- It accommodates commentary that falls, in length, between Twitter and even the briefest essay on the Blog.
- It isn’t constrained to the Dispatches categories—giving me, for example, a place to share news about disruptive events (which are, along with trends, significant drivers of change shaping the future)
- I hope it will be more interactive than CFM’s existing platforms. Even widely read posts on the Blog rarely generate comments. (And people pretty much ignore the Blogger “Reactions” check boxes. I’m thinking of just removing that widget.) On Facebook, people seem to be uninhibited about about “liking” posts, commenting and building on the comments of others. We will see!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Summer 2012: Dallas Independent School District closes the historic City Park Elementary school. Located directly across the street from Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park’s entrance, staff were incredibly saddened that this hub of neighborhood activity was closing.
Summer 2013: Vogel Alcove, a non-profit that provides childcare for homeless children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, announces that they will be renovating City Park Elementary and moving their entire operation into the building by Spring 2014.
Summer 2014: Children from Vogel Alcove are visiting Dallas Heritage Village (DHV) a few times a month for specially designed field trip experiences
How did we become a go-to destination for homeless children? Dallas Heritage Village is located in the Cedars, a neighborhood just south of downtown that has been struggling for a long time. Over 90% of the students that attended City Park Elementary were homeless. There are many social service agencies near us, including the city operated homeless facility. For years, we’ve worked with these fellow non-profits in various ways, including providing free field trips, hosting special events, and providing job skills training through various building restoration projects. But these non-profit friends have never been located within walking distance of DHV.
|Photo by Vogel Alcove|
- Their kids made ornaments for one of the trees at our annual Candlelight event. Vogel Alcove staff and volunteers came to help us with activities, as well as share information about Vogel Alcove with our visitors.
- Two of our staff members are now regular volunteers at Vogel Alcove.
- If either of us have big events, we borrow parking from each other.
- They’ve taken some of our excess mulch for their raised garden beds.
- We’re in each other’s disaster plans.
I asked Katie to share her perspective on our partnership:
This summer, Dallas Heritage Village has opened its doors to provide a "home away from home" for the young children of Vogel Alcove who are experiencing homelessness. Walking back in time to picnic under the towering pecans and play yard games in the picket fenced backyards of the historic homes has provided our young children a connection to the past as well as a respite from the speed of urban life.
Working in close partnership with the museum staff, we have created customized experiences that accommodate the specialized needs of trauma-informed care while providing developmentally appropriate cognitive, physical, social, and emotional learning opportunities for our infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Photo by Vogel Alcove
Hearing stories told by grandparents; feeling soft, raw wool as it is spun into yarn; smelling fragrant herbs grown for made-from-scratch cooking; tasting sweet, juicy watermelon under a tree at a holiday picnic; and watching the chickens, donkeys, and sheep, the children have received authentic sensory-based learning experiences that develop emerging social, reasoning, and language skills in a historic context that is both supportive and calming. They will be able to continue to draw from these positive experiences as they transition to their next settings.
It may be unlikely that a social service non-profit will move in across the street from your museum. But all museums have neighbors, and it’s crucial that museum staff get to know them. When I first met with Karen a year ago, I had no idea where things would lead. Though this partnership has definitely made our summer busier than anticipated, we have all learned so much from each other. Stay tuned—we’re just getting started!
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I also recommend the Giving USA report that came out this spring, reporting the figures for 2013. The good news is that giving to Cultural, Arts and Humanities (which included museums), increased over 7% last year. That is twice the average increase for giving overall. So not only are museums rebounding, rebounding, we are rebounding faster than others in the nonprofit sector. Indeed, The Alliance’s annual “Conditions of Museums and the Economy” report confirms the continued improvement in the field's vital signs (attendance, financial stress) since 2008, and most museums reported an increase in philanthropic funding. However, more than one director noted “fundraising continues to be very difficult." As the 2013 report says “even those [museums] that experienced notable increases in donations last year argued that philanthropic support has become less predictable.” Museums need to understand and adapt to the new shape of giving, and/or place less reliance on philanthropy and more on other income streams.
