MCN 2016

Experiencing the MCN Experience

By MCN 2016 Scholar, Luc Desmarais (@MuseoLuc), Exhibits & Design Manager, Beaty Biodiversity Museum (beatymuseum.ubc.ca)

What a week! This was my first time at the MCN conference, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the generous opportunity provided by the MCN Scholarship program. It was an honour to receive the scholarship, and very humbling to be included amongst the other incredible scholars.

After having some time to digest the experience (and the deep-fried everything), what I’m left with is the sense that now I’m part image01 of something bigger than I expected. It’s the feeling of spending a few days with new people, and now suddenly you’re part of the family. The community of MCN is what stood out to me from the start. It’s welcoming, warm, cozy, and inclusive. And I like it. These are my people. That’s my biggest take away from the week, as much as anything I learned in the sessions. My first MCN conference was an introduction to the family and an amazing opportunity to network and make connections. As the Canadian cousin no one had heard of before showing up to dinner, I felt welcomed and included. There was a seat for me, and everyone else, at the table.

The theme of “The Human Centered Museum” rang loudly throughout all of the conference sessions, and that is what inspires me going back to work. The traditional top-down model of operating a cultural organization is over. There’s no top; there’s no bottom. It’s us, standing with the visitor and the community, working together. Their stories are the future of museums. Talk to your visitors, build empathy, and have conversations. This is how we can be successful.

By the way, New Orleans is awesome. How many different marine invertebrates can you batter and deep fry? I’m not sure, but I image02think I ate most of them. As a musician and music lover, I was excited to see what the city had to offer and I wasn’t disappointed. The city is alive with music, and the best of it is found on the street. I was also lucky enough to catch a show at Preservation Hall, which was an experience I’ll never forget. Talk about the “open jaw of awe”!

Finally, the most eye-opening experience came on my last day in New Orleans. I visited the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum and was amazed at what they have accomplished. How often do we get to go to a museum where you are literally stepping into the story? The building, the neighbours, the people on the street, are all part of the story that the museum is telling. This brought the MCN conference experience full circle for me. There are no frills; there’s nothing fancy. It works because the roots of this museum are the people and their stories, and it created one of the most memorable museum experiences of my life.

What’s more human-centered than that?

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(photo by Mairin Kerr)

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Lights, Lights, Overstimulation

Guest post by MCN 2016 Scholar, Emily Haight – Digital Editorial Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

As a scholarship recipient, presenter, and first-timer to MCN I didn’t know what to expect. What I experienced was four days of non-stop information overload. (It’s a good thing.) Here are a few of my highlights:

emily-haight-toppicstitch

During the week, I ventured to Port of Call to indulge in a half-pound of “New Orleans’ Best Hamburger.” (Not pictured is the side of baked potato that came with the burger. I kid you not.) I stopped by Café du Monde for beignets (twice) and visited the World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Newcomb Art Museum’s exhibition of art by Australian Aboriginal women.

 

emily-haight-img_15231My first session was the half-day workshop “Beginner Hacking–Wearables” led by Chris Evans. Using a microcontroller, NeoPixels, ping pong balls, and a soldering iron, I constructed a light-up feature to clip on to my conference nametag. Diffused color-changing lights ensured that I would be obnoxiously visible in large crowds.

During several sessions I was too awestruck to tweet. I furiously scribbled notes about the Art Gallery of NSW’s artist profiles to delve into after the conference. I was blown away learning about the development of SFMOMA’s audio guide app with Detour, and—in a later session—captivated by their online content strategy (and confident adoption of fair use policies).

 

emily-haight-2016-11-15-13_38_00-twitterAs a social media manager, I was eager to pick up a few ideas from presentations about social platforms. I let out gut-busting laughs during “Disappearing Content: Snapchat and Instagram Stories” and was captivated by five case studies illustrating the criteria for participatory campaigns, including #GettyInspired and #Spunday.

On the last day, I presented a case study with my colleague, “Can You Name #5WomenArtists? A Viral Campaign for Women’s History Month” and bolted afterward for lightning talks with my fellow scholars.

 

 

Temily-haight-mcnstitch1wo off-site events during the conference added to the experience. The Ignite reception at the House of Blues and the gathering at the Audubon Aquarium also allowed me to see more of the city—and spend some quality time with my scholar cohort!

