My good friend Andrea tapped me with this meme. So, curl up with your favorite cup of cocoa or tea and I tell you where I was…

One year ago I was finding my blog voice. At SXSWi 2005, I saw the power of social computing in action through blogs, flickr, delicious, etc. On 3/17/2005 I made my first post to and wondered if I had what it takes to really be a blogger. My boss suggested that I just had a passing infatuation with blogs…to which I now say, with over a year’s worth of experience… my love of blogs is real.

Five years ago
I had re-envisioned my career and my life…sketching out on paper how I wanted to live my life. And thanks to the wonderful support of my friends, family and spiritual director, I was able to turn my vision into reality. I helped my parents move to a wonderful new home nearby, I reduced my work hours to part-time so I could spend more quality time with my boys, and I found a job that let me explore my potential and really make a difference.

Ten years ago
I had finally become a mother, after years of broken dreams and heartache. My arms were finally full and my life was bursting at the seams. Wife, Mother, HRIS Manager, Daughter, Friend, Me….so many hats….and in stepped Mary Steinhardt, my instructor for “Seven Habits for Highly Effective People”. I still carry the cards in my portfolio from the lessons I learned that week.

Funny, how so many people groan when they get a meme. Guess I’m just different. I enjoy the chance to get to know my virtual and physical friends better while taking a moment for personal reflection (or just downright silliness).

So, let me pick 3 of my very dearest friends to pass this baton to:

Time to party with your css off! It is the Annual CSS Naked Day! Web standards lovers everywhere have stripped their css off today to flaunt their <body>.

And while I was a little bit late to the party…I couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw my css aside for the rest o’ the day.

Hmmmmm….would someone pass the sunscreen please?

Museums and the Web is one of my favorite conferences because it combines three of my passions: art, creative thinking and technology. What makes this conference especially rich is the requirement for all presenters to write a 5000 word research paper prior to the conference. The ability for me to read a paper before the presentation gives me the opportunity to ask meaningful questions and dig deep into the issues.

Here are some highlights of my learning moments this year at Museums and the Web 2006.

Future Trends:

Ten Years On:  Hopes, Fears, Preditions and Gambles for UK Museums On-line – Jemima Rellie, Tate.

Jemima’s presentation took us back through significant web developments in UK Museums over the past ten years.  Achievements made possible through grant funding projects have included the Tate’s digitizing of their entire collection of over 65,000 works (see Tate Online Collection ). 

I was most impressed with the National Gallery’s Create Your Own series of cards, calendars and prints and how it integrated with the online gallery.  Only problem I ran into was finding works of art that I would be allowed to use to make a print/postcard/calendar.  With the small enhancement of teaching the gallery to only show the “make your own” link for images that are approved for this process…this “Create Your Own” feature will be irresistible.  (See National Gallery’s Create Your Own )

Looking towards the future, we should all think digital in everything we do.  "Content created within the organization should be destined for on-line distrubtion as well as put to other intended use.  Museums are now in the business of collecting not just objects, but also digitizing content."

We also need to create intuitive and inspiring discovery tools that help our users find what they are looking for, or discover gems they would have missed.  And the time has come to incorporate Web 2.0 principles in our sites.  The web is no longer a one-way medium.  We must create engaging interactive sites that incorporate RSS (like the 24 Hour Museum ), tagging (like steve.musuem and Cleveland Museum of Art (see ‘help others find me” ) and user provided content (like SFMOMA’s artcast invitational)


Artcasting at SFMOMA: First Year Lessons, Future Challenges for Museum Podcasters – Peter Samis and Stephanie Pau

This presentation and paper by SFMOMA is what this conference is all about.  It is a chronicle of their experience and lessons learned, and a recipe for any of us to review and adapt to our own needs, as we explore podcasting in our own museums. 

I’m very excited about SFMOMA’s artcast invitational where they encourage the general public to submit their own carefully composed podcasts where “Winning entries will be selected by a jury comprised of SFMOMA staffers and a guest artist. Ingenuity, veracity, and an original point of view are all taken into consideration. Selected podcasts will be featured in monthly SFMOMA Artcast installments beginning summer 2006.”

And if you really want to feel the power of podcasts created by someone outside the museum community…download SFMOMA’s Artcast from Feb 2006 and listen to JT Leroy.  Fast forward to 6 minutes and 25 seconds and listen for at least 3 minutes …and let the power of JT’s storytelling tear down the baracades to the museum and help you find a way in.  Simply amazing!

I was especially grateful for the 5th myths of podcasting:

  1. Myth – Visitors will be able to bring in their iPods and sych them to a docking station.
  2. Myth – Podcasts behave the same way as audio tours and can supplant them at a fraction of the cost.
  3. Myth  – Many museums have launched their podcast programs by repurposing content they already own.
  4. Myth  – Since iPods play MP3 files, they are compatible with each other and all MPS players, regardless of generation.
  5. Myth  – We no longer need to hire an audio tour production company because podcasts lower the bar so we can produce our own.