Museums can also take an active role in shaping the expectations of donors. Last year GuideStar, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance published an open letter to the "donors of America" combating what they dubbed "the Overhead Myth"--the undue importance granted to the ratio of administration and fundraising expenses to program delivery. As the Myth campaign pointed out, too much focus on this one ratio devalues other critical measures of performance. And in fact many nonprofits spend too little on overhead--underpaying staff and failing to invest in critical infrastructure. Obsessing on their overhead ratio is as counterproductive as asking someone with anorexia about their weight. Now the Overhead Myth coalition is preparing to launch a second letter, this time directed at nonprofit organizations, calling on them to be "more proactive about communicating the story of their programmatic work, their governance structures, and the real costs of achieving results...[and] to recruit nonprofits to help us retrain donors to pay attention to what matters: results." When this letter is released, I hope the director of your museum will share it with your board of trustees, and lending your support to the campaign.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
|Coming Soon to a Billboard near You?#Pop-Up #Blippar |
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
- A recent poll of experts by the Pew Research Internet Project showed that nearly half expect a future in which robots and digital agents (such as the artificial intelligence Watson created by IBM) displace significant numbers of blue- and white-collar workers.
- Ethicists and judicial scholars are speculating whether robots, like corporations, should have rights and obligations, while the United Nations debates what boundaries need to be placed on robotic warfare
- The past few months have seen articles on robot security guards; on the effect of increasingly sophisticated robots and AI on professions like lawyer, doctor and architects; and on robots that can assemble themselves.
- The debate rages about how to regulate and legalize commercial drone use in the US. (Here are some arguments for free and open access to this technology, as well as arguments against.) but meanwhile
- Police departments in Seattle and LA are using drones equipped with night vision video cameras for surveillance (maybe I should have saved that article for the Privacy update)
- Aloft Hotels just announced that their first "cyber associate" has reported fro training in Cupertino, California. The Botlr, as it is known, will deliver amenities to guest. rooms and port linens and towels around the hotel. (Cute detail: instead of tips, Botlr asks for tweets.)
- On the museum front, Robot Linda debuted at London’s Natural History Museum, demonstrating its ability to map its environment and operate autonomously. Last week the Tate Britain invited members of the public to queue up online and take turns controlling four video-equipped, flashlight-wielding robots that roamed the museum in the project After Dark
Thursday, August 14, 2014
First up, from TrendsWatch 2012, Crowdsourcing.
Every new technology has its potential dark side. As I mentioned in a recent post, peer-to-peer sharing services may be facilitating racial discrimination and eroding accessibility. Drones surveillance may help save elephants and rhinos, but it also nudges us towards an Orwellian future in which we are continually surveyed by a digital panopticon.
Turns out even crowdsourcing--soliciting content, solutions and suggestions from an undefined set of participants via the internet--can take a nasty turn under the right circumstances. Case in point: crowdsourcing initiatives that recruit the public to identify safety issues and concerns in their neighborhoods. When New York City introduced a interactive map of traffic hazards this year, inviting citizens to map pedestrian hazards and traffic violations, it was designed to be very civil and civic minded. Even if you ratted out a red light runner, it was the cumulative implication of such reports that mattered ("people tend to run red lights here")--your report didn't result in a ticket to the violator.
But can such efforts reflect and amplify people's fears, whether or not they are justified? An article in the Washington post yesterday aired concerns that SketchFactor, a crowdsourced safety mapping app that launched this month, promotes racism and profiling. App users file geo-tagged reports on anything from the presence of homeless people to police incidents to noisy construction, categorizing each report (e.g. "weird," "dangerous") and assigning a "sketchy" rating of 1-5. Karen McGuire, the sociologist who co-founded SketchFactor, says she did so because she believed an app could "pool everyone’s street smarts, for everyone’s good."
