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robertogreco : openculture   3

The Virtues of Promiscuity — CODE | WORDS: Technology and Theory in the Museum — Medium
"Museums would do well to learn a thing or two from Jansen, and focus more on the creating and spreading the “digital DNA” of our shared cultural heritage and less on controlling access to those assets. This is a call to be both more promiscuous and more discriminating in what we share and how. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me.

Museums’ current survival strategy is not unlike those of creatures that have evolved on remote islands. We have gotten very good at passing on one model of “museum” from generation to generation. We may have developed elaborate plumage and interesting displays, but these mask the underlying sameness of the idea we pass on. As long as the larger ecosystem evolved slowly, museums could adapt and keep pace. The global internet has shattered that isolation for good, and in the new ecosystem our current reproductive specialization will not continue to serve us well. Insularity — the tendency to look inward, ignore the larger world and produce institutions that are increasingly self-referential, self-pleasing, and obscure to the billions of potential museumgoers — is a strategy for extinction.

For Jansen, encouraging others to build on his idea of Strandbeests is a reproductive and evolutionary strategy. His best hope for the survival of his creations beyond his lifetime is to let them loose for others to tinker with. Survival (and further evolution) lies in spread. Cynthia Coburn gave a fascinating talk at the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning conference in 2014 on scale and spread. If you’re at all interested in dissemination of ideas, it’s worth reading. One thing that struck me from her talk and the paper from which it was distilled are that we tend to be imprecise about what we mean when we talk about “doing more!” Unpacking that, Coburn finds that there are “fundamentally different ways of conceptualizing the goals or outcomes of scale. We identify four: adoption, replication, adaptation, and reinvention.” For this essay, I’m most interested in the fourth outcome. This way of thinking about spread Coburn describes as, “the result of a process whereby local actors use ideas, practices, or tools as a jumping-off point for innovation.”"



"Promiscuity connects museums to maker communities. Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces.

This latest eruption of interest in self-guided learning and doing has a long, distinguished lineage. Computer hobbyists, ham radio enthusiasts, and even the model railroad enthusiasts at the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, who gave us the modern meaning of “hacking” could claim to be “makers.” They were all communities of interest who came together to explore their passions and help each other out. The difference this time is the spread that the Internet makes possible. The 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees over a weekend. “Making” with a capital M is now a firmly established subculture, and part of a growing economic sector.

Promiscuity allows museums to be participatory culture advocates. Henry Jenkins may have coined the term “participatory culture” in 2005, but the idea of a world where individuals are producers of culture, instead of just passive consumers, has been around a long time. I’ve got a dog-eared paper that I’ve toted around for years with a quote from the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihályi which reads, “Creating culture is always more rewarding than consuming it.” As someone who’s worked the cultural/creative sector my whole life, I know the truth of this statement. What might the world look like if we not only preserved and exhibited examples of human creative expression but also more actively encouraged that creative impulse in everyone we serve?

This kind of digital promiscuity also nicely aligns museums with the Open Culture movement. “Open” is already on track to supplant “participatory” as buzzword of the year, with good reason. The proliferation of groups supporting and encouraging openness in the cultural/creative sector is impressive. Wikimedia, Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, free software advocates, open-source software advocates: the list gets longer all the time."



"The promiscuous spread of digital assets is a key factor in delivering on museums’ missions to educate, inform, stimulate, and enrich the lives of the people of the planet we live on. Merete Sanderhoff, in the excellent Sharing is Caring lays it out clearly,"
“Digital resources should be set free to form commons — a cultural quarry where users across the world can seek out and find building blaocks for their own personal learning.”

The more we sow these seeds of culture and the more effective we are at seeing those seeds take root, the more likely museums are to see cultural ideas persevere in the constantly-changing world.

"Promiscuity is one way to demolish the perception of exclusivity that has dogged museums for longer than I’ve been around. I realize that this virtue is by far the most painful, because it would force us as memory institutions to lay bare lots of things of things we’d rather not have to deal with: legacies of imperialism and colonialism, tensions between indigenous peoples and more recent arrivals. The history of the relations between Native Americans and museums is not the most cordial, at least in part because the perception that some museums are probably hiding things they don’t want tribes to know about is almost impossible to counter. Promiscuity offers a way to end that particular debate.

The “global village” the Internet has created is real, and now it is possible for a museum of any size to have global reach, provided they have anything to share. As Michael Edson pointed out in his introduction to Sharing is Caring, 34% of humanity is now reachable online. That’s 2.4 billion people who might be interested in your content.

One of the most interesting and infuriating changes in attitude that the Web has wrought is the expectation of finding everything. Not being visible online now is the equivalent of not existing."



"Creating digital analogues of our existing museums is a straitjacket that will not serve us well going forward. Making a virtual museum (in addition to sounding hopelessly 90s), regardless of the technology underlying it, fails to take into account the reality of how people consume digital content. They don’t go to museum websites. Jon Voss of HistoryPin made the statement that you have to meet people where they are, not where you wish they were. Museum websites, the traditional place for museums’ online presence, are not those places, so plowing resources into making bigger, swankier ones is a waste of resources that might be deployed in ways that actually reach a global audience."



"Merete Sanderhoff lists three problems this inability to be promiscuous creates:

1. By putting up impediments museums are pushing users away from authoritative sources of information.

2. We are missing out on the the opportunity to become hubs for people. The social gravity that museums could generate is largely unrealized.

3. By not using these new tools that are at our disposal, museums undermine their own raisons d’être."
museums  ideas  theojansen  2014  edrodley  open  openness  openculture  culturecreation  promiscuity  henryjenkins  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  darkmatter  rijksmuseum  cooper-hewitt  measurement  sebchan  kovensmith  michaeledson  visibility  exclusivity  sharing  maretesanderhoff  participatory 
july 2014 by robertogreco
— Bureau for Open Culture —
"Founded by James Voorhies, Bureau for Open Culture is a curatorial platform that utilizes exhibition, education, design and publishing to position the art institution as a form of critical practice. Bureau for Open Culture is itinerant. Its work is made possible with support from museums, academies and businesses in the field of visual and performing arts. The work often transpires reflexively with particular attention to education and critical thinking in relation to the roles of the spectator and institution through expanded forms of the exhibition model and in collaboration with individuals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines."

[Publications: http://bureauforopenculture.org/publications/ ]
criticalthinking  collaboration  design  bureauforopenculture  openculture  jamesvoorhies  diy  culture  education  activism  art 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Accessibility vs. access: How the rhetoric of “rare” is changing in the age of information abundance » Nieman Journalism Lab
"…digital archivists solve the barrier of accessibility, by making content previously tucked away in analog archives available to the world wide web…

What great curators do is reverse-engineer this dynamic, framing cultural importance first to magnify our motivation to engage with information…shares that manuscript in the context of how it relates to today’s ideals and challenges of publishing, to our shared understanding of creative labor and the changing value systems of authorship, will help integrate this archival item with your existing knowledge and interests, bridging your curiosity with your motivations to truly engage with the content.

Because in a culture where abundance has replaced scarcity as our era’s greatest information problem, without these human sensemakers and curiosity sherpas, even the most abundant and accessible information can remain tragically “rare.”"

[There's more to this. Better to read the entire thing.]
history  photography  information  archives  accessibility  mariapopova  curation  curating  curatorialteaching  curiosity  context  storytelling  relevance  flickrcommons  2011  digitalhumanities  classideas  cv  digitalcurators  infocus  openculture  dancolman  andybaio  metafilter  brainpickings  aaronswartz  filterbubble  elipariser  jamesgleick  abundance  scarcity  obscurity  infooverload 
august 2011 by robertogreco

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