Being nosy makes me better at my job. I’m not talking about being a snoop or the office gossip. I’m talking about turning my curious nature into an asset by practicing what social media experts call “the art of listening.” With the rapid proliferation of new tools for expressing ourselves online—whether through blogging, sharing photos, or uploading videos—listening to what others have to say on the Web is becoming a much bigger and more interesting task!
Kermit the Frog. Photo by andrewmtu.
Many of you are already engaged in conversation with the museum. You email us, comment on our blog posts, add your photos to our Flickr group. Still more of you talk to us indirectly. You write blog posts and feed your Twitter stream with stories about your visits and what artifacts you’d like to see added to the collection. I’m letting you in on a little secret: we listen. And I’m amazed by how quickly we can get the message. For example, a stream of photos from “The American Presidency ” exhibition began appearing on Flickr the day the museum reopened (Nov. 21, 2008) and your captions and tweets let us know right away how you felt about seeing Obama’s entry on the timeline so soon after the election.
We also know that you don’t like long lines, some of you aren’t big fans of the new bathroom hand dryers, and a few miss the old pendulum! But you also have some really touching and wonderful things to say. Here are just a few of the interesting tidbits my “listening ear” has come across recently:
- “And what the American History Museum has is a nice marriage of traditional and modern . . . And very smartly, the bathrooms and lockers are located right next to the entrance. Thanks layout planners!” -Grasping for Reality blog
- “The place looked so much brighter, more inviting and happier than before. The overhall was really nice and we all had a good time checking out the new exhibits including some new movie memorabilia, the new Star-Spangled Banner exhibit and the transportation exhibit – where the boys had lots of fun being silly!” -Margaret Who? blog
- “[M]y Dad was right when he said that one day I would appreciate him taking us there…I felt a deep sense of family history and tradition last week when I wheeled my almost-one year old through those remodeled-but-still-familiar hallways of the American History Museum. And I cannot wait to take him back.” -DC Metro Moms blog
- “The revamped @amhistorymuseum looks terrific. Visited there today, along with, by my estimate, the entire population of America.” -@dancohen
- “[W]e did get to see the flag. It was by far one of the coolest things ever…very moving, surreal, almost impossible to believe. Waiting in line to see the Star Spangled Banner. It was a pretty long wait but was so worth it.” -Purple and Gold Martinis blog
- “@amhistorymuseum I really enjoyed your Object of History site built in Omeka. A great interactive resource.” -@smannion
- “It was amazing to see real historical artifacts. It made the connection to our shared history so much more real.” -K’o’u Honua blog
- “I think @amhistorymuseum having a Twitter page is a fabulous idea! Makes me that much more excited about wanting to be a curator someday!!” -@EliseG
- “It is full of lots of hands on activities for kids, therefore we only saw about half of it on Monday. The boys were so engrossed in the children’s activities I didn’t dare pry them away to view the First Ladies’ dresses, Lincoln’s death mask, or Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Maybe another time.” -The Butlers blog
- “I want to live inside Aretha Franklin’s inauguration hat if she doesn’t give it to the Smithsonian. It seemed very cozy. “ -@AmberNAmbrose
Dana Allen-Greil is New Media Project Manager at the National Museum of American History.