Tag Archives: socialmedia

#DigitalHeritage 1-2-3: APIs, Apps & Social Media Preservation

#DigitalHeritage 1-2-3 represents news and ideas that caught my attention recently. Have any suggestions for future editions? Let me know via Twitter @heritagevoices.

1: APIs: How Machines Share and Expose Digital Collections

Finally, an explanation of APIs I can get my head around. This item from the Library of Congress blog uses examples from The World Digital Library, HathiTrust and OpenSearch to illustrate how APIs work in digital collections.

The Big Idea: “Offering an API allows other people to reuse your content in ways that you didn’t anticipate or couldn’t afford to do yourself … That’s what I would like for the library world, those things that let other people re-use your data in ways you didn’t even think about.”

The Revelation: a demo of the International Image Interoperability Framework in action as a research tool. See for yourself how to compare and annotate side-by-side digital objects from Harvard, Yale, the National Library of Wales and other participating partners.

The Strategy: Besides the API explanation, what I appreciate about this post is how LOC is using journalism practices by interviewing people who work their about their areas of expertise. A great tactic for deepening and sustaining content on an institutional blog!

2: ActionShow App Blog on Mobile Tours

For all the years I’ve worked in cultural heritage, there seems to always be one more tour app provider I never heard of. ActionShow is the latest. And though their blog looks a little spammy at first (and indeed, does sell a product), it hosts some good, clear-eyed analysis of the issues.

The post that drew me to the site was Who Wins? Mobile Apps vs. Mobile-Friendly Websites. The topics are a virtual FAQ for cultural heritage sites considering such a tool (i.e. all of them): how much does it cost, which is easier to use, what if you have inconsistent wi-fi, etc. Use them as a guide on the issues; just keep in mind they have an app service to sell.

Here’s a useful graph on their site I’m embedding from the post Custom Built Apps versus Platform Apps:

Tour Guide App Comparison

3: Preserving Social Media Tech Watch Report

This came by Twitter:

If you haven’t been to visit the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Technology Watch Report page, now’s the time to discover it. DPC has published a 42-page “Preserving Social Media” report that should have a lot of cultural institutions thinking about why they aren’t preserving this growing part of their legacy. One reason is that it’s very hard, with rapidly shifting targets of technology, platforms and service agreements.

The Big Idea from this report (for now): “…the preservation of social media may best be undertaken by a large, centralized provider, or a few large centralized providers, rather than linking smaller datasets or collections from many different institutions.”

The Revelation: The North Carolina State University, Social Media Archives Toolkit is “a freely available web-based documentary toolkit that publicly documents our own effort to develop a sophisticated social media archival program in a way that may help guide cultural heritage organizations that are interested in collecting and curating social media content.”

Due to the complexity of these issues, it looks like we’re heading down a road where the archives profession will be start turning out specialists to deal with this ever-shifting landscape.


That’s it for today’s #digitalheritage stories. Feel free contribute your thoughts for a future edition through the comments, Twitter or email.


RSS and Aggregation: The web you want, where you want it

We’re all hearing stories about how newspapers are obsolete and print is dead. But what’s taking their place? After, all the big attraction of newspapers is their scannability. We humans have become accustomed to absorbing a world of timely knowledge, at a glance.

At the dawn of social media,  RSS (or really simple syndication) was THE way to monitor new content. It still has real value for those curating content for others in a specific niche. To put it in a nutshell, RSS solutions bring the web to you, your way. No clicking. No searching. No fancy formatting. Very little ad clutter. Just the text from your favorite sites along with relevant media. This technology continues to be a better choice for folks who want to actively control the type and quality of information they consume, rather than the passive experience of clicking on what shows up in your social media stream. It defines thought leadership, as opposed to following And the important thing is, it is indeed really simple. Here’s all you need to do:

Step 1: Get An RSS Aggregator

Google Reader was the king of RSS readers until 2013 when Google discontinued it. Using RSS in 2014 and beyond will mean are more ‘social’ experience rather than mere information consumption. The heir-apparent to Google Reader is Feedly due to its similar functionality, but Flipboard is a good choice as well for folks who like more visual experiences in a mobile environment. Bloglines refines the concept a bit with its focus on local blogs, news and events (a good option when you work in place-based heritage). Your reader is just a holding pen for all the information that will come from each site you subscribe to.

