discussed in our last class–the importance of design and the kinds of control that museums keep over the platform– are critical elements in making this work. I actually think museums are gaining some control by setting up guidelines in how visitors engage or respond to their exhibits; looking at it that way this is real opportunity!

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