Many in the heritage industry are embracing social media as a means of connecting to the public, and one another, there are a small, but growing, number of conservators who have joined in this communication explosion. Sadly the conservation profession as a whole remains somewhat wary of embracing social media. Though not to be downhearted there are many individuals, and small groups, who have a clear grasp of the fundamental nature of web 2.0 and have been flying the flag for conservation, developing what can legitimately be called a ‘conservation cyberspace’, it is a few of those projects that I shall highlight here.
Dan’s favorite approaches to social media by conservators
It appears that the most widely used social media platform by conservators is facebook. This site boasts a huge range of groups that are associated with conservation issues; whether they are extensions of professional organizations such as International Institute for Conservation (IIC), or, non-aligned groups such as the highly successful Art Conservation Advocates, these types of groups seem to specialize in posting lots of interesting news stories, which in many ways is a continuation of the older broadcast method of ‘outreach’, in addition Art Conservation Advocates posts information such as; job postings, internship postings, conference calls, and such like. I particularly appreciate the idea behind this group as advocacy is something that social media can be a useful tool for. I’m not normally one for selling things and advertising, however, I’ll make an exception for one of my favourite crafty conservation-themed groups on facebook, the Inherent Vice Squad, who also have a website and blog, they use social media to help market their unique and popular products to the conservation community. These products are all a lot of fun, and I doubt many conservators would have ever heard of them had it not been for social media.
Twitter and Paper.li
The number of conservators, and conservation labs, on twitter continues to increase at a slow but steady pace. I’ve found it a useful means of quickly seeking answers, and for sharing interesting stories. However, I do find that keeping up with an ever increasing number of people is too time consuming for my busy schedule. Therefore, I have been quite intrigued by what I think is one of the most interesting things to come out of twitter recently; paper.li. This site allows you to set up a daily newspaper-like feed of either yours, or, a list of tweets that you follow. I may be wrong, but I believe amongst conservators Richard McCoy (Associate Conservator at the IMA) was the first to start up such a daily newspaper, his is entitled Art Conservation Daily. This is a great new way to interact with tweets.
I think wiki’s might be the most significant development in social media for the professional conservation field. In many ways the wiki as a website has become synonymous with its most famous exponent – the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. To which there are a growing number of entries that are concerned with conservation, and I would continue to encourage conservators to use and add to this online encyclopedia. Wikipedia also hosts numerous projects to develop content, including Wikipedia Saves Public Art, which is
probably the first explicitly conservation themed project, providing a workable model for documenting works of art in the public sphere.
However, Wikipedia is not the only use of Wiki’s within the conservation field. Wiki’s have been shown to be a useful method of sharing information pertaining to testing specific products, with the Pemulen TR2 Wiki being an excellent example. This wiki was developed by Nancie Ravenel who also developed the Social Media 4 Collections Care Wiki, based on her presentation: “Technology and Social Media for Collections Care”, for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections forum, June 17, 2009, Buffalo, NY. This is a great wiki that provides an ongoing bibliography concerning social media within the conservation, collections care field.
As a blogger I don’t really want to get into ranking blogs, however, there is one blog worth a special mention for the sheer number of fantastic free online resources that the blog has located and made available in one location for the profession, and that is: Art Conservation Research.
I’m very excited by Minding the Museum, which is a new museum conservation podcast website. It has only had one issue out so far, but it is a site I’ll be keeping an eye on to see how it develops. The website itself doesn’t strictly speaking fall within the realm of social media, in that it is distinctly lacking in interactivity, however, it is likely that podcasts will be shared, posted, forwarded, and discussed on any number of other
The one major thing that is missing is a website that uses Web 2.0 for something “more” in much the way Voices of the Past does for the wider Heritage field. At the moment I don’t feel there is enough interest amongst conservators to develop such a site, and there certainly isn’t institutional support for such a project. Yet I can’t help thinking it won’t be long before we see something of it’s kind.
So, those were some of my favorite social media sites that represent conservation cyberspace, what do you think of them, and what are your favorites?
Photo teaser elements courtesy of Dan Cull and luc legay on Flickr
About ten years ago I visited my local Family History Center to do some research and I got to talking with the center’s director about a recent discovery I had made. She was so taken with what I had found that she exclaimed, “that’s such a genealogy gem, you really need to share that with other genealogists!” She asked me to jot down the steps I had followed on a piece of paper which she promptly posted on the center’s bulletin board.
As I stood there looking at the scrap of paper hanging by a thumbtack, I thought to myself, “there must be a better way to network with other genealogists and share this kind of information!”
Fast forward to early 2007 when my kids gave me an iPod for my birthday, and my discovery of podcasts. It struck me like a thunderbolt – my virtual bulletin board! I had found my medium for sharing ‘genealogy gems’ at last! (Hhmm, that’s a catching phrase…) A month later I published my first episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and I’ve been having the time of my life ever since reaching thousands of genealogists around the world.
