On drinking alone, together

So here we are in the midst of truly global calamity, pandemic, social upheaval, economic mayhem. People are losing their lives, their livelihoods, and their sense of belonging as we all hunker down in our isolation spots. My new work life promises to be one long blur of videoconferences.

Some of last week’s video calls

But all hope is not lost. Because my colleagues and friends having been busy doing it right and using the platform to drink and get together as best as possible. Virtual #drinkingaboutmuseums FTW!

screenshot posted by Andrea Ledesma (@am_ledesma) on Twitter

The museum community is a resilient one, I’ll say that much. We will find ways to carry on and hold each other up. What a balm for the soul. If only there was a way to spread and scale our reach. Enter Mr. Koven Smith, the Godfather of #DAM…

Is the time right? I think it is. And I think you all are just the people to pull off. So, let me offer up an idea that might be of interest to you.

The 24 Hour Online #DAM Party

The all-day #DAM idea seemed a little unrealistic back in the day, but then the idea that we’d all be trapped at home all across the world also would’ve been unfathomable. Thus does the Universe have its little jokes with us. Now a global #DAM not only seems plausible, it feels downright necessary.

How it could work

This is a very rough first draft idea, so feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below. Here’s what I’ve got:

One day soon, the International Day of #drinkingaboutmuseums dawns. Every hour at a predetermined happy hour (I’m guessing somewhere in the 5-8PM area), a #drinkingaboutmuseums convenes online using a common videoconferencing platform. The host will have previously broadcast info about the whole global event, have posted a URL to log into the conference, and have a good old time with friends new and old. After an hour, the host announces the URL for an event in the next time zone and invites people to go there or stay as they wish. They take a screenshot of their party, post it to their channels and pass the baton. Every hour, the party starts up and gradually makes its way West across the planet, one UTC zone at a time.

What it would take

  • A voting process to determine a date and time. Could be as simple as a Google Form. My vote is for 6PM in Aotearoa New Zealand (UTC+12), but I’m reasonable. From there, we go as far West as we can. The Western U.S. is UTC-8. If we find museum friends in Hawaii or Polynesia, that’d get us to UTC-10.
  • A way for prospective hosts to add their names to the roster so we can make sure we’ve got the maximum global reach, at least one per time zone, and preferably multiple to accommodate language differences. Again, keeping it simple as a form or Google Sheet.
  • A persistent web presence to point people at, and to add info as it becomes available. We’ve got plenty of web addresses we could use, so I’m not too worried about that.
  • A concerted social media effort to spread the word and encourage the community to come and join us. If only we had museum professionals with social media know-how who could help…

What do you think? Could it work? Any interest in joining in the planning?


UPDATE: March 25, 2020

After the initial flurry of interest on all my platforms, it became apparent that our #1 issue would be picking the right date. After consulting with a variety of folks, we decided to try for March 30th, 2020. Five days to plan a global event? No problem for this community. Or so we hope…

Our thinking behind this choice was the recognition that the Museums and the Web conference was going to happen online from March 31-April 4 and we didn’t want to interfere in any way with their heroic attempt to pivot an in-person international conference to an online conference. So, this led us to look at either March 30 or April 5, and yesterday, April 5th felt like a century from now. So, March 30 it is! Tell your friends and colleagues.

Koven has stood up a postcard site at Drinking About Museums that has a link to the signup form if you want to host an hour. There are so many time zones that there are plenty of openings! We’ll be using that as our primary repository for more information, so bookmark it now!

A Note on the name “Drinking About Museums”

A concern that thoughtful friends have raised from time to time has taken on a new urgency now that we’re looking to include a global audience. And that is the inclusion of the word “Drinking”. In a Western society, the act of getting together and consuming alcohol and socializing is an accepted form of social cohesion and bonding. However, that does not translate globally, particularly in Islamic and some Hindu societies where alcohol is prohibited or frowned upon. That is to say nothing of people in Western societies who aren’t into drinking for a variety of reasons. So, how to be welcoming and inclusive without centering the drinking part? Because, really the drinking has never been the point. The community building and solidarity is what we’re about. If you have thoughts or ideas on how to message that sensitively, I’d love to hear them.

8 comments

  1. Hi Ed

    Liz here from NZ. You always were SO cool. Now you are manifesting that in this ever so strange but cool way. I’m in. I gather you’ve been taking to Frith. She’s a natural host. I chat to her about the NZ start up. Love the idea that we kick it off. Aroha from NZ. Liz Hay.

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  2. I will be hosting in Brazil. Should we chose the platform of our preference and go ahead with invitations? And choose the time? About the name, I understand the concern but we also drink tea, juice, coffee. I wouldn’t change a brand at this point.

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  3. It is assumed that alcohol may or may not be involved. A gather of like minded individuals enjoying a beverage of their own choice. A drinking at the museum is a great idea. Or a day at the museum. All DAM savor and share. Best wishes all better safe than sorry.

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