Digital publishing for museums #mwa2013

Here’s my (very) quick notes from the digital publishing session facilitated by Susan Chun (@schun)

  • The conventions of navigating books are not the same as online. Reading books is intuitive, reading online is not necessarily so.
  • There are many authoring tools developed outside of museums that are easy to learn and use.
  • Museums should strive to publish content that is worthy of being “loved” (enduring and meaningful over time)
  • What is digital publishing? Encompasses everything from websites, social media, apps/mobile/kiosks, e-pubs, online scholarly publications, aggregations, distribution of raw data.
  • The heart of digital publishing is content – the platform comes later.

Digital publishing

  • THEN: responsible for content creation (authoring, editing, fact checking, rights clearance) and design and production; but not responsible for: distribution (usually) or market research (for the most part).
  • NOW: Still responsible for content creation (authoring, editing, fact checking, rights) and production and (sometimes) design; but also distribution, interaction, recreation and reuse, and for situating content in a larger network of knowledge. Lots of publications are in spaces where we invite conversation.
  • Now we can ask what is it we want to publish and how – the tools are there, we just need to think first about the WHY.

“We’re still content generators, that’s at the heart of what we do. But the way people, receive (our content) and participate has changed” Kaywon Feldman, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Impacts of Digital publishing

  • Increasing number of authors and content creators within and outside the institution (and across the museum, at all levels)
  • Curators used to be the voice – now it a can be anyone in the organisation
  • Need new organisational structures, clustering of tasks and skills, as well as appearance of new (job) titles and hierarchies
  • Can’t silo digital and print – they need to be together, in five years’ time that won’t be the case
  • New workflows and methods
  • New cycle of revision sets up the expectation of always-fresh content
  • Layered instead of linear navigation in digital resources can mean the loss of strong voice, point of view
  • Linking is important
  • Multimedia publishing is here now, with content types (text, images, video) mixed together in digital publications
  • Museums still grapple with choosing the best platform for publications – print only, print and digital, print plus digital
  • Repurposing, for the most part, is more a concept than a reality

Production tools

But, I only wanted to know how to just change a magazine (for example) to be read on a digital device… Thankfully someone suggested trying yudu (especially if you don’t have the in-house expertise and resource to do it yourself). So that’s a start!


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