woensdag 5 juni 2013

new blog on new website/this blog is closed! (5 June 2013)

I did it! I created my own new website using Wordpress so that I can maintain it myself. Jihaaa! And thus this blog as of today will no longer be maintained, in stead please refer to www.mk5060.com where you will find the new blog which is integrated in the new site. I will continue the blog mainly in Dutch but no worries: I put a translator plug in in, so although you will undoubtedly get some truly comical translations through Google Translate I am confident that you will still be able to keep in touch, get the drift and the likes:-) All blog posts from this blog have been imported in my new blog. See you soon on www.mk5060.com!

maandag 3 juni 2013

Leiden unconference

The first European Science Communication Unconference

I am not keeping this blog up to date as I am working on a new website. But some things are just too good to not mention. That thing is the Science Communication Unconference that was organised in Leiden last Thursday. A true, well organized unconference. Why I thought it was great? Because of the starting point: everybody has knowledge and experience that is worth sharing, that is part of the conversation. Because of the organization: from the dinner served to the badges, from the participants to the welcome, the entire conference was one. Because of the people I met: everything was done to lower the trehsholds for conversation. And for me, it worked. I truly  met new people. Everybody was open to meeting everybody regardless of affiliation, position and status. Because of the new things I learned about data journalism, about scientists making reporting easier, about story telling in science, about the day to day work of a lot of people. Because of the aha! moments when people shared their experiences with organizing blogs in an organisation, with trying to reshape science communications and with finding ways to get attention for scientific topics that are not intrinsically "sexy" but should nevertheless be brought to the public's attention. Because of the honest fun we created together in an instant. Because....because...because....in short: I learned a lot and had a whale of a time.

Whereas I can usually come home from a conference exhausted this time I came home at 10 PM completely energized and filled with new ideas. Wauw. So yes, I'd say: we have a lift off for this Science Communication Unconference!

For an impression of all of us who attended: search on twitter using #scio071 Enjoy!

woensdag 13 februari 2013

Education, ethics, museums: going to Denmark!

I finally did it! In 2008 I got my M.A. in Applied Ethics at Utrecht University with a thesis on Moral considerations in cross cultural museum education. For ethicists that is a rather eccentric topic, but it was and is a topic that is precisely at the cross roads of a number of fields of knowledge that happen to have my profound attention: education, ethics, working with knowledge professionals. And now I finally, finally gathered the courage to actually DO something with the knowledge gathered in this thesis: I wrote a proposal for a paper or roundtable session (that is yet to be decided) for the Inclusive Museum conference 22-24 April in Copenhagen, Denmark. Low and behold, it got accepted. So here we go: meet you in Denmark in April and I cannot wait!
The proposal:
Museums are defining themselves increasingly as educational institutions. As an ethicist I think that education is intrinsically value laden. Museums nowadays use their body of knowledge and collections to construct educational experiences whereby entertainment and education go hand in hand. Thus the moral considerations of the museum professionals deserve explicit attention and reflection. Museums are essentially mediated “things”. That might touch the visitor deeply, might enhance profound understanding of a subject. Whatever it moves in the visitor, is whatever the museum has designed. How does the museum choose what the visitor should experience? Where does what the museum offers stop and where does your own thinking and researching start? Is there such a thing as a proper balance between entertainment and education? To what extent are museums actually autonomous in the shaping of their education? In other words: to what extent is the educational message of museums a reflection of the political landscape and financial incentives? Focusing specifically on the theme of entertainment and education I will discuss the findings and considerations coming from my practice based research and why I think that, if you are serious about inclusive museums, the ethical code of museums should be broadened to include education. 

donderdag 31 januari 2013

Conference formats: connecting comfort and innovation


Words that are more often than not at the core of a briefing for a conference, workshop, event or get together of some form. In the operationalisation more of than not the mismatch between the briefing and the actual get-together is clear: a speaker is put on stage in a plenary programme talking about something innovative with a flashy ppt or prezi or even a movie behind him (apologies, but usually it's a him:-)). Then for the interaction bit mics are on the floor and questions can be asked to the speaker and there are workshops where guests meet around a table.

