Learning from the ISEN-ASTC-L list

July 14th, 2006 by Wendy Pollock

The ISEN-ASTC-L email list is one of the resources science center and museum people have been using over the last 10 years to share information and offer mutual support. The list now has 1,330+ subscribers in more than 20 countries (most in the United States and Canada). To help us understand what kinds of questions come up around exhibits, we asked Randi Korn & Associates to analyze postings from a six-month period. We wanted to make sure we’re taking into account the real problems people run into in their work–not just whether or not someone has produced an exhibition about a topic like infrared radiation (to use a recent example), but more technical issues like inexpensive alternatives to heat-imaging cameras. We’re using this analysis as we specify content requirements for the exhibition records that will serve as the core of the ExhibitFiles site.

Analysis of ISEN-ASTC-L postings PDF

ISEN-ASTC-L: subscribe and search archives

6 Responses to “Learning from the ISEN-ASTC-L list”

  1. Kathy Krafft Says:

    Wow– I found the 6-month list of topics on the listserv to be very helpful in and of itself. Maybe a summary like that every 6 or 12 months?

    The list led me to go back to find some old postings relevant to newer projects. For example, seeing the topic about languages for traveling exhibitions overseas led me to go find the very interesting discussion from last fall, as we’ve recently been contacted by a museum in Venice, Italy that would like to rent or buy a copy of one of our exhibitions.

    I do try to get to it each day so 1) it doesn’t pile up, and 2) I can read about or occasionally reply in a timely fashion if I do have something to share about a topic. I also confess that I sometimes get behind on reading the listserv…

    The listserve is a wonderful resource for many reasons. I enjoy the various topics and queries, and wonderful responses and even humor occasionally. I appreciate being able to pose an occasional question. I’d love to meet you all. Maybe we should have a listserve get-together, all wearing our nametags, at the ASTC conference??

    I get the digest format which I appreciate as it keeps my in-box from becoming overwhelmed. The disadvantage to that is that if there’s a couple of messages on a topic that I want to save for future reference (such as the languages thread), I often have to copy and paste them into a Word document, cut out the repetitive parts, and print them out.

    Kathy Krafft
    Exhibit Projects Director
    Sciencenter
    Ithaca, NY

  2. Paul Orselli Says:

    What should be the relationship (if any) between the Exhibit Files resources and the ASTC listserv? Are there areas of overlap? (or potential synergy?)

    One thing that motivates this question beyond the obvious framing/parameters issues related to Exhibit Files is the need (in my opinion) for an updatable FAQ and Resources section(s) for the ASTC listserv. Many issues/topics do repeat/recycle. While some queries about these “evergreen” topics do break new ground, most (again, in my opinion) deal with issues that are in the archives, but are sometimes difficult to dig out.

  3. Wendy Pollock Says:

    Paul and Kathy’s suggestions are good ones. We should be more actively mining the listserv archives and making the resources that are embedded there easier to find. The ASTC website (www.astc.org) will be undergoing some redesign over the next several months, too, and we would welcome advice about ways the Resource Center there — as well as the ExhibitFiles site — can serve this purpose.

  4. Colin Purrington Says:

    As a member of ASTC listserv, I feel we are sorely in need of communication about exhibit graphics and design, something Exhibit Files could do more easily. I wonder whether this blog might consider having an offshoot on Flickr, perhaps as simply a repository of images discussed on these pages. As an example, please see http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpurrin1/sets/594910/ .

  5. Wendy Pollock Says:

    We hear you, Colin. In fact, that’s the idea behind ExhibitFiles–not to duplicate the list, or even what’s happening spontaneously on Flickr (thank you for sharing these photos!), but to build complementary relationships that support the exhibit community.

    We’be been doing some more thinking about connections between ISEN-ASTC-L and the ExhibitFiles site. In fact, there’s a new post about just this. More will be coming soon about other design features.

  6. Exhibit Files Blog » Blog Archive » Tapping the wisdom of the crowd Says:

    [...] Earlier discussion about the relationship between ExhibitFiles and the ISEN-ASTC-L list got us thinking. Paul Orselli notes that topics recur and wonders whether we could create an FAQ or resource drawn from the list archive. Like Paul, we wondered whether there is a way to integrate ExhibitFiles and the list, with its well-established community of 1,370+ members. And then: Is there a way to tap the collective wisdom of the exhibit community to add value to the discussions already happening on the list? We’ve come up with these ideas: [...]