But the app only runs on iPhones, so critics point out that right there, the "digital divide" means that relatively more affluent people are being invited to critique city streets. Now people are worrying that the app could be used to "blacklist" communities, with some describing it as a tool for yuppies to air biases and stigmatize people and places that make them uncomfortable. Also, some people are pranking the app, entering fake incidents or humorous reports. The Washington Post article also points out that the apps mapping doesn't accurately reflect police reports of crime.
I can see the potential for this app as a instrument of empowerment, though. The fact the app doesn't reflect police stats, for example, means it can let users express concern about safety issues the police largely do not address. For example, the WP story says that McGuire intended the app to empower women to report things like cat-calling and street harassment, "invisible" crimes that don't show up on police blotters. Conceivably, users could report incidents of police harassment or other "sketchy" behavior by authorities, converting it into a tool for the oppressed. (At least, that segment of the oppressed who own iPhones).
So, food for thought--as you devise ways to harness the power of the crowd, be aware of the potential dark side of our collective human nature.
An ironic postscript: while a DC television news crew was doing a story on SketchFactor, their van was broken into and thieves took phones, computers, cameras. This story doesn't report whether the crew logged the incident on SketchFactor...
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
|Image from Center for Popular Economics|
Stanford Social Innovation Review
The sharing economy is creating new business models, forcing traditional for-profit businesses to adapt or fall behind. The same will hold true for the social sector. Driven by the recession and evolving values, the sharing economy has become a movement heralding access over ownership and trust through transactions. The list of companies engaged in the sharing economy is long, growing and global. It touches all sectors, and utilizes network-enabled sharing to connect users and reduce friction and costs. The sharing economy's "triple bottom line" (financial, environmental and social) aligns well with the social sector, and there are a handful of nonprofit success stories. These sharing economy nonprofits create new online marketplaces that extend networks, and connect people and resources. Includes recommendations on how nonprofits can begin to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the rise of this economy, including increased shared use of independent skilled workers.
Monday, August 11, 2014
As the article comments, Taxi Trails turns the idea of a taxi ride from "going somewhere" to "doing something." All by linking here-to-for unused data (the GPS logs from the taxi fleet) to map data about attractions in the city (including museums, I hope) and translating it to a heat map of who is hanging out where. The article observes that "Without the idea, the taxi "data," if you can even call it data since wasn't noticed or captured, is useless. Suddenly, the data that the product creates augments the product itself."
As more museums implement indoor positioning systems to deliver location-specific interpretive text, we too are generating data that could "augment the product." Visitors' digital footprints, whether left on our websites or in our galleries, are raw material waiting to be transformed by what the article's author, Will Burns, calls a "data epiphany." He recommends steps organizations can take to encourage these epiphanies:
- Auditing the data the organization currently captures
- Assembling teams to play with this information, with the goal of uncovering useful data, and
- Brainstorming ideas for how the data streams could interact in ways that produce additional insight and value
I bet that many museums would find that such an audit will uncover that they are capturing, or could capture, a lot more data than they knew they had.
Friday, August 8, 2014
This hits so many trend buttons, including how:
- The Internet of Things is enabling us to amass Big Data (e.g., your baby's sleep cycle, body temperature, mood)
- Advanced analytic algorithms enable us to crunch that data and make sense of it (what's a normal heart rate for an infant at a particular age? What light levels promote napping?)
- Companies can convert what they've learned from data analytics into personalized services (what environmental conditions help your baby sleep well? What triggers a bad mood?)
- Data is turning into a medium of exchange ("can we use your baby's data to train and improve our data models?")
- The "quantified self" movement is expanding its reach
- Is technology changing the culture of parenting, and if so, how?
- Will obsessive checking of baby's biometric feed on your smart phone replace obsessive checking on the crib?
- Will the ability to track baby's temperature and heart beat in real time alleviate or feed parental angst?
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Is Big Data Spreading Inequality?
The New York Times
Social media companies depend on selling information about their users’ clicks and purchases to data brokers who match ads to the most receptive individuals. But the Federal Trade Commission and the White House have called for legislation that would inform consumers about the data collected and sold to companies, warning of analytics that have “the potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections.” Does the collection of data by companies threaten consumers’ civil rights? ♦ This edition of the NYT's excellent "Room for Debate" forum includes essays by thought leaders from the Future of Privacy Forum, the Open Technology Institute and Princeton among others.
