This is fantastic! After all of the frustration, marginalisation and amusement from so much of the museum sector, it is the Smithsonian itself that shifts us forward!!! Can I just say how encouraging I find this call for audience views?! We tend to hear a great deal about the 'risk' of social media, the lack of engagement with new audiences, the 'problems' of evolving governance and patromony, yet here is the largest cultural institution in the world going public with its desire to connect with audiences. Can there ever be another excuse from anyone in the sector NOT to engage with audiences in new ways?!
My video would centre on the future of Smithsonian Networks - but given that I'm not in the US, I can't see it!!
Thanks for the post James!

Angelina - - Smithsonian Networks would be a fantastic thing to submit a video on. Bring it on!

Museum on demand. All museum all the time, and on so many platforms. Collections are narratives, a way culture unfolds, it is a privilege (becoming a right) to dial it up. My take? I am a storyteller. I want to get the emotions right. History, distance, complexity are context for what drives us to connect. Right here. Right now. Museum on demand enables us to feel less stranded.

I think its great that such an important American institution is taking a step towards trying to engage it's clients in this manner. There is great value in the crowd, and any discussion on the future relevancy of learning, knowledge, thought or history is something to be supported.

It is, as i see it, an extended public video comment ONE WAY conversation with the institution... with all the advantages - like people giving their best for an institution they love and admire - and pitfalls - of people trying to get attention by being involved in the project -.

But it's one way. Plebs to the Senate.

I wonder how it forwards the conversation? Does it draw new people into the conversation? Does it lend credibility to a discussion of changing old institutions to be more representative of their larger client base? Is this credibility a good thing?

How cynical are they being? Does anyone know if they've been losing funding or there's been some suggestion of a loss of relevancy.

Interested Canadians would like to know.

(Beta site above, don't pounce.)
Mike Edson is really the guy to address this, as the Web & New Media Strategy is his: http://Smithsonian20.si.edu but since I'm here:

The Voice Your Vision Project is just one more facet of the overall info gathering process. Video contribution seemed like a potentially engaging way to gather some public input, and YouTube was an easy place to set it up. This wasn't a heavily analyzed endeavor, just another little piece of the puzzle.

The process has been designed to be very wide open within the Institution, so this seemed a easy and fun way to gather some input from the outside using New Media.

Nothing cynical, and no worry about losing funding. The Secretary is a Social Media booster. However, getting an institution as large as ours to undertake an integrated approach to New and Social Media is a big task. Building our systems from the ground up to both meet the internal needs of our researchers and other specialists while still filtering up to meet the needs of our constituents via our websites and our presence on an ever widening array of external social sites is going to take a lot of resources. We need begin to get a view from a lot of perspectives, and this is just one more slice of the pie.

John, Dave, Mark -- thank you for commenting so quickly!

Mark, please know there is big respect here for what SI2.0 is all about. I was pretty thrilled to see Dave's comment, as he is someone dedicated to communities and education yet not immersed in the unfolding of all that's happening at the Smithsonian.

Looking fwd to keeping the conversation going!

Just admit it, James. You want to submit a video. You're gonna have to up the ante, though. I wanna see you deliver you ideas holding an Easter basket full of 2 day old kittehs, in the persona of Chris Crocker, with the voice of Susan Boyle. It's still early there, so get to work, my friend, GTW.

I just wrote about this as well and Dave Cormier pointed me over the conversation.

I just updated the post with some more contextual links because I had stumbled upon the YouTube snippet and couldn't find the whole context.

At first, I was skeptical. Is this a publicity stunt?

But when I read Marc's comment above and saw Nina Simon's slide deck - I have to say hats off to the Smithonsonian for truly embracing social media -- listening, having a conversation, and experimenting.

Looks like you're taking Clay Shirky's advice about not spending a lot of time making something perfect and having little experiments.

I'd love to know about all the different ways you're gathering information - and how you will define success.

Ask a question... get an answer.

Thanks for taking the time to explain it... I agree with Beth that taking risks on not necessarily finished concepts is often a great idea.

I was browsing through the http://Smithsonian20.si.edu list and noticed something that I found interesting.

"Smithsonian 2.0 will bring more than 30 creative leaders from the Web, digital and new media worlds (chosen for their engagement of large audiences, including youth)"

It's a great crowd... but no educators. Was this a conscious decision... simply not what you were interested in working towards or just the way that it worked out?

Thanks so much, once again, for taking the time to engage in these discussions.


I'm not certain Mike isn't offline at the moment, so I'll uphold his end of the convo for now, perhaps with inaccuracy; but we'll take the Wikipedia approach and leave correction to the zealots.

I think the "creative leaders" are a mix of Edson's contacts and people recommended by his committee members, and among that list, those who were interested and available to participate. There was no conscious effort to leave self-identified educators off the list. (Was there an unconscious one? Only our therapist knows for sure, and @$150 an hour, she's not just gonna just blurt it out.)

It's telling that I stumbled upon this particular conversation here at WestMuse due to my incessant navel-gazing at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=smithsonian
(In search of topics of interest to the public other than "NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN. HAVE YOU SEEN IT? LOVED THOSE JONAS BROTHERS")

I think I saw James' tweet and fell down the rabbit hole. Damn you, Red Pill.

Thanks for riding shotgun Marc. (I've been focused on trying to write the last two days and fell out of my keep-up-with-the-rest-of-the-world routine.) I do identify with Beth Kanter's statement about Shirky and just getting some things out there. That's what the youtube thing really is & it was produced and launched very opportunistically.

Know that the video call-to-action is just one part of our overall web and new media strategy campaign, the focus of which is a public-facing wiki that I encourage all westmuse readers to join and contribute to. We'll be posting the actual strategy draft in the next couple of days.
http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com . "With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow."

re: participants in the si 2.0 meeting in January 09, the list of invitees was put together quickly, with an emphasis on bringing in people outside our traditional spheres of influence, be that as it may... Also, I'll step away from any credit for the Smithsonian 2.0 (http://si20.si.edu) event. A lot of good came from it, but I'm more in the position of rallying the troops to create actionable results and direction after the fact ;)

The rabbit hole! AYE, matey! Now we're in aaaARG territory. (I can't extend the piratical metaphor indefinitely.) I don't find much in the way of cynicism at the Smithsonian. Mike and minions are believers, as am I, in the democratizing impulses underpinning social media.

re social media: much like why Willie Sutton robbed banks because that was where the money was. Social media is where the audience is.

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Just want to see if you are a robot.