Monday, February 7, 2011


Connecting the dots . . . 

I have been on a journey for the past couple of weeks, perhaps foreshadowed by the TEDucation post just previous.

You see, I recently rediscovered
my Twitter account, and observed / joined the slipstream of real-time conversation with museum people from all over the world. I have been caught in the undertow of the discussions, including the frightening happenings in Egypt right now. Some twitterers are able to assess the damage occurring to the Cairo Museum almost immediately, and it's both heart-wrenching and relieving to know what's going on. Truly, it's near hypnotic to be able to witness everything everywhere as it is happening, and to have a say about it through 140-character messages that are shared instantly with everyone. My brain has been so engaged in this — and I know it's getting to be too much because I have begun to dream in Twitter, which is kinda frustrating because the links don't work! 

To add to this compulsive Twitter watch, I have also really upped the museum-related blogs I follow. 
I have been engrossed in blogs that talk about museum architecture, collections, museums and smart phone apps, exhibition installations, visitor experience, evaluation, the definition of curator, museum 'free agents', neat ways to engage with collections and on and on. Museum people, there is a lot of good writing out there — so fabulous, it's hard to not want to read all about it. And comment on it, joining the conversation on blogs as well.

But here's where I come clean — obviously not just museums are in this social web-sphere. Although many blogs on my Google reader are museum-related, I have been caught up in the cat (penguin!) video world / silly silly stuff / amazing photo streams as well as, hello, Jezebel, for movie star updates.


Do you remember what it was like when you continued researching for a term paper even when you kept coming across similar information? Sort of like you've done your foundations work, and you have found all the major trends, but you keep on looking anyway? And let yourself get sidetracked in fun and interesting stuff to 'reward' yourself for the good work you were doing? I sure did this . . . and I often couldn't stop researching because I was actually avoiding 
writing the darn paper. That's what I feel like right now — it's not like there's no more to discover, but I am reading certain fundamental points over and over again during my reading adventures. 

I have joked on 
Facebook that I have caught up with the internet. 
It's a procrastinator's dream out there, just a million tangential clicks away. This is surely where Too Much Information lives.

It's not all wasted time, though. I think all this online activity represents my desire for something more than basic information — I think I am looking for some kind of connection. Connecting online is really fast, simple, and as deep as it is wide. What a resource. But is it truly connecting with something or someone to follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook or RSS their blog??

These thoughts came clear when I went through this amazing slide show on businesses NOT needing a social media strategy. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are all tools to link us together with information; they are not, however, The Connection That We Are Forming. We can have all these accounts, but they are supposed to augment our real life through engagement. Online is just another way to get that engagement.

And here's where I need to pay attention: social media accounts are not intended to stand alone, to be the end product, the last word. It's what I do with the information provided that counts, not that I know it. Action is required to make this connection real. Real world action.

I am keenly aware that I need to make the most out of the time and resources spent on this online investment, to pay attention, and to know when to stop surfin'. And it's okay to have a giggle — just not keep going to the feed to allow for major distraction. Set aside some time, but don't let it take over. That kind of thing.

The good news in this internet adventure is that I am finding is that this constant 
scanning of the horizon is actually helping me solidify my own ideas, and now I am 'tightening the weave' by linking things together, admiring the patterns that emerge.   

Another way I look at this online immersion is that it feels like I have been chopping a lot of wood. I have stacked a lot of it, real high.  And now it's time I commit to
 what kind of fire I am going to light . . . 


  1. I think many museum people get a bit obsessive about information - it's part of what draws us to the profession.
    I know you don't often have this luxury but I find half a day spent working directly with objects works a treat when my head's buzzing with creative thoughts. Puts it all in perspective plus achieves something concrete.

  2. I agree, Philippa! It's hard to drag myself away from these resources when it's all such rich material, and I do like to keep learning and being engaged in the 'talk' side of the work we do with museums. I know that when I do get the opportunity to work with collections, I feel a sense of calm that doesn't come if I am only reading about working in/with museums. I think I should seek more direct work with objects . . . hmmmm . . .

  3. Great post, Caroline. There's so much conversation going on out there that it's overwhelming, but also empowering and beyond awesome. Underlying your post seems to be the fact that museums are changing (or, evolving rather) and there's a lot to discuss! Similarly, museums often aim to create community while inspiring audiences, so it's fitting that museos themselves are likely agents for creating community and sharing ideas about the industry. I think museum work appeals to people who love learning, and thus all of the museum blogs and all of our conversation not only makes sense, but is critical for the future of museum practices. Thanks for the thought fuel (and I'm glad to have found your blog)!

  4. Aw, thanks, Colleen!

    The conversations are so intriguing — and I do hope that we are able to translate them into an interesting evolution of museums, ie ACTION. I actually think it is imperative to our sector's survival to take that next step.

    Oh, and I really dig your blog! You always seem to write just what I have been thinking about but not yet had words for. Fabulous! [If others reading this don't know it, click Colleen's name in the comment above and the link will take you to "Know Your Own Bone".]