Session Notes (Tapping the Wisdom of Crowds)

The big issue in this room – what is definition of crowdsourcing?

What’s the lowest common denominator for these types of products – is it the sharing of data – making it public? Is it opening a challenge up to the public?

E.g. is Feral Dogs really a crowdsourced project as instigator gave robot dogs to small groups of kids in workshops rather than to “the crowd”?

Crowd sources projects have central mechanism that instigates and aggregrates.

Size is probably a factor.

Allowing amateurs to do what experts normally do. Crowd sourcing is also about crowd to share in the interpretation and analysis.

True crowdsourcing has people commenting, correcting other people and moving up in rankings. Kate – looking at outcomes across citizen science projects – Audubon – just wants your data, to Univ Delaware project where local citizens work with local scientist and do true science.

Some are about collecting from the public and others are about making public date more useful for the public (Trees Near You app)

Have to give people a structure, make it easy, like Exquisite Clock.

Boundary between participatory design and crowd sourcing – crowd sourcing ones seem to have a destination – solving a problem, creating something collaboratively. Participatory design is more about having an experience rather than collaborating on an outcome. There’s a goal as well as a purpose, transparency, joint ownership,

It’s a powerful tool that allows us to do things together that we’re unable to do individually.

Amanda mentions new york’s 311 initiative – collecting the data on what people have called about – uses the phone not computer; NYC wants to parse the data. The opposite is the rapid iteration that is possible with crowdsourced research like BigApps competition.

Museums and Drupal: A Survey of the Field Cancelled

Unfortunately due to an unforeseen emergency, we will have to cancel our session Museums and Drupal: A Survey of the Field ( While it is regrettable that we will not be able to discuss this topic with you all at the Unconference, we would eventually like to share our findings from the survey we conducted in preparation for MCN this year. We will send out our findings to the MCN List Serv however, please feel free to contact Kate Regan via email () to request a copy as well.

Ways to Tap the Wisdom of Crowds: links for projects shown on slides

contribute skills and expertise

collectively re-use

be a citizen scientist

transform public data into useful tools

collect data

contribute to our understandings of history

make art

CONA session canceled, but . . .

I’m sorry, but the discussion about the Getty’s Cultural Objects Name Authority originally scheduled for Friday at 3:30 has to be canceled because one of the key participants is unavailable due to a family emergency. We’re sorry not to be able to have this conversation at MCN, but we will plan to do it some time in the near future, possibly at MW in Philadelphia next spring.

For those of you looking for an interesting THATCamp session to attend instead, please think about coming to the “Museum Visualization” session on Friday at 1:30 led by Richard Urban and Piotr Adamczyk. They’ll be picking up the way-too-short discussion started in our infoviz conference session today, and taking the discussion in lots of new directions, including the review of easily available tools. We’ll also have a chance to hear in detail from Richard, who was unable to present his own materials in today’s session because a cyclone kept him in Atlanta overnight, delaying his arrival at the conference.

Analyzing Twitter data from Ask A Curator day

I’m not a museum professional at all, but I’m a pretty heavy Twitter user, and I follow a good many museum people on Twitter. I was interested, a few weeks back, in “Ask a Curator” day, (un)organized in pure Clay Shirky fashion by the hashtag #askacurator.

What I’d like to do is sit down with some smart folks and some laptops in a room and see what we can do with that data. Visualizations? Analyses? Other? The dataset can be downloaded from (though you need a Twitter account to get it).

I’d especially love to invite people who know more about data analysis than I do: I mostly do all my analysis with Excel, but surely there are better tools.

Getting ready for THATCamp MCN . . .

Hi all! We’re counting down till tomorrow, and you may be thinking, like @twittorician, “Less than a month [a day] until my first unconference. I have no idea whether that leaves me enough time to unprepare.” Rest assured, there’s always time to unprepare. One of the great features of an unconference is its spontaneity.

Still, here’s a little preparation, in the form of some Ground Rules:
* Have fun.
* Be productive.
* Keep it collegial and participatory.

Other than that, all you have to do is show up with an open mind. If you can make it to the introductory session at 10:30am tomorrow (Thursday) in the Sheraton room Capitol A/B, that’d be ideal: during that session, we’ll come up with some ideas for what to do during the 11 session slots that remain unscheduled. If you can’t make the introductory session, you should still feel free to drop in on any session you like and to register for this site, which will allow you to post to the blog.

Finally, we’d like to congratulate our good friend Ben Brumfield on a new addition to his family. Childbirth! Now that’s fun, productive, and participatory. 😉

Mobile Technology and the School Field Trip: Can It Work?

To meet the needs of 21st Century Learners and to remain viable as an educational resource into the future, the Minnesota Historical Society has been conducting research and testing to develop a mobile application that could be used with large groups of children on school field trips. We would like to share our preliminary findings from teacher, parent/chaperone and child focus groups conducted throughout Minnesota and exhibit testing at the Minnesota History Center using mobile tools with school-aged children.  Here are a few of the questions we’ve started to explore during our research:

  • What challenges are teachers struggling with in educating 21st Century Learners? What challenges do parents face? Students?
  • How do teachers use field trips? What do they value most about field trips? How do field trips relate to classroom learning?
  • What do parent chaperones value about field trips? How do they apply field trip experiences to family learning experiences?
  • What do students value about field trips? What do they like and not like about field trips?
  • Can mobile technology maximize learning on field trips by responding to 21st Century Learner preferences?
  • Can mobile technology facilitate deeper learning for schoolchildren through free choice and personalization?
  • Can mobile technology connect the field trip to the classroom and the home in a meaningful way?
  • How can a mobile experience facilitate a meaningful social interaction among peers and parent chaperones?
  • Can a mobile activity be implemented on a large scale for schoolchildren on field trips?
  • How can a mobile activity work with an interactive physical environment, not against it?
  • What mobile activities yield the richest experiences in a museum environment?
  • Is it worth investing in mobile technology to keep museums relevant for the new generation of 21st Century Learners, or are there other less expensive tools and techniques we should be investigating that are equally or more effective?
  • Do teachers, kids, or parents really want to use mobile technology on a field trip?

