Pick a museum. Read their mission statement. Visit that museum. Poke around, look at stuff. Look at their store. What are they selling? Check out their posted events. Do they match the mission? Read visitor reviews online. Do they seem to be in line with museum staff and BOT intentions?
The museum I chose:
The Museum of Sex, a for-profit museum in New York.
I am edging dangerously close to inappropriate puns in my writing. Like “as I probed deeper into the museum.” Really? Yes, really. But how can you blame me when the museum calls itself MoSex? They’re sort of asking for it, right? I think I’m going to blame the cold medicine and not my juvenile mind.
(this is actually an issue with this museum. They have this awesome mission statement about encouraging discussion and learning about human sexuality, but then they sell an $80 rubber “Dick Pillow” in the store.)
Alright. This is basically my first foray into the digital humanities and my very first “unconference.”
“ThatCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) is a free, open interdisciplinary “unconference” where humanists and technologists meet to work together for the common good.” <- okay, this is really an awesome mission statement. We’re all in this together. We want to do good stuff. We aren’t going to charge you to come along for the ride!
ThatCamp Philly is “roughing” it at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on Chestnut Street. Honestly, that place is blowing my mind, and I’ve only made it into their conference rooms and bathrooms. It is so pretty.
Today was the bootcamp, the sort of nuts-and-bolts, learn-how-to-do-stuff day. The first session, Data Manipulation for Non-programmers, blew my mind. I understood maybe three or four seconds of everything that was happening. I am a true non-programmer. All I managed to retain was Google Refine is awesome if you have messy data you need to fix up. Google will help you attain “mischief managed” status. I’m holding onto that. I have no doubt that at some point in my life this knowledge will come in handy. Even if I’m not the one who uses it.
I went next to Charlie Hardy’s session, How to Get What You Want Out of Oral Histories. Based on the project I did on Salem County’s project, and my internship, this was actually really comforting. I recognized the scholars/historians he was talking about, the lessons were clear and sensical and there were some great questions from the other campers. He put forward the idea that oral historians need to use the different mediums (audio, visual, text) to the medium’s best purposes. They need to consider how the mediums can work together, how they compliment one another to really make a project fantastic. Hardy was insistent that oral histories should evoke real feelings, they should not be punishments. Not every person can know how to do everything, so collaboration becomes really important.
One of the other campers asked about putting interviews up on the internet, and how to address fears that these interviews could be picked apart, or taken out of context. While there was no real answer for that, Hardy did say that he felt we should/are (?) moving toward more openness. ”The best protection of free speech is more free speech.”
The third session was, Herding Cats: Project Management for Collaborative Work. There were no cats, but some great suggestions for light project management. Google Docs, Agile/Scrum and give Microsoft Project Manager a pass. Delphine Khanna from Temple University shared some really great techniques for keeping a group of strangers with vision (but maybe not a unified vision) on track and basically happy. I’m still digesting, but for me, right now I’m focused on this:
Make reasonable decisions don’t aim for perfection.
I am not working on an awesome digital humanities project. I am not a project manager. I am however a human being. This is epically good advice for a human being.
I realize this is not a detailed account of my first ThatCamp. Just know that I am loving it, even the stuff I don’t completely understand.
Deb Boyer’s piece, When The Future Meets the Past: Using Augmented Reality in Cultural Institutions up on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) website now.
This is the part that really helped me (as a latecomer to the AR party):
These and other newly created humanities-related AR projects indicate an increasing focus on AR as a method for connecting people to the work and collections of cultural institutions. Collectively, these projects have several advantages that can advance the work of digital humanists and public historians:
1. They generate excitement. For many people, AR still sounds like science fiction. Individuals who may not consider themselves “history” or “museum people” suddenly express interest in historic photographs or digital collections if they can access them via AR.
2. They provide access via smartphones. As the use of smartphones grows, these apps provide opportunities for users to access an organization’s information, images, or collections as they have time amidst their daily tasks.
3. They support an interest in place-based history. People often feel strongly about a place that figures in their personal or community history. This connection to place can be enhanced through an AR app by encouraging people to link the past and present of a particular location and think about the events or people associated with that location.
4. They create educational opportunities. AR opens up intriguing possibilities for site interpretation. An AR app can be a new form of a self-guided tour or enhance a docent-led walking tour. Educators can use an AR app to help students understand how a location has both changed over time and remains the same.