By Allyson Lazar
AAM's Center for the Future of Museums has invited conference delegates to "explore the future" while in Philly. How can we do that? By completing tasks listed on the FutureQuest game sheets provided in the tote bag registration packets. The ultimate purpose of performing these tasks is to "investigate the future of museums and society and share your
discoveries with colleagues."
Essentially, this is a variant on activities such as conference bingo or scavenger hunts. Not a new strategy for engagement, admittedly, as @Lidja pointed out via Twitter:
"#aam09 Cntr 4 Futr of Mus bag insert: FUTUREQUEST game. Tired task sheet "complete 6 & win!"-this is the past. We need NEW for the future.
- I attended at least one of the future-oriented sessions and shared an insight on what I learned.
- I tweeted about something I learned at a session and tagged it #aam09.
- I commented on a blog post on the official annual meeting blog
- I sent a "postcard from the future" at the Membership and Services Pavilion in the Expo Hall.
- I signed up to become a Museum Futurist.
- I recorded an interview for "Voices of the Future" (it is now up on YouTube)
- I wrote on the Wall of Ideas about futurist topics.
- And I am wearing my "What is the Future?" pin as I sit here (along with my WMA compass ring!)
In addition, I have blogged about conference sessions and while I have not uploaded photos to the AAM Flickr pool, I have used twitpix to share snapshots from the conference. It's been fun, both engaging in these activities (which I would have done anyway) and getting to check them off a list.
And really, this is a game that folks at home can play, too, at least to a certain extent. Commenting on blog posts; tweeting, retweeting and reading tweets related to the conference and adding thoughts to the forecasting report “Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures.”
But somehow, despite the fact that I have been engaging in all this social media, somehow the process of actually going through the motions of the game have felt somewhat isolated and like I was performing them in a vacuum. I'm not sure what I was hoping for--a #futurequest tag for Twitter to see how others were completing their tasks? a forum for sharing thoughts about the process? even just a way to find out who was actively playing?
Oddly enough, as fun as FutureQuest has been for me, what was infinitely more satisfying was that "physical Twitter" experience that I shared with fellow attendees of the "Glimpse of the Future" session yesterday morning (more on that in another post to come).
Session moderator and leader of the Center for the Future of Museums project, Beth Merritt, encouraged us to engage in the old-fashioned form of Twitter during the course of the session--passing notecards around with our brief thoughts about what we were hearing and learning. At first people seemed a little shy, but by the end of the session, the notecards were flying! At one point I had four notecards in my hand that I was trying to read and respond to, while yet another was handed to me. People really got into it, too; by the end of the session, the notecards being passed around had almost no space left for additional commentary. And the commentary was thoughtful, for the most part. Sure, there were some people who were being smart alecks, and others who were busy calling out the smart alecks, but for the most part, these hand-written tweets were developing into dialogues about the future of museums.
So I think that this simple, lo-tech exercsie really got at the heart of FutureQuest and its aims, fostering interaction and dissemination.