We’d like to get your feedback on these and other questions, and we’d love to hear about similar work that is occurring at other institutions. Please join us for a lively conversation and help us learn from each other.

Wendy Jones and Jennifer Sly

CONA — the Getty’s Cultural Objects Name Authority

Join us for a very informal discussion of the Getty’s forthcoming vocabulary, CONA–the Cultural Objects Name Authority. The Getty team is still at work at developing the vocabulary’s standards and planning its implementation; we hope that they’ll agree to formally present the project to our community at next year’s conference in Atlanta. Meanwhile, we thought that it might be useful for museum professionals to gather to consider the implications of a resource that will create authority records for unique works held in museum collections. We’ll consider the potential uses of the resource in museum practice, think through the concerns that the contributor community might have about the practical aspects making records available, and try to capture questions for the CONA team that represent the museum community’s thoughts. Some of you may have attended the introductory webinar this spring (sponsored by AAM, Gallery Systems, and the Getty Trust). The Q&As for that webinar are available ( along with a general introduction to the project ( The CONA team has also recently released the vocabulary’s preliminary editorial manuals ( All of these are useful–but by no means compulsory–background reading for what we hope will be an interesting unconference discussion.

Susan Chun and Cathryn Goodwin

Visualizing Museum Collections

As our online collections grow larger, understanding the forest for the trees becomes increasingly difficult. Online search engines like Google represent an increasing source for website traffic, providing targeted search results to user queries. Many museum websites offer only a tantalizing glimpse at the rich resources that make your museum’s collection unique.

This unconference session explores the opportunities of using lightweight visualization techniques to provide a different view of your museum’s collection information that can be used to inform in-house metadata projects, provide users with an overview of your collection’s depth and breadth.

Information visualization technology has been developing rapidly over the last few years. Much of it has been inspired by the rapid accumulation of data in science and commerce. Many visualization projects are very expensive long term projects that develop a novel way of representing a unique dataset. The resulting visualizations are indeed spectacular and can be powerful tools for analysis, for inspiring new insights and for teaching and explaining findings. However in parallel to this ‘Cadillac’ infoviz, we have recently seen the growth of a more modest, low cost but surprisingly robust and powerful ‘Model T’ infoviz. By exploiting online tools and cloud computing (including Many Eyes and Google docs and maps), it is possible to put together visualization in minutes and at practically no cost – once you know the tricks and the quirks of the system. Naturally there is less flexibility than in the bespoke systems built from scratch, but we have found that often these visualizations are ‘good enough’ for particular purposes. Their speed of development makes it feasible to design many different visualizations for many different needs, rather than trying to design a single very expensive visualization that has to be all things to all people in order to justify its expense.

This unconference session will extend the conversation begun during the

Information Visualization and Museum Practice session and provide an open opportunity for delegates to discuss the problems that information visualization might solve at their institution.

To get the conversation started,  we might explore the following questions:
How can information visualization help visitors to the collection:

  • What is this collection ‘about’? What is this subcollection about?
  • What is this collection mostly about?
  • Where have most of our items come from?
  • That looks odd! Interesting – I think I need to look at that more closely

How can information visualization help stakeholders/staff:

  • That looks odd! I think that must be an error in our metadata.
  • That looks odd! I think there may be a consistent pattern of errors in our metadata.
  • That looks odd! Surely something is missing!
  • We have some but limited resources to add some metadata – what should we do?
  • How are our collections being used?
  • What is as we expected?
  • What have visitors done that is surprising?
  • What have visitors not done much of that is surprising?

Facilitators will provide case studies from the development of “collections dashboards” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Opening History aggregation and theSpurlock Museum, along with related international projects. Panelists will outline how participants can extract flexible metadata for use in rapid prototyping visualization tools and services that they can use to get started on their own museum visualizations.

Session Info

  • Type: Unconference
  • Keywords: visualization, metadata,
  • Relevance: This unconference session addresses both back-of the house needs to understand institutional data and front-of-the-house needs to make information about our collections transparent.

Refining the Plow: Revisiting Working Rapid Capture Digital Workflows

The value of Rapid Imaging is becoming readily apparent and more commonplace
in institutional settings, as a result the nature and methodology of Rapid
Imaging is evolving, driven by the needs of the user and available technology.
Sponsored by the Digital Media SIG as a follow-up to last year’s Rapid

Capture Digital Workflow panel: Speed the Plow, the original presenters will

return to give a “one year later” report on their continuing Rapid Imaging Projects.

The presenters, emphasizing what has changed, been upgraded, expanded or has stayed the

same, will illustrate their workflow, show resulting images, discuss
equipment choices and production totals with step-by-step descriptions,
illustrations, and thought process behind the decisions made.  Following the
individual presentations there will be ample time for discussion and
questions to the panel.


Chris Edwards, Digital Studio Production Manager, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

John ffrench, Director, Visual Resources Department, Yale University

Alan Newman, Chief of the Division of Imaging & Visual Services, National Gallery of Art

Stanley Smith, Head of Imaging Services, The J. Paul Getty Museum

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