Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication

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#MuseumWeek is approaching #Blogg100

MuseumWeek2015 (kopia)

March 23 to 26 more than 1 000 museums from 44 countries are participating in the Twitter event #MuseumWeek. I encourage all museums to join, for the following reasons:

  • To get better at managing a Twitter account
  • To get to know the Twitter audiences
  • To test the museum organisation and the readiness to participate online
  • To have a dialogue with curious online museum audiences
  • To think twice about the museum’s digital identity
  • To be inspired and find new ways to communicate and mediate heritage
  • To increase the museum’s readiness to produce online content
  • And most of all: The break daily routines and have fun 🙂


Blog post 14/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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Keep calm and write 100 blog posts – again #Blogg100


So tonight I just will not have time to write a decent blog post. And I’m not even inspired to write a simple post, or to share other people’s content. My thoughts on the blog challenge so far this year:

  1. Yes i DO need a content calendar, as I have for accounts that I manage for others, and it’s not that time consuming to create one. No 1 on my to do-list.
  2. It’s certainly tempting to work more with other people’s content. Curating, commenting and re-blogging. And why shouldn’t I? There are so many brilliant people out there already producing great content.
  3. I should spend time planning, when I have time, not when I am too busy to even think about content.
  4. Writing intensely each day is a valuable lesson and it is a boost to develop thoughts on social media and museums.



Blog post 11/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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How to encourage visitor photography #Blogg100 #museweb

Visitor photography matters. This museums goes all in.

The trend to acknowledge and embrace visitor photography is vital for all museums. To what extent it can be encouraged varies of course depending on the museum. The issues with selfie sticks have to be resolved. But the benefits are undoubtedly many, and I would urge all museums to further explore the possibilities of visitor photography.

The Art in Island museum in the Philippines creates environments for the visitor to enter, and a possibility to create personal narratives that includes the museum. The settings encourage visitors to act in a playful way. It’s humour and it’s fun!


Blog post 10/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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Content and storytelling – are museums ready for it? #Blogg100

I think we all agree that museums are made for storytelling. The endless first hand sources of passionate, tragic, engaging and joyful stories cannot be found outside the heritage sector. Objects, documents and images are there to authenticate and enhance the stories. And digital isn’t new to museums, on the contrary. Today there are museums in the front line of digital innovation, and there are museums that aren’t quite yet there.

Regardless, the path to successful cross media storytelling is more challenging than anticipated. It’s about a number of things:

  • Digital and visual literacy
  • Communication skills across the organization
  • Social media skills
  • Storytelling skills
  • Knowledge-making – producing new knowledge from original sources
  • A clear overall communications strategy
  • Transparency and honesty
  • Regular and timely posting

And a few more things. Then it is also about:

  • Image editing and visual communications skills
  • Knowledge of copyright and Creative Commons
  • Long term planing for campaigning
  • Re allocating resources within the museum for content production and communication
  • Experts – whose expertise is communicated
  • Reallocating money for sponsored posts and premium services
  • Evaluation

But the most disruptive changes are probably:

  • Rethinking exhibition processes – to tie the stories across media together
  • Knowing the audiences – I mean really knowing (embrace Post Demographic mapping of audiences)
  • Mapping and mastering the public facing echo systems
  • Transforming the organization to better face the challenges of outreach in a social digital world
  • Working in cross departmental groups with many different skills
  • Real time communication – dialogue and responsiveness, not just scheduled content
  • Creating seamless experiences between online and onsite
  • Staying ahead – to be prepared for changes

Museums are storytellers, but in a traditional sense, primarily through exhibitions and printed books. The step towards truly mastering digital within the organization seems always almost out of reach, though tremendous progress is being made. What will it take to adapt to social digital? And is it an ongoing process that will never end, only evolve?

These are some first thoughts on the subject, that I will return to in some up coming blog posts.


Blog post 9/100 #Blogg100-challenge

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What is the difference between a museum object and a photograph #Blogg100

Uncertain Images (eds: Elizabeth Edwards and Sigrid Lien)

Uncertain Images (eds: Elizabeth Edwards and Sigrid Lien)

One of the most important books on photography and museums was published last year at Ashgate: Uncertain Images: Museums and the Work of photographs,  It is a book that brings ”into focus the ubiquitous yet entirely unconsidered work that photographs are put to in museums.”

Photographs have through the decades been acquired by museums, and depending on the contemporary museum practices they have changed from scientific evidence, to documentation, to art, and also representations of museum objects.

So what is the different between a museum object and a photograph in the museum collections (and why does it matter)? First photographs are rarely documented on an object level and neither digitized as single objects – this indicates a different status than the objects that are always documented individually.

Secondly they are reproducible and as such they lack originality as an historical object. , ”with their authenticity, originality and cultural capital suspect, photographs, for the most part, lie outside the systems of value that produces museum objects. They sit low in that hierarchy.”

Thirdly, they are not considered as part of the holy object collections, but rather clotted together with documents, and placed in the Museum Archive.

Despite this uncertain and ambiguous status of photographs, they are today central to the museum’s own narrative.

The book Uncertain Images challenges the lack of attention to the roles, purposes and lives of the mass of humble photographs within museums.

