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Introduction To new

Introduction To new readers unfamiliar with TrendsWatch, welcome! This report is our annual overview of trends observed in the course of a year producing Dispatches from the Future of Museums, CFM’s free e-newsletter. Each week in that communiqué, we compile a dozen or so stories from across the Web, drawing on a variety of mainstream news sources, blogs, research reports, pop culture and writers from the fringe. Outside the museum field, we look for news and commentary on culture, economics, policy, technology and the environment that signal where we may be headed in coming decades. Inside the field, we look for examples of museums and other cultural and scientific organizations testing innovations that may prove to be successful in our swiftly changing environment. For returning readers: welcome back! The content of the report is much the same as our first two years: I summarize how each of six trends is playing out in the world, offer some observations on what this means for society and for museums, share a few examples of how museums are engaging with this trend, and suggest how any museum might like to respond. The major change this year is format. In addition to the free, downloadable PDF, we are offering print copies of TrendsWatch through the AAM Bookstore. There is discount pricing on bulk orders, which we hope facilitates use of the report for discussions with staff, committees or the board of trustees. (I recommend you use the print copies in conjunction with the PDF, to take advantage of the many embedded links in the digital version.) Also through the Bookstore, we are experimenting with an enhanced digital edition, formatted to read more cleanly on a tablet or other e-reading device, and with embedded videos to complement the text. I look forward to hearing whether you find this format makes the report more enjoyable to read and use. Apropos of two of the trends covering in this year’s report—big data and privacy—the free PDF is different in a subtle but important way. Embedded in the document is a tracking code (or, as it has come to be affectionately referred to by Alliance staff, “the magic chip”) that counts when the report is opened or printed, and reports these stats back to CFM. Why have we chipped the report? The PDF is free to users thanks to the generous sponsors listed on page 2. Their ROI is exposing readers to their brand and helping to share the content of the report. The more people who read TrendsWatch, the higher its value to sponsors, but we can’t quantify that value without being able to track and report on how it is used. Hence the chip. In fact, the report isn’t 4

eally free—we are asking you to pay with data (about how often you access and share your copy) rather than with cash. This does raises privacy issues, which we are dealing with a) by disclosing what data we are collecting, and how, and b) offering other formats (print, enhanced digital) that you can pay for with cash instead. No matter what the format, this report is intended as a jumping-off point for your own planning. The purpose of strategic foresight is to prime your imagination to envision different futures—some of the many ways that the world could evolve into more than an amped-up version of today. As you read about these six trends, think about how they will shape the world, what it would be like to live in the world they may create, and how you and your organization might respond. How do you feel about the prospect of ubiquitous surveillance, on and off line, and what steps would you take to protect your privacy? What underutilized resources do you have in your life (time, skills, space, possessions) that you might put to use in the sharing economy? Personally I think the most important and challenging question is raised in “For Profit for Good”: How big an impact do museums want to have on the world, and how can we ensure that the good we do is good enough? As always, your feedback is most welcome. Please contact me at emerritt@aam-us.org to share your observations about how these trends are playing out at your museum and in the world, suggest trends we should cover in subsequent reports, and please, please, tell us how you are using TrendsWatch to inform how you and your organization plan for the long term. Yours from the future, Elizabeth Merritt Founding Director Center for the Future of Museums American Alliance of Museums 5

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JANUARY 4-6 2017