Video: “#MuseumTime” by Jeffrey Inscho (Innovation Studio at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh), an Ignite talk for the Openlab Workshop Unconference, December 1, 2015, in Crystal City, VA. Published on Jun 27, 2016

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#MUSEUMTIME

Jeffrey Inscho, Innovation Studio at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

@jinscho

Hey, what’s up everybody? I’m Jeff. Before we get going on this, 2 prerequisites. You have to know what a GLAM is. Everybody cool with that? Everybody familiar with MC Hammer’s fabulous 90s masterpiece of pop perfection “You Can’t Touch this?” Yes? Okay. Let’s go.

The average human lifespan is roughly 80 years. And during our time here on Earth, some of us will be lucky enough to grow old, fall in love, and leave a better world than when we arrived.

This is what time means for most humans. For GLAMs, our missions often stand independent of human time, rooted in cultural preservation, community, and scholarship; designed to transcend lifespans. This is what time means to most GLAMs.

Technology marches at a different pace than humans and GLAMs. And at a different scale. During the 15 seconds that this slide is shown, about 12,000 images will be uploaded to the web. This is what time means to the Internet.

And during this 15 seconds, 160 new Internet users will log on for their first joyride across the world wide web. By the end of this talk, the Internet will have grown by almost 2,500 users. This is also what time means to the Internet.

So the questions I pose today are honest ones. How can we transform our GLAMs to do more than just deal with digital shifts? Can we remake ourselves to exploit the speed and thrive in today’s world? Or tomorrow’s not-so-distant future world.

We’re back at this, I don’t know where this slide came from, so I’m just gonna advance and go, “Hell no.” The swiftness with which GLAMs can operate is not mutually exclusive to the longevity of our missions. If longevity is the most important, we need to confront the things that threaten said longevity head on. So here are 8 ways we can begin to attack #GLAMerTime.

We must examine all facets of our internal operations and explore new perspectives. Digital technologies offer new tools, new approaches and heightened levels of speed. Let’s audit our operations and work toward responsive operational efficiencies.

Number 2, we must embrace the notion of iteration. Nothing is ever “finished” in the digital sphere. It either gets better, or it gets deprecated. I assert that our organizations should be versioned in the same way source code is.
Github…but for GLAMs. Always getting better.

Number 3, we must make our GLAMs safe-spaces for failure. I’m not talking about epic fails with huge financial costs and detrimental hits to brand or reputation. There’s never room for that. Let’s learn to fail fast, fail cheaply, and fail forward.
Number 4, we should implement policy that fosters radical collaboration. Internally, let’s bring down departmental silos with efficient communication, and design thinking. Externally, let’s make it easier for GLAMs to work together on future-friendly, sector-transforming projects.

Number 5, radical transparency. Let’s build windows into our organizations, instead of walls. GLAMs need to be sharing and learning from each other, and let’s not be afraid to share our struggles and failures so our collective knowledge base can grow.

Number 6, we need to rethink conventional business models. The Internet affords so much promise in the financial realm, let’s put it to work for us. Let’s explore new revenue streams and be swiftly opportunistic with tactics.

At the same time, number 7, we need to forge new funding models. Let’s get real: grant cycles and technology cycles are often out of alignment. And sometimes this can send an org off the rails. Let’s work together with our grant-based funders to develop new tech-friendly paths forward.

And finally, #8, we should invest in the workforce & workflows of tomorrow. Let’s make our GLAMs attractive places, workplaces for the new guard. Then, just maybe, we can begin poaching talent from Facebook and Google, instead of the other way around.

Okay. Tackling this entire list at once will surely be a frustrating endeavor for those who bite it off. However, maybe the point of this whole workshop should be identifying and setting up the dominos that need to fall.

You know, we’ve all kind of been doing this long enough to know that implementing ideas like this in our complex organizations, tradition-heavy orgs is easier said than done.

But we owe it to our GLAMS, we owe it to our constituents, and we owe it to ourselves to at least try. Because we -- the people in this room -- are the makers, we’re the catalysts, and we’re the ones that can pull it off!

We are the agents of change. So let’s commit to ending #GLAMerTime by building momentum and transforming the sector through partnership, cooperation, responsiveness, and ingenuity.

Go back to your institutions with confidence and swagger and start small. Ship a prototype. Then blog about it. Host a #DrinkingAboutMuseums. Form a change coalition within your organization.

Together – and only together – are we able to stop. #GLAMerTime.
Thank you.