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CFM Home   CFM Blog   Join the Alliance   Moving? New Job? Let the Alliance know. March 12, 2015


News from CFM

Food should be more expensive
Or so says advocates for a healthy, sustainable food system. Maybe museums should be, too? This week on the CFM Blog we explore the economic concept of externalities — costs or benefits passed on to people who didn't ask for them. If this bit of economic theory translates to museums, it could illuminate how subsidies (in the form of tax exempt status or philanthropy, for example) may warp the supply chain of cultural experiences. If that makes your head hurt, chill out with some updates on TrendsWatch 2015 — Monday's roundup of recent articles related to personalization, open data and other themes, and Thursday's guide to the new Pinterest boards related to the new report. (Download a free PDF of the new edition of TrendsWatch here.)
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What it's like to have a robot for a teacher
The Nexus Academy of Columbus is part of a network of seven charter schools in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. They started with one telepresence robot in one school three years ago and then added a second, in the Columbus school, last year. This school year all the schools have one robot. What makes these robots better than a video chat on a stationary computer screen? Some teachers and students at the Columbus school said it creates a different dynamic. A phone call or a Web chat requires two people — someone has to answer on the other end of the line. With the robot, the teacher can log in and zoom around without anyone lifting a finger inside the school building. It gives the teachers a measure of control. If they need to speak to someone, they can log in and go find the person, without waiting for someone else to take action. ♦ This story is about teachers teaching via robots — like the telepresence robots you may have seen last year at the AAM annual meeting — rather than robots as teachers. But, cool, none-the-less.
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In Vermont, a hyper-local online forum brings neighbors together
Vermont resident Erin Wagg received a card from a friend in Italy and it was written in Italian. "I don't read Italian at all," says Wagg. So she posted about it on a network called the Front Porch Forum, asking if anyone could read and translate the card for her. From her town of Richmond, Vt. (population 4,000), she received more than 20 offers of help. At a time when many people are connected to hundreds, if not thousands, of people on social media, Front Porch Forum is building smaller networks — of neighbors. Every day, participants get an email including all the postings from other people in their town or city. People report lost dogs or break-ins, recommend babysitters, sell items and raise money for various causes. In order to take part, members have to be local residents and can't be anonymous. And each person can only join a single forum. "What this is doing is saying, 'Connect to people who you may not have, you know, a lot in common with — but hey, you live next door to them. You should get to know them'"
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Gender equality report: An example of how big data can address big problems (+video)
The Christian Science Monitor
The status of women and girls has improved substantially since 1995, but there is still a lot of work to be done, states a new report released Monday. The "No Ceilings" report, published through collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, is a treasure-trove of information about gender development worldwide. It found, for example, that almost two-thirds of the world's illiterate adults, 496 million people, are women. On a brighter note, it calculated that maternal mortality has decreased by 42 percent since 1995, with South Asia making the biggest advances. ♦ Article discusses how this research ties to the UN launched Global Pulse, an initiative that "aims to raise awareness about the opportunities for data scientists, governments, and development-sector practitioners to combine forces and use big data in their work."
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Donor trends for 2015
The Agitator
Last week, Fundraising Success ran 4 Nonprofit Donor Demographics Trends for 2015 in which four fundraisers offered their prognostications. [In this article Tom Bedford bounces his own speculation against other crystal-ballers.] ♦ Bedford's forecast includes a rise in monthly giving, a dissent on the projected "transfer of wealth" from the Boomers and the need for visual messaging (think Instagram, people).
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  The Huntington's New Facility to Open

Construction is well underway at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, as MATT Construction aims to complete sections of the new Education and Visitor Center as early as January, 2015. The remainder of the Center will open in the spring. MORE


