Web Tech Guy and Angry Staff Person

I made this animation for the 2009 Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Webwise conference.

I was on a panel titled Online Communities and The Institution chaired by Nina Simon of Museum 2.0 with Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum and Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian of Congress for Library Services.

Nina wanted us to be provocative and I thought this might be the time and place to, as @ulotrichous (Eli Neiburger from Ann Arbor Public Library) said, defuse “traditional arguments against letting go of content.”
I was a little worried about the presentation. I thought that either I was being too harsh in caricaturing those who have reservations about online content, or that Webwise attendees were already past objections like “if we put content online nobody will come to our museum/library/archive.”

Far from the case apparently.

Deanna said she thought the animation “was filmed inside the Library of Congress” and many many attendees told me that the script cut very close to home.

I’ll cross-post this in alternate formats to slideshare and youtube, or you can follow this link to get to the .swf file for download and/or full screen viewing.

25 thoughts on “Web Tech Guy and Angry Staff Person

  1. Mike, thanks for this. Honestly, it says it all and I am somewhat ashamed to say that I was driven out of the museum business because of it. I just had to go to a place that embraced the possibilities of new media and new spaces in order to make the world a better place. Museums that don’t stop trying to control the conversation risk becoming irrelevant. Those conversations will (and are) happening without them anyway.

  2. What a clever way to have each of us step back for a second and listen to ourselves! I’ve shared the blog with several people who are on “both sides” of the issue. Well done.

  3. “As museums, we cannot do this [make ourselves relevant] by simply accepting the hype of the internet and offer up more of the same restrictive icons electronically. We do not need virtual museums, we need means of access and communication which speak to new audiences and more directly to our local communities.
    We may be able to effect this development, but only in a small way. We can only achieve and effect by concerning ourselves with how we are used, rather than on what we produce. The internet is not the answer, it is but a medium. The question is whether it does become a medium within which various groups and interests may find a voice.”
    Dear Michael,
    The quote above is something I said to a meeting of Museums at the University of Leicester back in 1995. Then, and probably since then, I have said the same thing in an academic and wordy way. Thank you so much for this wonderful animation which says what I have been trying to say for 15 years in such an accessible and enjoyable way.

  4. Fabulous – is there a tool that someone not too tecky or clever with graphics can use to create presentations like this? Please advise!

  5. …should have stopped halfway through at, “What just happened?” That way, the web-savvy folks would have gotten a chuckle and the rest of the cavemen would have justed scratch their head and remained oblivious.

  6. re: Larry Swiader “driven out.” I know what you mean. On even-numbered days I ride the train home composing resignation letters and rocking back-and-forth to soothe myself. On even-numbered days I’m optimistic. Re: controlling the conversation – – right on!
    re: Larry Cebula & SI 2.0 happening next year. Who knows?! No plans in the works that I know of.

  7. re: Robin’s quote from 1995 – – right on!
    re: Nicole’s question about the tool. I think you could do 99% of this with powerpoint and something to record the audio. (Win XP ships with “sound recorder” which does 1-minute clips.) There’s a powerpoint-only version up on slideshare at http://slideshare.net/edsonm . I’ll add the audio to that sometime.
    I used Anime Studio ($44) to animate the mouths then exported to flash for everything else.

  8. Where is the “what just happened” regarding the tech guy part? Here’s a guy who didn’t sit down and talk with staff about what they wanted, about what the technology had to offer, about how to build their capacities so that they could manage all this after the tech guy has moved on to something else, etc. What just happened? The tech guy forgot to include others in his work.
    I long for the day I get to buy the tech guy’s equipment and say, “Here you go! I replaced all your tools! Um — why aren’t you happy that I did this?”

  9. Great but…
    You missed “We’ve never done it that way.”
    A statement with “web” that I can not compute.

  10. I´ve seen the same conversation played out in Swedish on a number of occassions. It seems it´s a global heritage institution syndrome. In Sweden I´ve also come across a naysayer-variety related to Godwin´s Law: “What if someone downloads one of our pictures and photoshops in Adolf Hitler?”.

  11. re: Japanese Words – – it seems endless-to-the-vanishing-point sometimes, but I’m also hearing from a lot of Smithsonian teams that they’re over the hump – – that the fear is subsiding. Much credit to SI Web teams for working patiently to empower staff of all ilk.
    re: David Haskiya – – I love that you invoked Godwin’s Law!

  12. This is so discouraging. I work in a large library. I’ve worked here for 11 years with many other librarians who have always been passionate about liberating information for all who seek it, by whatever means we can. We have always been early adopters of new technology, exploring and exploiting it to the full extent our time and funds allow. In my institution at least, we are always asking webtech “guy” to do more and more and if anything are frustrated by the limitations of our resources (software, hardware,infrastructure) and the reluctance of web/media people to relinquish control. Yet another caricature of librarians as belligerant, retentive, luddites – thanx for making my day.

  13. I am sorry to have discouraged you, Librarian 😦 It sounds like your organization has a great team and is doing a commendable job with limited resources. This is the case in most libraries, museums, and archives I think. I’m surprised by the thought that librarians are caricatured as luddites & etc. The reputation I’m familiar with is quite positive and quite the opposite!!!

  14. I love it, Mike. Thanks. WE (public trying to help disseminate this to teachers and kids) need this stuff to be OUT THERE! The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, and who wouldn’t want to go there, but they still only get 8.5 million a year through the door. There are over 1.5 BILLION internet users around the world. Very few of us can hop a plane with 36 kids.

  15. My gosh, Mike, this is superb. Thanks so much for clearly encapsulating the reasons given for resistance and responses to those concerns.
    This applies to a LOT more than just museums….

  16. Ahhh yes…the “innovator’s dillema”
    But, I look at the SIguide interface and still go “WOW!”
    Been trying to figure out how to stuff it into an iTouch.

  17. Wow this is cool info thanks for this guys I will show this to some of my friends that might be interested!

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