Step 2: Learn to recognize a site that offers a RSS feed

Most modern websites have RSS built in, but heritage organizations seem to be lagging behind in this regard. You will most likely recognize a RSS-enabled website by the square icon with a cone-shaped design in it. Usually it’s orange. This orange RSS button could be in the web page itself, but you know for sure by looking at the address bar of your browser. If the icon, or the letters RSS show up along with your website’s address, all you have to do is click the icon to save it to your preferred reader.

If your favorite site doesn’t have RSS, you still have options for monitoring changes to websites.

Step 3: Take stock of your web bookmarks.

Remember all those really cool sites you bookmarked in your browser thinking you would get back to them? I didn’t think so. It’s often the newest, shiniest websites that seem to get the most attention, often at the expense of more established sites that have a backstock of useful information and experienced authors. Go back and take a look at these sites. If they still seem relevant, try adding them to your RSS reader. You can also check the websites of your favorite print publications.

Step 4: Learn how to scan

The beauty of RSS is being able to immediately identify whether an article is something you 1.) are not interested in, 2.) just want to scan, or 3.) want to read thoroughly. Generally, your reader loads a few articles at a time. And items appear one after the other on your page. The length of the post within reader is set by the owner of the website providing the feed. While Web 2.0 netiquette expects that articles be fed in their entirety, some sites provide just a summary or headline. By using an RSS reader app like “Reeder” you can literally thumb through your feed entries.

Step 5: Share what’s useful

When a webmaster establishes an RSS feed, it is often with the help of a program like Feedburner. This embeds a variety of sharing options into each post that goes into the feed. Usually this appears in the bottom of each post. Feed readers also generally include easy options for sharing entries to social media services like Twitter.What you certainly will see is your Reader’s built-in options for sharing. Here’s a screenshot of the sharing options for a post in Feedly:

Feedly entry sharing options

Click the image to read more about what the icons mean for sharing. These options allow you to share the article without leaving your Reader or even losing your place. You can “star” an article or add a keyword through the tag feature for easy sorting later on. When you use “share” it gives all your shared items their own page, that other people can subscribe to. Congratulations, you made your first RSS web page! Of course, you can still e-mail the article if you just have to. Or you can mark “keep unread” so the article doesn’t go away as you continue to scan the articles below it.

Additional Resources:

Featured RSS icon by orangejack on Flickr

“What does RSS mean” graphic by Brajeshwar on Flickr

Originally published August 2008. Updated Jan 2014



Enhanced by Zemanta

Social Media Planning for Heritage Organizations: Differentiating Goals, Objectives & Tactics

4356276243_6b45e58033_bA lot has changed for heritage organizations since the advent of social media. What has remained pretty constant are the elements of a good strategic communications plan. Social media provides strong tactics for strategic planning, and will probably even change the way you think about communicating. But social media shouldn’t be set apart from the normal strategic communications process.

The key is taking your good ideas and intentions with social media and developing them into more defined goals, objectives and tactics that can be measured for results.

Most organizations start with general goal statements that contain a little of all these elements, but are not quite any of them. As a longtime public relations professional and occasional adjunct professor on the topic, I can tell you the PR planning mindset may seem counterintuitive to your good social media intentions.  I’ll start by giving you a very general rundown of how I plan using a fictional “Clementine Hunter Art Museum.” Your mileage may vary.

1. Goals are extremely general and are rooted in the organization’s mission. They are based on changing your organization’s position in either reputation, relationships or the work of “getting things done.” They are your guiding light, Pollyanna statements about your organization’s perfect world, stated in present tense. This sounds stupid at first, and is surprisingly hard to do, but still necessary to the effectiveness of your ultimate plan. You can’t really measure these.

For example: CHAM is the top-of-mind source among publics who require easy online access to information about the life and art of Clementine Hunter.

2. Objectives are specific, measurable, time-based tasks that support your goals. Usually you have three or more.

For example: “To increase weekly traffic to the CHAM website 30% by the end of the current calendar year through an aggressive Facebook campaign targeted to students at art colleges.”

3. Tactics are the tools that you will use with intention to accomplish your objectives–Flickr, YouTube, direct mail, a poster contest, etc., etc. In this case, we’ll continue with the theme above.

