April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Workshops: Description

Planning Social Media for Museums - FULL

Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum, Australia
Angelina Russo, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Jerry Watkins, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

This half-day workshop will explore the use of social media (blogs, wikis, digital stories etc.) to support museum communication. The workshop will address:

  • The range of web-based social media available to museums.
  • The issues that will arise in planning for such applications.
  • How to anticipate/address such issues.


The workshop will be structured around four key topics:

  • Changing communication models in the museum.
  • Connecting youth audiences to museum content.
  • Navigating internal resistance to implementing social media
  • Strategies for engaging communities in the sharing of knowledge.

Workshop participants will work in small groups to explore each of the topics and work towards an understanding of how social media can be used effectively in museums.

Through small group activities, participants will address these questions:

  • How far is the museum willing to relax its own authority in these areas of knowledge?
  • To what extent is the museum willing to promote community knowledge over its own?
  • How do social media effect museum communication?
  • How will social media in museums contend with notions of authenticity and quality?

By examining these questions, the workshop aims to explore:

  • The affect that accessible social media will have on the "voice and authority" of the museum.
  • How social media will engender online, networked user interactions.
  • Changing notions of sharing and presenting cultural identity in museums.

Why should you consider this workshop?

Major museums worldwide are starting to use social media to engage online users with new interactive experiences. While a few museums have begun to adopt social media in a significant fashion, there remains a lack of research into the design and communication processes by which museums can create and sustain user interaction with social media. This workshop will explore the use of social media in a manner which encourages user participation.

Why social media?

Social media enable cultural participants to both explore images of themselves and distribute those images across niche online social networks. This represents a shift in the ways in which museums:

  • act as trusted cultural online networks;
  • distribute community knowledge; and
  • view their role as custodians of cultural content.

It is this broader distribution of community knowledge which sets social media apart from more traditional outreach models in which museums work with audiences. As the products of social media are readily available online, their existence within museum communication programs presents debate around an institution's investment in its own continuing cultural authority.

What will you learn?

This workshop will provide you with an opportunity to brainstorm solutions to issues surrounding the use of social media in museums.

Who should attend?

Content Creators, Exhibition/IT managers, Website Producers, public Programmers.

The workshop is open to those interested in exploring the use of social media to extend user communication with museum programs.

No prior experience or technical expertise is required.

Workshop: Planning Social Computing [Morning]

Keywords: social media, content creation, web 2.0, planning