Another frantic Friday, trying to get a bunch of things done in anticipation of heading off to San Diego for the Museum Computer Network board meeting before Museums and the Web 2012.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about since joining the board has been what benefit one receives from joining a professional organization. I’ve joined several; AAM, NAME, ICOM, ASTC, MW, and now MCN. I remember joining a couple out of a sense of obligation to the field, but most I joined to get the discount on conference registration fees. I monitor a few listservs, follow their blogs, etc… and that’s about it. And I wonder what else could organizations like MCN and others be doing to provide value to the field beyond hosting a yearly conference?
So my question to you is, “What value do you get from your professional memberships, and what do you wish you could get that you currently don’t?”
For museum/technology related associations, I would like more online networking and best practices – there aren’t that many tech people in culture and it gets lonely. I would love a facilitated group where I can bounce ideas and prototypes around – get feedback and learn form other’s successes and failures.
I think you echo a concern shared by most of the field. Unless you work in a fairly large institution or in a metropolitan area, there aren’t a lot of opportunities.
This is a really good question, and one I’ve thought about. I’m really eager to start an MCN SIG in Australia for a couple of reasons. The first is because I found the conference and community really rewarding last year, and really want to try to continue some of the conversations we had over there back here. Secondly, I find there are so few people in Australia who really seem to be talking about museum tech, and I think that’s in part because those who aren’t really in the top few institutions don’t really have an outlet for doing so, or an awareness of the issues and how to tackle them, and I’d really like to start a network here that would allow better conversation throughout the sector.
What I do find difficult, however, is that I don’t necessarily know how to sell the advantage of people at smaller institutions (for instance) where tech is never going to be a big priority of joining a professional organisation to that end, if there is no clear opportunity for them to head o/s to the conference. It would be useful for them to have a network of people to discuss ideas with, but it’s probably not their main priority a lot of the time. Maybe by holding an annual symposium here in Oz? But even then, people could attend without necessarily joining.
The professional groups I’ve joined have been those where I have some real investment (ie MCN suits me perfectly)… Is that why others join, or choose the ones they join?
Yeah, the lumpy distribution of opportunities is a challenge. So, something to think about while you’re filling your head full of Museums and the Web goodness, is what form might those conversations take that would benefit your Aussie colleagues (and hopefully those of us further afield) the most? An active SIG group meeting in person? Online events? A miniconference-type event? Something else?
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