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Social Networking at the Met – Guide
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Description – Over the past few years, online social networks have emerged as an innovative way for people to learn, meet and discuss their common interests. Did you know there are a number of social networking tools that let you enhance your visit to the museum and let you learn more about the museum’s collections? This class will introduce you to some of these applications – such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr – and explore how they are being used to build communities and share the museum experience with others.
Class Level – Basic – I am new to the Watson Library and/or new to the Museum and wish to learn what resources are available. (All participants should have basic computer skills)
Here’s a quick look at what this class covers:
- What is social networking? Why should you get involved?
- Introduction to the MetShares webpage
- Expanding the visitor experience at the Met
- YouTube, podcasts, blogs and RSS feeds
- Connecting with other museum visitors
- Flickr, Twitter and Facebook
This class is meant to be an overview of a number of social networking websites and not a step-by-step guide to creating a personal account for using these sites. However, creating a personal account for most social networking sites can be done in a few simple steps and may require little more than an email address and a password.
WHAT IS SOCIAL NETWORKING?
The term “Social Networking” centers on people using websites or web-based resources to interact – to share ideas, activities and common interests. Social networks encourage user collaboration and input; they can be accessed pretty much anywhere an internet connection is available anywhere in the world; and social networking tools are more or less intuitive – meaning, you don’t have to be a computer genius to use them.
People use social networking tools in countless ways: for conducting research, for following academic conferences, sharing journal articles, giving travel advice, talking about current events, and of course for general socializing. Social networking is also a way for institutions and organizations to reach out to their audiences directly and in ways they might not have been able to previously.
There are a number of different ways that visitors can share their museum experiences using social networking sites, and the various sites used by the museum are all accessible from the museum website on a page called Met Share. The museum’s online social networking presence is maintained by the Digital Media department, not the Watson Library, though the library may have separate accounts for many of the same social networking websites as the museum. And please keep in mind that the Met Share page is constantly evolving as social networking sites evolve, so there may be many changes on the page over time.
To access Met Share, from the museum’s home page, look at the menu on the left side of the page. Towards the bottom you’ll find the Met Share link. This page provides a brief explanation and a link to each resource.
The About Met Share page gives additional background on each resource and answers some Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) about how the Metropolitan Museum is utilizing these social networking tools.
Most social networking websites are free to use but may require you to register or subscribe for the most interaction. For this class, we’ve used the Watson Library’s subscriptions for access whenever possible.
PART I – EXPANDING THE USER EXPERIENCE AT THE MET
For the purposes of this class, we’ve made a rough division of the resources on Met Share based on how we think they can be used: either for learning more about the museum or for connecting with other art lovers. However, an overarching theme of social networking is the interconnectedness of resources and users, and you’ll see this in evidence throughout this presentation.
The first group are tools that we believe are good for learning more about the museum and the art. With many of these tools, some social interaction is included – primarily in the form of commenting or linking – but interaction may not be the primary function of the tool.
YouTube is an online community where users can share video content. Although it is popularly known as a way for people to share personal videos such as family events, or for musicians to promote themselves, YouTube is also an excellent source for educational videos posted by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. YouTube videos are accessible online, and if you have a smartphone such as an iPhone or Blackberry, you may be able to see YouTube videos on your phone.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s YouTube Channel covers a wide variety of topics and range from gallery overviews of just a few minutes to more than hour long in-depth talks about individual artists. You’ll find full-length videos of curatorial talks, “Sunday at the Met” events, behind-the-scenes discussions with curators and conservators, as well as music and dance performances. Since the museum joined YouTube in 2007, over 300 videos have been uploaded, and more are added each month.
There are number of different ways to navigate the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s YouTube Channel:
- Featured prominently on the home page is one of the more recent videos created by the museum. The video starts immediately once the page loads, but you can stop it in order to look around the page a bit more.
- On the right side of the page, are small thumbnail links to the other MMA videos.
- See thumbnails of all of the videos that have been uploaded by clicking on “Uploads”
- See themed videos by clicking on “Playlists” (Art and Love in Renaissance Italy is one example of a playlist)
There is also a search box on the page showing all of the museum’s uploads. This is different than the YouTube search box that’s at the very top of the page: The box within the museum channel page – encompassing all of the content beneath the façade – will search only the videos uploaded by the Metropolitan Museum. Whereas the search box at the top of the page searches all of YouTube and the results will vary wildly.
There’s a big yellow button offering viewers to subscribe to this channel. It is important to point out that you do not have to subscribe to YouTube or to a YouTube channel if you just wish to watch any of the museum’s videos. But subscriptions are useful if you think you’ll return frequently and don’t want to go through a series of links to reach this page, or if you want to be notified when new videos are added, or if you want to talk about the videos with other YouTube users.
