Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication


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A changing workplace: Part I #Blogg100

Browsing around looking for interesting reading on digital transformation I stumbled upon the report New Ways of Working, by The B-Team. It addresses drivers and key changes at the workplaces. One of the key changes concerns learning:

Previously, employees would be invited to training sessions at a certain time where learning was ‘pushed’ upon them, and then sent back to work. For generations who are growing up sourcing knowledge through search engines as and when they need it, and accessing Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), this will seem unnatural.

Allowing for a more flexible learning in the workplace is just one of many key changes. Another is the need for digital skills. Skills aimed for the social digital era are listed in the report:

  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Cognitive Load Management
  • Virtual collaboration
  • New media literacy
  • Design mindset
  • Sense making
  • Novel & adaptive thinking
  • Cross Cultural competency

The list is an important reminder that New media literacy is just a part of newly required skills. And that digital transformation, requires several other skills and competencies that have to be acquired across time. And as new skills are required and even expected, the more important the flexible learning environments that encourage and reward key-changes.

However it isn’t only about employees’ skills. It is also about a new leadership that supports innovation. Digital transformation has to take place throughout the organisation (which isn’t surprising of course), and to achieve that it is important to map all the areas in need for digital transformation. The ‘New Ways of Working” report is a great start.

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Blog post 12/100 #Blogg100-challenge

 

 


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Playing by some other rules #Blogg100

Regardless of what business you are in content marketing and storytelling is central. This is just as true for museums, that are natural storytellers, and where producing content is at the heart of the business. The difference is that now museums have to compete with any brand for attention using the same tools and methods.

The era when museums were primarily talking with an authoritative scientific voice is over. The connection to academia and science is still a founding part of museum knowledge-making, but the rules by which we disseminate knowledge, and connect to museum audiences have completely changed over the past few decades.

Instead museums have had to let themselves be influenced by marketing and communication, by the rules set by the marketing industry.  Which in turn are transformed by the digital social target groups and audiences.

To keep up with the need to produce content for the digital ecosystems museums are now shifting from only, or mostly, producing content for websites, exhibitions and printed books, to a broader spectrum of digital social and online platforms. Moving a huge step closer to the audiences is a consequence of going social digital and the demand for real time communication grows.

Three specific challenges for museums are:

1) Learning the new rules, what works and what doesn’t
2) The need for reliable sources online is growing, especially e-publications that can be referred to from social media
3) Learning how to fit the knowledge-making of museums into the social media platforms on an every day basis

There are of course more challenges, some of which I will return to in future blog posts.

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Blog post 5/100. #Blogg100


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Why wouldn’t we go digital? #digitaltransformation

 

Two men on Northwest Airlines aircraft, one using typewriter, with female flight attendant in background, ca 1965.

Two men on Northwest Airlines aircraft, one using typewriter, with female flight attendant in background, ca 1965. University of Washington Libraries Collections, Flickr Commons. No known copyright restrictions.

”…keys to strong work motivation in three Ms — mastery, membership, and meaning. Money is a distant fourth”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, HBR Blog Network

During several trips this year to present at conferences, seminars and workshops I’ve had to take time to think about what would prevent an organisation from transforming to digital. For example, some professionals still see transformation as a threat. Therefore a risk assessment is central when planning for digital transformation, and here is my list so far of things to adress:

Lack of digital transformation within the museum

First of all, digital transformation has to be adressed. It is possible to just tag along with digital change and to wait for things to happen. But being in charge of the transformation will save time, money and be a lot (A LOT) less stressful to the staff. To enable this we need allocated staff to help the organisation navigate and transform, and yes they can absolutely have the word digital in their job title! Further I strongly believe social media can be a great way to start digital transformation because it requires most things a digital organisation needs in terms of awareness, knowledge, flexibility and readiness.

Fear of losing authority

This is particularly common among staff who’s job it has been so far to build up authority, to argue for their research and to show the audience the strong voice of the museum. It is difficult especially for scientists and academics with a higher degree to have to spend time discussing their work with non academics, amateur researchers etc. To find a common language and a common platform is necessary to bridge this very old and traditional gap. Why not compulsory tweeting?

Fear of popularizing the museum collections

In 2000 I visited Minnesota Historical Society and one thing I strongly remember is a poster with, I think Abraham Lincoln, or some other important historical person, with a red clown nose attached to his nose. This is a great reminder of that we can’t decide how the next generations will come across our collections, what their first encounter will be like. By now we (digital staff and most of our colleagues) know this doesn’t reduce our abilities to enable learning, on the contrary it opens up for new audiences. It’s all about attention and engagement. Again some staff might not see the benefits and thus chose not to participate.

Not sure about the actual value and benefits

This is a highly important problem, since evaluating the benefits of digital and social media is diffucult, it takes time and it’s more than just counting numbers of published items. This is of course something that most museum staff engaged with digital already know, but when working specifically with digital transformation this is central. If we can’t communicate the benefits to our stakeholders, they will neither set aside time nor staff and money.