For example:

  1. CHAM conservator will post weekly updates (augmented with photos and video) to the Facebook page on the “journey” of conserving a work of art.
  2. Initiate a Facebook ad campaign with appropriate demographics
  3. Post monthly updates to art college Facebook pages
  4. Facebook video contest — “How is CHAM’s legacy inspiring you?” Winner–museum membership, free print, small scholarship, etc.
  5. Emphasize through semi-weekly updates, photos of the artist and woman as well as trivia about her technique, etc. (Folks want to feel connected to her, and the people  preserving her legacy, not to a “museum.”)
  6. Secure and publicize a “shortlink” name for the Facebook page (e.g. facebook.com/clementinehunterart)
  7. Produce a direct mail postcard advertising CHAM’s website and unique Facebook content.

The critical leap to success depends on your tactics being rooted in larger goals and objectives for the organization. Your organization may have already done this. If not, the more effective and productive method would be a staff retreat, even if it’s just after hours at the museum. It’s an exhausting, but fruitful process. The Hoshin Method (http://www.siliconfareast.com/hoshin.htm) is effective for this purpose.

Just remember, the principles of social media will often engage naturally when you are using the social tools while intentionally remembering who your audience is and what drives them. This will make participation from the staff and publics much easier as well.

Graphic by by Lograi on Flickr

Two days with a power blogger: learning the art of expression, connection and influence

Lorelle VanFossen

By Bethany Frank

There are lessons that hit you like a ton of bricks, and then there are lessons that need time to simmer like homemade jambalaya. By allowing it to sit, the flavors are able to absorb and strengthen.

Last week, power blogger Lorelle VanFossen came to the National Park Service office where I intern and taught a workshop on the art of blogging and its uses in the heritage field. Lorelle stood in front of us and asked, “what do you say when someone says they have a blog?” Without missing a beat, one participant responded, “ask if there is a cure.”

That sudden burst of laughter broke the ice as we all discussed our thoughts on how blogging could potentially help the organization. Some responded with, “I don’t know; I am here to learn the answer” or “Because my boss told me to.”

But then we started discussing how blogging could help us reach a wider audience.

If you want to have a discussion on true Cajun cooking, you don’t go to Massachusetts or Texas. You go “down south” to southern Louisiana. If you want to converse with a younger audience and share your heritage values, you go online. That is where the people are. That is why we learned with Lorelle for a day and a half.

We still need and want to converse with folks already in preservation, but right now that is an older audience. What happens in another decade or so when the tools that the audience uses to communicate are obsolete?

Preservation is as much about preserving the memories of today as those of yesterday.That is what we learned to do. Instead of just jumping into the “work” aspect of blogging, we received the opportunity to begin our own blogs. Everyone was asked to find something he/she was passionate about. Something worth blogging.

We then began the “creation” part of our blogs.

We worked on finding a focus and creating a goal. Lorelle challenged us all to think about whom we were talking to. Who did we want to read our blog? And why were we writing? That was my favorite part. I enjoyed looking around the room and seeing the participants’ eyes twinkle with passion as they created their lists of tags and categories as they rediscovered their passions.

It was apparent during the outlining stage that I was in a room of established professionals. They had some of the most beautiful lists I had ever seen. But what was more fascinating were the subjects they chose to discuss.

Some found the new Apple technologies fascinating while other looked toward the dead and wanted to discuss graveyards and tombstones. One looked beyond the grave and deeper in the past to letters from a family who lived decades ago.

“If you want to get someone’s attention, you need to show them something they’ve never seen before or show them something in a way they’ve never seen before,” Lorelle said.

Lorelle reminded us that there are a hundred and ten different ways to show our passions. Some might be pioneering new land with an innovative idea. But most will broach subjects that have been discussed before, and it is our job to ensure that we cover them in a new way.

Lorelle’s lessons lingered on throughout the workshop. She provided opportunities for everyone to practice various blogging techniques and tools including video and podcasts.

She left mark on everyone by the time the workshop had concluded.

We all reflected about what we learned throughout the workshop. Our thoughts truly reflected the wide array of personalities in the group. Some found the power in block quotes and the value in writing out the plethora of thoughts and ideas in a blog format. Some were intrigued by the possibilities available with speed blogging and one even found a friend in WordPress.tv (a site with videos on how to use various WordPress applications).

The group, as a whole, found its voice. It found the ability to ensure it is heard in today’s hectic world.

