2013: a (crowdsourced) digest

Yikes! Just a week before Christmas! Time for the obligatory “year in review” reflection pieces. What are the things that got everyone talking in 2013?

Rather than rely on just my own recollections, I put a call out over social media for people to nominate their blog posts or articles of the year – either their favourites or the most-read posts on their own blogs. As well as helping to jog my own memory, it’s a chance to get different perspectives on what caught the zeitgeist this year, as well as to catch up on things I might have missed the first time around.* It also makes a good holiday reading list.

Although I put out requests on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the most responses by far were from the Twitter community (make of that what you will). So, in no particular order:

Nominated by @SebChan:

– Cooper Hewitt labs “B” is for Beta on the beta version of their collections website

Planetary: the collection of code as a living object

– Embracing human imperfections and incompleteness through “institutional wabi sabi”

Nominated by @alli_burnie:

Reacting to Objects: Mindfulness, Tech and Emotion

The Value of the Local or Does Size Matter?

Flip Flopping Art History

Nominated by @NateLandon:

– Cathy Bell on The View from Behind the Locked Gate: The Government Shutdown and the National Parks

Destroying a place does not create a desert from the Slow Water Movement

Nominated by @ERodley:

– This excellent response to the debate triggered by the New York Times article “High Culture Goes Hands On” (which seemed to dominate online discussion through the month of August while I was in the US).

– Review of Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One

– 2013 was also the year that Drinking About Museums seemed to gather more momentum (I was lucky to attend two while in the US – one in Boston and one in DC, and I know a few more Australian ones started out this year)

Nominated by Nigel Briggs (via LinkedIn)

– The BubblePlan exhibition design Tumblr blog.

A confession – I’ve had a Tumblr account for over three years, but I’ve never used it. I find the format of it confusing – at first I tried to use it as a blogging platform and gave up in exasperation. But just over the past few days I’ve started to look at it again and am considering giving it another go. Any suggestions for getting the most out of Tumblr would be welcome!

Nominated by @Mia_out:

Open objects: new challenges in digital history was her most-read post this year.

– Mia also offered a general commentary on 2013 trends:

crowdsourcing, huge increase in tablet use on collections sites, and the on-going clash between museums’ established ways of producing exhibitions, galleries, and webby ways of working. And of course people are still obsessed with digital strategy/everything else strategy and games in museums.

Nominated by Cobi Smith (via Facebook):

Cobi reminded me of this “saw this and thought of you” link she tweeted me on informed consent issues associated with visitor research. A fitting one to include for this 2013, as the first half of this year is when I collected the lion’s share of my visitor data for my PhD.

Nominated by @Gretchjenn:

There was a lot of discussion around empathy this year. It was something that Gretchen and I both wrote about from a museum and interpretation perspective, and then started to see in all sorts of other places.

Empathetic museum pop-up

Empathy and institutional body language

Seeing empathy in other places

In the same vein, my posts interpretive empathy and empathic design were among the most popular pages on my blog this year.

In closing, I’ll share this video that @MuseumsAskew forwarded about the difference between empathy and sympathy. Good food for thought for anyone who finds themselves needing to provide emotional support to friends and relatives over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone and see you in 2014!

*I should confess: this is also a lazy way to get at least one blog post out this month when most of my time and energies have been consumed with either thesis writing or home renovations (More of the latter than the former, to be honest). Nonetheless, finishing the thesis will be the main goal for me in 2014. (Oh, and I’ll also be getting married. But that doesn’t require anywhere near as much preparation!)