 

 

Overall, I felt inspired and empowered by each of the presentations I attended. MCN provided a fantastic opportunity to meet people that I had previously only known virtually, share ideas with them, and plan for future collaborations.

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Mapping the #MCN2016 Twitter conversation

Guest post by Andrea Ledesma

 

GIF is TAGS, a tool to map twitter conversations

As someone who fancies herself a lurker on Twitter, I was a little intimidated heading into the MCN 2016. Would I be able to follow along? What exactly should I tweet? How fast would I need to type?

Luckily, someone’s made a script for that.

I trackedss_dashboard #MCN2016 using TAGS v6.1. Developed by Martin Hawksey, Innovation Community & Technology Officer at the Association for Learning and Technology (@mhawksey), TAGS is a Google Sheets template that pulls data from Twitter. It runs directly through Twitter’s API.

In this instance, I set TAGS to search #MCN2016 every hour, on the hour starting November 1st. To control the archive, I only collected data from users with over 150 followers.

 

At the end of the conference, TAGS logged 9000+ tweets from over 1000 users. (Good work guys!)

A map of twitter conversations at #MCN2016

The most compelling feature of TAGS is its TAGSExplorer. This maps tweets across a network graph with all the interactivity of d3 and JavaScript/JQuery with none of the headaches. Each edge represents an interaction. Each node represents a user. Rolling over a node reveals a feed of tweets, as well as a replay feature animating conversations as they unfolded over time. For those who like a bit of competition, TAGSExplorer also ranks users. Top tweets are based on number of tweets, conversationalists the number of interactions.

TAGS is not without its glitches. For one, it only allows users to reach as far back as 9 days from the date on which the sheet is activated. Also, the archive is a little messy, truncating tweets seemingly at random and distinguishing retweets with the classic “RT.” Most importantly, Hawksey himself recognizes that TAGS prioritizes “relevance” over “completeness.” Some researchers have found that his makes for a visualization that “over-represents the more central users and does not offer an accurate picture of peripheral activity.”

ss_tweetersss_conversatinalists

Still, armed with a predetermined window of activity and a hashtag to capture all the goings-on from the event of interest, TAGS proved the ideal tool for real-time, quick-and- dirty data analytics. As a first time MCN attendee this was invaluable. Sitting in my hotel room on the first night, I made and sifted through the first day’s network map forming a game plan the rest of the week. What were the conversations inspired by and happening around the conference? How would these develop over the course of the week? Who to follow? Who to talk to?

Now, looking at the web of nodes and edges in hindsight. There’s a material trace of #MCN2016’s major dialogue and debates, creations and critique to take us into #mcn50.

 

 

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#MCN2016 recaps, reactions, and responses

A panorama shot of MCN 2016 Ignite at the House of Blues, New Orleans

Last year we did a follow up blog post on the conference but instead of us trying to sum up the conference, we let you do that. We value our community here at MCN and love reading about your conference experiences. Over the last two weeks we’ve combed the #MCN2016 tag looking for posts but if we’ve missed any please do let us know!

Robert WeisbergThe Human League: 10 Takeaways from Museum Computer Network 2016

A Storify by Racheal Ropeik: https://storify.com/TheArtRopeik/mcn2016-a-human-centered-conference

Racheal Ropeik – #MCN2016: A Love Letter

Mark McKayMy Key Take Aways from MCN 2016

Jennifer Foley#MCN2016 and the way forward

Liz FilardiInnovation, The Mission, and the Business: Frameworks for Institutional Success at Museum Tech Conference #MCN2016

A Storify by Miranda Kerrhttps://storify.com/Mirandarhk/museum-computer-network-2016

Cuberis – #MCN2016 twitter moment

Phil Leers – https://storify.com/altitudemadness/mcn-2016

Susan Edwards – https://storify.com/jolifanta/mcn2016

MCN Twitter moments:

#MCN2016 Day 1

#MCN2016 Day 2

 #MCN2016 Day 3

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Axiell-MCN 2016 “Market Trends” survey

MCN is pleased to announce that Axiell partnered with MCN as its 2016 “Market Trends sponsor”. This gives Axiell the opportunity to develop an annual survey, whose findings will add new market intelligence to our sector in the form of a free industry report that will be shared throughout MCN’s community and Axiell’s customers.