For many social networking websites, one of the simplest ways a user can show their interest is with the “Like” feature. This shows up in a number of different ways depending on the site. You’ll also see the “Like” feature in action later when we examine Facebook. On YouTube, you can give the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to a video. There is also space to post a comment about the video, to send a link to a video by email, or for posting about the video to other social networking sites such as twitter or facebook.
Another way to find the museum’s YouTube videos is by searching in WATSONLINE, the library’s online catalog. Just search under Material/Document Type for “streaming video”. Here’s a link to the WATSONLINE record for the Cloisters video shown in the class.
Like the museum’s videos on YouTube, the MMA audio podcasts offer in-depth examinations of the museum’s collections and special exhibitions and may include discussions with curators and other members of the art world.
The term “podcast” is a generic term for an audio file that is broadcast online. The term arose from iPod users, but you do not need to have an iPod or iTunes to listen to a podcast. All that is needed is a device capable of reading and playing mp3 audio files such as a computer with speakers, a personal digital music player, or a smartphone.
The Met Podcast Page provides a brief summary of each podcast including the dates of any related exhibitions, a link to the mp3 file for downloading and in many cases, a transcript of the podcast.
Depending on your computer’s settings, you may be able to click on a podcast link and begin playing immediately, or you may want to download the file to your computer first.
You can also receive new museum podcasts through an RSS feed or through iTunes and the Met Podcast page gives several options for subscribing. Please keep in mind that the museum does not actively support iTunes on its computers.
Although blogs are not a part of the Met Share webpage, for the past several years they have served an increasingly important role in allowing museum visitors to learn more about the exhibitions, the works of art and the events happening in the museum.
The museum’s blogs are another form of online publication, similar to the Timeline of Art History, in that they contain articles on art-related subjects. They may be written by curatorial staff and may include commenting features that provide a forum for museum goers to share their thoughts with others. Posts on the museum’s blogs may also include links to other websites, and may even contain references to books of related scholarly interest.
MMA blogs are created on a case by case basis, and there is no one central museum-wide blog. A handful of examples are presented here so that you have an idea of the variety of online publications that have been created:
The Medieval Garden Enclosed is a blog for the Cloisters gardens that was started in July 2008. This is linked from the Cloisters section of the museum’s home page and allows visitors to learn about medieval plants and gardens.
The Art of Illumination is an example of a blog created in association with an exhibit, in this case, The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry from the Department of Medieval Art and the Cloisters. Although the exhibition is over, the blog still exists as a source of additional information about the exhibit.
Now at the Met is linked from the metmuseum home page and is one of the museum’s newest online publications. It was started in early 2010 to provide in-depth features on Museum activities, news, and behind the scenes stories. For example, this feature on a Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel that is now on exhibit in the museum. As you can see, the feature includes a number of images, links to other areas of the metmusuem.org website, links to non-museum sites, and even includes links to other Met Share resources such as YouTube – and this video could be played right from this page, no need to go back to the YouTube channel.
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it’s a way to have updates to websites that you’re interested in sent to you in one central location. In a sense, it is an easy way to receive notifications of updates about multiple websites, blogs, YouTube videos, or podcasts without having to remember the addresses of all of those sites. (Read more about RSS feeds on an earlier class guide.)
This consolidation of information is done through what’s known as a news aggregator, or an RSS feeder. Some of the popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo have a form of RSS feeder available for their account holders and these may include sharing capabilities such as linking to other social networking sites, emailing, and/or commenting.
RSS feeds can be set up for a number of Met Share resources, such as YouTube, Podcasts, Now At the Met, and even the Art of the Day. Since many of these are dependent on personal computer and/or RSS feeder account settings, to add one of these to your RSS feed, simply look for the orange square RSS symbol on each page.
PART II – CONNECTING WITH OTHER MUSEUM GOERS
These tools are about sharing experiences at the museum with other museum goers.
Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages or posts called “tweets” to each other. “Tweets” are text based messages that are limited to up to 140 characters and can be publicly visible by default but can be restricted to private by the user.
To see the Museum’s tweets, you can simply go to – www.twitter.com/metmuseum. In order to follow or comment on the Museum’s tweets, you will need to create a Twitter account.
The Museum’s Twitter page has more than 100,000 followers and more than 1,700 tweets so far. The Museum tweets about museum-related events and activities. It’s updated frequently and maintained by the Digital Media department of the Museum.
Following the Museum’s tweets means you will be able to see their Twitter updates automatically on your newsfeed. The Museum’s updates will appear on your newsfeed chronologically, from top to bottom.
Once you have created your account, you will also be able to see the current topics that are trending on your lower right hand screen, meaning you can read what the majority of people are talking about at the moment. You can also see who is following you and who you are following as well as what lists you may be categorized into.