Feature photo by jpozadzides on Flickr

Livestream to bring awareness of heritage resources to the world

by Dylan Staley

Let’s face it: videos are in. With the advent of social video sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip.tv, video has become a first class citizen on the web. But one of the major drawbacks to video is the time it takes form when the camera stops rolling to when the video is available online for millions to see.

When live television first came on the scene, it introduced a radical idea: the idea that you can watch news as it is happening, live right from your television. You can watch the Presidential Inauguration, the Macey’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or the Time’s Square New Year’s Celebration live, right from the comfort of your home.

With internet media, you can now view these events hours after they have happened, and enjoy the moments over and over again. But, sometimes, you wish you could have seen it live.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the $1,000+ equipment that make a live television broadcast possible. This is where sites such as Qik and USTREAM come in.

Qik and USTREAM, both live video blogging sites, allow users to connect their internet-enabled devices (be it computers or camera-enabled cellphones) to their servers and upload a live video feed, directly to the website. No longer do you need to wait until the event is over, on until your upload finishes, or until the website host finishes encoding your video. Viewers can watch what is happening right now, right now.

The ability to broadcast live without expensive equipment is incredibly useful to those working in the preservation field. In my last post, I described how preservationists can use the microblogging site Twitter to send out text updates in almost real time to their followers, but nothing beats the feel of actually watching the action unfold. Here are some ideas:

  • Museum fans can watch live as conservators work on priceless artifacts, perhaps drawing in new visitors to an exhibit.
  • Broadcasting from an archaeological dig as a major discovery is unearthed.
  • Livestreaming from your community preservation event (such as a cemetery cleaning day) to ignite interest and get more volunteers involved.
  • Raise awareness about the state of cultural resources affected by disaster (see video below)

The only thing you need is an internet-enabled device such as a cellphone, and an internet connection. You will of course need to be aware of the sensitivity and security of these sites when you are broadcasting. You wouldn’t want to attract looters to an archaeological site, for example.

With the websites Qik and USTREAM, users sign up for an account and then follow different instructions on how to set up their various devices to communicate with the internet servers. Users can then subscribe to the live video feed and watch whenever, and wherever, you are broadcasting as if they were right there beside you.

Related Links:

Qik | Frequently Asked Questions

USTREAM.tv Help Center

Mashable | What’s is Mobile Video’s Future?

Mashable | Create Your Own Branded Mobile Video Broadcast with Ustream

Twitter and microblogging: Instant communication with your community

Twitter in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

“What are you up to?”

It’s how we greet friends and strangers alike everyday. It’s also the question behind one of the web’s most popular social networking sites: Twitter. Voices of the Past posts links to its news, along with other community announcements, at www.twitter.com/heritagevoices. So what is microblogging, and what can you gain from it?

Microblogging, a term that refers to the plethora of micro-blog posts on the sites of services such as Twitter, and Tumblr, lets users update their friends (or followers as Twitter calls them) about what’s going on right now. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll be looking at the basic ideas behind microblogging with Twitter. Yes, the first time I heard about it I too wondered who in the world would spend their time on something like this.

Lots of folks, evidently. According to the measurement website Tweetrush, about 2 million “tweets” (a.k.a. posts) are released into cyberspace each day. And in a time when most companies are going to the government for the funds to stay afloat, venture capitalists gave Twitter $35 million it didn’t even necessarily need.

It turns out that most people like the freedom of expression that blogging promises, but aren’t crazy about the commitment. While some of us may enjoy the process of researching and crafting a blog post to stand the test of time, others just want to share their admiration of meal well done or vent their complain about unsatisfactory service. The sentiment is short, sweet and instantly out there for millions to see.

Ease of use is where much of Twitter’s popularity lies. There is no logging into an administrative panel to create headlines, tags and the other components of a blog post. And the interface is immaculate, unlike the chaos of Facebook or MySpace. Type in the homepage box and press send. That’s it. Dozens of Twitter update applications have been built for quick updating via desktop applications and smartphones as well.

Obama on Twitter
Obama on Twitter

More than 250,000 Obama followers on Twitter aided in his presidential victory through spontaneous meet-ups and fundraisers announced through the service. In February 2009, “Twestival” was celebrated for the first time in more than 180 cities all over the world. Twestival essentially began with groups of Twitter users rallying together to support the cause of clean water in developing countries. Hundreds of gatherings were held to raise money for public works projects.

