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The IMA Blog: of the people or for the people?

Recently we have been passionately debating topics related to content on the IMA Blog. Internally the blog team (and others around the museum) have asked a lot of questions that we all struggle to confidently answer. Who are the primary audiences? Is one audience more present than another? Are IMA staff one of the audiences? Do people want to sift content into one category that they actually read, or do IMA Blog readers enjoy the collective mentality the blog has taken on?

Instead of continuing with our speculation, I thought it might be cool to ask you, our readers, what you think. So tell us, what is most compelling about our blog, and what is lacking?

We began with a few writers and over time have added more in an effort to up the quality of the content, diversify the topics we cover and well represent many areas of work at IMA.

Over time we have noticed our Google analytics numbers going steadily up. This makes people happy, in the simple “more is better” way. But we know that this is not always true…sometimes less is more. Right?

So, lately we have started getting feedback that the voice of the blog has become too fractured by the large number of regular contributors. This feedback was unexpected at first, and seemingly in opposition to our growing readership, but as we grapple with it, the juxtaposition makes more sense now…

So before we go and change things again, we thought we would ask you to weigh in and let us know if you are dying to read more from a particular author, want to see more in-depth category pages, or if you just want us to shut up about it already and write something good. So let us have it!

Filed under: New Media

9 Responses to “The IMA Blog: of the people or for the people?”

  • avatar
    Daniel Says:

    I love local coverage of the arts. I see the IMA as this community’s leader in the arts and it can continue this role online by providing commentary and coverage of the art scene in Indianapolis both at the IMA and beyond.

  • avatar
    Noelle Says:

    It’s interesting to note that museum blogging is a fairly new development. A Museum 2.0 study of blogs by Ideum found only 26 blogs produced by museums or focused on museums in 2006. That was out of more than 29 million blogs on the Web at the time. I’m certain the numbers have increased, but we’re still in the early stages of understanding how a model for museums will work. I hope the IMA Blog will evolve a style of its own to serve the interests of our readers.

  • avatar
    Best of 3 Says:

    I’m a regular reader in New Zealand – and I follow you through my feedreader, meaning I skim the stuff that’s less relevant to me (often the local news) and open the posts I want to read more closely (often conservation, exhibition display/design and web stuff).

    Personally, I really like serendipity in my reading – to read a post on a topic that I wouldn’t have thought I was interested in, and get to the end and think ‘wow, I really enjoyed that’. That’s why I’d encourage you to keep mixing posts up, not sift them into categories.

  • avatar
    Despi Says:

    Thank you all for the thoughtful discussion. I think all of these points are valid ones.

    I think we are usually a bit cautious in reporting arts events outside of IMA, since there are other locals for whom that role is more central to their mission. That being said, many of us that work at IMA are also consumers of the local arts scene and it stands to reason that what happens outside of IMA’s walls certainly affects our work.

    And I think Noelle is right in that we are still sorting things out. To that end we have been talking about how to offer more in-depth content for those who want it. Which led us to the discussion of categories.

    I appreciate Best of 3′s comments about a the benefits of an unexpected find. It is reassuring to know that there is a regular reader out there who feels this way about our content! And thank you for being a regular reader!!

    Please keep the ideas coming!

  • avatar
    Chad Says:

    Best of both worlds: Why not add a list of categories/authors to the main nav, each with their own feed. That way, if a visitor wants to follow an individual category, they can easily do that; if they want to follow the whole blog, then that’s available as well.

    …I see there is a category list on the “archives” page–I’d consider promoting that to the main page and giving each category its own feed.

    Just 2 cents–I’ll keep subscribing to the whole enchilada. Great work–

  • avatar
    Despi Says:

    That sounds like a good compromise as far as categories go…certainly something the blog team should consider. Thanks!

  • avatar

    Admittedly, I’m homer for the museum, but I agree with Best of 3. I like this blog because of the variety, because I have no idea what’s going to be on it the next day. Sure, some post I’m more interested in than others, but that’s the draw for me.

    This variety is not unlike the museum campus itself (there’s a lot of different things that you can do here, and seemingly something new every day). Okay, now that really is being a homer, but it’s true, or at least it is for me — and maybe this is because I work here and I have a sense of all the things that are currently in the works.

    It’s interesting that no one has said that they don’t like the format….

    Adding a way to more quickly choose particular content would be useful.

    What else, hmm… how about more coffee and chocolate for the conservation blogger. That sounds pretty good. Can you make that happen, Despi?

  • avatar
    mediakath Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the entries because they are varied and give us a peek into “behind the scenes” of a cultural institution…in fact, I am working on the beginnings of just the same thing for the Indiana State Museum! (www.indianastatemuseum.wordpress.com for bold self-promotion) ‘Blogging by committee’ seems oxymoronic, but it guarantees fresh and unique content, so keep it up! I especially enjoyed the entry about cleaning up the dancing girls :)

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