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« Social Media for Social Change Behind the Nonprofit Firewall | Main | Meaningful Networked Action in the Cyclone Aftermath »


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Patricia Martin

The whole "listening thread" you have launched here is fascinating. Because we coach non-profits in how to create meaningful relationships with corporations to get the mission accomplished, we have begun to see that there is, and will continue to be, great value on listening. All typed, such as B2B--Managers listening to employees, B2C--business listening to consumers, and NFP2B--Non-profits listening to business people. The latter is all about listening to find out where it makes sense to partner and why. I intend to stay tuned to this conversation you've begun.
Patricia Martin


I have to admit, I had some trouble with the archeology analogy at first -- trying to think about digging through the ancient times of yesterday; but I suppose in our world of right now, yesterday is ancient.

But I like this idea of 'listening' to social media to see what people are interested in. Listening (or archaeology) = research.

Remember, though, I'm an objects conservator, so I have a fairly defined set of interests: primarily I'm interested in the sculptures at my museum (I suppose this would be something like my 'product'). How do I "listen" to see what folks think about the sculptures? I check out blogs, I look around Flickr, and recently I looked around Wikipedia.

Here's what I think I know: There's not a lot of blog traffic about the sculptures at the IMA (not yet, but there may be soon, because we're starting to commission some rather important ones very soon). But, there are a lot of people taking pictures of the sculptures outdoors and uploading them to their Flickr accounts (and other photo sharing places like Flickr). I think this is very interesting because it shows me real-time evidence of the condition of the sculptures; and it gives evidence of how people interact with the sculpture.

As far as Wikipedia goes: I'd like to see a lot more info there about the IMA's sculptures, and other artworks. Recently we offered the first 5 people lunch with the Director of our museum in exchange for making a Wikipedia article. We got 5 articles made, so I'm pretty stoked about that.

Here's what I'm talking about:

I want to raise one significant difference, though, in my interest in social media. I view social media, and really all things digital, as a means to an end. The end is to get people to come to our museum and have a real interaction with art, not a digital one. If all people are doing is looking at art through the computer, than I would not consider that a complete success. Sure, there’s some benefit to looking at art on the computer, but it’s not my end. I think for some other non-profits, the means is the end.

Finally, I can’t help but quote part of Auden’s great poem “Archaeology” here because it’s so appropriate:

Knowledge may have its purposes,
but guessing is always
more fun than knowing.

We do know that Man,
from fear or affection,
has always graved His dead.

What disastered a city,
volcanic effusion,
fluvial outrage,

or a human horde,
agog for slaves and glory,
is visually patent,

and we’re pretty sure that,
as soon as palaces were built,
their rulers

though gluttoned on sex
and blanded by flattery,
must often have yawned.

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