Update: now the conference is over, we’re collecting event reports at ‘UKMW12 round-up’.

The Museums Computer Group’s annual Museums on the Web conference – UKMW12 – will be held at the Wellcome Collection in London on 30 November 2012.

The theme for UKMW12 is ‘strategically digital’. Responding to the issues faced by museums today, UKMW12 is an opportunity to take a step back from everyday work and think strategically about the impact of the digital revolution on your museum and on the sector as a whole, including: digitally enabling the modern museum and its staff; sustaining the digital agenda and the realities of digital strategies and organisational change; and the complexities of digital engagement and the impact of social media on audience expectations.

As always, UK Museums on the Web is a day for being inspired by the latest ideas, for learning from case studies grounded in organisations like yours, and for networking with other technologists, curators, managers, academics, learning and marketing specialists in the museum and heritage sector.

With many thanks to our sponsors AdLib, Deeson Online and the Wellcome Collection:

Adlib logo
Morning tea generously sponsored by Adlib
Afternoon tea generously sponsored by Deeson Online
Venue support from the Wellcome Collection


Time Session and paper title Speakers

Registration with tea and coffee



Mia Ridge, MCG Chair and Rosie Tooby, Head of events, Wellcome

Keynote: The rise of creative technology

Crawling out of the dingy computer science basement, technology is not only more accessible and open than ever, but it’s also fueling an exciting culture of creativity. And it’s just as well because the sheer pace of development in the digital world can present quite a challenge to organisations focussing their attentions upon it. Whilst we tend to think of digital as a strategic necessity, it’s also a huge well of creative opportunity and there are new breeds of technologists that are finding ever more inventive ways to meet this challenge. In this talk, we’ll explore some aspects of the multi-faceted discipline of Creative Technology, from maker faires, digital arts and web standards through to the prevalent culture of being digital that surrounds us, and how institutions and organisations can use it to power their own innovations.

Andy Dobson,  Technical Director, Grand Union (formerly of BSkyB)

Keynote: What do we want from online collections?

What are the current trends for collections online? How can information about our collections best be presented? How can collection records and images be shared with others and re-used in different ways? What can we learn from our collections once they are online? This presentation gives an overview of the goals we hope to achieve by putting our collections data on the web. Collections are not just objects. Collections represent knowledge about our history and environment which museum audiences increasingly expect access to. Through a series of recent examples, I will look at how collections on web tie into museum missions and how we can help users engage with collections and add content in new ways.

Paul Rowe, CEO, Vernon Systems

Tea and coffee


Session 1: Lessons from the sector

Chaired by Jane Finnis, Director, Culture24

The realities of moving to Digital First

Insights and tips, ‘warts and all’ from the coalface of the V&A’s work to completely review digital activity across the entire organisation and truly put digital first. This paper will review the changes put in place so far, the thinking behind them and the current direction of change. Covering topics such as the governance of digital media, team restructuring, the creation of a single digital content programme, the rationalisation of content delivery systems and shorter, faster, incremental development, it will present you with the practical realities and challenges that arose over a year or so of developing a digital strategy and implementing changes needed to support it.

Rich Barrett-Small, Andrew Lewis, Sophie Walpole, Digital Media Department, Victoria and Albert Museum

Tate’s Digital Strategy: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Tate is currently working on its Digital Strategy 2013-15 which will be substantially different to the Tate Online Strategy 2010-12. In preparation, stakeholders across Tate were interviewed over the summer about their ambitions for the use of digital media. From marketing to publishing, from fundraising to learning, from research to human resources, all departments are now looking to realise more of their strategic goals in the digital space. This paper will address the themes that emerged from these interviews and how Tate is beginning to address them.

John Stack, Head of Tate Online, Tate

Museums Computer Group Annual General Meeting



30-minute tours of Wellcome collection will take place during lunch, starting at 12.20 for those who aren’t attending the AGM.


Open Mic

It is a UKMW tradition to have an energising session in the day where, through a series of super short ‘micro presentations’, members from the floor have just 4 minutes to update on a project, call for partners, pitch an idea, ask for support, highlight a new initiative, or just contribute to the event and the life of the MCG more widely.

  • Annette Haworth: iMuse: using smart phones and tablets in smaller museums
  • Joe Baskerville: The Soundworks online exhibition
  • Adrian Stevenson: The WW1 Discovery project
  • Richard Lumb: The Sonic Wallpapers project
  • Shaun Osborne: Middleware and open data projects




CPD and mentoring opportunities with the AMA programme

The AMA is the Associateship for the Museums Association programme. MCG members have expressed an interest in MCG becoming more involved in offering continuing professional development opportunities. This session will introduce the AMA programme and talk a little about how MCG members could become more involved, either as mentors or as participants in the programme.

