Friday, April 13, 2012

Museums and the Web 2012

I predicted a couple of weeks ago that the underlying theme of Museums and the Web 2012 being held here in sunny downtown San Diego would be digital leadership.

Well after the first day of proceedings I can report that this issue is certainly on the agenda, but I think the bigger issue is actually going to be about whether this conference (now in its 17th year) should be renamed Museums and the Digital World.

Few of the papers mention the web, and papers this morning by Bruce Wyman and Rob Stein pushed hard the concept of the necessity for museums to have a digital strategy. No longer is this strategy just about how a web site is used to benefit the museum but it is about the integration of everything digital from digitisation of collections to building apps and the onsite and offsite presence of the museum.

Bruce sees that everyone in the museum should be aware of the need to produce digital content with three roles critical to this:
  1. The content creators - they need to be aware that all content will be picked apart, mashed and reused in ways they never envisaged. Alongside this, accurate metadata, as the conduit to much content, is more important than ever before.
  2. The constructors (i.e. those that build the content) - be aware that consumers want to interact with content on many different platforms, and find it transportable easily between them. Interestingly Bruce straw-polled the conference delegates to show that the vast majority have iPhones not Androids, reflecting his view that iPhone users are much more engaged with content than Android users (who he claims tend to buy their phones largely as clever phones rather than a window to the world). The usage flies in the face of the stats published in USA Today this morning which showed that 2011 global smartphone sales were powered by 49% Android operating systems as against 19% iOS.
  3. The consumers - be aware that data is everywhere for consumers, and the museum data needs to stand out and where possible link back to the museum, as it will invariably not be accessed via the museum's website.
Rob summed it up well I thought by saying that we need first and foremost to be museum experts not technology experts if we are going to convince and engage with our consumers. More soon.

Julian Bickersteth
Managing Director

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