To begin with, I began writing this blog post almost two hours ago. While going over my notes and trying to assemble a rough outline of ideas to discuss, I realized that I wanted to reference some ideas from various Twitter accounts… a practice that sent me slowly down the rabbit hole of “similar accounts”, attempting to learn how to tweet at someone, obsessing over the curation of my own account, and feeling very self-concious of my twitter game (or lack thereof).
Part two of the distraction came when my Dad came into the room to show me his new Amazon echo, used it to turn on Mumford and Sons radio, and then left the room…I was left alone to figure out how to turn the thing off. ((So no one else will have to suffer as I have: You HAVE to talk to it. There is no off button. If you tell it to never play Mumford and Sons again it will continue to play Mumford and Sons until you feel like your ears might start bleeding.))
Back to the point…Mark B. Schlemmer came to talk to us last week!! (which was what prompted the repurposing and obsessive analysis of my twitter account)
Mark is the associate registrar for collections at the New York Historical Museum & Library. He’s also the creator of @iTweetMuseums (or #iTweetMuseums).
@iTweetMuseums is in its fourth year of operation, it is non-affiliated, and it is open to all museum staff for participation. It was originally started as a way to encourage museum staff members to utilize twitter as a way of giving patrons and other museum nerds a behind the scenes view of museum life. Mark wanted to encourage the use of social media in a positive and interesting way. The project has since evolved into many different facets including scheduled discussions, various hashtags for specific topics, “community” events, and workshops for museum staff to encourage the use of twitter and social media.
I am admittedly averse to the use of social media. I struggle with the idea that anyone could find what I have to say that interesting (it often feels like yelling into a void, or continuously blowing up the bubble), but I found Mark’s ideas on professional development, gaining job skills, peer networking, increasing visibility, and culture sharing to be very thought provoking. Twitter has often felt too fast paced for me. The speed at which people are sharing and responding to information happens before I can think of something to say, and I always wind up feeling like I am showing up late to the party.
Mark’s reasoning left me feeling like using twitter was not only possible, but necessary. In the last week I’ve taken time to try to engage with other twitter users, and to pay better attention to what organizations that I admire are discussing. Following #iTweetMuseums has been incredibly helpful in identifying various organizations that I would hope to work with or for. It has also been incredibly inspiring, in light of our recent election, to see responses from museum staff regarding the state of our union, and the ways that we can continue to promote civil rights and provide safe spaces. I have always been a firm believer that museums and libraries are radical places, and I am feeling more proud than ever to be entering into this as a profession.
I am still struggling with knowing exactly what things to post about, or how to gain followers. I am assuming this comes with time, as I’ve discovered in the use of my Instagram account. I am a very visual person and curating my Instagram has been easy, but finding my voice in twitter has been a little difficult. My go to is usually banal, sarcastic, or quipy remarks, but those don’t usually pertain to my desired occupation… unless I should reconsider and become a comedian? I do find that retweeting is a nice way of adding to a curated list of things that I find meaningful, but I wonder how much visibility that actually gets? I guess these questions are all answered with time as well.
We had been asked to identify two social media feeds that we follow and find interesting, but ran out of time in class to discuss them. Since finding my new found footing in the world of twitter, I wanted to take some blog space to discuss an organization that I had chosen on my preferred form of social media, Instagram. (although…now that they’ve changed their formatting I am feeling apprehensive… but that’s for another day).
Pioneer Works is a gallery, studio, and residency space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Their space facilitates showings, community events, discussions, dinners, on and on. While a majority of their events are planned well in advance, every once in a while something spontaneous will come up and I’ve really valued that they disseminate that information through their Instagram feed. When it comes to planned events, I can be incredibly forgetful. Unless I buy a ticket, I often get caught up in the day or am sidetracked by whatever is in front of me at the moment, and I often miss out on things that I had wanted to participate in. I really appreciate that they post reminders for events, and, from an aesthetic perspective, curate their photos to have a certain style or quality so that it is easy to recognize them without having to look at the name on the profile. The image of their physical space and their style directly translates through this form of social media, and gives people a very good idea of what to expect when visiting the space.
I am very interested to hear what Monica Montgomery has to say next week about social media and voice, as I know she is an active twitter user. I would also be curious to hear about what other social media feeds people feel drawn to, and why? Are there feeds that you follow that you feel could do a better job of exercising a styled voice? Are there feeds that you feel like do an excellent job of showcasing their aesthetic?