Charlotte Holmes, Museums Association

Session 2: Turning strategy into reality

Chaired by Gemma Sturtridge, IWM

The rapidly changing face of the digital audiences, or How I learned that there’s no such thing as the digital consumer

From the move to mobile, to the impact of social; the challenges of a multi-screen world, to the opportunities of data and analytic-based decision making; and from internal advocacy, to external partnerships: this paper will be a whistle-stop tour of some of the Guardian’s most up-to-date thinking and data about digital engagement.  Drawing from the latest insight the Guardian has about how audiences are consuming content across a variety of devices, it will sketch comparisons between how they are seeking to stay relevant and successful in the digital future, and how this can be applied to museums and their digital aspirations. Critically, it will look at how they have moved away from the blunt view of the ‘digital consumer’, towards a much more nuanced, targeted and useful view of our audiences.

Tom Grinsted, Product Manager: Core mobile apps, The Guardian News and Media

Share or sharealike – deciding how, when and where to share your digital content

This paper will provide quantitative evidence of the kinds of return that museums can expect from the different models of opening up their content and metadata (both in terms of traffic, profile, commercial revenue and ‘intangible’ benefits like time and trust). UK museums are increasingly faced with a range of options when opening up their collections information but how can museums be sure they are making the right decisions about where, when, how and under what terms they share their digital content? The aim is to provide delegates with a framework to help them develop strategic partnerships both to improve their sustainability and to support their organisation’s mission.

Nick Poole, CEO, Collections Trust

Curation and Impact for the Digital Age

Tanner will look at the nature of curation in the digital age and consider how we move beyond the paradigm of “if we build it, they will come” to a new conception of Impact that focuses upon the way people benefit from digital resources. In short, how do we change lives and how do we know if we are successful? Tanner will propose for the first time his new Balanced Value Impact Model as a means of bringing together the balancing perspectives of social and economic impact with core cultural values.

Simon Tanner, Digital Humanities at King’s College

Afternoon tea break, generously sponsored by Deeson Online


Session 3: Putting digital strategy in context

Chaired by Danny Birchall, Wellcome Collection

The Positives and Negatives of Digital R&D

This paper will discuss the challenges of trying to implement digital Research and Development (R&D) processes, in a museum environment on time and on budget. Sharing the learnings from the Social Interpretation (SI) project at IWM, it will focus on reflections on digital R&D processes used to engage audiences and the implications for the use of digital technology that encourages participatory content creation by visitors. It will cover key themes facing the museum in a modern digital context: moderation, community engagement, co-production of design and content, internal support, external advocacy, technical development and, of course, funding. In particular it will discuss the challenges of trying to work in an agile manner in these most un-agile of institutions.

Claire Ross, Centre for Digital Humanities, University College London; Jane Audas, Freelance Digital Producer

Organisational Transformation and Sustainability

The JISC-led Strategic Content Alliance has joined forces with Ithaka S&R to produce
ground breaking research to identify the tactics and strategies institutions deploy to build and sustain digital content and services. Currently our nation’s universities, libraries and museums are adapting to rapid changes in technology and consumer behaviour, whilst at the same time coping with reduced public funding. To better understand this complex picture we sought to gain new insights into how three organisations at the centre of the ‘digital switchover’ in the UK, were sustaining digital content whilst adapting traditional services. The research is based on three in-depth case studies at UCL, the Imperial War Museum and the National Library of Wales. They have provided unique insights into how roles, responsibilities, plans, policies and practices are evolving to meet fast changing circumstances. The presentation will highlight the comparative trends being adopted by different sectors to sustain and develop our nation’s digital content and services.

Stuart Dempster, Strategic Content Alliance

People not Products: a radically different approach to digital strategy

This paper will demonstrate how arts, cultural and heritage organisations can create a digital strategy that doesn’t assume the importance of any particular technology platform or presume the importance of investing in long-term, expensive web builds.

Taking Happenstance technologist-in-residence project and Culture Hack digital prototyping programme as a case studies, we will show how digital work can become more instinctive, creative, affordable and productive by prioritising people and process over products, and demonstrate how this can result in longer-term strategic change throughout an entire organisation – a change not simply limited to its web or digital teams.

Katy Beale, Caper

Wrap-up and close

Mia Ridge, MCG Chair

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