Architect Renzo Piano: The future of Europe's cities is in the suburbs
In a recent interview, NPR asked the 77-year-old Pritzker Prize-winning architect not about new buildings — but about cities. In the 1960s and '70s, like many of his contemporaries, Piano was involved in the battle to revive forlorn and decaying historic centers of cities. Now he's fighting to save their often desolate outskirts. Unlike the suburbs of U.S. cities, which are often well off, the suburbs of many European cities tend to be the poorest parts of the metropolitan area. "They are the future of the city; or they are the city of the future, if you prefer." Piano believes it's the architect's civic duty to seize even the tiniest fragment of beauty and nourish it.
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How climate change will alter New York City's skyline
Last week, The New York City Panel on Climate Change released a new report detailing exactly how climate scientists expect New York City to change over the next 100 years, focusing on projected increases in temperature and sea level. Sea level rise will certainly transform the shape of the city's coastline. But Manhattan's edges are basically a man-made pile of garbage already — they can go ahead and disintegrate. What climate will really change is the true shape of New York: Its iconic skyline, and the buildings in it. New Yorkers will first have to radically reinterpret how they use their basements and ground floors. Alex Wilson, president of the Resilient Design Institute, advocates for clearing out ground floors and basements in buildings that are at-risk for frequent flooding, and adapting them to let water move in and drain out with minimal damage.
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  EDISON PRICE LIGHTING: Illuminating World-Class Art

See your collection shine with Edison Price Lighting’s top-quality track and recessed fixtures.

The near and far future of libraries
Recently, Google Vice President and "father of the Internet" Vint Cerf warned that we might be headed for a "digital Dark Age," a massive loss of information with obsolete file types and hardware. That's an especially dire prophecy in an era when digitization is rapidly eclipsing print media, artificial intelligence is perfecting search queries, and drastic upheavals are quietly underfoot at the world's historic libraries. All this leads to the question of what happens if we lose our traditional libraries? What is the future for libraries and archiving? ♦ Article presents forecasts/speculation by Satinder Singh of t the University of Michigan's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Maxine Bleiweis, director of the Westport Library, internet archiver Ilya Kreymer and Laura Welcher, director of operations at the Long Now Foundation.
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Can hipsters save the world?
The Guardian
A new book by the economist Douglas McWilliams, The Flat White Economy, suggests that hipsters, and the ecosystem surrounding them, represent the future of British prosperity. Not only are they greener and more ethical than the rest of us, but the industries in which they work are driving our economy. The flat white economy is driven by online retail and marketing but it comprises many different businesses: McWilliams argues that it is mainly defined by the types of people it employs. At the consumer end this leads to cafés and niche shops Plenty of people hate hipsters, but if more of us lived like them, the world could be greener, more left-wing and less preoccupied by greed. In some respects, America has been here already. Portland and Boston are two cities that experienced a version of the flat white economy before London did.
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Film ponders future of humans in a world run on artificial intelligence
Deseret News
The funeral scene played like something out of science fiction. The dead weren't children or relatives, but to the elderly mourners assembled for the mass funeral earlier this year in the Kofuku-ji temple near Chiba, Japan, the 19 bodies being blessed were family. The "dead" were once Aibo (the Japanese word for "companion") — robot dogs created by Sony that are wildly popular in Japan. The dogs are especially beloved among the country's seniors, who make up 25 percent of Japan's population. To author and filmmaker James Barrat, the fact that robot dogs are laid to rest is a sign of society's problematic and increasingly personal relationship with artificial intelligence. Barrat hopes more sci-fi films will spark a serious conversation about the risks of A.I. ♦ Article spurred by the release of the film "Chappie," which opened last weekend. A good futurist outing — the main character is a robot.
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Museum Innovations

Etsy to create original products for American Museum of Natural History
CBS News
The popular online craft seller Etsy is creating a line of original products for the American Museum of Natural History. The items, inspired by the museum’s collection, will be sold at the museum’s gift shop and online. It's the first time that the Brooklyn-based craft seller has collaborated with a museum in the creation of original products, the museum said.
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  Roger Mandle Associates LLC

Working out Board issues? Help is on the way! Our team of museum professionals and trustees are experienced in solving leadership concerns diplomatically.

