Reflecting on the value of a network
It’s been ten days since we met at North Head in Auckland for our annual workshop under the theme “The value of interpretation.” That time has allowed me to reflect on what I learned, what shiny new ideas I can add into my interpretative tool box. But is has also allowed me to reflect on the weekend as time well spent.
As technology drives our communication world further into overload; as we are constantly driven to “do more with less”, networking has become more important than ever. Weekends like this are like a recharge to the battery, a chance to step away from daily demands and focus solely on one aspect of our profession.
Networking is about communicating, and making connections. It’s about making strategic alliances, meeting others that can help you further your own aims. It’s about learning, giving recognition to those who are leaders in their field, and empowering others to follow their lead.
One of the strengths of INNZ is that while we are all interpreters, sharing a common purpose and passion, we come from many walks of life. Amongst our group were people from DOC, zoos and botanic gardens, city councils, Historic Places Trust, Landscape Architects, graphic designers and independent consultants – plus our lovely lone Australian, John Pastorelli. The collective knowledge and experience in that room was enormous, and we had two days to tap into that.
I tend to take notes like sound bites and reading back through what I recorded from our speakers, there are some very quotable gems.
John P as always, was inspirational. “Interpretation,” he said, “is a pretty good living. We are doing something we love.”
“Interpretative media – panels, books and pamphlets – are sometimes called non-personal interpretation. But to me it all has to be personal, or it’s not interpretative.”
“Let’s have interpretative conservations”, he said. “It’s not just about us. Weave the ‘visitor’ element into the presentation; make the links that connects the relevance to them. Allow looseness.”
There was more of course… but you really had to be there.
There is always more to know. And no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn and other people may have the information that you need.
Jan Ramp told us “social media can be your friend or your foe. Word of mouth can race ahead of you and you have to be prepared.”
Victoria Travers shared “AR experiences have that magical wow factor and are still novel, but that’s just a moment in time, and in 1-2 years it will be old news.” She also shared that “visitors don’t know what you know” and to constantly question your decision around media choice “what can technology do that nothing else can?”
Amy Johnston Bray took us through her rules of engagement for designing science interactive and it all made such perfect sense!
But sometimes it’s the ‘unplanned moments’ that become the stand-outs, Michelle E. reminded me during a conversation about previous INNZ workshops.
“The taste of titi during our rock art tour of Timaru; Sarah Murray from Christchurch museum last year –a truly inspirational speaker, and the sweet old lady serving tea from an old gas-powered machine at the Dunedin gas museum. And of course, Oli’s belly-dancing in Wellington!”
Sharing these memories of past workshops reminded me that while Michelle and I only meet once a year, we collectively own these experiences and each shared moment has allowed us to grow professionally and personally.
Great networkers know that every best friend was once a perfect stranger. I am glad to know Michelle, and the many others who I met again, or met for the first time, at North Head. I’m proud of the work our committee has done over the last year. I hope I see you all again this time next year – in Nelson.