Twitter can be used on a personal level for project management, conference meeting communications, to-do lists, notetaking, job networking, flash focus groups, and getting all the family together at the same time for dinner. It can also be used to aggregate news in an easily accessible way.

But Twitter is merely the delivery platform. It’s up to the users of the service to determine what the conversation is about. Groups who are on archeological surveys can use these services to update their friends and colleagues about their findings almost immediately after the fact through the use of cellphone integration that many microblogging services offer. These services can allow almost real-time communication: something that is virtually unheard of within the preservation field.

After Twitter, a flurry of microblogging services were hatched only to go the way of the dodo. Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, Brightkite were among the players I remember best from the early days. Today, Twitter commands much of the action, though you can find the current microblogging services reviewed in this post.

Twitter Lists

To me, “lists” are the functionality that make Twitter worthwhile. It takes the firehose of information and contextualizes it. These lists take a while to build, but are worth it. If you are looking for content to get started consuming information on Twitter, here are my curated lists of folks in digital heritage. You can follow these lists with your account or use them to build your own lists. My list “Heritage Influencers” is embedded below with the latest tweets from that group.


5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good

Newbie’s Guide to Twitter

Latest news on Twitter

Maggie Struckmeier of Past Horizons on volunteer archaeology and online media


Maggie Struckmeier of Past Horizons Heritage Media talks about inspiring regular people to volunteer with archaeological excavations using a variety of online media. Past Horizons features an interactive magazine, a blog and a YouTube-style site exclusively for sharing heritage video.

pasthorizons grab

Welcome to the Preservation Today Podcast. I’m Dylan Staley and today I’ll be talking with Maggie Struckmeier of Past Horizons. Welcome to Preservation Today.

D: Hello Maggie and thank you so much for joining us today. First off, would you mind telling us in your own words, what is Past Horizons?

M: Well, Past Horizons is a web portal, providing information about volunteer archeology projects and field schools that are currently happening around the world. The site’s been online now for about two years. And it’s also to be able to let people see that they can start up community projects. For example, we are involved in community projects here in Scotland and we enjoy it very much. It’s a different type of archeological volunteering; community is very much involved in your local area and ones that we’re involved in certainly, you know people really, really enjoy it. You see how many websites there are for conservation volunteering around the world. You know, that really took off in the last few years. You know, what do you do before you go to university for example? You take a year out and you go volunteer in conservation, but nobody really kind of thought about archeology in the same sort of way. Nobody really sort of put that  two and two together and thought that you could do that as well. And we’re kind of hoping that people will take up the challenge, basically and go and do these things. As I say, the descriptions of all these things you can be involved in, there’s just so much, and who knows where  it can lead you in the end. You might go and volunteer for two weeks and suddenly think, “This is all I ever really wanted to do. You know, I really want to be an archeologist now.”

D: And why exactly do you feel that’s important?

M: Well, I think it’s important really because it can be a life changing experience, actually, for people or for other people as a break from normal life for a few weeks. You know if they volunteer in some of these projects, I think it also opens people’s eyes to new possibilities and it makes the world a more interesting place to live in for everybody. I think that that’s really what Past Horizons is about, is actually trying to improve people’s lives for them.

D: So, how exactly did you first get started in this project?

M: Well we realized that although there was already some resources online, there didn’t seem to be a comprehensive list available. So, we did a lot of research on the internet to gather all the projects together, country by country and built the website from there. We now have about 350 separate opportunities to choose from, each with a map location, photograph, short description, contact details, and web link.

D: Well, do you remember the first time you got involved in one of these projects?

M: Yes, it was actually in the Cairngorms in Scotland. It was very cold, we were in the middle of nowhere, but it was great fun. You get to drive 4-wheel drives across flooded rivers. You get to sort of be in the middle of nowhere and, you know, see really interesting things. But on the other hand, it was very cold. And then the, “Oh, this is terrible.” But, you know, once you get over that, it’s a great feeling. It’s actually a great feeling of freedom. It’s hard to describe the experience and actually, it doesn’t matter who you go with. The experience  is different, but it’s the same, actually. You know, it’s just that sort of—I don’t know—you discover so many knew things about that place that you’re in and about yourself as well.

D: Well besides helping people learn about these projects and being involved in these projects yourselves, what else does Past Horizons do?

