These are my notes from Michael Edson‘s presentation at session C104/C105, Libraries, Archives & Museums: Collaboration on a Large Scale
Presenter: Michael Edson, Director, Web & New Media Strategy, Office of the CIO, Smithsonian
A Little Perspective
In his presentation, Edson addressed the changes in scope, scale, speed between the 20th and 21st centuries.
Most civic institutions minted their dreams in the middle of the 20th century. Back then, success was bringing peole through doors and having smart people work for us. Now is the time for participation and global collaboration.
A global audience of collaborators on the scale of Wikipedia (more than 2 billion) was not imaginable to any organization 30 years ago. Scale in the 21st century is so much bigger. Gangnam Style has had more than 1.3 billion views. TED reached its billionth video view in November 2013. Trove, the National Gallery of Australia’s online archive, has 90,000 text corrections made by volunteers in one day.
Libraries need to be successful on a 21st century scale. They need to:
- Put tools of knowledge creation into more hands.
- Share joy and meaning of atistic and cultural exploration with more citizens
- Nurture habits of a civil and sustainable society.
- Deepen engagement with challenges that face our species.
Can We Libraries Succeed By Scaling Up?
So can libraries succeed by scaling up? Not if we’re only counting people through the doors, the number of experts inside the building, counting archives in stacks. Not if the passive viewing experience is the standard of library excellence.
If scale matters, are 1 billion TED videos better than 2.4 million museum visits? Not necessarily, but the vast difference in scale is evidence that something significant—worth studying—is going on. There are more powerful ways of accomplishing museum [and library and cultural organization] missions than by getting people through the doors.
In an article at Wired, “Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter” Page states he “expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition.”
Libraries don’t get better every time someone uses it the way these massive large-scale platforms do. It doesn’t get better with every question I ask. It doesn’t remember that.
How can libraries work at this sort of global massive scale on the internet? Yes. By doing these things:
- Start your projects global by default (like Kickstarter. Like David Lee King‘s work at Topeka & Shawnee Public Library)
- Make your projects open by default (use open platforms)
- Make your projects participatory by default (rethink who can contribute)
- Rethink the value-creation arrows (can the library make an ask through which value comes back into the library from the community)
- Don’t collaborate: solve big problems (Don’t collaborate to collaborate. Collaborate to get big work done.)
GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) can go to 11, and when they do, new opportunities present themselves. Organizations can make 1000% improvements, and that work has got to happen now.
I’m blogging at #CILDC, the Computers In Libraries Conference, this week. See other live-blog posts from this conference:
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