Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication

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Digital skills in museums – the next generation is here #Blogg100

Blog post 008/100 #Blogg100 challenge

Women are trained as engine mechanics in thorough Douglas training methods, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC)

Young tech savvy at Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC). No known copyright restrictions.

Digital skills are central to a contemporary museum strategy. It is also a topic I am particularly interested in. Bringing the museum into the digital/social era, we need to know what to expect from the staff in terms of digital skills.

This week I received a new intern at work (a new media department at a large museum). The intern is fairly young and very literate in the digital area. She studies web communication and is here to monitor our social media channels during her six weeks of internship.

After just three days I am amazed at her awareness of how to use digital and social media to communicate our museum.

I consider myself very literate in this area, compared to the major part of my museum colleagues and even compared to museum staff in general. And I realize that had I not been that literate in digital communication I would:

1) Not be able to make the most of her short internship (six weeks)

2) Not be able to try, evaluate and appreciate all her excellent ideas and suggestion

3) Not be open for problem solving using digital tools in new and innovative ways

But is it enough? I don’t think there is any museum completely ready for this change, where the entire organization is able to embrace and adapt to new communicative and digital skills or to new ideas and ways of problem solving. In my experience museums, as well as most cultural heritage organizations, are sometimes slow, lacking the flexibility needed in the digital era.

The day when digitally savvy young students graduate and enter the museum sector is here. If they are not received by a management, staff and an infrastructure ready to make the most of their skills,  they will quickly move on to other more exciting and rewarding jobs. Where this leaves the museum, I don’t even dare to think.

On the other hand, if we are able to quickly make room for this new generation of museums staff, I can’t wait to see the changes and innovation that will take place in cultural heritage organizations.

What kinds of innovation and changes? Well I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


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A 14 year old storytelling website – digital excellence and cultural heritage #Blogg100

Blog post 007/100 #Blogg100 challenge.

The Endurance, by Second Story, 1999.

The Endurance, by Second Story, 1999, for Kodak Eastman Company.

For the last six years I have participated in the judges panel for the international contest Best of the Web awards, by Museums and the Web. It is the most rewarding job, reviewing the best cultural heritage websites together with peers from all over the world (thank you Internet for making collaboration across borders and time zones possible).

Each year I am amazed by the work of museums and companies that truly sets standards in digital excellence for the museum sector.

In a couple of blog posts I will take a closer look at some websites that I am partcularly fond of and impressed by. Starting with The Endurance, by Second Story, made in 1999 for the Kodak Eastman Company.

This website was produced 14 years ago and it’s still online! It tells the story of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to Antarctica in 1914.

I am a great fan of Second Story, they are one of the very best companies producing websites for museums. They are very consistent, using great storytelling and design to create online experiences. And they have been able to be true to their own story and brand throughout the years, maintaining high quality standards and still challenging themselves with new and very different productions.

Anyone who works with cultural heritage knows archives, libraries and museums are full of amazing stories that are waiting to be told. Take a look at The Endurance and these few lines, that sum up the entire online experience:

Mountainous South Georgia Island was the last port of call for the Endurance, which next headed south into Antarctica’s ice-packed Weddell Sea. The ship left England on August 8, 1914 and would never return.

Quote from The Endurance website

It is the length of a  micro pitch, selling us the adventurous and harsh story of Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful expedition.

Try pitching another story to yourself or to your colleagues, see how it fits into the digital channels of today. Is your story fitting into a social media format? Or is it in fact a video? Or a rich media website? Is it something to use in an educational website?

Returning to The Endurance I am reminded that great quality and digital excellence lasts. And I look forward to seeing much more of that in the years to come, both in the Swedish and the international museum sector.

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Innovation and museums an impossible equation? #Blogg100

Are museums lazy pigs?

Are museums like happy oblivious pigs? Photo: Les Chatfield. CC-BY.

Blog post 006/100 in #Blogg100 challenge

I frequently read a number of blogs that inspire and help me in my daily work at a large and busy museum. One of these blogs is The Museum of the Future by Jasper Visser.

In one of his recent blog posts he expresses his belief in:

”…small teams working on a tight schedule, limited budget and in relative freedom from organisational politics on huge challenges.”

