Remember my post on Social Change? We’ve been evaluating our digital projects with a careful eye toward what’s working and what isn’t. At this juncture, we’re making sometimes difficult choices because we are on the road to coding a large scale digital project (more on this soon) and we need to streamline in order to allocate our small staff toward this substantial new initiative.
Every project takes time and energy both to create and maintain over time. As we evaluate we consider several factors: institutional goals, comparative engagement metrics across many projects, and a careful look at what’s going on within any given offering.
As of today, we are retiring the Brooklyn Museum Posse along with our tagging games, Tag! You’re It and Freeze Tag. The decision to pull these activities was difficult because we fully believe in how important tagging is to the health of our collection online. After all, one person’s “landscape” may be another person’s “tree,” and all of these terms help make our objects discoverable online. As invested as we were in the program…
When we started seeing the above, we began asking ourselves who we were engaging. If our institutional mission centers around community with the aim to engage a broad audience, are the Posse and our tagging games doing that effectively? No…
So, we faced a bit of a conundrum. We know tagging is incredibly valuable, but our statistics were showing that we had a small audience for it and, in addition, that audience was more one of insiders than the general public. If tagging is meant to democratize collections by applying everyday words instead of specialized ones, you have to wonder how much traction we were getting if the majority of tags were coming from specialized voices. That insider aspect is pretty interesting…
At this point it was pretty clear that tagging wasn’t working on many levels, but why not keep these activities around in the hopes that some data is better than none? Well, tagging isn’t gone from our site totally and you can still add and delete tags from any object page. What’s gone is the technical overhead that is required for signing in, creating a profile that attributes your tags to your identity, and the games. We decided we needed to eliminate the games because we have to allocate the limited resources of our staff carefully. We simply had to acknowledge this was not working well enough to keep the staff time going.
This was not a decision we took lightly especially given this a program that we hold dearly and are known for; it took us months of wrangling before concluding this was the route. The path, however, comes with the learning there’s a better way for our community to contribute to our web presence and this is something you’ll be hearing about very soon.
Shelley Bernstein is the former Vice Director of Digital Engagement & Technology at the Brooklyn Museum where she spearheaded digital projects with public participation at their center. In the most recent example—ASK Brooklyn Museum—visitors ask questions using their mobile devices and experts answer in real time. She organized three award-winning projects—Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, Split Second: Indian Paintings, GO: a community-curated open studio project—which enabled the public to participate in the exhibition process.
Shelley was named one of the 40 Under 40 in Crain's New York Business and her work on the Museum's digital strategy has been featured in the New York Times.
In 2016, Shelley joined the staff at the Barnes Foundation as the Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer.