The heart of what I am going to talk about today is change. Change in the internet, change in audiences and change in museums.
Change in the internet has been clear for anyone to see, with the shift from static web pages to dynamic and sharable content and social networking. The internet is no longer just a place to find information; it is now a forum for collaboration, a place to create, curate and share content online. This has changed the way we work, influenced the way we think and adjusted our individual place in society forever.
The most popular places on the internet are now mostly social media websites and as mobile technology gives us always-on access to information, the internet is changing the way that we live.
This technological shift has placed power into the hands of the masses as never before; I can access countless books at the touch of a button, find thousands of pictures of the Parthanon in Athens with a quick search, create web pages, publish books, organise events and connect with niche groups with the same interest as me. Information is power and this power is shifting.
The explosion in social media has created a socio-cultural shift; the way that people act is changing and audience expectations are snowballing both online and offline, and museums need to think beyond simply building a fan page on Facebook, writing a blog or starting to use Twitter to keep up with the change.
This is John. John spends several hours everyday curating his content on Facebook. This is a big part of who he is; he’s hyper connected, always in touch with his friends online and via Facebook on his phone, but this activity isn’t just a social one, it’s also a creative space for him, a place where he can express who he is and share his creativity.
Then John logs on to his local museum’s website and it’s full of great content, but he can’t do anything with it – it’s static and it offers no real way for them to engage with it on the terms that he is used to.
How do you deal with this kind of changing expectation? Well, the answer that so many museums have ceir museum, that you can’t really engage with. That doesn’t interest John.
This is Claire and she uses eBay, Amazon and iTunes and what these three brands all have in common is that they give her tailored information based on her interests. She’s noticing that more and more websites are starting to do that now, but not her local art gallery.
They recently had an exhibition of cubist painting which really interested her, but she had to dig down into the gallery’s website to find anything about it. Why didn’t they know she likes modern art from the way that she’d used the website in the past? Why didn’t the website put the stuff that interests her most on the homepage like Amazon does?
If your audiences are able get information tailored to their interests when they visit eBay, Amazon and iTunes then they will expect the same from your institution.
This is David, and his iPhone. It gives him access to all the information found on the internet within a few clicks on the screen. He’s really into history and he indulges that passion both online and in the real world.
Online he uses Wikipedia, which lets him drill down through information, he likes that he can always click on another link and find out more, it make it seems like there is always more to learn. He likes visiting history museums to see the real objects, but he finds the information disappointing – it’s very linear and the interpretation seems to be targeted at kids. Why can’t every visitor explore the collection in the same way that they would approach Wikipedia, so some people would just get the basic information, but he could learn more?
This is Ben and he’s a keen gamer. He spends a lot of time on his X-Box playing games with friends online. In the games he is always at the centre of the story, he is the protaganist, and the nar