This in order to boost innovation and prepare for challenges ahead. In reality, I would say it is a very rare, not to say non existing, way of managing development in many museums. Instead it’s probably more common with long lasting projects, where slow organisational politics adds to the need for large budgets. Still, in the digital era, museums need to change and find new ways to innovate and develop.

Jasper Visser is quite blunt about the challenges facing museums.

”I don’t think many of us quite grasp the immensity of the challenges that lie ahead of us in this century as cultural institutions. I sometimes feel we’re like pigs on our way to the slaughterhouse halfheartedly talking about escaping. Time is running out.”

He is of course not alone with this concern. In December The Guardian reported from a debate at the Science Museum in London. There Dr Ross Parry explained:

”The modern museum has inevitably changed its structure, aspects of its purpose and audience relationships, as well as the intellectual framework used to make sense of its collections.”

These changes are coming whether we want them or not, whether we prepare for them or not. The need to redefine museums in the digital age should open up for more flexibility and innovation. And the small teams, tight schedule, limited budgets etc. might actually be one way of getting us there.

Read Jasper Visser’s blog post

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Watch out for tribal co-creation and sharing #Blogg100

My second blog post today is an attempt to catch up with my 100 blog post challenge, 1 blogpost per day for 100 days, day 5.

My LinkedIn network, showing "tribes". Imaginge visualizing all the tribes in your target groups, and actually presenting content in a relevant proper way to each tribe.

My LinkedIn network, showing ”tribes”. Imagine visualizing all the tribes in your target groups, and actually presenting content in a relevant proper way to each tribe.

By participating in the Swedish blog challenge #Blogg100 I discovered this blog EntrepreneurialBlog by NiclasJ, that is one of the few in English among the #Blogg100 participants.

Niclas Johansson is a Swedish entrepreneur blogging about ”networking, creativity, news, politics, spirituality, martial arts, NLP, juggling, music, or just random oddities”. His latest blog post is called From Search To Collect To Curate And Beyond (Digital Media).

There he makes a great point that the audience online is taking part of content in tribes rather than crowds.

As with the term curating, tribes can be interpreted in several ways. Like in Jeff Bullas’  blog posts:

Is social media making us more tribal?

The Social Network Tribes – Plus Infographic

By tribes he means:

These tribes are not local or indigenous but global and the shared theme is not indigenous but of common interests, shared goals, aspirations and passions that span countries and continents.
Jeff Bullas

A tribe is a ”a social group with the possibility of collective action” (Emma Hallgren, in Segmentation of the Swedish blogosphere, essay in Swedish).

The notion of tribes and marketing goes back way before social media. But it’s truly whith social media the idea of a group sharing the same interests becomes useful to the cultural heritage sector.

How do we prepare and disseminate collections, exhibitions and knowledge in a way that attracts the active and interactive tribe? What are their expectations? As Niclas Johansson says about tribes:

…within those small networks, interaction from any person in the network has meaning and influence on the originator of the content – and on the whole tribe. And if the traditional media companies want to compete for our attention with their big-scale content, they’d better present it with a tone and a format that lets us engage with and, to a bigger degree than today, control it.

To make a tribe engage with your content, you have to be relevant to that specific tribe.

Today’s challenge: How do we present present our cultural heritage content to tribes? Have we even identified the tribes within the crowds? Take a look at my LinkedIn network above. What if we could actually visualize the relevant tribes we need to adress, what would it look like? To find out, it all boils down to knowing your audience.

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Best of the Web Awards – nominations are open #Blogg100

Walker Arts Center

Walker Arts Center, Awarded Best of the Web 2012.

Best of the Web is an annual contest to recognize the best museum work on the web. The contest is organized by the annual Museums and the Web conference, that takes place in North America.

Sites are nominated to the Best of the Web by museum professionals from around the world and reviewed by a committee of peers.

Nominations are now open and last day to nominate is February 21 2013.

The categories where nominations can be made are:

Rich Media (audio/film/interactive)

These sites or applications make extensive use of narrative, animation, audio and/or video and complex interaction with content to move museum experiences out of the institution, into the realm of the user. Rich media content may be delivered as websites, immersive experiences, applications or downloadable content from an app store, streaming video-based sites or other website to computers, mobile devices, tablets, or some other digital platform. (NB some applications may be more suited to the mobile category below.)

