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Museumers, meet Futurists; Futurists, Welcome to the World of Museums!

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

I have a new line on my resume—possibly the coolest one yet. I am now a proud member of the Association of Professional Futurists. In the spirit of CFM’s role as an über-connector for the museum field, I’ve ginned up a way to introduce you to some of APF’s 200-or-so members: a Tweet Chat on the future of museums. Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 19, 4-5 p.m. ET to join us for this meet-and-tweet.

You may have met some APF members already, at CFM events: Garry Golden, has taught museum forecasting workshops for the past couple of years and is now a member of the CFM Council; Peter Bishop was a founding member of our Council and organized the “Ask a Futurist” booth at the 2011 AAM annual meeting.

Some you may have met at intersections of different fields. Bryan Alexander, for example, studies the future of technology and education, and is a forecaster for the Horizon Report (you may be familiar with the Horizon Report, Museum Edition).

Through this Tweet Chat and subsequent CFM machinations, I hope to introduce you to many others APF members, such as architect Cindy Frewen (@Urbanverse), who led an APF Tweet Chat on Urban Design last July; Charles Brass (@aussiefuturist) of the nonprofit Futurist Foundation based in Sydney; Australia; and Emily Empel (@localrat), who is studying at the futures studies program at the University of Hawaii (and whose work has included forecasting the future of the commercial sex industry).

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Quick primer on Tweet Chats:

  • If you don’t already have a Twitter account, visit and set one up.
  • Sign up to “follow” CFM (Twitter name @futureofmuseums.) Ok—you don’t have to do this to join the TweetChat, but do it anyway.
  • Before the Tweet Chat starts at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 19, sign in to the TweetChat site using your Twitter name and password, and enter the hashtag #futrchat when directed. This will take you to a “dedicated chat room” that makes it easier to follow the conversation, and will automatically attach the #futrchat hashtag to any tweet you contribute to the conversation

At 4 p.m. I will throw out the first question for discussion (Q1), and people will begin to respond. During the next hour, I will drop in four or five more questions to stimulate discussion. If you are responding to a particular question, prefacing your tweet with the corresponding answer number (e.g., A1), makes the conversation easier to follow.

Be prepared for the conversation to fly fast and furious. Cindy said of the Future of Design #futrchat she led, “It’s hard for me to describe the onslaught of asynchronistic, collective intelligence experienced at this firehose wide-open pace. You simply cannot digest it all during the chat.” My advice is to skim the tweets and focus on ones you want to respond to/answer/follow up on. We will publish a transcript later, enabling you to catch up on any tweets you missed.

If you want to catch the attention of a particular participant, start your tweet with their Twitter name (such as @futureofmuseums) to show you are directing your remark to them.

Whether or not you weigh in, watch the conversation to spot Tweeters you may want to “follow” on Twitter. I am monitoring the tweets of a dozen or so APF members now, and mine their tweets for interesting news to include in CFM’s weekly e-newsletter Dispatches from Future of Museums.

Quoting Cindy again, on the usefulness of these chats, “relevant, useful ideas emerge. You can find patterns and threads. It’s a window into many other worlds through links and exchanges. And ultimately, it simply gives you insights and perspectives from so many people that would be otherwise impossible to access without extreme effort.” So I hope you join us, as well as recruiting as many other interesting people as you can (in and out of museums) to tweet in and contribute to this fertile collision of fields.

While no preparation for the chat is required, participants may want to do a little reading ahead of time. If you are a futurist, you may appreciate an introduction to issues facing the museums. If you are a museum professional, you may want to bone up on future studies and trends shaping our field. Recommended reading:

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