Illustration: Jean Jullien


Mike Ellis, Issue 118/12, 01.12.2018
Don't be afraid to try something
I am considered by most who know me as“the computer guy”. It’s me who people come to when their computer runs slowly, or they need a link to a web page fixed, or a font installed or a file shared.

So how on earth do I know all this stuff ? I don’t – I just know the three secrets that a medium- skilled digital person needs to know. First, turning any misbehaving computer, website or software off and on again genuinely fixes 90% of issues. The second secret: Google it and look at websites that can give you an answer.

The third, and most important, is to have the confidence to know that you probably won’t completely mess things up. It’s this third skill that small to medium-sized museums lack most. Most of the answers are out there – whether via Google, the Museums Computer Group list or your peers. It’s just a case of knowing what to ask and when to ask it.

Digital stuff can certainly be impenetrable, but it’s often the assumption that it’s going to be impenetrable that gets in the way. As soon as I hear “I don’t do IT”, I hear “I’m too scared to even try”– and it’s often this confidence that needs building.

By talking, questioning and sharing more about how they approach their own issues, museums can often find their way to simple, brilliant, time- saving solutions to a range of problems.

Mike Ellis, the director of Thirty8 Digital, is leading the Museums Association’s Digital Basics Boot Camp at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry on 29 January, 2019