The digital aspect of the role of photographs in museums are, in part, adressed by myself in Chapter 13: Digital Dilemmas: The Impact of Digital Tools on Photograph Collections. More on that topic in an upcoming blog post.


Blog post 8/100 #Blogg100 Challenge




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I have to admit – I get seasick by Oculus Rift #Blogg100

I get seasick by Oculus Rift. I’ve only tried it once, for two minutes, then I almost panicked (which is a bit embarrasing to admit).

The problem is I also get seasick when my son shows me new things he built on Minecraft, he moves around very fast. Or when he flies an air plane in other games. Getting on a real roller coaster would never occur to me.

That’s why today I was happy to read To Bring Virtual Reality to Market, Furious Efforts to Solve Nausea. So it’s not just me. In fact it’s a problem for the entire industry. Apparently some games causing nausea will still be allowed, but ”labelled as such” (!). I any case I am looking forward to the day when these issues are solved.


Blog post 7/100 #Blogg100 challenge

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Transmedia and immersive experiences, the key to rethinking museums? #Blogg100 #museweb

Oculus Rift at Dreamstage.se. Photo: Kajsa Hartig, CC-BY-NC.

Oculus Rift at Dreamstage.se. Photo: Kajsa Hartig, CC-BY-NC.

On Day 6 of this Blogg100-challenge, 100 blog posts during 100 days, it’s time to write a few lines about transmedia and immersive experiences. These methods have been a buzz for quite some time, and are evoking a growing interest from the museums sector.

Immersion is the experience of losing oneself in a fictional world. It’s what happens when people are not merely informed or entertained but actually slip into a manufactured reality…..
…The current taste for immersion is largely a by-product of the digital age. Video games and the Internet have taught people to be active participants rather than passive observers; just looking is no longer enough. People expect to dive in, and companies as disparate as Disney, Facebook, and Burberry have been scrambling to oblige them.

Immersion can be tactical (sensory-motoric) and involve skills, it can be strategic (cognitive) and offer a challenge or it can be narrative (emotional) where the audience invests in a story (source Wikipedia). Immersion is about creating a user experience, and so is transmedia storytelling:

Transmedia narrative thrives in a networked culture. Stories are now told across multiple media platforms, relying on readers to connect the dots. Popular fiction is increasingly organized around immersive story worlds.

And to further quote Henry Jenkins:

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction gets dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

Mapping your museum’s digital eco system is important for many reasons. But mapping the museum’s entire eco system of communicative efforts, channels, platforms and strategies is just as important.

Planning for transmedia storytelling requires rethinking the museum, in order to create an authentic and relevant story world where the audiences immerse themselves in stories, or face challenges. The seamless experience where online is as important as offline or in gallery, has to be a priority. Perhaps it is the transmedia project manager who will lead the change?


Blog post 6/100 #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.


Blog post 5/100. #Blogg100

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Stories and emotions #Blogg100

”We need new narratives that connect with peoples’ deepest motivations and promote more radical action. Stories engage people at every level – not just in their minds but in their emotions, values and imaginations, which are the drivers of real change.”

Content is a recurring theme for museums this year. I will try to spend a couple of blogposts writing about the challenges that come with producing good content today. Like knowing your ecosystem of digital channels, planning long term for content, practical issues like using digital images and learning how to identify stories worth telling.

Storytelling in itself is worth a few blog posts. The quote above pinpoints some of the most important aspects of the method. Storytelling engages on an emotional level. With emotional connections people are more inclined to invest in a long term relationship with the museum. Emotions are not just about getting attention from visitors, it’s about engagement.

Objectivity and rationality are puny in the face of the emotionally based associative capabilities of real people, living real life, real time. People are not wholly rational, objective, or linear machines. People are makers and gatherers of meaning.


Blog post 4/100 #Blogg100

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Mobile use is (still) growing fast #Blogg100

Haggin Museum in Stockton, California. Photo: Patrick Giblin, Flickr, CC-BY-NC.

Haggin Museum in Stockton, California. Photo: Patrick Giblin, Flickr, CC-BY-NC.

”2014 will be the year that the internet will go mostly mobile”

This blog post is mostly about looking back at trend reports from 2014, though the conclusions are just as important in 2015.

If you aren’t already onto producing content for mobile devices, now is certainly the time. According to the annual report “Swedes and the internet 2014” between 92–98 % of all Swedes age 12-45 have access to a smartphone. Between 74-88% use them to connect to internet on a daily basis. 73 % of all Swedish adults use smartphones (compared to 58 % of adult US citizens according to the Pew Internet Research Study on Cell Phone Ownership and Usage, January 2014)

Google is also driving the change towards more mobile friendly websites and will by April 21 2015 rank these sites higher. http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/02/26/google-will-rank-your-site-higher-if-its-mobile-friendly-starting-april-21/

Keep in mind

The use of smartphones in museums is about more than accessing the museum website before the physical visit. It is about possibilities for participation, social sharing, mobile shopping, Near Field Communication, visitor photography and much more.  And it is about mobile being one device among others, and visitors effortlessly moving across devices. Besides producing a mobile strategy for museums, a content strategy is just as important as well as deeper understanding of museum audiences. 2015 will be the year we hopefully see most museum websites completely responsive. That’s a good start.


Blog post 3/100 #Blogg100-challenge