No boundaries conference day two

Luke Wright on stage at the no boundaries conferenceLuke Wright, Poet

Wednesday 26th February, Watershed

I attended day two of a packed house for the no boundaries conference #nb2014. I stumbled across some great folks and made a few loose notes. If you want the detail then check elsewhere as these are just random bits that interested me. Any errors about what was said is entirely my bad translation.

Simon Meller, Arts Council, spoke about the case for public investment:

  • Need to improve engagement and inequality of access
  • Lots of potential for partnerships with higher education – need to measure impact and support continuing and lifelong learning
  • Show the links between arts, the creative industries and employment
  • We need longitudinal study to show impact
  • We can work globally by opening up our collections
  • Four key themes are Culture (insights, citizens, identity), Education (Primary/secondary, continuing, higher education), Society (wellbeing, health, engagement), Economy (Creative industry, regeneration, tourism)
  • Question from the audience making a plea for arts to focus on the “outside” where folks are e.g. Primark

Tom Morris, Bristol Old Vic said:

  • spoke of the power of narrative
  • Listening to the stories the public want to tell as its happening with or without u
  • Trust our artists

George Ferguson, Bristol Mayor said:

  • spoke about the arts being able to bring the City together and its our duty to give a sense of belonging
  • Need to sell ourselves better to the public and the politicians
  • When asked what kept him awake at 4am he said it was the need for us to “provide a catalyst

York Council boss said:

  • we needed to foster the creative potential
  • Internationalism and diversity go together

Week 34 at work

A case full of prints of drawings - Walter Richard Sickert shown here
Walter Richard Sickert prints and drawings in need of digitising

This week was pretty busy:

  • More Arts Council bid work…
  • Skype chat about how we can use tablets to improve the visitor experience
  • Discussion of how the new website can support the learning team
  • How we can take online bookings – hoping we can use shopify for the heavy lifting
  • A visit to M Shed to see how we can combine a tablet and flat screen to enable interaction with our ‘contributing wrap’
  • Got permission to spend some external grant money to purchase a portable audio recording setup
  • Visited the Office of National Statistics to give a talk on how we deal with intellectual property, make digital media, and make use of a digital asset management system (DAM)
  • Hosted the monthly Social Media South West meetup and gave a talk with Claire Royall called “Reasonable doubt – how the museum us getting social”
  • Helped Paul Sullivan get blogging over at which let me see that wordpress has some poor accessibility quirks
  • Briefly joined Trevor and David discuss digitisation requirements for 2014 which includes digitising a bunch of Walter Richsrd Sickert and Bristol Suspension Bridge prints and drawings (see above photo)
  • Chopped it up with Adam about the progress of the new website navigation
  • Rolled the dice on budget requirements for 2014-2015

Next week I really hope I can find somebody to help us take online payments…

Week 33 at work

This week was slightly less hardcore than the previous few weeks:

  • Community support by taking on a student for his  year 10 work experience for a week
  • Moved from discovery to alpha phase for the website project
  • Agreed how we’d do advanced ticketing for the next temporary exhibition online
  • Got to grips with eventbrite
  • Came up with way to start getting digital in the houses
  • Met with Ian from aardman to discuss our full proposal for the Nesta Digital fund
  • Reviewed another draft of our Arts Council bid
  • Discussed how marketing and PR would help with the website project
  • Confirmed my apprentice into the post – she has been a real asset
  • One of our collaboration partner teams from the University of Bristol gave their beta demo of the volunteer database they have been making for us
  • Started to get excited about our wikimedia proposal with the Bristol Record Office
  • Swore that next year’s budget will be ruled with an iron fist ha!



Week 32 at work

This week was primarily focused on meeting internal teams to update them on the website project. I’ll have a student on work experience next week and dealing with the Arts Council bid so this week I tried to clear the decks.