There is great power in connecting with other like minded people, and family historians have been at the forefront of capitalizing on that concept. After all, genealogy is about people, and not just the dead ones!
I’d like to share my personal top ten favorite social networking websites for genealogy in the hopes that you will experience the fun and genealogical success they can offer.
Facebook – When it comes to social networking, Facebook is king. And genealogists have come to it in droves, finding long last family, exchanging ideas, and following their family history faves (Follow the Genealogy Gems Podcast at Facebook.) Take a few moments to look over and tweak your privacy account settings to meet your needs, and you’re good to go.
Ancestry Member Trees – Even with all of the vast genealogical original content Ancestry has added to it’s site over the last ten years, it was Member Trees that hit the jackpot. Even though there are always little frustrations along the way when using Member Trees, they are still a must have for any serious genealogist. It’s a rare family historian these days who doesn’t have a success story to tell about a contact made through their online tree.
Family Search Research Wiki – Wiki has been the buzz word at many a genealogy conference so far in 2010 and it looks like they are here to stay. Not only does the Family Search Wiki facilitate the world’s brain trust on genealogy information, but it provides a platform for connection and collaboration.
Family Tree Magazine Forum – As a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine, I’m well aware that editor Allison Stacy is at no risk of running out of ideas for new articles. And yet she is sharp enough to know that her readers have opinions too, and at the Family Tree Magazine
Genealogy Blogs – OK, I know that “genealogy blogs” is not one site, but more like a thousand websites. But it’s the concept here that’s really at the heart of their value to genealogical social networking. If you’re reading blog posts and skipping the Comments section, then you don’t know how much you’ve missed! I’ve picked up great tips and found new online genealogists through blog comments. Blogs come in every genealogical shape, color and size, as do their commentors. Some of the most visited, and commented on, are Randy Seaver’s GeneaMusings, Eastman’s Online newsletter, and DearMYRTLE.
MyHeritage – When it comes to international social networking, MyHeritage is the place to be. Not only can you build your family tree, but you can share genealogical data with folks who don’t even speak your language. There are truly no more barriers when it comes to social networking!
YouTube – Part of the power of social networking is being able to find who shares your interest, and with the power of Google behind YouTube, it’s an important stop on the social networking tour. YouTube not only sports thousands of genealogy channels (like the Genealogy Gems www.youtube.com/genealogygems) but also thousands of genealogy viewers and the search engine to find them. Check out who is subscribing to your favorite channels and go check out and subscribe to their channels.
We’re Related by FamilyLink– I admit it, I haven’t added the We’re Related app to my Facebook page. But sometimes it seems like I’m just about the only one who hasn’t. In my case it’s just the lack of a roundtuit, but thousands of genealogists swear by it for connecting with family on Facebook.
PhotoLoom – A picture says a thousand words, and Photoloom melds your pictures with your genealogical data, and then gives you the platform to share it with invited family. This is a “sleeper” gem of a website that you have to check out!
Genealogy Gems – Being the social networking butterfly that I am, it’s no wonder that I always have genealogical connectivity in the back of mind as I add new features to my Genealogy Gems website. Inevitably when I share a listener question on the Genealogy Gems Podcast, another listener will write in with the answer, and offer to help listener #1. And when I played some old reel to reel tapes on the show asking if anyone could “name that tune” that grandpa was playing, emails poured in. It still amazes me after three years of doing the show, that there are so many folks out there keen to connect, and ready to offer a random act of genealogical kindness.
Note: you can listen to Voices of the Past’s podcast interview with Lisa Louise Cooke here.
Note: This is a 2009 repost from a previous iteration of Voices of the Past. The original transcribed interview with Angelina Russo is below, though the video reflects the updated branding.
Museum3 (formerly Museum 3.0) is according its website “a non-profit organisation dedicated to the future of museums, galleries, science centres, libraries and archives.”
Q: Tell us a little bit about your site.
A: Museum 3.0 was set up by Dr. Linda Kelly at the Australian museum in 2008. And it was essentially established to connect professionals from the cultural institution sector.
What it aims to do is to explore relevant issues, share knowledge and to identify future trends.
Q: And what motivated the creation of the site?
A: I worked very closely with Linda Kelly on a federally funded research project called “Engaging with Social Media in Museums.” And through discussions that we had as part of this project, the Ning site formed as a way to really drawing together professionals to discuss some of the ideas within that project. That project’s been looking at the impact of social media on museum learning and communication. And so we set up the site to explore how we could use social media to develop discussions in the sector, to identify future trends and create a better understand of who is doing what.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the members who are on your site, and who do you hope to reach?