M: Well, we do quite a lot of things. We also have a blog, which we try to update daily with information including news items, travel grants, and study opportunities. There’s also the video section. It’s a bit like YouTube, where you can view over 300 heritage videos, but you can also upload your own to it. And we also have the online magazine, of course, which features page flip technology, it has embedded videos, and live links to other people’s sites. We also have the podcast, which is actually truly a international venture. Where Diego, from Stone Pages website gathers the news. He sends it to David Connolly, of British Archaeological Jobs and Resources website who edits and reads it, and then he sends it on to Dave Horix in Canada, who masters it. Oh yeah, and we also have an archeological tool shop.

D: You described a couple of people who are described in the process of creating Past Horizons, but who all composes Past Horizons?

M: It’s just me and David and we have a volunteer editor, called Felicity, and she has been an editor on newspapers and magazines in the past. When she heard we were starting this up, she came forward and volunteered her services. And I think without her—you know she really, really understands magazines and, you know, I think she’s very strict with us— and without her I think we couldn’t do it properly. It makes it professional, put it that way. I would like other people to come forward and write articles. You know, I’ve had a student come forward and she wants to write an article and I think that would be great to get people to contribute more on a regular basis. We also have, of course, Dig Cook who is a lady from Australia who—she actually is a dig cook—and she provides recipes for every edition. So that’s very good as well.

D: Well then, what is it that you see in the future of Past Horizons?

M: I suppose Past Horizons is constantly evolving. The plan is basically to build on the success of the website, and already has thousands of visitors, which is brilliant. Also we hope to lead some of our own projects in the future. As I mentioned before, in Scotland we’re involved in community projects, which we really enjoy, but we’re also leading an archeological survey in Croatia this May. I think in the future we’re going to be able to accept volunteers on this project. You know, it would be good to see one of our own projects actually listed on the website. You know, that’s really what we’re aiming for, I think, in the future.

D: Before we go I do want to ask you just one final question: Do you think that you’ve found your dream job?

M: Yes, actually, I think I have. I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. What can I say? I think, definitely.

D: Alright, Maggie, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today and we hope to speak with you real soon.

Well, that’s it for today’s episode of the podcast. Now, our mission here is to inspire connections to heritage values using new media. If you like, you can join the conversation at our show notes site. That’s voicesofthepast.org. Check out the heritage news and even contribute news of your own. I’m Dylan Staley, and until next time, I’ll see you online.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Lifestreaming: Your total web experience all on one page

Note: Facebook officially killed Friendfeed 21:00 GMT on April 10, 2015. This post remains in memory of history’s useful social network.

Ever feel like e-mail is your enemy? Oh sure, that first few months after you first logged in was great. The world was at your fingertips. Then, at some indefinable moment in time, sweet freedom became enslavement. Now, all day, everyday–for the foreseeable future–new messages are appearing along with the possibility of one more thing to handle.

Voices of the Past has added a feature that makes communicating on the internet fun again. The tool is called Friendfeed, and it is just one of a growing number of “lifestreaming” tools that allow you to instantly pull all your web activities onto one page, and have conversations about them with your friends.

There are lots of things you can do with Friendfeed. I’ve seen it used for blogs, wikis, discussion forums, web bookmarks and even instant messaging. Its rising popularity lies in its simplicity. Using a bookmark in your browser toolbar, you can share and comment on web content without ever having to leave the web page you are looking at. Other folks can subscribe to the feed, then jump in, add their responses and share related links too. Since it’s so easy to post and comment, communities tend to build around them quickly. All the posts go to one scannable, searchable page.

You can have content from almost any social service automatically imported into your feed–from blogs to Amazon wish lists–whether it’s your’s or not. So it functions kind of like a public RSS reader as well. Web experts believe this style of open, dynamic communication is the next iteration of the internet. And some prominent bloggers have already abandoned their blogs in favor of lifestreaming sites.

Of course, you control  the privacy settings on your personal Friendfeed. But you can also create “rooms” on specific topics to which anyone can join and contribute content. Voices of the Past has a Friendfeed room. Anyone is welcome to join the room, and the conversation on our shared heritage. You can also see updates from the Friendfeed room anytime by visiting the Voices of the Past Heritage News page.

Elsewhere on the web:


What is social media?

For the last couple of years, the terms “web 2.0” and “social media” have been used for nearly anything new and interactive on the internet. Since Preservation Today and sites like it integrate many basic social media tools, let’s take the time to consider the concept of social media and its potential to advance heritage preservation.

