Defining Open Authority

An attempt to illustrate, define, & discuss the intersection between museum
authority & participatory digital culture. | Ask me about museums & Wikipedia.

Posts tagged "museums"

5 months ago 7 notes open authority museums musetech culture

kineticmuseumsReblogged from kineticmuseums

Have museums always been "authoritative?"


But more and more I’m bothered by this concept of “authority” in the way we use it. I kind of like the word trust more. Partially because trust is something you have to earn, whereas it seems like authority is something we feel that we’re owed as institutions, and I don’t think that’s healthy.

A great provocation from Koven around the idea of Open Authority. I think that the ideas of trust and authority are really intertwined, and I personally like the word “trust” in and of itself, more than I do “authority.”

I believe that the differentiation in the terms, within this context, lies in the audience that they’re being directed towards. Open Authority was developed as a means to define something that museum professionals were grappling with (sort of scared of?), in an effort to illustrate to those museum professionals that sharing control can be the best of both worlds. That definition (and term) isn’t necessarily meant to be directed to the public. To the public, the idea of trust and openness will resonate more than the term “authoritative” necessarily would.

I’m really excited about this revelation and can’t wait to dig into it more with all of you brainy people out there. (DO read Koven’s post in its entirety.) Thoughts?


10 months ago 1 note open authority museums community musetech

Radical Open Authority: When Life Happens and Museums Respond

I so appreciate Gretchen Jennings’ reflections on open authority, where she dives deeper into the role of museums as conveners of community and conversation after “life happens.” 

And her suggestion for how to more purposefully address the demands of open authority?…

We in this profession are used to being considered and careful in rolling out any initiative. But as our world moves more and more quickly, we should shape our internal systems so that when our community needs us we can be there—the forethought and consideration having already been done through advance planning and systems in place.  

The examples in this blog post reminded me of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Sometimes I fall into just looking to that next publication or conference as a way to move an idea forward, forgetting what’s at the heart of the idea. But what’s at the heart of the idea, I’m being reminded often, really matters. 

When things get stressful in my office we often try to put things in perspective by saying, “We’re not saving babies here, people.” But then I have a moment like tonight when I really think about what’s at the heart of our idea: re-establishing the museum as a safe haven for open conversations, for sharing, and for building our communities. Add to that all of the brilliant minds that I have by my side, all working together to scream from the rooftops, “open UP, museums!” and it hits me—we are making a difference. And we’re so lucky to be able to say that.


10 months ago 4 notes open authority museums musetech community

This interview with Nick Poole, CEO Collections Trust, is so chock full of open authority goodness I just can’t even stand it. 

Here are some snippets, but I strongly encourage watching the full video. It’s well worth it. (And okay maybe I went a little crazy with the snippets.)

People are walking in and they’re equal to the institution. And so it’s no longer enough to say, “well we have this amazing stuff, and we’re going to show it to you.” We have to say, “We have this amazing stuff with you. We’re going to find out more about it, we’re going to learn about it.” And so that means that the really stylized experience of a museum…just doesn’t work anymore for the way people expect to be able to engage with the services.

It’s entirely a model built around a one-directional model, and now we’re talking about a conversation, and a conversation that happens everywhere, in real time. And so part of the idea about being responsive is really doing our job as cultural heritage institutions by making ourselves open to that kind of dialogue, rather than saying you will come and you will benefit from coming to my museum. 

It doesn’t mean less culture, and it doesn’t mean less authority, but it means more value and more sharing...

…To me, what technology does is enables you to unlock the whole of the museum experience for the user. By pointing this window (tablet, etc.) in their hands…you empower them with the capability to interpret the knowledge and the intellectual content of that experience. And then more than allow them to open up their own voice into that experience. You allow them to not just sense the history that came before them in the room, but you enable them to become a participant in their history, to leave footprints, essentially, on the experience.

This is about permanent, irrevocable culture change in the museum sector. And it’s about saying if we start to be open to these experiences, if we start to become part of our community rather than offering things to the public, that means we will ultimately become more relevant, more loved, more useful, more interesting, more engaging for people.


11 months ago 6 notes open authority open GLAM open content mcn2013 museums digital humanities museum tech

5easypiecesReblogged from 5easypieces

Koven responds to the Open Authority spectrum & the Reggio Emilia model


I’m listening to Lori Byrd talk about the Reggio Emilia learning model as a possible framework for implementing Open Authority in museums and similar institutions. I was struck by something she said that was a component of that model, which is that the teachers learn along with the students, rather than “dumbing down” the material. How amazing would it be for museums to interact with their communities in this way? Think of a curator looking at visitor interaction as a way of increasing his or her knowledge, rather than simply dispensing it. Yowza.

I’ve always had issues with the word “engagement”—I feel like we toss it around without really having a clear definition of what it means, but this model, to me, finally looks like what I think we really want when we use that word. I just wonder whether we have the courage to attempt it.

So thrilled to see this resonate with Koven and others today, here on the final day of Museum Computer Network. Tons of great conversation about the ideas around open authority that I need to still fully digest. My main takeaway right now is that I adore the museum tech community and how supportive, constructively critical, and brilliant they all are.


11 months ago 4 notes open authority musetech QR museums open GLAM open access digital humanities

Lori Byrd Phillips: Open Authority, Wikipedia and the Benefits of Openness |

I’m quite proud to be among so many greats in the ongoing interview series coordinated by Dana Allen-Greil.

In this interview conducted by Solimar Salas, I chatter about openness, digital humanities, GLAM-Wiki, QR, and a hint of what you can expect from our forthcoming panel on Open Authority at the 2013 Museum Computer Network conference.


11 months ago museums open authority Met musetech tech

So Many Stories to Tell for Met's Digital Chief

Q. What about user-generated content? What might be some opportunities to present the content created by visitors and now being shared on their personal Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts?

A. Our visitors, telling their stories and sharing their experiences, often inspire their friends and family to visit us. So their photos, posts, and comments can have a real impact on people deciding to make a trip to the museum — whether from across town or across the oceans. We can connect with and highlight the best of user content on our social channels. A current exhibition, “Artists & Amateurs: Etching in 18th-Century France,” is an example of the art world acknowledging that amateurs play a role in the evolution of sophisticated art.


1 year ago 4 notes open authority museums openauthexamples

Open Authority Example #11: Our Museum

Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners is a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative to facilitate a process of development and organisational change within museums and galleries committed to active partnership with their communities, with the ambition of affecting the museum sector more widely.

This initiative will:

  • support and develop museums and galleries to place community needs, values,  aspirations and active collaboration at the core of their work;
  • involve communities and individuals in core decision-making processes and to implement the decisions taken;
  • ensure that museums and galleries play an effective role in developing community skills, through volunteering, training, apprenticeships, etc.;
  • share exemplary new models with the broader museum sector.