Sometimes creating in the digital heritage space can feel lonely, if not thankless. It has always been challenging but it has been especially true in the COVID era. Virtual meetings have been a coping mechanism, but there’s nothing like being in the same room together while the ideas flow. As we seek to find a way to connect with one another again, I thought I’d share some tips and models you can use to bring like-minded digital folks together where you are, whether it be virtual or in person.
I’ll start with a few models that are currently out there, and then go into the idea surrounding a model that I specifically developed.
- Wiki Salon: Folks in the Wiki space are holding Wiki Salons. As of this writing they are mostly virtually through Zoom. These usually present a theme for creating or editing articles in Wikipedia and The Commons. Here’s an event listing from a New York group and a Philadelphia group. Here are general instructions on holding a Wiki meetup.
- THATCamp: The Humanities and Technology Camp. This was inspired by the old BarCamp concept. Sadly, the organization behind THATCamp has died. However, the concept behind still exists on the old site.
- CodeforAmerica is back and holding hybrid virtual/in-person meetings. This is the big one, that seeks out ways to make government work better through meaningful presentations of data and development of useful digital tools. They have a summit scheduled in May 2022. There are also regional groups in cities across the U.S., though most seem to be on hiatus.
- Also in Philly, there’s a Maker’s Meetup that is about 3D printing+++ .
- Other digital humanities groups on Meetup.com.
The GLAM Café Concept
When I was volunteering for the Philly Digital Humanities group, I proposed the idea of the GLAM Café as a monthly coffeehouse-style event that would extend the organization’s good work and good will during the once-a-year THATCamp throughout the year. Its purpose more broadly was to afford digital heritage enthusiasts and professionals in the Philadelphia region a regular opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn from one another. We held it from 5-8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. The museum conference center I worked for provided the space, and snacks were sponsored. Though I moved to Miami in 2014, the GLAM Café continued for several years after.
Below you can find the checklists and considerations that I used to plan the GLAM Café. And you can check this Google Drive link to find logo and signage templates, as well as images from the events we coordinated in Philly.
- Door Prizes & Swag: Stickers, pens, overstock from institution gift shops and publications.
- Podcasts & Blog Posts featuring participant projects
- DH “Angel”: A help desk at the meetup for helping to orient newcomers, or provide perspective to help people become unstuck with their projects.
- “Theme Nights” For Archives, Archaeology, Historic Preservation, Etc., with a specialist guest from the field.
One Hour Before Event Start
Setup Digital Help Desk on non-GLAM Cafe Tuesdays. Send broadcast announcement
@Meetup Group Page
Use forum function for virtual white papers (and discussions)
Featured “Follow Tuesday” GLAMCafe’r: Profile on projector with project working on.
Materials to Order/Create
- Branded paper coffee cups
- Flyers: Promote/debut at museum events
- Promo business & postcards, e.g. http://us.moo.com/ distributed @THATCamps
- Name tags
- Promo contest (win a travel mug by collecting 10 cards)
- Literature stand for digital humanities white papers (invite people to contribute their own)
- Large screen with Wikipedia Project Page displayed
- iPad with Meetup.com group set up (for folks to register, or add their project ideas)
- iPad showing video on loop of GLAM topics
- Name tags (with color code interest “tagging”?
- Streaming chats/hangouts that talk about a case study
- Power strips!
- Loyalty card with an attached service prize
- Locate “set dressing”
- Directional signs
- Promotional material
- Projection of logo on whiteboard
- Create “nooks” with furniture and lighting
- Soft music
- Live tweet stream projected
- Projects board
- Coffee smell
- Barista with espresso
- iPad co-working stations
Outcomes and Outputs
- Poster/booklet/screen display of online projects people can “adopt.” Unassigned
- Build audience advocates for digital and social media
- Build a brain trust of digital leaders to strengthen digital initiatives Unassigned
- Offer digital learning opportunities for staff
- Confirm coffee and food with conference center
- Confirm SPACE with the conference center
- Set up coffee cart
- Set up brainstorming tools around the space: whiteboards, easels with paper and markers
Primarily local, and select regional groups. These are folks with an interest in consistently using digital tools to communicate.