In technical terms, the social media phenomenon is a fusion of cross-platform technology, open-source web code and the interactive presentation of audio, photos, videos and text. But at its heart, it’s about empowering people to achieve goals through connection with others who share similar values, regardless of their location.

Core to this connectedness is the idea of community and how it’s being redefined. For example, the purpose of Preservation Today is to inspire connections to heritage values using new media. You don’t have to have lots of money, a Ph.D., or be a credentialed preservationist to view the site or interact with it. It doesn’t matter where you live either. If you care about heritage, you belong here.

The accessible nature of social media tools, coupled with the relative anonymity of the web, levels the playing field for discussion. This takes away some of the fear of saying the wrong thing and allows people of many different backgrounds to interact as peers.

Social media comes in a variety of flavors. Some of these tools—like forums and message boards—you may already be familiar with. Others, like photo sharing (Flickr), video sharing (YouTube), wall posts (FaceBook), blogs (WordPress), music sharing (iTunes), and internet telephony (Skype), may be new.

When you visit the a site like Facebook or MySpace, what you’re seeing is a form of social media called a “social network.” Essentially, it brings social media tools together on the same web page. The efficiency of social networks is leading to an explosion in their popularity. The combined worldwide user base of MySpace and Facebook roughly equals the population of the United States.

So how’s this different from the web we used to know? For one thing, you’re no longer just reading the company line. The web is now instantly interactive with the potential for infinite conversation on any given topic. It’s like the old gossip fence, except your neighbor is potentially anyone in the world.

What’s been the reason preservation and heritage issues have been so hard to communicate? It’s because they, like politics, are traditionally local. And while probably nothing will ever most people care who’s the state representative for Burning Moscow, Nev., you very well may throw in with an online group that is fired up about preserving the Old West mines there.

So, your worldview isn’t just limited to your place of residence anymore. With social media, your interests can help define your social responsibility in the realm of heritage values. Explore and enjoy!

Armchair tour of museums and Web 2.0

Nina Simon Armchair Tour of Museum 2By Nina Simon

Confused about social media? Don’t know where to start? For the last two years, I’ve been hunting down great projects in and outside of museums that exemplify the themes of visitor participation, user-generated content, and flexible relationships between institutions and visitors.Here are some of my favorite museum projects that represent interesting, thoughtful experiments with Web 2.0:

The Bay Area Discovery Museum: A Lesson in Good Listening

You don’t need a big initiative to get involved with social media—you just need ears and a voice to add to conversations that are already happening. Jennifer Caleshu, head of marketing for a small children’s museum, is an active participant in local Web 2.0 parenting and recreational sites like Yelp!, and developed relationships in those online communities to build strong relationships with current and potential visitors.She recently started a blog for the museum, but her best work is in listening to what others are saying about her institution.She describes her social media strategy here on the excellent Museum Audience Insight blog maintained by Reach Advisors.

MN150: A Visitor-Generated History Exhibition

The Minnesota Historical Society developed an innovative permanent exhibition featuring the 150 most important contributions of Minnesota as nominated by regular people.Read an interview with the lead developer of MN150 here.

The Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum is a leader in innovative social media initiatives, from the creation of Facebook applications to crowd-curated exhibits and a “posse” collection-tagging project.You can read three articles about their initiatives here or visit their community site here.

Library of Congress on Flickr

When the Library of Congress put some of their photo collection on the photo-sharing site Flickr, it opened up whole new conversations and interpretations of their content.Read more about it here.


ExhibitFiles is a social networking website for people who make and visit exhibitions.It is a living database of exhibit case studies and reviews and is useful for anyone looking for best practices in the field.

Museum blog types compared (with examples)

In this post on Museum 2.0, I compare the different types of museum blogs and offer a self-assessment tool to determine what type might be right for you.

Beth’s Blog and the WeAreMedia wiki

Beth Kanter is an extraordinary social media maven with a focus on non-profits.She covers everything from Web 2.0 tools to fundraising strategies on her blog and on the NTEN WeAreMedia project site.


The North Carolina Museum of Life and Sciences is doing a series of no- to low-cost experiments with Web 2.0 and documenting them here.

Science Buzz and Red Shift Now

The Science Museum of Museum and the Ontario Science Center each maintain impressive community sites that integrate real-time visitor feedback from the Web and the museum floor here and here respectively.

Teaser image by Shelley Bernstein on Flickr.