A: We are hoping to reach professionals, students and possibly even policymakers. We have had quite a number of cultural heritage museum studies programs actually linked to us, and through that, that has brought a number of particularly post-graduate students to our site, which I think is just fantastic. I like the fact that we have some museum directors, civic commentators, students, along with museum and library professionals, and people who are just interested, which is wonderful.
Q: Now anyone who as actually created one of these sites knows that creating the site is the easy part. The hard part comes with trying to create the sense of community around it. What do you do to keep it active and growing?
A: As I said, Linda and I started the network about a year ago, and at that time it was mainly us who wrote the posts and we invited people to join and get discussions going. We had a couple of early adopters in this. Sebastian Chen from the Powerhouse Museum was of course there with us right up from the very beginning making sure it was a three-way conversation and not just a two-way conversation. And at every event we presented or where we gave a talk, we promoted the Museum 3.0 site as a way of museum professionals or cultural heritage professionals connecting to each other and finding out what is going on in sector. About four months ago, the site took off. And this year, I believe, I only started two or three conversations, so I contribute to many of the conversations. I am careful to spend an appropriate amount of time really answering those questions or those discussions that are absolutely in keeping with the research that we’re undertaking. In terms of maintaining the network, I introduce myself to each new member, and we have about 800 at the moment, I read through their websites and blogs where appropriate, and I ask them whether they are willing to contribute something about their work to the site. And periodically, I send broadcast messages about events that are coming up. So in all, the site takes about six hours a week to maintain. So there is always a lot going on. It’s really quite a vibrant community.
Q: Now as we all know, any venue that is truly social has some conflict of opinion or personality. Can you give me an example of how you deal with some of those types of conflicts?
A: We have certainly had some robust conversations, in particularly around changes of design and practices for exhibition development. I have yet to see conflict arise though.
We did have a funny incident once when someone twittered about a blog site called “MuseumsSuck.com.” I read the site and wrote a blog post about it, and as I went through, I had seen that the website owner had written a short piece about the Museum 3.0 site. So I pulled a screen grab and added it to the Ning site to ask the question of our members, “What do we do when someone sets up a site called ‘Museums Suck?’” The owner of the site came to know about this and wrote to me personally. And a little while later, he took down the site. I was surprised when he took down the site. I thought that it was quite interesting for a whole lot of reasons, and that he had been inspired to give his opinions about what was happening in the sector and that they were also, they were just as relevant as anyone else’s. And you know, if you are out there, it would be great if it came back on because it was actually a lot of fun.
Q: Why did you choose a Ning site as opposed to a Facebook group or maybe even a regular blog?
A: I think that Ning is a truly corroborative network tool. I have run a blog for the past two and a half years, and while I can see that we get quite a lot of traffic, I have no idea of who’s reading that blog. And as many blogs, I don’t get many responses.
With the Ning site, I can see who’s interested and participating, who’s inviting colleagues. It is much more democratic, much more lively, and I think that in the end it’s actually, there are fewer barriers with the Ning site than there are with a blog site.
I think that blogs, for the most part, in particularly one-person blogs, tend to assume some level of expertise in whatever you’re discussing. Where as with a Ning site, we have everyone from Linda and myself and Seth posting through to students who are doing internships at museums. So I think it is a much more democratic and dynamic site because of that.
I also love the fact that neither Linda or I have to start any of the discussions anymore. Our members have taken the opportunity to seek out other interested members who they can share their knowledge with, and so there are lots and lots of conversations that occur without my input or Linda’s input, nothing. That is really one of the strengths of the Ning site.
Q: What other forms of social media do you actively use to enhance the Museum 3.0 Ning site?
A: I contribute to other blogs where I know the discussions are in the same vein. I am careful to be sure that I give back to the community of bloggers in the cultural institution sector, sort of network, in as much as they give to us. Because I think it’s important to be seen to contribute across a number of different sites, so that it is not just your own conversation that you are interested in, but in fact lots and lots of different ideas. Even so, I am probably not as good at marketing the Ning as maybe I should be, and that’s something I will be looking at this year along with Linda.
Q: And Angelina, on a personal level, what other forms of social media do you actively use outside of Museum 3.0?
A: I have quite a solid and growing social media presence. As I mentioned, I run a blog, I have a LinkedIn presence, I have a Twitter account, I keep Facebook for my personal stuff, and I contribute to other blogs and other groups according to my personal and professional interests.
Q: What most excites you about using social media in the fields of cultural heritage?
A: I think that sites like the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training is a great example of the potential value of social media in the field of cultural heritage. By sharing knowledge across organizations and individuals is much less chance of that knowledge disappearing as people move on or into different parts of their working lives or to different parts of the sector.
Creative Commons is another fantastic social media and cultural heritage sector. Many of the organizations involved have contributed their historical photographs, which audiences have then added sometimes extremely significant amounts of research to, and all in the name of providing a much more complex, rich and deep record for future generations. I think that really demonstrates the power of social media and of the partnerships that can be created between cultural heritage sector and audience members.
