HCLE At MW2014

The Museums and the Web conference returned, and we did too. (See last year’s report.) Museums and the Web is a good place to meet people who understand museums and technology – a good thing for a virtual museum. Small museums require networking, collaboration, and exposure – all things we got by attending.

Our raw notes were published via twitter
Our raw notes were published via twitter

The ultimate direct benefit from such an event would be to find enough funding to more than pay for the trip; but that is uncommon. Except for the vendors, it is doubtful that anyone achieved that goal. There were significant benefits but they are the valuable intangibles of ideas, contacts, and publicity.

A small museum has a better chance of succeeding when supported by the rest of the professional community.

This year was a refreshing escalation in our participation because we were included in the schedule. We gave a talk about our collaborative strategy, and how it benefits both party’s goals while keeping costs down. (So Glad Our Virtual Museum Is Not RealMW2014 Lightning Talk slide 5

We, via Liza Loop and LO*OP Center, took a leadership role by creating and hosting a professional online forum for museum professionals. (Museum Learning Central) The surprise was that there was no such place available for career development and mutual support for museum operations and brainstorming. (Email us at our Gmail account:  HCLEmuseum for an invitation.)

The barriers between the physical and virtual spaces are falling. A virtual museum is not seen as radical, though it is uncommon. We are maintaining a list of virtual museums so we can coordinate and collaborate without attending conferences so we encourage you to send us URLs for any that you know of.

One of the most heartening, and hardest to quantify, experiences was that we were recognized.

Liza at the microphone
Liza at the microphone

In addition to the talk, we participated by engaging in the discussions, Q&A, and breakout sessions that allowed for a much more active role than simply sitting in the seats. HCLE didn’t have to be explained as often. Conversations were about progress and advice instead of simple explanation. We even had an informal program plan review that affirmed our strategy and tactics. And we received a very detailed and impassioned description of the value of graph databases (via Post-its).

Paper, the original tech
Paper, the original tech

We haven’t decided if we will if it will be necessary to return in 2015. Unless HCLE has more significant funds we’ll be best served by attending a different conference, possibly an education conference. An education conference won’t provide as much useful technical advice, but it may connect us with people equally passionate about the history of computing in learning and education. Of course, the best course would be to have sufficient funds and time to attend conferences that cover each of our topics: museums, history, computers, computing, learning, and education. But we have a lot of work to do with cataloging, archiving, site development, exhibit creation, and a myriad of other tasks. We are certainly busy.

HCLE will be present at another conference in 2013, partly through convenience. The American Alliance of Museums holds a large annual meeting, and this year it is in Seattle, which means that our Project Manager, Tom Trimbath, can attend by commuting thereby dramatically decreasing the cost of lodging.

The true value of the conference will become evident as we follow up on contacts and ideas. We’re already received interest from universities in the UK, and of course established better relations with various museums in the US.

And if nothing else, our social media presence increased by about 20% simply through persistent tweeting (which also gave us an opportunity to comment on what we heard.) Speaking is important, but so is listening. Thanks for letting us listen.

Tom tweeting (from @HCLEmuseum)
Tom tweeting (from @HCLEmuseum) photo courtesy of Andrew Lewis (@rosemarybeetle)


HCLE First Quarter 2014 Progress Report

Welcome to the inaugural HCLE quarterly report. We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter @HCLEmuseum) but we decided to collect them, plus a few others, into a report so more people can learn about the project and maybe even help. Please pass it along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, time, artifacts, stories, or connections.

Last year’s news – 2013 available online

First Quarter 2014


  • Database/Catalog/Exhibits – tending towards Drupal/CiviCRM

    • note: NEH impressed with HCLE CiviCRM proposed implementation

  • Proof of Concept

    • proposal(s) received

    • work to commence upon acquisition of funds

  • Collecting examples of virtual museums and exhibits

    • benefit from other creative museums

  • Traveling Exhibit

    • coordinating with similar ventures

      • Computer Museum – UK (80’s classroom static exhibit)

      • Living Computer Museum (experience with small mobile exhibit)


  • Preliminary digitization begun

  • Preliminary research begun

    • Prof. Fred Turner using digitized PCC for class materials

  • Introductions/Networking

    • social media through Facebook and Twitter

    • introductory emails and calls (e.g. various History of Education museums)



  • Homebrew Computing Club anniversary – Liza Loop attended

  • Writing Competition – $200 award to be announced by end of April

  • Social Media traffic report






















  • Individuals – Vision Club

    • dozens more invitations

  • Organizations – via Foundation Center

    • introductory letters

      • Sloan

      • Tech Museum of Innovation

      • 3M Heritage Trust Project

      • Accenture

  • Unsolicited Donations – enabled via PayPal


Second Quarter 2014


Continuation of above tasks plus:


  • Museums and the Web

    • annual conference (Baltimore, MD April)

      • Lighting Talk “So Glad Our Museum Isn’t Real – It’s Virtual”

  • American Alliance of Museums

    • annual meeting (Seattle, WA May)


  • Additional Vision Club members

  • Additional organizations

    • particularly

      • Bell Family Foundation

      • Jeff Hawkins and Janet Strauss

      • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation



“The teachers who deserve the exposure usually don’t have publicists. That’s one reason we’re here.”