For the scoop on why these are myths…head to their research paper at Artcasting at SFMOMA: First Year Lessons, Future Challenges for Museum Podcasters – Peter Samis and Stephanie Pau


Blogs were big this year at Museums and the Web.  UBC Botanical Garden’s Botany Photo of the Day is an excellent example of  content written in a personal voice (as opposed to an institional voice) with the opportunity for user contribution.  To allow users to submit photos for consideration, a Flickr Group as been established at.   The site is clearly achiveiving its goals of

  1. Promoting UBC Botanical Garden
  2. Creating completing content constantly
  3. Meaningful user contributions
  4. Enriching and Educating the public on Botany

And the big winner of the Best of the Web was the Science Buzz Blog by Bryan Kennedy. His creative use of blogs to engage students in science is really working!

Oooooo….how I want to start an art work of the week blog (as soon as I find a spare minute).

Tagging  An ongoing experiment in social tagging, folksonomy, and museums

By far, the most exciting presentation of the conference for me was the a collaborative research project by The Cleveland Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Rubin Museum of Art and SFMOMA.

 This project is all about improving findability of museum objects through user contributions.  For anyone who has experienced the amazing phenomenon of flickr tagging, the value of allowing users to tag art they way they see it is an obvious next step.  The trick is designing an experience that is intrinsically motivating to users, creating an appropriate interface, ensuring moderation when needed and building the bridge between folksonomy and taxonomy. 

How do you bridge folksonomy and taxonomy?  Why, a thesaurus, of course!  I was surprised by the simplicity of the answer.  Using tools like wordnet, we can create a semantic web based on a relational thesaurus.  And while I still believe we will always need brilliant human minds reviewing the emerging patterns and connections between folksonomy and taxonomy…wordnet is a fabulous starting point

Check out the cataloguing prototype.  The Cleveland Museum of Art has already integrated this concept into their Cleveland Museum Online Gallery (see ‘help others find me”). 

The steve project is just the kind of collaborative brainpower that makes Museums and the Web such a stimulating conference.  Really bright people taking museums to the next level. 

Best of the Web

I just have to share two inspiring examples from the best of Museums and the Web

My Goals:

At the end of a really good conference, I always leave with a list of things to do, so here is my list from MW2006:

  1. Think digital – Remember to preserve the story about the art.
  2. Tagging/User Contribution – Enrich our online image gallery with tagging using the model.
  3. Blogging/User Contribution – Create a blogging opportunity that inspires YOU to spend more time looking, thinking, talking and blogging about art!
  4. Read The Art of Innovation and Thoughtless Acts? : Observations on Intuitive Design Thanks for inspiring me to read these Kevin!

Underlying Theme to my MW2006 Goals – Making the museum, my museum!

I’ve just been tagged by the ever so entertaining and accessible Bruce Lawson with the Four Things Meme. Considering Bruce was tagged by the driver of the love bus full of hippies, I find this request impossible to resist. So here goes:

Four jobs I’ve had in my life

  • Grid Girl – lining up cars prior to races and checking the driver’s safety equipment
  • Resident Assistant in Blanton Dorm
  • Manager Human Resources Information Systems
  • Self-appointed accessibility goddess

Four movies I can watch over and over

  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Henry V (with Kenneth Branagh)
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Princess Bride

Four places I have lived

  • Houston, Texas
  • Odessa, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • My Imagination

Four TV shows I love to watch

hmmmm, this is a hard one for me, I practically gave up TV for blogging

  • Rose Bowl
  • Tour de France
  • Clean Sweep
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Four places I have been on vacation

  • Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
  • Taos, New Mexico
  • Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
  • London

Four of my favourite dishes

  • Chili Rellenos at Tomasita’s in Santa Fe
  • Mezza Plate at Armen’s (Hummus, dolma, baba ganoush, oliveh and pita)
  • frozen Girl Scout Thin Mint CookiesBananas Foster
  • Rosemary Garlic Roasted Pork Loin oh Curtis, come cook for me!

Four websites I visit daily

Four places I would rather be right now

  • Grecotel Mykonos Blu, Mykonos, Greece
  • Walking the labyrinth at Chartres
  • Boston in the Fall with my dear friend Meesh
  • In a MoMA on a backstage tour with a cool curator

Four bloggers I am tagging

Are you a presenter? Do you teach classes? Get ready to think about how your presentation will work as a live webcast or podcast. While your primary focus will be the audience in the room with you, we need to start thinking about our virtual audiences too. Podcasts and webcasts further the reach of our presentations, eliminating the barriers of distance and travel expenses.

I have presented via live webcast more times than I can count. I’m used to thinking about the “folks out there” watching from the comfort of their work space.

