Uncategorized #2 – There are 65 days in January

January 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

Ah! You’re still here! Thanks for sticking with me. And, I must report, that our little community of readers has doubled in size since last week’s post! So, if you are of the 20 new subscribers, welcome! 

Previously

Last week was the very first post of Uncategorized. It was a brief introduction to who I am and you can go and read it here if you happened to miss it! One of the most amazing things following the first newsletter was the handful of responses I received. I got a nice email from Mom, a few brief replies expressing encouragement and interest, and even some constructive feedback related to the newsletter archives and how I am dealing with the Playlists. Don’t worry, I’m working through all the kinks, and taking steps to make the newsletter better and more accessible. In fact, you may also notice that the newsletter is a little more nicely formatted this time. I’m doing this all for you. Things are just gonna keep getting better every single week. So please keep sending the positive vibes and constructive thoughts. I read them all!

This Week

This week was a pretty typical one for the middle of January in New York. It was gray, cold, it rained a bit, and it felt like it would never end. I did my best to subvert the dreariness with coffee, and playtime with the little one. Oddly enough this weekend has been “glorious.” But, January in New York is that never ending month that seems like it has 65 days in it. It’s crazy to me that we are now only two weeks in to 2020. All the news and current events make me think we’re at least nearing November.

I realize that of my 40 or so subscribers that about half of you are family members or close friends, and the rest of your are museum people I’ve come to know. So, I’ll do my best to talk to both of you. 

At work, we’ve been doing a lot of 2020 planning. 2020 planning should probably take place in 2019, but holidays. Even though we are a super small studio, I try my best to create an environment where we take time for family and holidays and all that. The end of the year came up quickly, and before I knew it we were all heading off for the holidays with our families. So, planning for 2020 happened this week and will continue a bit next week as well. I mean, I’m always planning all the time, but you know, long term stuff.

One of the fun things I did this week was I built a “Stupidly Simple CRM.” 

For those that don’t know “CRM” stands for Constituent Relationship Management. It’s basically an address book. I’ve tried many CRM systems in the past few years for a way for the studio to track clients and opportunities. They are all expensive, and none of them really ever do exactly what I want, so I figured I’d build my own from scratch and see how it goes. The template for it is published here on AirTable Universe. Enjoy!

I had several fun conversations about our product “Accession” which we are pushing hard on this month. Accession is a new platform for cultural data that we’ve been developing at the studio. You can read a little about it here for now.

The initial version will come out very soon and it will be open for anyone to try out. So, I’m getting very excited to share what we’ve been cooking up, and super grateful to the handful of museums who stepped up and have been helping us to develop the platform. We get so much enthusiastic feedback and ideas for the platform, which makes it hard for me to focus the vision for it, but that is all part of the process. This first version will be very bare-bones and technical and then later we will begin building all the bells and whistles. 

I’m also really eager to share more and more about how the studio runs and what its all about. Meghan (our project & team coordinator) and I are working on an update to the studio website, which will be filled with lots of stories about the work we do and why we do it. So stay tuned for it!

Ok, so I posted this tweet last week —

I thought it was a clever idea, and so did a few people in the replies. Basically the idea is to use Twitter’s threads to create individual posts for every object in a new exhibition or small collection. It was a smart way for Disney to promote its new catalog of content for Disney+ and a nice analysis by Jack.

Except for this one person who quickly pointed out the potential for rights and licensing implications! 

I’m glad folks reply to my tweets, but let it percolate for a moment. Yes, rights issues are a thing, but give the idea a minute to breathe please! That reply came in 9 minutes after my tweet! I still think it’s a good idea, rights problems aside.

I also saw an interesting discussion about using Twitter as a place for these kinds of discussions. It was centered around the question of “what’s the current state of museum twitter?” I think “museum twitter”, while different from what it maybe used to be, is in fact pretty lively. It’s just hard to have a decent conversation with multiple people involved and to actually be able to make sense of it all. Aaron wrote up a pretty good response to a spiraling twitter conversation we were having on his blog. 

Blogs! Also, speaking of blogs. I recently saw a tweet where someone posted a little glimpse into their RSS subscription app. 

Yes, someone still uses RSS, and yes, people’s personal blogs are still important. I really hope we all get back to the days of blogging, now that we all understand the ephemerality of social media and the content grabbing that happens when you post on Facebook or any of the other giants. Go buy yourself a domain name and get yourself a WordPress site or a Ghost blog or a Jekyll or whatever you prefer. That’s my advice for 2020. In response to the tweet, I decided to install Feedly and start re-subscribing to a bunch of my favorite blogs. 

Playlist

This week’s music was a mishmash of classic rock and 90’s hip-hop. It’s so easy to go down a 90’s hip-hop rabbit hole. Also Magical Clouds which I discovered while watching the first season of The OA

And, I spent some more time re-watching Radiohead’s From the Basement, which is really good, if you still like Radiohead, which I do.

AND, I know I must be super late to this playlist, but I discovered Mike D’s playlist and Apple Music radio show thing “The Echo Chamber.” It’s next level goodness and I’m guessing I’ll be heading down that rabbit hole later this week.

Reading List

My music listening usually happens while walking to the train, and then while walking from the train to the office. I usually read while I’m actually on the train, so I thought I’d add an ongoing reading list as well. And since my mother-in-law got me a Kindle PaperWhite for Christmas, I’ve been reading again.

So far in 2020 I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which is amazingly good and much better than the TV series, which is also pretty good. I’m planning to read the sequel.

I also randomly started reading Adaptation by Malinda Lo, which is a YA novel about secret government agencies and birds falling from the sky. It’s also pretty good, but not really my taste.

My goal is to read 24 books this year.

Epilogue

Writing this newsletter is already getting hard. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but it’s hard to recall al the things I thought about throughout the week. Lately I’ve been trying to write about 500 words of whatever comes to mind each morning during the week. It’s been going well and has been helping me to unlock some things in my head, but it can also sometimes feel tedious. I suppose that’s how any kind of exercise feels. 

In any case, I’m so glad you’ve decided to stick around and actually read to the bottom of this post! Please feel free to forward to your friends and help me get to a whopping 50 subscribers before next week! 

I hope you have a great week!

-micah


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