We've just come back from the Museums and the Web 2016 conference (Los Angeles, CA), where we presented some of the initial results of our research. You can read the full paper here: Data Culture and Organisational Practice. We received great feedback from conference participants and had the opportunity to discuss the role, value and use of audience data in policy and practice in museums, libraries and archives. It was also useful to share views on the extent in which current and emerging systems and practices of data aggregation and analysis relate to the rhetoric and/or reality of the so-called data-driven decision making.
Our research so far has shown that the discussion about cultural performance and quality measurement is less about audit and reporting and more about cultural and creative practice. Cultural partners are interested in understanding what the generation and use of this audience data can do for their daily practice, rather than looking for the “easy wins” of collating evaluation data for their annual reports. This suggests that before data-driven decision making becomes an option that creates real change, the generation and analysis of data needs to become part of an organisation’s culture, with the issues and barriers that this brings with it. So, at this stage, our assessment is that if the discussion about data is a discussion about cultural practice and policy, then this might suggest that a data culture is being formed in a cultural organisation.
Next step for us is continuing analysing our research data and planning some additional research that would follow the adoption and use of this system by cultural organisations and examining how the metrics system impacts on their organisational practice and vice versa.