Grants:TPS/SarahStierch/Museum Computer Network/Report

My trip to the Museum Computer Network conference was overall, "ok." While I was hoping that my role in the conference, as proposed in my grant request, was going to be more in depth and involved, it ended up being foiled due to unforeseen circumstances: the first with two conference participants that made for a rather uncomfortable conference experience, and the second, a family emergency that took place in California during my trip. I will not be getting into any of the details about these situations on meta.

The conference opened up with an all day Wikimedia workshop which was planned by Lori Phillips with Erik Moeller speaking for a good portion of the day about MediaWiki and opportunities that museums have to work with technical projects that the Foundation has been developing. Erik's participation was critical to the workshop. We had six museum and five Wikimedia participants. I was hoping for more museum participants. Museum participants had to pay $50 or so each to participate. Personally, I feel this goes against the mission of Wikimedia and it's projects, but, it was the conference's decision to charge, not mine. Anyway, despite the small attendance, participants were excited and eagerly asking questions throughout the entire session. After lunch, Erik wrapped up his talk and Lori left. Erik also left shortly thereafter. This was a bit frustrating, as myself and the other participants weren't sure of the end agenda. We just talked about Wikimedia partnership opportunities and then left the workshop. I tried my best to facilitate, however, I didn't have a full agenda (I did not plan the workshop) so I did my best. I was pretty frustrated.

Regardless of this situation, the museum participants were enthusiastic. A few outcomes, that I was able to personally develop:

  • The important need for workshops in which GLAM professionals. Having hands on, in person workshops are much more powerful than trying to develop and coordinate online. Myself, alongside Dale Kronknight, conservator at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, are going to examine this further. We'd like to work out an OpenGLAM/GLAM-wiki/hack event for the American Southwest in mid-2013 which brings together professionals from throughout the region - a region that has so far been untouched in regards to GLAM WIKI coordination.
  • The Walters Art Museum, who I helped coordinate a donation of 20k of Commons images from, are now pursuing a partnership with Wikisource to expand on the coverage of Latin documentation. I'm in the process of connecting staff with Wikisourcerers now.
  • Discussions did help solidify the importance of a US GLAM Consortium. One participant, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is serving on the advisory board for the Consortium, stressed the importance of creating higher quality documentation, something that is one of the hardest things to get people to do. He'd like to see a meeting still take place for the Consortium, but, I'm not playing a leading role in developing the Consortium (that's Lori's baby at this time, so to say).
  • The Gerald Ford Library and Museum is in need of stronger hand held partnerships with us. The woman who participated from that museum, in the workshop, pinged me on my Commons talk page about her recent work. I'll be following up with her to see how we can support her better. She's struggled a lot to find Wikipedian support.

The session in which I presented about GLAM women was, I must admit, pretty great. I did a fast paced call to action presentation to about 30 museum professionals, the majority women. I felt really satisfied. It was coupled with Lori Phillips presenting about next steps for US GLAMs and Gaurav's (another Wikipedian) presentation about Wikisource. A lot of people were tweeting, and I did get some good Tweets[1][2] related to my presentation and the discussion that took place. A large part of the questions were tied into why women don't edit, copyright and images, and civility on Wikipedia. Some outcomes:

  • Some women have started editing! We did get more followers and fans for the WikiWomen's Collaborative project, and a few museum professionals have shared that they have made accounts and will contribute.
  • New contacts were made with a woman in Minneapolis who will be taking the lead for a few projects in Minneapolis with GLAMs, including the Minnesota Historical Society - we are emailing with them now.
  • I was able to make a new contact in Tennessee, who is seeking to develop a GLAM WIKi partnership that is geared towards women at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Unfortunately, due to a combination of the conference situation and a personal family emergency I did not participate in the lightning session with Lori nor did I participate in the Google Art Trial discussion. I am happy to talk the participation grant committee further about my situation, but I don't feel the need to share it on Meta.

I do have some takeaways:

  • Despite some really bad bumps at the conference, I felt that my presentation was successful, and I was able to blend both interests of women's outreach and GLAM projects. People seemed enthusiastic and I am excited to follow up with the few solid contacts I mentioned above to further projects and participation.
  • I feel the workshop needed further leadership and more solid organization. I had hoped that a more solid "to do" list would have came out of it for all of the participants, but, it disintegrated into an unconference and I wasn't really sure of the original agenda goal. I did my best, but, more could have been done. I do feel a few opportunities came out of it, which I mentioned above, and will be exploring.
  • The conference, which is called Museum Computer Network, appears to stray away from technical aspects and into more theoretical and social media aspects. I also have noticed that the same people present each year, and smaller organizations aren't able to participate in the same level as large organizations who have more funding. That is why I think it's critical that Wikimedia keeps a foot in the door with these types of things - we provide an affordable and basically free way to share content and bring awareness to collections without making million dollar investments. I was disappointed to see not as many conversations about open source and open culture outside of the Wikipedia discussions. Perhaps next year.

I was sincerely aiming to come back from this conference with a more solid and positive report, I regret that that didn't happen. But, the few things that were positive - were really great and I feel were impactful. I'm hoping I'll have some updates in the near future!

SarahStierch (talk) 18:36, 16 November 2012 (UTC)