Quality characteristics include:

  • Strong, original and appropriate content
  • Evocative and interesting use of rich media
  • Effective use of user interactivity
  • Links between online and on-site activities where appropriate
Beyond the Chalkboard, awarded in the category Education in 2012.

Beyond the Chalkboard, awarded in the category Education in 2012.


These sites or apps teach a specific audience about a particular subject. They present material in an effective and relevant manner for engaging learning experiences, and provide depth of content. Educational sites may be sites designed by and for children. (This category does not include search engines and online databases: see Research/Collections Online for these).

Quality characteristics include:

  • Content for schools and teachers, and support for collaborative spaces for teachers to work together
  • Content for students of any age, and provision of collaborative work spaces for students
  • Interaction between museum staff and students, teachers, or educational groups of any level
  • Integration of experiences of ‘real’ visits to museum and the educational website
  • Provision of non-curriculum-based learning experiences and support of lifelong learning activities
  • Easily identifiable target audience and clear pedagogical strategy

Digital Exhibition

These sites or apps excel in presenting, interpreting, supplementing, and/or being important components of museums, providing rich and meaningful digital experiences. They may be a section of a larger museum website or be a collaborative project among institutions and/or individuals and communities associated with museums, based on exhibitions.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Effective use of multiple media formats
  • Innovative ways of complementing physical exhibitions or providing surrogates for physical experiences in online only exhibitions
  • New ways of representing museum processes and structures
  • Imaginative audience participation and engagement of different categories of ‘visitors’

Innovative / Experimental

These sites or apps make use of new digital publishing and presentation methodologies and emerging technology to provide innovative experiences based upon creative content and/or services. These projects are assessed less on the overall intended project success and more on their innovative objectives, originality and potential for development.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Creative, new, innovative uses of the web and digital media
  • Application of new web concepts, methodologies, and technological application to museum goals
  • Introduction of new/emerging technology to museum digital products
  • Experimental and creative uses of emerging technology
  • Uses of technology that offer new possibilities for further development


Some projects stand the test of time, well. This category rewards a museum (or museum organization) that has shown a long-term commitment to an excellent online presence, of any kind. It’s not a popularity contest, but a chance to celebrate sites or web services that have been reinvented and evolved with their audiences and with new technologies. Their longevity embodies the power and effectiveness of sustained and innovative online engagement.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Adapted to current user behaviours, technologies, platforms and channels
  • Creative reuse of content, contributing to museums’ understanding of how to cross-purpose and repurpose assets to attain greater longevity
  • Sustained use by and engagement with site visitors
  • Reliable and consistent quality
  • Continued growth in available resources over time
  • Ongoing organizational commitment to long-term site development and use
  • Alignment with the vision and long-term strategy of the sponsoring institution


Sites or apps designed and developed in a truly novel and experiential way for the mobile device, such as a media player, gaming device, smart phone or tablet, e.g. iPhone, Android, iPad, etc. They may be stand-alone Apps, web-based sites, or downloadable tours and could integrate other technologies that enhance the mobile experience, such as GPS, Augmented Reality, computer vision or QR codes.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Efficient and effective use of mobile formats and interaction possibilities
  • Accessibility of content on multiple platforms
  • Current / updated content
  • Creative ways of presenting content and navigation interfaces
  • Integration with social media and on-site experiences where appropriate
  • Ease of use for experienced and novice users

Museum Professional

Sites developed to serve museum professionals and meet their specific requirements, such as administration, exhibitions, education, public relations, registration, collections management, communities of practice, knowledge exchange, and/or standards and resources bank.

These sites may be reference resources, products, program or educational resources that are used in professional work and study, such as reports of conferences, pre-publications, reviews or technical literature. They may also be multi-site indexes and finding aids that collocate resources critical to the professional community. (This category does not include search engines and online databases intended for research; see Research / Collections Online for these).

Quality characteristics include:

  • Contribution to the museum profession as a whole
  • Support for the distributed activity of a consortium or group of museum partners in ongoing collaborations
  • Fostering innovative projects that help in the development of technology and media in museums
  • Valuable online forums and discussions that engage museum professionals
  • Software, guidelines, templates and packages tailored for museum professional needs
  • Fostering discussion, discourse, and debate among museum professionals

Research / Collections Online

Sites that support or present research about or using museum collections and/or that provide excellent resources for researchers in any discipline. They may be online databases, search engines or APIs that provide detailed museum information for individuals and/or groups.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Ease of use for both experienced and novice researchers
  • Accuracy and depth of content
  • Consistency of material
  • Currency of links and updates
  • Extensive links and references to other related resources and sites
  • Creative use of APIs
  • Mashups/integration of multiple data sources
  • Openness of licensing and availability of content for reuse
Kermadec, Best of the Web 2012.

