30th Sept – 4th Ot
An important part of this week was taking the time to listen to the team. By this I mean I sat in their environment for half a day and in between disturbing them just got to ‘listen’ to what requests came in and see a tiny bit of the detail within their roles. I think there is a lot to be gained from better understanding the fine detail within any job role – i was even jokingly offered an official polo shirt to blend in. What became clearer is what tasks I should maybe take off their plate and what other things I could delegate. One of my tasks is to clear the way for the team to work and to better allow them to contribute to the future activity across the service.
A key activity throughout the week was to join planning sessions on exhibition and service delivery for 2014-16. Much of this I can’t speak on other than to say i’m glad I can be in the mix. Related to this is my need to be thinking more about what ‘digital transformation’ might mean to us. Doing what we do now physically and merely shifting it online is only one side of the dice. I really liked reading ‘Digital innovation in the arts must be about the art‘ and will be revisiting this with the programming team. One tangible outcome was confirmation that although I can’t affect some of the exhibitions that are very well developed for the first quarter of 2014 we NEED to start tinkering around the edges. By this I mean from a technology point of view that we need to start experimenting with RFID, Raspberry Pi, sensors, data and more so that we can build up to contributing meaningfully for later in 2014.
I have been tasked with looking at digital signage in the foyer of the City Museum, which basically means a large TV on a stand. However said TV stand is the head-scratching part. The stand must be movable yet safe for the public who may knock/run into the TV. Somebody pointed me to the set-up at the nearby Colston hall and I think this is the kind of setup we need (photo of the tv).
What else… oh, I met a group of local partners about a project we have agreed to bid on which will really be interesting digitally if we are successful. More on that should it come off.
A final highlight was a telephone call with Kevin Bacon from Brighton Museum. We are comparable museums and so was a welcome discussion about keeping each other in the loop about our plans and working together. As my role is the only one of its kind in the service, working with similar posts elsewhere will be essential to bounce ideas and learn from others. For example I shared my draft ‘digital principles’ for feedback.
If others would like to chat then do get in touch as i’m very approachable.
Monday was the tail end of our holiday so the working week began on Tuesday to a mere 128 emails. The emails were largely CC messages and so were dispatched in 10 minutes. I have been making it clear to everybody that email is great but I don’t need to know everything – if you need a reply from me then send it but I don’t need ‘reference/covering’ emails. The rest of the day could be spent clearing a path for activities in October.
Tuesday and Wednesday were both used to catch up with various staff about their projects and for me to better understand some of the detail a few of our roles deal with. The devil really is in the detail and I feel the more I can understand the better for future working together.
Thursday was a social media oriented day. First I met with the Bristol Records Office to see how they run social media and where my team could be of assistance. Then I checked in on the Red Lodge as they are doing an outstanding job and have plenty of ideas for continuing over the winter. In the evening I attended “This Happened Bristol” at the Empire Theatre which had three enjoyable speakers (John Durrant, Dan Efergan, and Lizzie Ostrom) talk about past interaction projects, one of which was about smell.
On Friday I got to tinker with a small website project and had an important meeting regarding a project i’ll keep quiet about for now.
Bonus day. On Saturday I attended a raspberry pi bootcamp run by uob at the @bristol site. The event was spilt between 90min sessions on a broad range of introductory topics and some drop-in areas to ask questions and see some very interesting uses of the kit. The event had a lot of help at hand and was well attended by school children and a few oldies like me. I attended a non-pi session on using twine, a easy to use tool for making interactive if/else type stories that spits out html. I think this could be pretty handy for lightweight public facing games and stories.It was great to see kids coming to events at the weekend like I used to.
Attending local events in the evening and weekends not only helps keep me in the loop but i think is crucial for raising our service profile. I know that these things are hard for many to attend but I really hope I can convince a few others to start doing likewise.
This will I got up to the following:
- Welcomed our new team member, an apprentice who will be helping with our digital marketing including social media and storytelling across our collections
- Shared internally our 7 service digital principles for feedback
- Investigated leasing tablets
- Explained our digital plans to central ICT for the Council
- Continued writing our expression of interest for the Big Data call
- Discovered it takes 1.5hrs to read and digest the average report (thanks to harvest timer)
- Caught up with my old team (cheers!)
- Started to think about how we should tackle our websites
- Floor walk of two sites to watch the public use our interactives and see how they move around the building
Jukesie wrote a fun post with a few questions and answers about his job which he has adapted for others to follow suit. I rattled off some responses which can be read over at his blog Discussions with Zak Mensah. Enjoy.
This was my 8th week in the job and I think writing about what I do is useful for myself and hopefully some of the weeks will be helpful to others in similar roles as me. Plus I really like following Matt’s weeknotes.
This week I got asked “what I have actually fixed” since starting which reminded me that documenting the teams progress should help with our visibility and I can point to these weeknotes.
The week can broadly be split between thinking about our current audio visual offering (AV) and beginning to simmer and reduce my thoughts towards our digital plans.
AV kit, which covers items such as tv, projectors, touchscreens, and interactive interfaces (buttons to smash in kid talk) in the public areas get a hammering. From general usage being turned on for 70 or so hours a week plus anything that can be touched many hundreds of times a week, will inevitability be a point of failure at some point. I have been asking people within all parts of the service about their digital problems and aspirations. This week was the turn of the ‘front of house’ staff, all the helpful people who see the public in action and therefore are best placed to give me direct insight regarding the AV.
The team is quite large so I need to see more staff but the first group have said that out of order kit is the biggest issue – no surprise but is very helpful to have this confirmed. Kit that has out of order signage or is ‘off’ for no apparent reason makes us look bad and of course is required to aid the interpretation of displays.
So next week we’ll do a floor walk at our primary site to review every item of AV kit and also make usage instructions for each item widely available. Giving the staff the confidence that we are actively on the case is critical. Fixing, maintaining and future planning our AV will continue to simmering in the background.
One of my key tasks is to raise our profile within the digital sector, locally at first and then the world! As part of this I met with a few local arts organisations looking at partnering on a funding bid which will hopefully progress well in the next few weeks.
I also attended a local social media meetup run by Sift Digital which had a great session by Teresa Chinn an agency nurse who started @WeNurses. The gist of the session was that a community was built from the outside, not an organisation led initiative or under control of the biz – reminds me of unofficial fan clubs which is no bad thing. After the session we all had a good discussion so i’ll be attending future sessions when possible.
An example in a similar vein of relinquishing control is our Red Lodge Museum and their twitter account. Within a few weeks of starting I was doing the rounds of introducing myself to each museum and staff when I got a request from Mark at The Red Lodge Museum asking to tweet on behalf of the museum. I heard a straight-forward elevator pitch of what Mark and The Red Lodge Museum wanted to do and gave them the green-light the same day. Over the past few weeks The Red Lodge Museum account has been churning out very interesting items about the museum and its history. In fact it has been running so well that all of this week The Red Lodge museum took over the main Bristol City Council twitter account and even held a tweet-up.
By Friday I had decided our Make Mantra should be: cause a ruckus, something Ill talk about in the near future.
I have started to distill my digital strategy thinking and begun to draft some principles to share internally very soon. if we agree then these will under-pin our digital strategy and be public.