  • I met with members of the Natural Sciences team who are keen to build their team online activities. This won’t make phase 1 but anticipating future needs is vital. I’m assuming the BBC Nature History Unit will be a good baseline to start with
  • The Public programme team’s needs are straightforward but the devil is in the detail. Their user needs will be met in the ‘plan your visit’ user journey. Also they need the website to deal with online ticketing.
  • I met someone keen to volunteer for archives. We need hands at the pumps in that area so hopefully we can work together very soon
  • The World cultures collections team are eager to blog for the new website. They were receptive to being user focused too
  • The Development team are responsible for fundraising so we met to iron out possible user needs. We spent time reviewing other museum journeys and think we have a direction.
  • I met 6 students from the University of the West of England (UWE) we photography students who will be snapping away between now and may. Although we have lots of marketing images I think there is lots of scope for ‘behind the scenes’ and documentary style photos. They help us do this and in return we act as a real client.
  • We have started to see if a raspberry pi computer can replace some aging mac mini computers that are showing their age.
  • We have a lot of kit in need of replacing so me and Zahid spent half a day preparing the list. This need to go to a panel to agree.
  • Dan from fffunction wrote about his website research review for the website project
  • In two weeks i’ll be talking with Claire Royall at Social Media South West so had to start on our talk
  • Wrote a blog post about IT Services and my frustrations that will stay in the vault for now!

#ukgovcamp14 conference

Me introducing myself to the crowd
Photo Credit David Pearson CC-BY-SA 2.0 license

Last Saturday I attended my first ukgovcamp conference in London. I went along with Jukesie, who wrote about his own experience of the day and Lauradee for a day of unconferencing. I was surprised by how few people had previously attended an unconference but this also made it enjoyable as then at least folk made it into sessions.

For me personally it was well worth the early start as there was a good bunch of people, many of whom i’ve stumbled across online. I haven’t paid much attention to local authority and central Government differences until this day. There seemed to be a much heavier group of central types which was a welcome eye-opener to their types of problem.

I think I was the only museum person which wasn’t really a shocker. For me, its important to widen my view of the entire public sector as there are many similarities even if the lingo is slightly different.

I picked a range of sessions to attend including the hardcore stats session which Jukesie was roped into. Stat IT nerds are a special bunch! I discovered a huge new field of using open data – though i wasn’t sure if this was for work purposes or just for tinkering in their spare time.

As always for me, its the meeting of new people that makes an event. For example I really enjoyed the session on creativity by Emma Allen who delivered a nice session that was closest to my line of work and thinking. A genius tip Emma suggested was to look at the Argos and Ikea catalogues, not just other archives as they of course are heavily dependent on getting them right for survival.

Another key takeaway was that regionally we could all make more effort to organise and run small evening or weekend events. Part of my 2015-2018 strategy at work mentions this type of activity so i’d better put my money where my gob is!

Thanks to all the organisers and my fellow attendees.

I make a cameo in the video below at the 0:40 sec mark

Week 31 at work

The next few weeks activity will be a similar pattern of Arts Council bid preparation, the website project  AND squeezing in the rest of the day job.

  • I wrote the first draft of possible plans for activity under the heading of ‘digital strategy’ which you can see on Google drive. This hasn’t been widely circulated but i’d love any feedback around clarity, style and vision. This will form part of the 2015-2018 Arts Council Bid for major funding. The headline is that digital should be a service.
  • I had an introduction with Jess from the SS Great Britain about both of our digital work. Local collaboration will be key to our future survival.
  • I did a tour of our IT/digital infrastructure for Redland High school for girls second year A-level students. They were mostly excited about visiting Nando’s afterward but hopefully they enjoyed it ha.
  • Much of Wednesday was dedicated to working with Dan from fffunction interviewing staff about their interactions with the public. This is part of the discovery phase work for the new website.
  • Submitted a business case for using external funding to purchase portable audio recording kit
  • Agreed to trial eventbrite for our upcoming Private view ahead of the launch of the Jeremy Deller exhibition in April. In theory this should claw back at least two weeks worth of apprentice/volunteer time per event.
  • Discussed using SquareSpace to run a small three year programme of work
  • Had a great meeting with Patrica Santos from University of the West of England about using research to better understand using mobile technology in and around the museum sites.
  • One of our student projects did an impressive functionality/alpha demonstrate of their tool for displaying our online collection over a Google map with filtering.
  • Spent an evening hosted by the Pervasive Media studio hearing three great talks about open data projects. Thanks Tom!
  • Ran a short session with Bristol Record Office on the benefits of using social media for their service.