Registration also enables you to create your own tweets and follow other members who are tweeting and are of interest to you. You can then communicate with them or “re-tweet” their tweets/posts to your own page. You can also add other art institutions, authors, artists, etc. to your “Following” lists as many media personalities and establishments are now using this micro-blogging service.
You can conduct a simple search of what’s being tweeted about. Try typing in the words, “Khubilai Khan”. You will see the results on your main screen with suggested results related to your keywords as a name. Below that, you will see people tweeting about our new exhibition on Khubilai Khan which opens September 28, 2010.
Flickr is an image database that enables users to share and describe personal photos. It’s also an online community where individuals can discuss photography-related topics.
To browse or search collections, one does not need to create an account. However, to add content, tag, or join the Museum’s group on Flickr, you will need to create an account.
The Museum’s page is located at www.flickr.com/photos/metmuseum and contains a variety of images on museum-related events and programs that occur throughout the year. They do not post photos of artwork from their permanent collection.
If you click on the category Collections under the Museum’s name and logo, you will be brought to a page with albums that the Museum has added and categorized with the top albums being the most recent albums uploaded.
One highlight of the Museum’s page on Flickr is the images that appear from their marketing contest called, “It’s Time We MET”, where visitors were asked to submit their photos of their experience during their visit to the museum and encourage visitor participation. You can see the photos submitted for this contest under the album heading on the same name on the Collections page.
Once you have created a Flickr account, you can join the Museum’s group page (www.flickr.com/groups/metmuseum). This will enable you to share, discuss and upload your photos. It’s important to note that the group is moderated and the Museum restricts contributed photos to appropriate Museum-related images and observes the Museum’s photography policy.
Searching Flickr for Museum images can be conducted in a variety of ways. At the top right part of the Museum’s Flickr page is a simple Search box that allows you to search the Museum’s photo stream, Everybody’s uploads, Groups, other Flickr Members, For a Location, and Applications by clicking the drop down menu next to the Search box.
Another nice feature that Flickr has is their discussion forums. There is a comprehensive list of museums and their Flickr pages that was compiled by an avid art fan and user of Flickr. It’s located at (http://www.flickr.com/groups/20077958@N00/discuss/72157600086675239/) and displays a list of museums by country. The top of the lists shows art related directories and general art history links followed but the list of museum pages on Flickr.
There’s a variety of ways to search the Met’s related images on Flickr. We can simply search within the Met’s Group Collection or we can search from the drop down menu and select “Everybody’s Uploads” as you can see on your right top part of the screen.
Let’s search the Met’s collection for “Big Bambu”.
You will see your results appear on your main screen and if you click on any picture, it will bring you to a page with the enlarged image. Here, you can get more information about your image and view comments and tags associated with the photo.
Facebook was launched in February of 2004 and is a platform for people to communicate and share their interests. As of July 2010, there were more than 500 million active users and it continues to be the most popular Social network in the world.
The Museum has created a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/metmuseum) in order to create a community for visitors who are looking for a way to connect with each other and the institutions that they love.
In order to see and use certain features of the application, creation of an account is necessary but viewing the Museum’s Facebook page requires no registration. If you don’t have an account you will be limited in adding content and what you are able to view. This is determined by the individual. When not logged/registered in, you will see a sign up/sign in box on the top right of you screen, requiring you to sign in using your username and password.
Next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s name is what Facebook calls a “LIKE” box. If you are logged on, you can click on this box and the Musuem will be added to your interests page and you can start to receiving updates in your news-feed, meaning whenever the Museum adds some new information or updates, you’ll be able to see it in your personal newsfeed without having to visit the Museum’s Facebook page every time you log on. You will become a “fan” by “liking” their page. A typical update you may find is the Met’s, “Featured Art of the Day”, as mentioned earlier in this guide.
Additionally, below the Museum’s name are several other tabs. The “Wall”is where you can view the information that the Museum is publishing, chronologically, from top to bottom. This is what you would see appearing on your newsfeed. When logged on, you can comment and even add your own links to their posts.
Both the “Info” and “Extended Info” tabs give you more information about the Museum and its hours, location, etc. The “Twitter” tab that you see to the right of the “Info/Extended Info” tabs allows you to directly link to what the Museum is tweeting about.
The “Events” tab is helpful to see what events, lectures, and concerts are taking place. This information can be viewed both by click on the “Events” tab or by looking at the lower left hand of you screen on the main Museum page.
The Museum has also posted albums under their Museum Facebook page. These are viewable without logging in. Again with the interoperability of social networks, you may find that some photos have been uploaded through Flickr or that videos will link out to YouTube.
Last updated: September 28, 2010