Lack of funding (or re-prioritizing the budget)

Social media might be free (almost) to use, but working seriously with the digital tools and channels requires reallocating money within the organisation. To boost digital transformation we have to communicate the need for a budget to the management.

Be left in the old museum practice

To work with digital transformation we need to analyse our museum practices. Are they compatible with the digital and social world? Can we change them to be even more efficient in our work. For example when working with museum collections, digital infrastructures were originally built to support internal needs. Not to be the foundation for a social digital online presence. It is about licensing collections, making them available and relevant to online audiences, but also about connecting the digital collections with the different interfaces of today, whether it may be mobile platforms, touch screens in gallery or on web services like Wikipedia.

It’s also about looking at the collections as a resource for the museum work. Social media is completely visual, and this means for example that we need look at the photograph collections as a possible new interface to the online audience. And of course at the same time think in new terms of presenting the collections online to get attention, to engage the audiences and to enable an active and inspiring encounter between the audiences and the collections as well as with the museum.

Requires new skills

To understand and embrace social digital tools and services requires new skills. Both how to use the technologies, and to understand how they are relevant at work, in the museum. Many of us have learned this out of pure passion and interest, further education, endless talks with peers and encounters with new technologies. To those who don’t seek this new knowledge it has to come from the museum management, that enables internal training and mandate to spend time discovering and learning. We also need to think about what skills we require new staff to have. Are digital skills mentioned when recruiting new staff, all over the organisation?

Rigid inflexible organisational structures

Digital transformation requires transparency and flexible collaboration across departments. It’s easier said than done, but social media is one arena where people from all over the museum can meet and work together on a common platform. Social media is also here and now, it requires action 24/7, and it requires quick decision making further down in the hierarchies as well as open and instant communication with management. If you want to stress test your organisation, launch a social media project!

Conclusion

All this is well known among digital staff, but is something we need to adress when enforcing or enabling digital transformation. Everyone is not onboard. It is somewhat easier when one or two colleagues refuse to use smartphones or to learn about social media. But when the staff not onboard is found within management, or among middle management, we do have a problem. Digital staff need to communicate this within the organisation, talk to colleagues and to the management, to be able to take the next step in transformation.

Of course there are more things to add to the list above. What do you think is most important?


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Disruptive relations, ubiquitous connectivity and new nations – Pew Research looks into the future #Blogg100

Wearable technologies. IntelFreePress, Flickr, CC-BY-SA.

Wearable technologies. IntelFreePress, Flickr, CC-BY-SA.

The recent report by Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Digital Life in 2025 is great and important reading for anyone who is interested in how digital tools and services affect our lives, and will in the next 10 years. Many of the predictions may sound far fetched and distant, and that’s why it is even more important to take them into account. Ten years is not that far ahead and in many cases the changes are already beginning to take place. The predictions often relate to international relations and politics, but can clearly be applied to organisations and audiences as well. Here are a few thoughts on some of the conclusions from this extensive report.

The report has a main section called 15 Thesis About The Digital Future. For this section the Pew Research Center consulted experts and technology builders who contributed with predictions on mobile, wearable and embedded technology, the Internet of Things and above all connectivity. In the wake of Twitter recently being banned in Turkey by the Prime Minister, the notion of the new ‘nations’ in the report becomes even more interesting.

The spread of the ‘Ubernet’ will diminish the meaning of borders, and new ‘nations’ of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control…

…Traditional structures of government and governance are therefore ill-equipped to create the sensors, the flows, the ability to recognize patterns, the ability to identify root causes, the ability to act on the insights gained, the ability to do any or all of this at speed, while working collaboratively across borders and time zones and sociopolitical systems and cultures.

Digital Life in 2025

This is primarily a matter of international politics and far greater issues than cultural heritage, like democracy, providing food, water, education and a safe society etc. But it is also a matter of organisations interacting with and influencing, as well as growing as a member of, this changing society. To achieve this, I believe, organisations will have to strategically start reaching out to online communities and ”tribes” (1), becoming aware of the structure and nature of these audiences, and how to interact with them, and above all keeping up with what challenges and changes organisations are facing.

Responding to challenges and changes

One of the less hopeful theses presented in the Pew Research Center’s report is that humans and their current organisations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks. So far we have seen, and talked about, the disruptive technologies, but today we are in fact facing ”significant disruption to relations.” In the report this is primarily  again about disruptive relations between and among states, but also the emergence of transnational political actors and movements. Looking at consequences of disruptive relations on international levels and actors there is of course a probability for disruptive relations on other levels within societies, for example those between organisations and audiences, as we have already seen is the case. (2)

”..we are truly going through a paradigm shift — which is celebratory for what it brings, but it also produces great precariousness because existing structures lose meaning and valence, and hence, a new world order needs to be produced in order to accommodate for these new modes of being and operation. The greatest impact of the Internet is what we are already witnessing, but it is going to accelerate.”

