Lectures, My Work

Notes on #ITMUMA

Mark Schlemmer came to UMass last night for a public lecture on the #ITweetMuseums initiative. Schlemmer was great and the entire audience was excited and receptive to hear more about his projects.

I tweeted a little and I took a lot of notes (this one is my favorite):

Twitter bird with #ITM button. Speech bubble: “It’s a twitter-based initiative!!!”

Here are some other thoughts:

  • Twitter as a place of culture sharing/open culture: I find it fascinating that Schlemmer has stuck to keeping it a Twitter-based initiative – not because I think there is a better platform for what he’s done (there isn’t) – but because I think it’s showing the possibilities Twitter has to offer as a form of community-building. Twitter is best known for its stream-of-consciousness feature & its ability to give voice to the individual – and here, we have a direct example of it not being that. (I mean, we could parse words and say it’s voicing an individual community, but it’s not even doing that.) It’s a reflection of a multitude of voices, experiences, and perspectives trying to give an inside look into a culture. And it’s designed for and by the people inside that culture, but is presented in a way that allows anyone to open and access that culture. And that’s really exciting.
  • Tweet-Ups are the coolest thing ever: I love this. I love this. I love this. Schlemmer identifies different purposes for tweet-ups – professional development, job skills, peer networking, increased visibility, culture sharing – all great points. And I love that attendees are tasked with using the museum/exhibition space and playing with Twitter as a source for narrative. They were funny, insightful, educational to look at – I can’t imagine what it’s really like to attend one! (Note: I bet UMass History is working on putting one together at this very moment.) The tweets Schlemmer shared reminded me a little bit of Teju Cole’s collections, in that both play with the purpose and possibilities in which we use Twitter for our own devices. There’s clickbait. There’s object identification. There’s linking artistic pieces together. There’s basic commentary. It’s awesome, and I need to check more out.
  • Social Media is a Skill Set: Social media is a skill set and it needs to be valued that way. Let me say it again – social media is a skill set and it needs to be valued that way. There are significant generational/institutional differences in the ways in which people use social media (especially noticeable with Facebook, but starting to come into play on Twitter) and it’s something users have to be aware of in order to experience these platforms. It’s something that can be acquired, but not every user of social media has this skill set.

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