Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Send Me to SxSW to Spread the Word about Museum Awesomeness

I need your help to create a future in which encounters like this don’t happen:
  • At a convening of all sorts of important education types—foundation staff, teachers, policy makers—one of the participants turns to the chair of EdCom and says, “I didn’t know there was such a thing as “museum educators.”
  • At a reception for tech entrepreneurs, I astonish a batch of attendees by revealing a deep, dark museum secret—we have lots of things that aren’t on exhibit.
  • On a long plane flight, my seatmate—a senior executive with a major tech company—confides to me his idea for something great museums could do: put their collections online in digital format!!

These are all true stories, and they illustrate just how much most people don’t know about museums. I’m sure you have your own examples, gleaned from conversations with relatives, friends and chance encounters on the road.
I use every opportunity I can—at meetings and seminars, in trains, planes and cabs—to spread the word about who we are and what we really do, but dang, it’s hard to make a dent in cultural perceptions one convert at time. So I want to preach the message of museum awesomeness at South by Southwest® (SxSW) Interactive—the biggest, baddest festival of creative geekiness in the whole wide world. Next year it is in March in (as always) Austin, Texas.  

Last year over 33,000 people attended SxSW Interactive. SxSW tailors the program to “uber-geeks and digital creatives who push the cutting edge of technological change,” and lists “web developers, designers, bloggers, wireless innovators, content producers, programmers, inventors, tech and new media entrepreneurs, gamers and game developers, investors, and educators” as examples of folk who flock to the festival. Exactly the kinds of people who ought to see museums as places to “rejuvenate [their] passions and creative juices” (to quote SxSW’s goal), and as partners who can amplify and accelerate their work.
 Here’s the pitch I made to the festival organizers:


I submitted “Mining the Museum” to the Social Impact track, which “highlights innovative ideas from the creative industries that are contributing to a better, more equitable world.” That description fits museums to a “T,” don’t you think?

Here’s where you come in: public voting counts for about 30 percent of the selection process, and SxSW encourages session organizers to rally their networks to show their support.  Here’s a link to CFM’s session proposal (crafted with the help of many wise folk in and out of the museum field). I’m asking you to please:
  • Vote for the session, so I can tell attendees at SxSW interactive about the great museum resources—human, digital, physical—that can fuel the work of people who are trying to make the world a better place.
  • Use your social networks—Twitter, Facebook, blogs—to ask your peeps to vote for the session, too.

And tweet me @futureofmuseums when you cast your vote, so I can send my thanks!




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