Axiell is interested in knowing the predominant strategies that museums use to improve your collections data and to what degree your institution is leveraging volunteers and crowdsourcing. Leveraging volunteers and crowdsourcing are often lauded as solutions for addressing digitization backlogs, data cleaning and increasing the depth of data records.

However, this is often much more difficult than it sounds and comes with an inherent set of challenges. While some institutions make fantastic strides in this area, others struggle to get started.

If you’re interested in responding to the survey, use the info below:

Axiell MCN Survey post

The findings of the survey will be made available in a free report which will provide readers with insight into how different institutions use volunteers and crowdsourcing to improve their collections data; how different institutions prioritize this approach, how much progress has been made, what challenges are being faced and what solutions are being implemented. The report will be co-presented by Axiell and MCN.

The full report will include case studies and practical advice from successful programs, identify challenges and potential pitfalls and provide an overview of how the industry prioritizes volunteers and crowdsourcing.

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About MCN Sponsor Emails

Over the last few days, we’ve seen a couple of tweets about the number of MCN sponsor emails landing in your inbox. This might be a little surprising to those new to the conference, so I thought I’d try to clear things up a bit.

Expanding strategic partnerships that include opportunities for sponsors is a core goal of MCN’s current Strategic Plan. Commercial partners are intrinsic to the fabric of our community: they bring tremendous innovation to the museum sector, and without their support, the annual conference just would not be possible. This year, we’re introducing new ways for sponsors to share their insights and actively participate in the conversation at the conference: “Partners in Conversation” is a new conference program series in which vendors partner with a museum for a conversation on a current museum technology topic; our “Market Trends” sponsor will partner with MCN to develop and co-present an annual survey that will provide market intelligence to our sector; and we will be hosting our first “Birds of a Feather SIGs Breakfast”, a one-hour event giving vendors an opportunity to have a conversation with members of Special Interest Groups around topics relevant to their respective practice area.

As a result of this new approach, we’ve broadened the pool of commercial vendors that we typically target and have secured a record number of sponsors and exhibitors for the 2016 annual conference: 26 in total, 13 of which are brand new to MCN! We also decided to share attendees’ emails with all of our sponsors and exhibitors ahead of the conference: we believe this will benefit everyone. We have updated our Privacy Policy to reflect this change.

We realize the last thing many of us wish is a few more emails in our inbox; just know that these emails are legitimate communications from vendors that are excited to attend next week’s conference, share their presence with you, and look forward to making new connections with all of us.

MCN is grateful for the support of our 2016 sponsors. Please make sure to stop by to meet them in the Sponsor Hall during the conference. In the meantime, safe travels, and see y’all next week in New Orleans.

 
Eric Longo
Executive Director
MCN

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MCN2016 registration update

The response to this year’s conference has been extraordinary, and so far, the number of registrations has exceeded even our most optimistic projections. It has however created a very acute capacity issue, which explains why some of you may have noticed when you registered that the Ignite reception is already sold out.

We are in the process of managing this issue by exploring alternative conference spaces and an even larger space at the House of Blues to host the Ignite reception. We have decided not to suspend or close registration until we have a better sense of how we can solve the capacity issue, while concurrently encouraging many speakers who have yet to register, to do so urgently, which explains recent reminders some of you may have received.

With this in mind, if you haven’t already done so, we encourage everyone to register as soon you can as well as to secure a hotel room or other local accommodation.

Stay tuned as we will continue to share updates on the conference.

Thank you for your continued support.

 
Eric Longo
Executive Director
MCN

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Meet the #MCN2016 Scholars!

Tiled image of the MCN2016 scholars

Each year, we are pleased to offer scholarships to 15 talented individuals from the cultural heritage sector to attend the annual MCN conference and join the MCN community. This year the Scholarship Committee received 88 strong applications from museum professionals located all over the US, UK, Europe, and Australia. As we do every year, the Committee had a tough time choosing 15 recipients.