Speaker Guidelines for a Quality Webcast:

  1. Wardrobe – Avoid wearing white shirts or striped shirts with white, because they reflect light and makes for washed out videos.
  2. Microphone – Wear lapel microphone for good audio.
  3. Repeat Questions – Repeat audience questions for the benefit of the webcast.
  4. Stay on Camera – Try not to roam off camera (check with the camera operator for guidance).
  5. Say URLs – If you browse to web pages during your presentation, say the URL out loud.
  6. Resolution/Font Size – Develop your visual presentation with your monitor set to a resolution of 640 by 480. Font should be 20 point or better for clarity on live feeds.
  7. Downloadable Visual Presentations – If you have prepared visuals it would be helpful to provide them before the event so they can be available for downloading by your virtual audience.
  8. Audience Questions via Instant Messaging – Consider a way for your virtual audience to ask questions during the presentation via instant message.

To date, I’ve only had my presentation podcast once…but I’m sensing a trend and want to start thinking about how to improve the quality of a podcast. So here are my first ideas on this topic:

Speaker Guidelines for a Quality Podcast:

  1. Microphone – Wear lapel microphone for quality audio.
  2. Point & Describe – Do you often point at something on the screen and say “this” during your presentation? For your audio only audience, “this” is completely out of context. Whenever you point, remember to briefly describe what you are pointing to.
  3. Repeat Questions – Repeat audience questions for the benefit of the podcast.
  4. Say URLs – If you browse to web pages during your presentation, say the URL out loud.
  5. Downloadable Visual Presentation – If you have prepared visuals it would be helpful to provide them before the event so they can be available for downloading by your virtual audience.
  6. Audience Questions via Instant Messaging – Consider a way for your virtual audience to ask questions during the presentation via instant message.

Webcast/Podcast Advocate – assign someone in your live audience to serve as the webcast/podcast advocate. Their mission is to make sure you (the presenter) follow the guidelines for quality webcasts/podcasts. The advocate might even want to have a reminder card in their hands that says:

  • Point & Describe
  • Repeat Questions
  • Say URLs

If you are podcasting, you could ask your “advocate” to close their eyes while they listen to your live presentation. For fun, you could even make a bet with your webcast/podcast advocate. Perhaps a beverage of their choice for each time they catch you out of compliance with the quality webcast/podcast guidelines!

Now I’m off to download another podcast from Web Essentials 05. Mmmmm, who to listen to next? So many delicious choices. Who knew that web standards would get as much air time on my ipod as music?

Now, I need your help. What ideas do you have for improving the quality of webcasts and podcasts.

I’ve finally found some podcasts that I want to listen to. The recent Web Essential 05 Conference down in Sydney, Australia has been so kind as to create podcasts for the sessions. Yum! While I would have preferred to actually be in Australia, these podcasts did let me virtually attend.

I had to listen to Derek Featherstone‘s Designing for Accessibility – Beyond the Basics. It was interesting listening to a podcast on accessibility, which in essence was like attending his session blind. I’m still drooling over his accessible crossword puzzle and I haven’t even seen it yet. Ooooo D, you are truly a css samurai.

Next, I listened to Molly’s keynote. I still have goosebumps! Talk about inspirational. Molly’s vision for Web 2.0 is profound. While I was listening to her speak, I saw the image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need in my head

Quote from Envision on Maslow

Self-actualization is the summit of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the quest of reaching one’s full potential as a person. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.

Self-actualized people tend to have needs such as:

  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Wisdom
  • Meaning

Self-actualized persons have frequent occurrences of peak experiences, which are energized moments of profound happiness and harmony. According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self-actualization.

What if, the purpose of the internet is to make self-actualization a possibility for everyone? I mean, why not? Why can’t everyone reach their potential?

Lucky for Texas and Lousiana, Rita downgraded herself to a Category 3. She still caused plenty of damage and heartache. But Houston faired well. And Austin hasn’t even had rain!

Austin is hosting over 17,000 people who were able to evacuate. The tales of people just trying to get out of Houston will make your stomache ache. None of my friends ever made it out of the Houston area.

You can read a first hand account of trying to evacuate Houston from one of my best friends on her blog “news from outside the asylum

Now I just pray that when the next category 5 hurricane comes barreling our way that we learned enough from Rita and Katrina to keep everyone as safe as possible. Kudos to all the amazing folks who have helped people get to safety and out of the path of this storm.

Friends still stuck in Houston, but at least Lindsey is out of the Emergency Room. They’ve been trying to get out of town for over 12 hours now. Text messaging on phones proves to be an effective way to communicate. My text messaging skills are definately improving today.

How I wish our mobile phones already had GPS tracking. Even in weather disasters like hurricanes, satellites could still communicate with our GPS devices as soon as the cloud cover clears. Once the satellites sees you, they could relay your location to a central tracking map. Why is this important? Friends and family want to know where you are! Okay, so your loved ones would know where your phone is…but at least that is better than not having any clues. Yes, yes, yes, you would have the ability to “cloak” your location whenever you wanted.

Time to get back to the maps. My mapmaker/navigator husband is mapping alternate routes for my friends to find a way out of Houston. Lookin’ for country roads to bring my friends home.

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