Digital Life in 2025

The most interesting and in some ways alarming conclusion from this report is that what we are already experiencing in terms of organisational changes and disruptive relations is not only here to stay but is going to accelerate. How do we respond to these challenges? By making strategic plans for the organisational changes that have to take place, by implementing digital and social awareness and growing competences on all levels of the organisation. And above all as the final quote from the report states:

The biggest impact will come from something we don’t currently foresee. Stay alert!
Marc Prensky, gaming researcher and teacher

(1) Tribes gather around strong passions and reaching out to tribes requires being customer-centric and ability to serve rather than lead. Tribal Marketing is further described by Elia Mörling, Tribaling.
(2) Disruptive technologies and services like social media are already challenging traditional values and organisational structures, transforming organisations into social businesses, as Brian Solis, Altimeter Group stated in 2013.

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Blog post 16/100 #Blogg100-challenge


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Download textbooks through iTunes – schools and ICT #Blogg100

Students with iPads

Students with iPads. Photo: Brad Flickinger, CC-BY.

Using iPads in school, getting all relevant study material for classes downloadable through iTunes curated by the teacher is becoming reality at the Stephen Perse Foundation school in Cambridge.

Teachers at the independent school are making their own online library of lessons and course materials for GCSE, A-levels and International Baccalaureates. These are interactive resources, with video links and lesson notes, customised for the specific needs and speeds of their classes. There are extension exercises and links to further reading and ideas.
BBC News Business

This successful school is also planning to share its online resources for free. The need for skilled teachers is also discussed:

”…such online courses depend on the quality and the skill of the teacher, it’s not a plug-and-play education.”
BBC News Business

The same discussions are emerging in Sweden as well. The Swedish National Agency for Education delivered a report in 2013 ICT use and technical excellence in school.

The report shows that access to computers has increased dramatically for both students and teachers in the last three years, but that the technologies are not used more widely in education. ICT skills are in general low. More computers have not meant that ICT is used more in teaching. The use of ICT is almost equally low in several subjects as it was three years ago . It also appears that many teachers feel that there are large gaps in the ICT support and equipment. The report concludes that there is a great need for professional development of both teachers and principals.

As in my previous post it is interesting to once again conclude that introducing technology in itself does not automatically make an organisation or a community more digital.

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Blog post 14/100 #Blogg100-challenge


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Geek girls in Culture and Arts #Blogg100

Geek girls in Arts and Culture

#InternationalWomensDay

There are literally thousands and thousands of bright, inspiring women in arts/culture and tech. Here are some (of many) of the women that inspire me. I hope to write more of these posts during the coming year (no need to do this only once a year!). Here they are presented with their Twitter bios, in no particular order.

Shelley Mannion

I design and manage digital learning programs at the British Museum’s Samsung Centre. Addicted to work, water, Swiss chocolate. London, UK · britishmuseum.org/samsung_centre

Mia Ridge

PhD candidate in digital humanities, Open Uni (geospatial, crowdsourcing digitisation); Chair of @ukmcg; into code, UX, history and cultural heritage. Oxford, mostly · openobjects.org.uk.

Nancy Proctor

Mobile & museums geek; loves art, languages, travel, feminist theory, good food & nice people. Views expressed here are my own. Washington DC · MuseumMobile.info

Emma Reimfelt

Communicator and webbstrategist / Kommunikatör och webbstrateg på @Livrustkammaren, @Skoklosters slott och @Hallwylska museet. Styrelseledamot i @idek_SE Stockholm · lsh.se

Susan Chun

Chief Content Officer @mcachicago. Formerly @ProjectAudience @metmuseum @steve_museum, Chicago + Washington, DC, USA · susanchun.com

Jane Finnis

Chief Exec of Culture24, opinionated and passionate about digital. Sometime blogger and full-time culturelover. Brighton · about.me/janefinnis.

Lindsey Green and Alyson Webb, Frankly, Green + Webb

Working with cultural organisations to use mobile in smart ways. Tweets about mobile, museums, interpretation and play. Tweets by Alyson and Lindsey. London and Sheffield, UK · franklygreenwebb.com

Dana Mitroff Silvers

Web strategy consultant + digital project manager for museums and nonprofits. Formerly the head of the web at SFMOMA. http://www.designthinkingformuseums.net. San Francisco, CA · dmitroff.com

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Blog post 7/100 #Blogg100-challenge


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From Slideshare: How to create great presentations #Blogg100

Giving excellent presentations is a tricky thing, and requires (as everything else) time and care. Here are some tips from Slideshare:

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Blog post 022/100 #Blogg100 challenge