University of Leicester launches 1st museum studies MOOC
Museums Association
The University of Leicester has unveiled the world's first museum studies Massive Open Online Course (Mooc) in partnership with National Museums Liverpool (NML). Moocs are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. The Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century Museum Mooc, developed by Leicester's School of Museum Studies and NML, will comprise a six-week course of two hours a week. People can sign up from today and the course starts on 1 June. "The idea of this Mooc is really intriguing," said NML director David Fleming. "It gets our message out there about our commitment to running a modern museum service for diverse audiences and it reaches a whole new audience worldwide."
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New Anchorage museum 'lab' sparks innovation
Four-year-old Anabel Lantzman wanders into the Anchorage Museum's new Spark!Lab ahead of the other kids and sees balls and pipes hanging from metal rods. Buckets and a bingo ball cage stick out from the base. It's like a tree of stuff. "This is not just banging things that's going on here," says Arthur Molella, the director of the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian, which created the Spark!Lab. "This is all done with a purpose. Cause some of the same energies that are happening here — essentially this curiosity, a disciplined curiosity begins here and carries on through the rest of your life." Molella says that curiosity and creativity lead to innovation and invention. That's why his center worked with educators to create the Spark!Lab. They're helping museums around the United States set up their own localized versions. The Anchorage version, the sixth in the country, will soon include activities focused on the innovation required to live in the Arctic. ♦ You can read more about the Spark!Lab National Network in this post by Michelle DelCarlo on the CFM Blog.
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Miss an issue of The Dispatches from the Future of Museums? Click here to visit The Dispatches from the Future of Museums archive page.

Museum asks visitors to listen to New York's buildings
A new multimedia exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York is encouraging visitors to experience architecture not only with their eyes, but also with their ears. Karen Van Lengen, who created the installation with her husband, James Welty, says to really soak in a building, you need to listen to it. "If you close your eyes, what you're going to hear are things that you can't hear with your eyes open," says Van Lengen, an architecture professor at the University of Virginia. She recorded sounds in iconic New York buildings for Soundscape New York to capture sonic details like the tinkling of forks and knives from Grand Central's balcony restaurants. She says she hopes the installation will push people to stop, shut out visual distractions and think about the building they're standing in. ♦ Check out the Vimeo of Van Lengen's visualization of the soundscape of the New York Public Library Reading Room—not as quiet as you’d expect it to be!
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Tools for the Future

Protection without a vaccine
The New York Times
Scientists at Scripps Research Institute [say] they [have] developed an artificial antibody that, once in the blood, grabbed hold of the virus and inactivated it. The molecule can eliminate H.I.V. from infected monkeys and protect them from future infections. But this treatment is not a vaccine, not in any ordinary sense. By delivering synthetic genes into the muscles of the monkeys, the scientists are essentially re-engineering the animals to resist disease. Researchers are testing this novel approach not just against H.I.V., but also Ebola, malaria, influenza and hepatitis. "It could revolutionize the way we immunize against public health threats in the future," said Dr. Gary J. Nabel, the chief scientific officer of Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company that produces a wide range of vaccines.
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Disney's $1 billion bet on a magical wristband
MagicBands look like simple, stylish rubber wristbands offered in cheery shades of grey, blue, green, pink, yellow, orange and red. Inside each is an RFID chip and a radio like those in a 2.4-GHz cordless phone. The wristband has enough battery to last two years. It may look unpretentious, but the band connects you to a vast and powerful system of sensors within the park. It's amazing how much friction Disney has engineered away: There's no need to rent a car or waste time at the baggage carousel. You don’t need to carry cash, because the MagicBand is linked to your credit card. For Disney, the MagicBands, the thousands of sensors they talk with, and the 100 systems linked together to create MyMagicPlus turn the park into a giant computer — streaming real-time data about where guests are, what they're doing, and what they want. It's designed to anticipate your desires. ♦ An extreme, and extremely functional, example of wearable technology, and a tool for creating personalized experiences (two themes of TrendsWatch 2015).
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Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Building the 1st slavery museum in America (The New York Times)
Speed was the great obsession of the 20th century. Now it is time we all slowed down (The Telegraph)
The gentrification effect (The New York Times)
Hong Kong rolls out art bus plan to take museums to the masses (South China Morning Post)
Increases in charitable giving projected, but where will that money land? (Nonprofit Quarterly)
Are humans getting cleverer? (BBC News)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

Dispatches from the Future of Museums
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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