The theme of this year’s Museums Computer Group’s (MCG) annual conference, held at the Royal Academy of Arts on 24 November, was Future-Proofing the Digital Museum. Here are some key takeaways:
- The conference made clear that there is still much gnashing of digital teeth over how best to use collections data. The keynote was from George Oates, executive director of the Flickr Foundation, which was set up to explore ways to protect and preserve one of the biggest photo collections in the world. Oates described how more data on the web does not necessarily mean better knowledge and that museums should focus on projects that lead to deep rather than broad engagement.
- Artificial intelligence – good, bad or something in between? The debate was led by Oonagh Murphy, senior lecturer, digital culture and society at Goldsmiths, one of the founders of the Museum+AI Network. Murphy argued that AI raises critical ethical questions that cultural organisations can’t ignore.
- A number of speakers addressed the environmental impact of digital work, including Flo Carr, an associate director of cultural consultant Indigo. Carr shared some research showing that 81% of visitors think cultural organisations have a responsibility to influence society to make radical change to address the climate emergency. This implies museums should do more, including in their digital work.