National Digital Forum Conference: Where education and GLAM collided

A belated post but only because the riches of the National Digital Forum conference [#NDFNZ] have been percolating and settling. On one level, going to this event as an educator feels a bit like sneaking in on someone else’s guest list, the focus largely being the GLAM sector. But increasingly I feel the benefit of reaching across into other sectors to keep an eye on what others are brewing in the digital space and those leaps of imagination that have plenty to offer those of us working in digital spaces on behalf of the schooling sector.

Apologies for the smorgasbord approach, but here are the big ideas that fired up my brain during the two day event:

  • A key theme was the democratisation of content development, the shift towards the individual. Penny Carnaby referenced that TIME cover and the Digital Content strategy, arguing strongly for the vital importance of lining up policy  across Creative Commons, Open Data, preservation and curation, NZGOAL, and intellectual sovereignty of digital assets.
  • Simon Tanner [@simontanner] explored ideas related to impact of our actions in the digital space. How do we demonstrate impact, strategic advantage, gain economic benefit and impact on community? He called for a holistic approach to evaluating impact.He described how having a strong understanding of planning and evaluation helps avoid the digital death spiral.

  • Be data hungry. Attend to information, don’t waste time and resource. And most importantly: evaluate digital resources beyond their utility: consider impact in terms of the value of the existence of content, education, inheritance and impact on community.
  • The people, their identities and values, continued to lie at the centre of matters with @adriankingston reminding us to think about the users when we crowd-source; to not just plan for short term grab of crowd-source but to consider what will happen to it afterwards. The beautiful messiness of user-stewardship of content – “We are special snowflakes” –  was brought home to us by Chris McDowall (@fogonwater) who spoke about mapping data related to items across multiple institutions for DigitalNZ.

And here are a few cool idea explosions that fired up the synapses. Go explore:

  • I loved the dark, relentlessness of Simon Tanner’s metaphor of an ‘ant mill‘ as digital death spiral, making the point that we must sustain and grow discerning users of web…
  • The Midnight Run, a journey of discovery through London at night over 12 hours (cc @InuaEllams)…
  • Changing spaces in #flatnames project – never a dull moment and some unprintable names for student flats…

The presentation that brought it all home to me, though, was the emotional call for caring institutions from Courtney Johnston (@auchmill) and Paula Bray (@paulabray). Beginning with “falling in love is a beautiful, selfish experience…while grief breaks you open”, they proceeded to argue for museums to be spaces that engage deeply with the needs of their communities.


Image sources:


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