Kermadec, Awarded Best of the Web 2012 in category Social media.

Social Media

Successful museums use social media to engage with their communities as part of their digital presence, both embedded in and reaching beyond each museum’s own website. The best uses of social media reflect a co-ordinated strategy of continuous user involvement and response, and maintain the museum’s diversified voice and identity across multiple platforms, including third-party sites and interactions, dedicated sections of a museum’s own online spaces, or social media embedded throughout a site.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Exploring user contribution, user created content, dialogue, and real interactivity (reciprocity) in formats such as user discussions, crowdsourcing, contributed and collaborative content, personalization, location-based application, big data, shared data, or online communities
  • Robust ongoing participation and dialogue and/or active creation of user-contributed content
  • Engaging use of web and other digital platforms for collective activities
  • Evidence of a long-term coordinated strategy that responds and evolves based on user needs and input
  • Integration of social media in other products, for both onsite and remote visitors

Best Small Museum Project

The panel may make a separate award in any category for small museums/budgets, to explicitly recognise work from smaller institutions. These are digital projects that have been:

  • Created in-house or with volunteer effort
  • Mounted by small institutions (with 20 or fewer professional staff)
  • Created with very limited budgets (sometimes no budget)

If you feel a project merits consideration as being from a small museum, please explain why in your nomination. Small sites should be nominated in the appropriate category.

People’s Choice

During a pre-defined period, each user registered at mw2013.museumsandtheweb.com may cast one vote for a site to be recognized as the People’s Choice. The site with the most votes will be awarded the People’s Choice.

Best Overall Museum Project

Together, the Committee picks their “Best of the Web”. This award recognizes the outstanding nature of a digital project and its overall contribution to the institution, museum profession, and museum and archives informatics community. Quality of content, ease of use, accessibility and stability are all considered.

Learn from the best

One great benefit with Best of the Web is of course to reward great work within the museum sector. Another, perhaps even more important benefit from this contest is that peer reviewed digital excellence is available to anyone interested in developing great online presence in museums. By studying these awarded websites lessons can be learned and innovation can be taken several steps further.

Let the best websites and apps be nominated!


Previous winners are listed on Wikipedia.

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Social media in 2013 – reminder to plan ahead #Blogg100

You have seen this Youtube video before. But look at it again. Think again. What does it actually mean? Think for example about the future online presence of our kids.

  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé
  • 92 % of children under the age of 2 have a digital shadow
  • Social gamers will buy $6 billion in virtual goods by 2013

How do museums need to prepare and adapt for these changes? Which other changes lie ahead?

Blog post 003/100

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#Blogg100 First challenge – plan your content

As I have decided to follow the initiative by hundreds of Swedish bloggers to write 100 blog posts in 100 days, I have already discovered the biggest challenge of self publishing. Planning for content.

Missing out on blog post 002 yesterday I will deliver two today. This first one reflecting on the need for a well planned content strategy in social media. And the need to be consistent.

Working professionally at a museum I have initiated a publishing plan for our largest social media channels. However my self publishing, this blog, has been neglected in that aspect.

So note to myself: Set up a publishing plan, planning for every single day at least two weeks ahed.

And my point is that producing great content for a blog, or any social media channel, requires spending time. Most organizations understand that but have not, or cannot, prioritize. Partly because we might not have the arguments for how much time needs to be spent on content production for social media.

How can I argue that a museum would need 3-5 people full time producing content for social media? Do I actually know that five is necessary instead of three, or even two people part time?

And to be able to request more staff working on content production I need to be able to clearly state how much effort is required to maintain our social media presence. Not just the actual publishing or answering questions, but to provide the audience with a great content.

That goes of course for my own blog. Knowing how much time it takes to prepare for the content, I will be able to set aside enough time both for planning and producing content, to make it to blog post 100 in this challenge. So here we go, assignment no 1: Make a publishing plan.

Blog post 002/100