Kun je een lezing crowdsourcen?

Als conservator geef je vaak lezingen over de meest verschillende onderwerpen. Voordat je een lezing maakt, je foto’s bij elkaar zoekt, powerpoint leuk hebt aangekleed, denk je na over wat je publiek zou willen horen.

Verwacht je juist veel specialisten of zit er publiek in de zaal dat voor een meer algemeen verhaal komt. Als er leden van het natuurkundig genootschap in de zaal zitten dan heb je wel een indicatie wat de insteek van je verhaal moet zijn. Maar wat als je een lezing moet voorbereiden voor een zondagnamiddag. Een lezing de vrij toegankelijk is en waarvan alleen het thema een beetje bepalend zal zijn?

Het zou interessant zijn als het publiek van te voren invloed kan uitoefenen op de inhoud van de lezing die gegeven gaat worden. Onmogelijk? Nou, niet helemaal. Via twitter vroegen we ons af wat onze volgers nou graag zouden willen weten over radioactiviteit. Dit zijn een aantal vragen die gesteld werden:

@museumboerhaave Waarom het onmogelijk is om kernafval verantwoord op te slaan. (halfwaardetijd materialen en levensduur opslagruimten)

@museumboerhaave waar komt toch dat sprookje vandaan dat je licht geeft als je radioactief besmet bent?

@museumboerhaave in Hollywood films worden moorden gepleegd met radioactiviteit, is dat realistisch?

Alleen al deze drie vragen geven genoeg aanknopingspunten om een hele middag te vertellen over radioactiviteit in de wetenschap. Daarmee is het experiment waarbij Twitter gebruikt wordt om een lezing te maken wat mij betreft al meer dan geslaagd.

Maar wees gerust, mocht u ooit eens een lezing in museum Boerhaave bij willen wonen dan hoeft u geen zitvlees te hebben. Dik een half uur spreken is ook voor een conservator vaak ook al meer dan genoeg (:


Zooms, a new museumgame on Twitter

Zooms is a new museumgame on Twitter with a simple formula:
3 pics, 3 hints, 1 winner!

Zooms is a fun way for big and small museums on Twitter to get your followers in touch with the collections of your institute.

This is how it works:
Take a picture of an object, cut 1/3 out and send post the picture on twitter with the hashtag #zooms Ask your followers to guess what is depicted on photograph.

You can post a text hint in a next tweet like: This instrument was used in surgery. Make sure that the first hint you give contains general information. Most of the museum followers are generalist not curators! Now just wait a while for your audience to respond. It might be to difficult so don’ t worry if you only get a few suggestions.

Post another picture, now 1/2 of the object. Follow the same routine as described above.

You can tweet a text hint like ” used on the head not on the feet”, a little bit puzzling to keep you audience’s attention.

The last picture hint shows the whole object, so actually you’re zooming out (thus the name zooms!)

In the last text hint you might urge your audience to tweet a suggestion before it’s too late!  When you reveal what the object is you can of course link to your website, blog or online exhibition. Which makes #zooms a great game to put a spotlight on special events as well. 

It’s not that time consuming to prepare the picture hints of course. And you can schedule how often and when you want to send a #zooms

Last week we tried #zooms in the Netherlands. Most interesting part of the experiment was that the game evolved immediately. Our colleagues from the Teylers Museum came up with a #zooms not from an object but with an engraving asking not what it was but Where it was! 

This means that not only museums could play #zooms but it yields a lot of possibilities for other heritage institutions as well. Archive can play a game of #zooms and ask their audiences Who’s this handwriting from? Libraries can play #zooms with book illustrations for instance. The possibilities are endless!

The winner of a #zooms can be rewarded with a small prize or, that´s what we have in mind, at the end of a #zooms season gather all the winners and invite them to your institution for a special #zooms winners event. 

But most of all remember:

Zooms = 3 pics, 3 hints, 1 winner

Enjoy the games  

Ps. It was the Dutch surgeon Solingen had devised an alternative method to remove dents from soft skulls. A specially designed pewter cup was heated, causing the air inside the cup to expand. Then the cup was placed on the clean shaven part of the skull. When the cup cooled off the contracting air inside it caused suction, fixing the cup to the skull. Next the cup was pulled up by the leather strap, thus removing the dent in the head.

Big Science in my pocket

Big science in my pocket.

In the beginning of the scientific revolution scientific breaktrough was accomplished by lonely geniuses, at least if you take a romantic view at science. Sometimes I give myself permission to take the path of romanticism a indulge myself in the heroic stories of those with names like Newton, Huygens or Vesalius.

But when science progressed and the lonely geniuses became more and more part of international scientific networks a new art of science emerged. The called it Big Science. Experiments became so costly and instruments so huge that large teams of scientist have to flock together to manage them.

For a curator these Big Science projects are problematic. How on earth are we going to preserve a project like CERN for instance. And CERN is within reach. If you have the right access card you will be able to see it for yourself. But what if such a project is not on earth anymore?  The International Space Station is such a fine example of a project which can be visited by the happy few alone. For myself, the chances of becoming the first curator in space are reduced to the absolute minimum.

But until recently I feel myself connected with the ISS in a way I would not have expected a year before. Due to the magnificent webservice of Twitter.com and a briljant idea of freelance journalist and webdeveloper Jaap Meijers I gaze at the sky above from time to time. Why? Because ISS is passing over. It’s recognizable as a bright fast moving star.

How I know when to look up? Jaap built the Twitter application:  Twisst. An application you can run on your smartphone as well. What it does is very simple. You just follow @twisst and make sure Twitter knows your location. That’s all you have to do. Simple as that!

He himself can best explain how it works.

Infographic by O.K. PARKING / www.ok-parking.nl

Twisst is a mashup, combining several data sources to send out the ISS alerts. Here’s an explanation of how it all works.

  1. First, Twisst asks Twitter.com which twitter users are following the @twisst account and what location these people have entered in their Twitter profile.
  2. Next, these locations are ‘geocoded’. This means Twisst tries to find out what the geographic coordinates are for each location. Google Maps is used for this, or, when Google can’t figure out the right coordinates, Yahoo.
  3. When coordinates are found for the Twitter user, Twisst goes to the website www.heavens-above.com to see when ISS will fly over at those coordinates.
  4. To find out what the local time is for the @twisst follower, Twisst asks the geographic database Geonames in which time zone the location is.
  5. So, every time the International Space Station is coming, Twisst sends the follower an alert throught Twitter. It announces when ISS will pass, at the users local time. Also Twisst tells whether it is a remarkable nice one or not – so how bright and how high the space station will be on that pass.”

Back to big science. The secret of  Twisst’s success lies in the idea that via the Twitter alerts you’re not only aware of this beautiful space station an the scientists working in it, but I always realize that within the few seconds of its passage a lot of other tweeps will also be looking up. What a way to connect people!

The best part however, from a curator point of view… Jaap did what I haven’t done before. He gave me Big Science in my pocket!

The Twisst app. Is now running for a Shorty Award, a Twitter Prize. Please vote for Twisst at:   http://shortyawards.com/twisst


For more info on Twisst or ISS check:


Twisst on Twitter: www.twitter.com/twisst