It's a common format. With the occasional unconference thrown in. But does it work? Is this the best we can do? Do we dare to totally rethink and recreate conferences. Without being so innovative and off the charts that the guests feel uncomfortable. Can we create something innovation in get-togethers? I notice I am looking more and more to create a get together that really allows people to meet, to be immersed in innovation, to experience innovation....a form and content that actually totally breathes the subject through all its aspects. Where form and content totally strengthen each other. Talking about it with a.o. Maarten van der Sanden we concluded that the analogy for the format I'm after is that of the fish swimming against the current to get oxygen in. The water is the comfort, the "rubbing" of the current against the gills resulting in oxygen in the body. The total package resulting in vigorous swimming. And - more philosophically - the fish being totally fish.

The challenge is to develop a total concept that simultaneously allows guests to learn, to meet, to exchange ideas whilst being immersed. While being challenged. Challenged to question. Question their own ideas and those of others. Challenged to go where they fear to go, to think through and beyond existing conditions, boundaries and barriers. Not in the sense of day dreaming, but in the sense of exploring and through exploring creating new horizons. Something that offers the intimacy needed for those more shy to participate. So in short: a format that creates tension whilst at the same time offering the comfort that is so much needed if you want people to connect and learn. And learning, that is what I am interested in. Formal, informal, non-formal or under another denominator. True, productive meetings of minds, hearts and souls.

Do you recognise any of this? Do you have any ideas? Please do share them! Because as I start discussing this with colleagues and clients it turns out that this search is not mine alone. Many are thinking about this, struggling with it and trying to come up with something. So please share!

donderdag 10 januari 2013

Moving the army museum

The Army museum in Delft is closed. Officially now. They will be moving to Soesterberg to form - together with other army related museums - a national army museum. In a completely new buidling. The goodbye ceremony was impressive I found and well orchestrated. Literally! Because a full orchestra played pieces, there was singing, speeches and a full, really totally full Old Church in Delft. The walk from the church to the - by now - old location of the Army Museum  I found impressive.

One of the speeches in the ceremony highlighted the future vision of the museum with appealing images. The collection will no doubt be beautifully displayed. The museum I hope will become and remain a meeting place for all those interested and involved with the history of the Dutch army. I would also fervently hope that the museum will further it's efforts in the field of dialogue on issues related to army and warfare. Dialogue e.g. on the responsibility of a society for the behaviour of its army in war. Dialogue like the one we organised between young adults from the German school and a Dutch gymnasium regarding the Dutch-German relations in the framework of the exhibition Fremde im Visier. Dailogue on the concept of just war. Dialogue on what it really feels like to be at war, something that in the "old" museum was so pointedly displayed in the dilemma room. And so on and so forth. The assembly of army related museums that will form the new national army museum would I think be THE place to initiate, host and fuel the public debate on these issues and I wholeheartedly hope that they will take up this role! But for now: congratulations to the staff on the fab organisation of the event and good luck on the process of building and moving to the new museum!

woensdag 9 januari 2013

Inspiration for cultural entrepreneurs

Thanks to my other half I watched this documentary on the quintesentially Dutch warehouse HEMA. It tells the story of HEMA's international entrepreneurial activities, the downfalls, the changes for the personnel and the collection. In addition to the always inspiring journey on the road of entrepreneurship what struck a cord in me is the constant iterative process between management annex strategy and operations annex the day-to-day running of the store. The way they at least make a conscious effort to stay in touch with those day to day operations. Watch how management - who at that point in time is also involved in complex strategical expansion options in fields further away - runs the best running HEMA store in The Netherlands for a day. The dynamics between those primarily concerned with strategy and expansion in their daily work and those primarily concerned with sales in their daily work I think is inspiring for both knowledge driven and cultural institutions now finding themselves on the road to furthering their own entrepreneurship.

dinsdag 18 december 2012

Live where you fear to live in 2013!

We thought this picture taken in the ever beautiful cathedral of Vezelay, Bourgogne is a suitable background for our best wishes for the New Year. 2012 saw me exploring new roads with great clients such as Legermuseum, Europeana, KNAW, NCWT, the Science Learning Center of NCWT and others. Looking back on 2012 I tought: what a trailblazer of a year! Let's keep that up for 2013. Together. As a team. To create something new, something wonderful, to live the excitement of exploration in projects where don't quite know how to achieve our vision....but will manage to do so! I can't wait to meet you soon and to get started. But first things first so for now: happy holidays!