We don't often have an opportunity to showcase behind-the-scenes digital initiatives, especially when they're still in the development phase. But, yesterday four SITES staffers showed off some simple and efficient tech tools that will be the next big thing for our organization (and hopefully for others too).
Three goals: Share our working process with others at the Smithsonian; demonstrate that using technology wisely is a great way to go green, and last, prove that complex web development doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Enter our first presenter.
Marcie Sprankle, a SITES project director, was admittedly unsure about offering up her project for public dissection at the Smithsonian's Digital Fair. "It seems so simple," she said in the beginning. But she's discovering that the application's simplicity is what makes it useful, even for those with little technical acumen.
Sprankle talked about SITES' "Digital Admat" initiative. That's SITES speak for the planning materials organizations receive when they book one of our exhibitions--press releases, advertisements and invitations for promotion, exhibition scripts, programming information, bibliographies . . . the list goes on and on. Up to this point, these documents were painstakingly photocopied and dropped into a series of hard-cover binders (heavier than Oxford's latest dictionary) which were then FedExed to mailboxes all over the country. It was an immense amount of time and effort, not to mention the number of trees that sacrificed their lives for the final product.
This is where the story changes direction, however, thanks to Google docs, one of the myriad tools offered by the tech behemoth Google. It's a simple, real-life solution for transferring and sharing digital assets. These days, Marcie's uploading her advanced materials to Google docs rather than standing at the copy machine, and she's inviting partner museums to freely download all of those pictures, programming ideas, and press releases from their own desktops. "I can actually use this," one surprised visitor remarked after listening to Marcie, and that was music to our ears.
We'll be posting more insider tech initiatives in the week to come. Stay tuned for posts on low-cost web development and our web-based comment kiosk.