A White House report on big data released May 1 concludes that the explosion of data in today's world can be an unprecedented driver of social progress, but it also has the potential to eclipse basic civil rights and privacy protections. The report drew praise from business and technology groups for its grasp of how big data analytics could improve education and health care, uncover wasteful government spending and help with the nation's continuing economic recovery. But those same groups cautioned that government attempts to regulate data collection could interfere with productivity and job growth.
There are some things that just weren’t possible before the world wide web and cloud computing, and a recently launched emotion-quantification project called “We Feel” is one of them. The project, which is a partnership between Australia’s Black Dog Institute and its Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is analyzing every English-language Twitter post around the world in order to determine how people are feeling. Using data from Gnip, the social-media data feed that Twitter recently acquired, We Feel gauges where tweets range on a spectrum from “joy” to “fear” (as well as “surprise”) and then breaks them down at a more-granular level (e.g., from “joy” to “zest” to “invigorated”). It also captures metadata on the countries from which tweets are coming, the sex of the person doing the tweeting and the timestamp of the tweet.
Even in a wired world, some simple data is still surprisingly hard to get — like how much it rains. The basic rain gauge has been around for hundreds of years, and it's still a standard tool used by agencies like the National Weather Service to help predict flooding and monitor droughts. But gauges are expensive to maintain, and there are only a few thousand in the entire world that can actually report data in real time. That's not enough for an accurate picture of the weather. A team of Dutch scientists wants to use the crowd instead, by turning umbrellas into mini weather-monitoring stations. Every time it rains, smart umbrellas would use sensors to detect falling drops, and then use Bluetooth to send a report to a smartphone app. As people walk around with umbrellas throughout a city during a storm, each app would send in data to a central system where meteorologists could use it to come up with better predictions.
The Wall Street Journal
A new wave of consumer applications is putting big data at everyone's fingertips. Large organizations have harnessed the power of data analytics for some time. But consumer services are finding more ways to use business intelligence to benefit individuals. One thing that makes this all possible is the growing availability of large public and private information sources. Government agencies and companies like Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. offer APIs — application programming interfaces — that allow other software makers to access and use their data. Even as consumers worry about the effect on their privacy of all the personal information that is widely shared, many are finding ways to benefit from new, readily accessible, data-rich services.
Public schools nationwide are taking a cue from business, harnessing big data to improve student outcomes, help school districts make better hiring decisions and help governments use their education dollars more effectively. The results may be more successful students, better teacher retention and more finely tuned administration policies.
Thoughts On Cloud
Among the sea of booths and demos on the expo floor at IBM Pulse 2014, a culinary revolution is happening — and the cloud is its catalyst. It's called the Cognitive Kitchen, and the fruit of its labor, the IBM Food Truck, is delighting palates while hinting to a world of possibilities. Chef James Briscione and his Institute of Culinary Education team are working with IBM to tap into cognitive computing, and in the process inventing some eyebrow-raising recipes. The flavor combinations are often bold and unprecedented. ♦ "Cognitive computing" is being brought to bear on many areas of endeavor here-to-fore regarded as the preserve of creative intelligence. Today it's food — what next?
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
So, you may have seen me looking like this, lately.
Yup, that’s Google Glass. And that’s me trying not to be a Glasshole.
Neil Stimler, Digital Asset Specialist at the Met, has been sporting Glass for over a year and sharing his observations hashtagged #metthroughglass. Barry Joseph, Associate Director for Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History, recently blogged about his experience visiting DC museums with a borrowed set of Glass. I’ve been playing around with Glass for about six months now, porting it with me to conferences and speaking gigs, trying it out in various settings and thinking about what Glass could be good for in museums. This is my first stab at sharing these thoughts on the Blog.