- Area Museums
- Wikipedia Groups
- Area historical societies
Example of Reporting and Metrics
(Sample report from Philly GLAM Café)
At least 36 people attended, about half of whom were involved in PhillyDH. People interested in Wikipedia started arriving around 4.30, and mostly left by 7.00 or 7.30. PhillyDH people arrived between 5.00 and 6.30 and stayed until 8.00. PhillyDH held a breakout meeting from 6.00 to 8.00. There is overlap between the two groups, so having rolling times may work well.
The large round tables in the GLAM room worked well; we should have 4 or 5 of them next time instead of 3. The lounge-style seating was used somewhat in the beginning, but not once the groups broke apart. We may want to have some available. People rearranged the tables in the breakout room into a rough circle so that they could all see each other during their meeting. They may break into smaller working groups next time. The small rectangular tables are good there because they are easy to rearrange. The lighting was good.
Having a mix of sweet and protein in the snacks is important. The Greek yogurt was popular. Bagels with cream cheese would be a good choice as well. Cookies, danishes or biscotti are all good complements. All three drink options (coffee, tea, water) were used.
We should plan to accommodate those who come early. For the next GLAM Cafe, the PhillyDH breakout group plans to meet from 6.30 to 8.00, giving people time to attend the GLAM Cafe beforehand. There was a sense that the first meeting was largely a meet-and-greet, and that people would like the next meeting to be more work-oriented (focused on getting things done more than on talking).
Email Notification Format and language
Beginning Nov. 12 we’ll have a regular opportunity to connect, share and collaborate with digital heritage enthusiasts and professionals alike when the “GLAM Café” debuts at [PLACE]. The GLAM Café is a coffeehouse-style event brought to you in partnership with [GROUP]. Come by any time between 5-8 p.m. to join in. If you enjoy it, mark your calendar for future meetups on the second Tuesday of each month.
Why Should I Come?
Sometimes it’s easy to become so focused on our own institution and its immediate needs that we forget we’re all part of a larger community of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (often referred to as GLAM institutions). Those working in this community are facing many of the same issues we do as a cultural heritage institution in the digital age. We all have unique experiences and perspectives that, when shared, can collectively lighten the load and make the path to digital success clearer.
What should I bring?
- Bring your curiosity: You’ll have access to expertise ranging from social media to web exhibits to Linked Open Data and beyond.
- Bring your ideas: You can also find a project to participate in or potentially even a collaborator for your ideas.
- Bring yourself!: The point of this meetup is to provide a time, space and support for making progress on GLAM-related digital projects that don’t seem to fit into your schedule otherwise. Feel free to just claim some sofa territory and work solo on that Wikipedia entry you always wanted to correct, or grab a white paper and read up on what others are working on.
Whether you want to socialize, study, or mercilessly hack some poor unsuspecting data set, please come enjoy coffee and snacks in a relaxed atmosphere.
How can I participate?
If you’re looking to be part of a discussion group, you’ll have two breakaway opportunities at this event:
- A digital humanities discussion.
- An interest meeting for a planned Hack-a-thon that helps GLAM institutions open up their data for more impact.
To learn more about the folks you might meet at this event and to receive regular reminders of these events, visit the meetup group at the following link: [Insert Link Here]
And please share this announcement with anyone you think may be interested!
Many Hands Make Light Work
Hosting this event was one the most fulfilling things I did during my time in Philly. It made my day job easier by having creative people to bounce ideas and challenges off of. And it’s just so much easier to face those challenges with a community of like-minded people. This concept is very scalable, so I hope you’ll use these tools as a foundation and start your own!
If you know of any other active meetups that I missed, feel free to post them in the comments here.