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Digital social innovation and the evolving role of digital in museums haitham eid - mw19

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Presentation at MW19 Conference in Boston, MA (April 2-6, 2019). Link to the published paper:

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Digital social innovation and the evolving role of digital in museums haitham eid - mw19

  1. 1. Digital Social Innovation and the Evolving Role of Digital in Museums Haitham Eid, PhD Associate Professor/Director Master of Arts in Museum Studies Program Southern University at New Orleans t: @HaithamEid e:
  2. 2. • The Current Role of Digital in Museums • Museums as Social Innovators • Digital Social Innovation (DSI) • DSI in Museums • Traditional Museum Digital Model vs. Digital Social Innovation Model • Challenges to Adopting DSI in Museums • Conclusion
  3. 3. The Current Role of Digital in Museums • Digitization of Collections • In-gallery and Online Interactives • Social Media Presence • Marketing and Branding • Anything else?
  4. 4. Museums as Social Innovators • Ideological Transformation • Museums as Social Innovators? What does that mean? The museum as social innovator uses the power embodied in its institutional voice, collections, exhibition spaces and narratives to help find sustainable solutions to pressing social, cultural, and environmental issues.
  5. 5. Museums as Social Innovators Now it is time for museums to raise their ambitions. The Museums Association believes that every museum should commit to improving its impact on society. Every museum can play a part, however small, in improving health and well-being, helping to create better places and championing a fairer and more just society. Every museum should have the ambition to change people’s lives. Museums Association, 2013
  6. 6. Museums as Social Innovators The museum as social innovator is purposeful in turning the static objects and distant histories into forces of good that helps elevate communities and advance environmental and social justice causes. USF Sport & Social Change Museum
  7. 7. New Role for digital? • How can digital be positioned in the museum as social innovator? • What role can digital play? • How will this role differ from the traditional functions which digital are currently performing?
  8. 8. Digital Social Innovation (DSI) DSI is an emerging framework located at the intersection of technology, innovation, and the desire to provide solutions to pressing social issues. DSI4EU Project: A consortium of seven partner organizations: Nesta (UK), Waag (Netherlands), betterplace lab (Germany), Fab Lab Barcelona (Spain), WeMake (Italy), Barcelona Activa (Spain), ePaństwo Foundation (Poland) Innovation Solution to Social Issues Technology Social Innovation
  9. 9. DSI in Museums • Context - The numbers of physical and online visits do not mean impact. - Moving into a more productive and effective model that goes beyond casual engagement and entertainment-education.
  10. 10. DSI in Museums • Museum Sector Alliance (or Mu.SA) Although it is difficult to make predictions as to what the future holds for museums, further digital and social innovations are undoubtedly in store for them. Regardless of the resources available, all museums can become agents of change. They need to acquire an awareness of their potential, together with adequate ongoing professional training and be equipped with the appropriate skill sets for responding to the ever-changing needs of society. The digital shift is already a reality that cannot be ignored by the museum community, even by the most hesitant of its members, and it demands appropriate competences and knowledge. (Silvaggi & Pesce, n.d., p. 14)
  11. 11. DSI in Museums • Let’s Get Real 6 This, in other words, is about our socially purposeful practice looking across to (and being informed and helped by) our digital practice; and it’s about our digital practice looking up from its operational focus, and looking out to the bigger social goals which it needs to serve. (Parry, 2018)
  12. 12. Traditional Digital Model vs. Digital Social Innovation (DSI) Model • Objective/Mission Traditional: The core mission of digital is to increase engagement with and accessibility of museum collections in-gallery and online. This objective is a contribution to the social outcomes of museums. DSI: The core mission of digital is to identify the social, cultural, and environment issues that concern the community we aspire to serve and utilize the museum’s collections, expertise, digital resources as well as internal and external collaborations, to introduce possible solutions.
  13. 13. Traditional Digital Model vs. Digital Social Innovation (DSI) Model • Personnel: Traditional: Members of the digital team are regarded as skilled technologists whose responsibilities are to make sure all of our technologies (website, social media platforms, in-gallery interactives, etc.) run smoothly. DSI: Members of the digital team are regarded as social innovators who (besides their traditional responsibilities) work closely with members of the community (individuals and organizations) to contribute to its well- being: socially, culturally, and environmentally.
  14. 14. Traditional Digital Model vs. Digital Social Innovation (DSI) Model • Evaluation/Impact: Traditional: The success of the digital project is measured by the number of users, clicks, downloads, interactions, etc. DSI: The success of the digital project is measured by the social value created in the community and how this social value has contributed to a more just, equitable, and inclusive community.
  15. 15. Traditional Digital Model vs. Digital Social Innovation (DSI) • Technology and Innovation: Traditional: The early adoption of new and emerging technology in our work will make us leaders and innovative in the museum sector. DSI: Creating measurable and sustainable social value, and improving the well-being of our communities, are the focus of our work, regardless of the sophistication of the technology used in our projects. That approach will make us innovative in the museum sector.
  16. 16. Challenges to Adopting DSI in Museums • Challenge 1: Change: Adopting DSI requires substantial change in the museum’s organizational structure, how museums regard their employees and the perceived role of museums in society. These changes are hard to implement. • Response: Museums have changed before and will continue to reinvent themselves to meet the new challenges. Although change is hard, it is necessary so museums can continue to maintain their relevance and viability as civic and cultural institutions.
  17. 17. Challenges to Adopting DSI in Museums • Challenge 2: Scope of Work: Museums are experts in exhibiting, preserving, and interpreting their collections. DSI framework is out of the scope of these functions, which makes it appear unfitting to museum work. • Response: So as organizing galas, running gift shops and restaurants, and coordinating concerts. If museums are serious about assuming their responsibility as agents for social change, they should look at the DSI framework with great interest and excitement.
  18. 18. Challenges to Adopting DSI in Museums • Challenge 3: Funding and Capacity: Many museums are underfunded and understaffed. As a result, museums do not have the financial resources nor the capacity to adopt the DSI model. • Response: The ability of museums to attract funding is based on how philanthropists, governmental agencies and the community at large perceive their social impact. Adopting the DSI model will dramatically improve the social impact of museums, which helps them attract traditional and new sources of funding.
  19. 19. Challenges to Adopting DSI in Museums • Challenge 3: Doubt and Skepticism: Museums do not have the expertise to tackle complex social and environmental issues such as climate change, immigration, and racial and economic inequality. • Response: But they say they do and are interested in making a difference. The issue is museums may have to get out of their comfort zones and seek innovative approaches to execute their missions.
  20. 20. Conclusion • DSI framework helps unlock and free the creative minds in many museums worldwide to present genuine innovations that can potentially transform communities and improve lives. • Paradigmatic shift that releases digital from the constraints imposed by the traditional digital model that revolves around casual engagement with museum collections and entertainment-education
  21. 21. Thank you!