Death of the Art Museum?

In an op-ed piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published last week, cartoonist, pundit and former director of the Toonseum Joe Wos attempts to tackle the topic of technology's impact on the museum experience. In Death of the Art Museum?, a markedly uninformed Wos asserts:

Art is an important part of society. But museums to house it might no longer be needed. Art museums are a holdover from an elitist, patriarchal society that force-fed us hand-picked culture. They are becoming discarded relics of the past, much like encyclopedias, phone books and Bill Cosby's career.

He continues:

Only a handful of high-profile art museums — such as the Met, Smithsonian and Louvre — are thriving. That's because they package themselves as “must-see” attractions, serving tourists as backdrops for cultural selfies.

To those of us who work in the #musetech field, the article regurgitates many of the antiquated arguments we're used to confronting, however this piece lacks even the slightest trace of research or factual support. I suggest you take a few minutes to read the whole thing.

Outside of the author's baseless assertions and lack of evidence to support the claims thrown around within the piece, there has been some constructive dialogue emerging from the article:

Wow. Pittsburgh is talking openly about museums and technology! Even though his article is completely off-base, I'd personally like to thank Mr. Wos for starting this discussion. Anytime the topic of #musetech transcends specialty blogs like this one and makes a splash within mainstream conventional media, especially here in Pittsburgh, it's a good thing. I hope the conversation continues.

Fourteen

Monty turned fourteen today. We celebrated with a little party and some gifts. Nothing crazy; some gormet dog food, artisanal dog treats and a new play toy. One might think a birthday party for a house pet to be a bit much, but over the years Monty has become such a presence in our family. He deserves it. He is our first baby.

In the summer of 2003, Jilly and I were recently engaged and looking to bring our relationship to the next level. We'd been living together for a while and had done a pretty good job of keeping our house plants alive, so we decided that getting a puppy would be the logical step up. We felt it fell somewhere between flora and kids.

We found Monty at The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, just a few blocks from our apartment, where his previous owners had abandoned him. He was two years old and fully grown. His forehead and ears were badly cut from abuse. In a kennel full of dogs barking and jumping for attention, Monty was sitting attentively and eagerly upright at his gate, quietly watching potential adopters pass by.

Monty was the one from the moment we saw him. The rest, as they say, is history. We've been through a lot together as a family since that day. Apartments, houses, jobs, births, deaths, sickness, emergencies, ups and downs. Monty's been a rock through all of it and helped us get to where we are today.

Happy Birthday Monty! Here's to fourteen more.

The Gestalt of You

You are an awful developer. In fact, to call yourself a developer is a complete fabrication. You're not formally trained in code or capable of building anything more sophisticated than a baseline website. You're a self-taught hobbyist whose curiosity has led you far enough to be dangerous.

You are a mediocre designer. In fact, to label yourself a designer would be skewing the truth and devaluing the work of those true artisans who meticulously craft delicate digital artifacts. Those perfectors of the pixel. Those framers of the future.

You are an average writer. You formulate and convey clear thoughts through the written word, however Hemingway you are not.

Your entrepreneurial and business acumen is nothing to write home about. Marketing doesn't scare you, but you don't enjoy it. It makes you feel dirty. Many people have made much more money in their profitable ventures. And you don't seem to mind.

In light of these things you are not, you are able to see past the horizon. You understand how puzzle pieces fit together. You connect people with projects and resources with ease.

You're not afraid of hard work or sacrificing to get better. Your drive is a thing of wonder.

Your sense of direction is unprecedented. Some call it strategy. Others, management prowess. You leave it undefined, but know deep down it's this nebulous mass throbbing in your chest that makes you special. It makes you different. It's a thing of professional desire.

You're not a great coder, designer, writer or entrepreneur, but you might just be a great combination of those skills. Move forward with speed and confidence.

Upright Working

In addition to an amazing team and great work environment, one of the things I inherited with my new gig is a standing desk. The desk was left by my predecessor and, prior to starting, our office manager asked if I'd like to keep it. I'd never used a standing desk before and I was admittedly a bit worried about my ability to work standing up for 8-10 hour days.

Unsure but intrigued, I read up on the benefits of upright work and decided they outweighed my reservations. I accepted the desk and mentally committed to giving a stand-up work environment an honest try.

Fast-forward three months.

Ninety days in, upright working is wonderful. It took a few weeks to get my legs and back accustomed to office life sans-chair, but once they were I began seeing immediate impact. My posture is better. I don't feel lethargic like I did at the end of seated ten-hour code benders. I have more energy, which is surprising considering I am now on my feet all day. Co-workers have caught me semi-dancing when I get in the zone with headphones.

In addition to the myriad physical benefits, having a standing desk has also impacted efficiency and productivity.

Having no chair means having nowhere for people to sit or hangout. This keeps interuptions to a minimum. I've also started scheduling some meetings at my desk. By default, these meetings are usually kept short because attendees are standing. We discuss what we need to discuss, determine action items and everyone goes on their way. It's incredibly efficient and gives new meaning to the term standing meeting.

Working at a standing desk has changed the way I feel about the physical aspects of peforming knowledge work. I can't imagine ever reverting back to a seated work environment.

The Weekly Reader

Back by popular demand, I've reactivated the Static Made Weekly Reader. As the name suggests, the reader is a weekly dispatch that wrangles, packages and sends posts from the previous week straight into your inbox. The email is sent bright and early every Saturday morning. It goes perfect with a hot cup of coffee and the rising sun.

I've redesigned the reader so it's elegant, responsive and easy to read on your laptop, phone or tablet. No posts in a week? No email. It's that simple.

If you've previously signed up, no need to sign up again. You will begin receiving the dispatch again shortly.

If you'd like to sign up, head over to the site feeds page and jump on board. Version 2.0 of the Static Made Weekly Reader begins shipping out this Saturday AM.