We’re very excited to introduce the #MCN2016 Scholars! From an interactive media producer to a principal project officer, this year’s scholarship recipients represent a strong, diverse group of emerging leaders in the museum technology field. These individuals were chosen based on their ability to demonstrate a serious interest in MCN, explain how they will contribute to MCN community, and their involvement in exciting or innovative #musetech projects.  

This year, we have been making some changes to improve the scholarship program before, during, and after the conference. To streamline the process for applicants, we have moved up the application deadline and reviewing process.

Additionally, we are highlighting the scholars’ unique experiences and impressive projects through a brand new series of lightning talks during the conference on Friday morning, November 4.

As a former scholarship recipient myself now serving as a Co-Chair of the Scholarship Committee, I want the scholars to feel as welcome to the MCN community as I have felt. We hope each scholar will become an active member of the MCN community throughout the year, engaging online, in-person, and through our Special Interest Groups (SIGs).  

Meet our 2016 MCN Scholars online and meet them in person at the conference in November!

 

Laura Hoffman,
Co-Chair
MCN 2016 Scholarship Committee

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MCN 2016 PREVIEW: ALL THAT JAZZ!

View from MCN2015 Ignite stage

Every year, the MCN conference evolves in response to feedback from the community. This year, we dug into several years of MCN’s attendance data, and discovered that as many as 50% of attendees are new to the conference annually. Wow! This prompted us to rethink our assumptions about how knowledgeable attendees are when they arrive. As a result, we’re trying to be more deliberate about the information we provide, to help ensure everyone–whether new or a long-time attendee–gets the most out of their experience. So here are some of program highlights for New Orleans:

 

First Timer’s Session: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are you an MCN newbie?  Be sure  to attend our first-timer’s session to meet new people, and learn everything you need to know to make your first MCN awesome. We loved the first-timer’s session that Emily Lytle-Painter and Margaret Collerd Sternbergh ran at Museums and the Web 2016. It’s time for a similar event at MCN!

Meet the MCN 2016 Scholars! Lightning Talks, Friday AM.

Every year, MCN offers scholarships to 15 qualified applicants from the cultural sector to attend our annual conference. These individuals are chosen based on their ability to demonstrate a serious interest in MCN, explain how they will contribute to MCN community, and their involvement in exciting or innovative #musetech projects.  Scholars are asked to add to the conference experience by capturing important ideas and themes that develop during sessions and events. This year, for the first time, you’ll also have a chance to hear directly from our Scholars about their exciting work during a series of Lightning Talks.

MCN Professional Development Sessions

One of MCN’s strategic priorities is to better accommodate professionals at different stages in their careers. This year, the Program will include a few short “professional development” sessions that will bring together seasoned, mid-career, and emerging professionals to discuss topics related to professional development.  One session will feature tips on presenting at MCN.  Speed networking will also be returning as part of this new thematic track.

We will also have a session addressing how the conference is put together, including insights into what makes proposals stand out. Come along if you’re interested in putting together a proposal for future years, or want to get involved with the Program Committee.

Speak Up! MCN Discussion spaces

We have access to two great rooms away from the main conference hall that make perfect discursive spaces, so we’re going to use these for explicitly intimate or discussion-based sessions. We are not programming these rooms at all times, since we don’t want too much competition during sessions, but we will use them when appropriate.

This is also where we can make room for your conversations. Stay tuned for more details about how you can use or book these spaces for your emergent discussions.

MCN Annual Meeting

Join the MCN Board of Directors for our annual business meeting. This is a great chance for MCN members and other interested conference attendees to hear the latest about the organization from MCN’s leaders. Following brief presentations, there will be time for your questions to the MCN Board.

SIG Meetings

After consultations with the Special Interest Group (SIG) Chairs, we heard that many of the SIGs would like an opportunity for a formal business meeting at the conference. We have blocked off time for these important community discussions.

Other Changes to the Program

We heard your feedback from MCN 2015 that our case study format didn’t work particularly well, so these sessions will now be in 30 minute blocks of paired case studies. Additionally, we received so many wonderful proposals that we’re extending by an hour on the final day to fit a few more in.