If you haven’t had the chance to play around with Glass, this very brief intro demo gets across the basics:
It's kind of the love child of an iPhone and Geordi La Forge's VISOR from StarTrek TNG.
Here is the challenge: playing around with this tech for tech sake tends to yield experiments that could be done equally well (and less expensively) with other equipment. Artists and teachers, for example, have tried using Glass as a way of recording and sharing a “first person” view of what they are doing. But you could do the same thing, less expensively, with a GoPro camera. What can Glass do better than a head-mounted video camera, or even a hand-held internet connected devices? My smart phone can already connect to the internet, accept voice command and access location-specific information.
What distinguishes Glass from my phone is that it provides heads-up and (mostly) hands free access to these functions. These capabilities make Glass potentially valuable in an operating room for example, where immediate hands-free access to information could save a life. (Imagine a surgeon pulling up pre-op MRI images to guide her hand.) Less critically, but still fun, this teacher used Glass to not only share video but conduct a real time Google Hangout with students while he visited the Large Hadron Collider. What are the equivalent (fun or critical) applications in museums?
I recently enlisted staff of the Phillips Collection here in Washington to join my investigations. In the following video shorts Margaret Collerd Sternbergh (Manager of Digital and In-gallery Interpretation), Meagan Estep (Manager of K-12 Digital and Educator Initiatives) and Brooke Rosenblatt (Head of Public Engagement) help me explore Glass and help Glass explore the museum.
I kicked off our adventure by demonstrating my first wish for Glass functionality in the museum: the abolition of the “label dance”—that little back and forth and in and out that happens as I cast about for the corresponding copy, waltz over to read it then sashay back to an appropriate viewing distance.
Margaret, Meagan, Brooke and I discussed the commonly voiced concern that Glass might be used as a covert way to take pictures or videos (which has led some theaters and cafes to ban Glass from their premises).
I turned the headset over to Margaret, Megan and Brooke to try out. Here they share their impressions and mull over how Glass might be used at the Phillips.
Honestly using Glass in the museum is still a little rocky at the moment, as I demonstrate here:
Despite the glitches, don’t underestimate how fast this technology could be refined and widely adopted. (Did early mobile phone users lugging around brick-sized devices in 1995 imagine the iPhone?) Juniper Research, for one, predicts “AR users worldwide will increase from 60 million to 200 million over the next five years” due in part to adoption of Google Glass and the proliferation of apps that hone its capabilities.
However fast Glass per se evolves. I think the trends behind this particular invention—the rise of wearable technology, location-aware services and personalized content—are going to shape visitor expectations of the museum experience. As we play around with Glass, discovering what it can or might do in the near future, we need to think about the broader implications. Will museums’ BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies need to accommodate “devices” that include a visitor’s prescription eye-wear, or even their shirt or shoes? Will people wandering about, talking to their "glasses," prove to be even more distracting to other visitors than obsessive phone-screen-checkers? As the technology become more stealthy, and therefor less intrusive, will it prompt even higher concern about privacy or intellectual control?
That all lies in the future. Here in the present are some experiments museums are doing with Glass:
- The Manchester Metropolitan University is working on the Google Glass Augmented Reality Project. They have already programmed a Glass app to recognize George Stubbs’ "Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians" and provide associated text and audio. Museum staff are planning to create content for six more paintings and continue to test with visitors, as they investigate how about Glass could supplement (or replace?) guidebooks and audio guides.
- David Datuna created an interactive installation that was recently shown at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, designed specifically to be viewed with Glass.
- I’m looking forward to visiting the New Museum in 2015, when the museum will launch a Glass-based “visitor engagement app” at their Triennial.
- Branching out beyond art, one researcher has experimented at the Massachusetts Historical Society with Glass as a tool for photographing historic documents. (Spoiler alert: you can take better pics with a camera, and, sometimes, a smart phone.)
Whew, that was a long post. As a reward for those of you who stuck through it to the end, here is the outtake reel from the Phillips. Ok Glass, Roll Film.
(Addendum: the original post listed Neal Stimler's title as "Associate Digital Asset Specialist.")