Friday, June 16, 2006

Welcome!

This is the first of many installments of what I hope will become a staple of analysis on technology issues from a cultural sector perspective. It is my hope, that this blog will benefit a range of technology employees from entry-level to managers.

Some may ask why another perspective on technology is necessary in the already over saturated blogsphere. (And only in reference to Museums? What a tiny niche!) Futher, I can anticipate the protests that cultural technology's concerns are really no different than those in the business world. If there is a difference, it is just one of scale. I can understand how such perspective could arise, but I could not disagree more strongly. On a plethora of issues, from salaries to development resources, from professional growth opportunities to the relationship with the software market, Museum and cultural technology operates in a de facto different world than its counterparts in the corporate world. The discrepancy between these two worlds often leaves nonprofit technology professionals afloat on a sea of ideas, perspectives, products and advice that are never entirely applicable to their organizations.

It is my opinion that amongst all nonprofit technology professionals there are few reliable sources for technology news and analysis. Further, the level of professional discourse surrounding nonprofit technology management, ethics, horizons and impact is relatively low. This state is not reflective of the quality of workers in the nonprofit technology field, but rather parallels the lack of communication and analytic mediums. Without a platform for a more pervasive and professional dialogue of what delineation and meaning are derived from nonprofit technology as a profession (opposed to its current self-understanding as an extension/reduction of corporate and government technology), its management and execution will be continually under informed as to accountability, direction and opportunities.

As a counterpoint, consider the field of fundraising. Nonprofit fundraising, as a profession, has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three decades. The professionalization of fundraising has arisen in no small part because of the need of nonprofit organizations to identify a core skill and knowledge base when making hiring and promotion decisions. Throughout the 70's and 80's it became clear to nonprofit boards that the skills needed to successfully manage and operate a fundraising program differ significantly from those in related corporate and even nonprofit realms. Even those staff members within organizations with experience in nonprofit administration often did not have requisite knowledge and perspective to move into the fundraising world.

In the last decade, to help serve this need, professional trainining and accredidation programs, certificates, and now Master's Degrees are offered in support of the professional fundraiser. Parallel to these educational opportunities, a wealth of information resources have also arisen to identify industry trends, changes in fundraising cultures, as well as, outlets for self-analysis and critique. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has been published since 1997, both defining a community of fundraisers and simultaneously defining the terms of that community; its applications, issues and opportunities.

It is my hope that in some small way, this blog will help to extend and deepen the community and conversations of technology professionals in the cultural world.

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