All-time Favorite Events

Of course, the program still includes many of your favorite sessions, such as Ignite MCN, and our keynote in conversation with plenary speaker Catherine Bracy. Get ready to dive into a living collection at our reception at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Rejuvenate your motivation while rubbing elbows with MCN newcomers, oldtimers, and otters!

Still want more?

We’re pleased to support the Cultural Heritage and Social Change Summit, taking place just after MCN 2016 and hosted by Southern University at New Orleans MA Museum Studies Program. The Summit invites delegates from across the cultural heritage fields in a two-day unconference to dig deeper into issues of cultural equity and move toward collaborative and concrete strategy. There is a separate registration and application process for the Summit, which can be found at http://chscsummit.net.

 

This is just a taste of what you can expect at MCN 2016 this November. The draft timetable will be online next week, and we look forward to bringing you more updates as the conference gets closer.


Suse Cairns, Jennifer Foley, & Trish Oxford

Program Co-Chairs

MCN 2016 Conference

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The Ultimate Mixtape: Putting Together the #MCN2016 Program

Post it notes with MCN 2016 session proposals written on them.

This week, we sent out acceptances for the MCN 2016 conference program. Whew!

The overall quality of proposals was exceptionally high this year and we are so excited about all the sessions we have lined up. That being said, due to the high number of proposals we received (nearly 300), we have unfortunately had to reject a high number of proposals, so we wanted to provide some insight into the evaluation and selection process.

How it all starts…

The Program Committee is made up of 28 people, each bringing a different perspective from across the sector. Every proposal was assigned for review by three Program Committee members with relevant professional expertise on the topic. Evaluators were asked to provide feedback in three ways:

  1. A recommendation about whether the session was a “must have,” “nice to have,” “ok,” or “not suitable.”
  2. Number-based ratings on a series of criteria, such as relevance to the conference theme and the session’s potential to contribute to the museum sector.
  3. Additional descriptive comments to contextualize ratings, including recommendations to the Program Co-Chairs about things that could improve the proposal.

Putting the program together

Once all of the proposals were reviewed by the Committee, the Program Co-Chairs spent an entire weekend locked in a hotel room putting the first draft of the program together. (This involved a lot of Post-It notes!) Each session’s name was written on a Post-It showing its overall rating, and the three descriptive tags its owner included with the submission.

Our first job was to look for the top-ranking proposals from all of the session types (workshops, case studies, presentations, and professional forums). Then, each session was reviewed to ensure that the comments and recommendations supported the high rankings. From there, the process became a little more complex. We looked at topic representation. Were key topics areas covered? Were there any redundancies? We also considered the diversity of presenters. We wanted a good mix of speakers, including first timers and more experienced presenters, small museums, non-art museums, and sessions that included a gender mix. Next, we looked to include topics relevant to each Special Interest Group (SIG), prompting us to reach out to some SIGs with follow-up questions. In response to the Committee’s comments, we reached out to some of the proposers to ask whether they would be willing to edit a few things. Finally, we assigned sessions to time slots and to conference rooms in the hotel, looking for ways to get the most out of every minute possible.

Getting excited for an inspiring conference in November

This process took around three weeks, leading up to sending acceptance emails on Tuesday morning. Ultimately, the Chairs trusted the qualified opinions of the Program Committee. When tough decisions had to be made, we returned to the language of the original proposals in question and evaluated their merit for ourselves. Each Program Co-Chair brought her own partialities and priorities, but all decisions sprung from open and generative discussions about what kind of experience we wanted to create for attendees. Our goal was to build a challenging and surprising compilation of sessions with real world applications that would, together, create an inspiring conference. We think MCN 2016 is going to be exactly that, and we cannot wait to share the full program with you soon.

If you did receive an offer to the Program, please confirm your acceptance by June 20. If your session was not selected, and you’d like feedback, please contact us at [email protected]. We’ll also be running a short session at the Conference on how the Program Committee works, including some trends we noticed amongst the strongest proposals. Please come if you’d like to learn more or want to register your interest in being part of the MCN 2017 Program Committee.

Thank you to all the members of the MCN 2016 Program Committee for the hard work they’ve done to guide us in shaping the MCN 2016 Program.

Suse Cairns, Jennifer Foley, & Trish Oxford

Program Co-Chairs

MCN 2016 Conference

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