MW 2008 Conference - April 2008

The proposals listed below for a workshop session and a professional forum were accepted for the Museums and the Web 2008 Conference held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 9-12th April 2008.

Note that in addition to these presentations, Brian Kelly was also a member of the Programme Committee and chaired one of the sessions at the conference.

Workshop: Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Organisation

Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Organisation
Date And Time
Wednesday 9th April 2008 from 09.00-12.30.

After an initial flurry of interest in blogging by early adopters within the museums sector, the ways in which blogs can be used to enrich the services provided by blogs are beginning to be more widely appreciated.

While the benefits of blogging have been documented by the pioneers at previous MW conferences, it is now time to take a step back and look at some practical aspects associated with the establishment of a blogging service and ensuring its longterm sustainability.

This workshop will offer real user experiences with issues of using blogs and blogging in your museum. The session will provide an update on blog fundamentals (the blog services, authoring tools and the diversity of ways in which blog content may be viewed) and explore approaches to the establishment of a blogging service, such as installation of in-house blog software or use of third party blogging services.

The workshop will also address potential barriers to implementing a sustainable blogging service within your institution and explore ways in which such barriers can be overcome.

Advice on best practices for providing quality blog services will be provided, covering a variety of topics including who should blog, writing styles, engaging with blog readers, resource implications, staff development and training, etc. The workshop will also provide a forum for sharing experiences and discussing best practices.

The workshop will also discuss how to measure the success of a blogging service, focusing on user feedback, return on investment and impact assessment.

The workshop will conclude by exploring ways in which the bloggers in the museum sector can best share experiences, perhaps though the establishment of a community of practice and making use of appropriate social networking services.

Learning Objectives
By the end of the workshop participants should:
Draft Timetable

The draft timetable for the interactive aspects of the workshop are given below. Note this is subject to change:



Professional Forum: What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?

What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?
Brian Kelly and Mike Ellis
Professional Forum
Date And Time
Friday 11th April 2008 from 14.00-15.00.

What does openness mean to the Museum community? Within the context of networked services openness can have several meanings. It can refer to:

  • use of open source software
  • use of open standards
  • open access, such as use of Creative Commons licenses

Within the context of a Web 2.0 environment, openness may relate to an open culture which is willing to experiment and to trust its users, which may include the provision of tools such as blogs and wikis.

Within a wider context this concept could include society's views on the openness and ability to reuse services and data paid for by the tax-payer.

Openness is often regarded in a positive light, something which museums should strive to attain. However although openness can provide many benefits, there can also be dangers in an open approach, whether this is use of open source software, open standards, Creative Commons or openness with the user community or within our society: for example open standards may fail to gain market acceptance; it may prove difficult to replace proprietary software solutions with open source software and providing open access to data owned by museums may undermine the business case and sustainability of the service.

There is a danger that discussions of the development of a new generation of networked applications, which are sometimes referred to as 'museums 2.0' may assume that the rationale for openness is accepted. In this professional forum the convenors will argue that there is a need for an open debate on this issue. The professional forum will review the strengths and weaknesses of the different aspects of openness and invite discussion on what openness should mean to the museum community and on ways of achieving the desired goal. Weaknesses of openness which may not always be acknowledged might include:

  • Open source software can provide a range of benefits, but much open source software is likely to be of poor quality and will not be sustainable (as can be seen from sourceforge - which has been referred to as a 'dumping ground of open source software'.
  • Open standards don't always work.
  • Useful formats such as RSS are not open standards in terms of a clearly defined governance and roadmap for future developments of the formats.
  • Creative Commons can undermine the business case for the maintenance and development of resources.
  • Proving free access to publicly-funded data (e.g. maps) could result in cutting back on the funding for the services, resulting in degradation in the quality of the data.

A deployment strategy based on a risk management approach and a culture of sharing will be described which is aimed at institutions wishing to either make use of open services, open standards, open source or open content and those who are considering the business case for making their outputs available under appropriate open conditions. The paper concludes by discussing how the museums should respond to the wider discussion of openness.

Biographical Details

Image of Brian Kelly Brian Kelly is UK Web Focus, a post funded by the JISC and the MLA which advises the UK's higher and further education communities and museums, libraries and archives sector on standards, emerging technologies and best practices for use of the Web. Brian works at UKOLN, a national centre of expertise in digital information management, which is based at the University of Bath.

Brian is an experienced Web developer, having helped set up his first Web site in January 1993 whilst working in the Computing Service at the University of Leeds. In 1995 Brian was the senior trainer for the Netskills training organisation. He moved to his current job in 1996.

Brian's current interests include making use of standards and supporting accessibility from a user-focussed position, and exploring the potential of Web 2.0. His recent publications include "Contextual Web Accessibility - Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines", "A Contextual Framework For Standards", "Personalization and Accessibility: Integration of Library and Web Approaches" and "Holistic Approaches to E-Learning Accessibility".

Mike Ellis has just emerged from 7 years working as Head of Web for the National Museum of Science and Industry, UK, which comprises the Science Museum in London, Media Museum in Bradford and Railway Museum in York. Mike is now working for a Bath-based company called Eduserv who are a not for profit IT services group. Mike's interests are in user generated content, Web 2.0, ubiquitous computing and innovation and how to lever these for maximum benefit in cultural institutions.