Q: What is in store for the future of Museum 3.0?
A: I would like to do some Museum 3.0 meet-ups, particularly with our international members. I am hoping to meet some people in Indianapolis at the museums and web conference later this month. I will also contact some of the New York members and see if we can catch up in some of the days after the conference.
In the longer term, I am just about to start working with some people to start analyzing some of the data around some of the conversation stands, which have occurred within the Ning site particularly to try to assist some of the future trends to determine what audience members are interested in terms of the future for social media as we sort of move past this first wave of really tremendous initiatives within the sector. I think that what we will be seeing much more of in the sector, itself, and hopefully that will be reflected in the Ning site is that convergence between cultural heritage and cultural heritage professionals and audience members, as well as much stronger convergence between the exhibition and the public program, educational programs and curatorial research within museums.
In the short term, I will be continuing to work with Linda to develop the site further as part of the engaging with social media research project. If you visit the site, you’ll see we actually have the group set up for the engaging of social media and museums research project. That has about 90 members and we actually run a number of the initiatives from the Australian museums through the Ning site. So we can get real-time response to the research ideas as they’re developing.
One of the initiatives that we have developed as part of that is a Facebook site for exhibition development for a project for the Australian museum called “All About Evil.” And we decided to set up a Facebook site for that initiative to really garner a broad rang for audience ideas about what sorts of objects, things, activities, events might actually go into an exhibition called, “All About Evil.” It’s quite interesting to see how that has developed and part of the research now to look at how the Facebook site influences the final exhibition product.
We are looking forward to Museum 3.0 to continuing to develop, we are looking forward to attracting more members, and those members really sharing great deal of knowledge and connecting with each other. And through that networking, we hope there is some value that we give back to the community by leading through example in the sense we have the opportunity finally to be able to have conversations across the sector, and I’d like to see those continue to develop. And I’d also like to see more curatorial kind of stuff become part of our membership so we can be certain that the issues that are being discussed and in fact reflective of the broad range of professionals working within the sector.
“Isn’t Genealogy Fun? The answer to one problem leads to two more.” – Anonymous
Genealogy, the study of one’s lines of descent or development, is often a tedious task: one must search through hundreds of documents; find certificates of birth, death, marriage, and divorce; and then compile all this information in something easy to read and understand.
That thing is usually a family tree.
Everyone knows what a family tree is. Think back to kindergarten, when your teacher had you draw a tree with your grandparents as the roots, your parents as the trunk, and you and your siblings as the branches of the tree.. It was fun, because you knew these people, and you knew how they were related (and because in kindergarten, family trees actually resembled their real-life counterparts). That’s because it didn’t seem like these people were in the witness protection program.
Tracing back you lineage farther than your great grandparents can prove difficult. By this point, those who actually know who you’re looking for will, ahem, have been put to pasture. It is then up to you to trace your lineage through the paper trail of certificates of birth and death, marriage and divorce, and even immigration records. It’s often too time consuming for the average hobbyist to research find and record all this information.
This is where using Web 2.0, the idea that the internet should be open and collaborative, comes into play. By using this ideology, building your family tree is as easy as asking someone who their mother was. Using a Web 2.0 service simulates having your family around you, and working together to fill out your family tree. As others are added, they become a part of the conversation, adding their input and helping to fill out their branch of the tree. The more people you add to the tree, the more information you have access to. At some point, you realize that you are not alone, and that your family is there to help you.
Geni is a web based family tree maker that is using the idea of Web 2.0 and collaboration to make finding your long lost relatives easier. Geni, built by some of the people that brought you PayPal, eGroups, eBay, and Tribe, allows you to work with your family members on building your family tree. So, you may not know your second great grandmother’s husband’s name, but your grandmother’s sister may know, and Geni provides the platform to allow this knowledge to travel the great distances that often separate families.
When you add someone to your tree on Geni, you can also choose to add their email address. Then, they will be able to collaborate on their side of the family tree. Just think, if all of your relatives were to map out their family trees up to their grandparents, your tree would grow exponentially.
Geni also allows you to create complete profiles on any of your family members, including dates of birth, death, marriage and divorce, and other important events; locations of birth and current residence; schools attended and more. Geni provides a simple to use interface that makes genealogy fun and simple (not to mention addictive).
Geni isn’t only about building your family tree with your family. It also provides ample methods to share other things with your relatives, such as important dates in your children’s lives, photos of the family reunion (that only half of them even bothered to R.S.V.P. for), and that video of your daughter taking her first steps. Geni provides the tools to share what’s important to you with your family, and discover just who exactly that is.
As you can see, there are numerous services designed to help you bring your family together to build a family tree. Sound off in the comments if you use one of these services and why, and any interesting discoveries you’ve made along the way.