Links of the Week: December 17, 2021: Everything Must Go, part 3

Museum Human finishes the year with links about hybrid work, tech, NFTs, and capitalism.

outdoor brick stairs against a wall covered in heavy graffiti
The year is going, going, almost gone (Photo by Evi Kalemi / Unsplash)

If you're reading this and not a subscriber to Museum Human, consider scrolling to the bottom and signing up now—it's free and is the only way to read the site's longer weekly post on the organizational culture of cultural organizations.

Tuesday's post was pretty much a summary of my museum-related feelings at the end of the year, so consider this a quiet extra to Museum Human's 2021. There'll be plenty to discuss regarding remote/hybrid work in the new year, so study up—and share your experiences! Workers can only change things if they contribute their stories to the group to help build a collective sort of bravery.

Remote/hybrid work

"Fragmentation isn’t a byproduct of remote work. It results from a lack of intentional bridgebuilding to link discrete groups and regions. Silos were certainly prevalent before the pandemic — hybrid work has simply created new requirements for effectively connecting teams that must work together to achieve shared outcomes.
"… most people won’t be returning to work as the same people they were before the pandemic; the last 18 months have changed all of us in some way. Our values and priorities have shifted. Our senses of meaning and purpose have broadened. Our anxiety has increased. For some, tolerance increased while for others, it decreased. In short, we have to get reacquainted with who we’ve each become. Otherwise, our natural biases that formed about who each of us were will kick in, creating unhelpful dissonance as we react to each other as we did prior to the pandemic. For example, one executive said of his colleague, “She used to have the best sense of humor, but now quips I make that she would always laugh at get no reaction at all.” He’d failed to consider that she was emotionally exhausted because her family was hit especially hard by Covid-19.

That's key and real. I myself feel different; abilities and outlooks I could take for granted in the before times are gone, I don't respond or work the way that I used to. The article advises us (well, leaders) to "create new shared identities." I still believe that the focus on leadership is going to divide and reinforce hierarchy in unhelpful ways; we need to be advising everybody because leadership is going to morph into something different. And I also don't believe that fragmentation started with the pandemic—it was already there, but the ache of loss, with colleagues no longer always down the hall, is an obstacle to a humane and respectful remote/hybrid workplace.

  • HBR also has this piece on avoiding return-to-the-office burnout, but the points should have already been mandatory without a pandemic!
  • Here's a couple of articles about meetings, from HBR and the Atlantic. There's still a sense that we're working towards a new normal of meetings to substitute for the meetings we had before, but we need to ask—are these meetings necessary? If we really need so many meetings, is there something wrong with our workplaces, leadership, and silos that there's no other way to share information or reach an agreement besides collective time usage? (Or did meetings serve a primarily social and connective function?) We also need to ask, for what members of marginalized groups—including the disabled—did the previous form of meetings not work for? Maybe work—in general—needs to be asynchronous, as per this article, which includes software and tool suggestions.
  • HBR of course has tons of articles on hybrid teams and cultures; a couple worth reading are here and here. The latter makes important points about how creating a strong social environment is the same as creating a strong learning environment, and how leaders need the physical workplace to be something special and unique, where values are reinforced. I would argue, however, that culture needs to be more democratically grounded and not leader-decided and -implemented.
  • Here's yet another HBR piece on how workers can "thrive" (yay!) in the "new normal" (boo!). The article has a useful discussion of how leaders can help workers form networks (not make them so busy that they don't have time, for starters?).
  • Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel have this thought-provoking piece in the Atlantic called "How to Care Less about Work." If you feel that the pandemic and return-to-work sapped the joy in your non-work activities, this article might be for you. It's an excerpt from their new book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home, which I just got in the mail. Expect to read more from Museum Human about this book after I've had a chance to read it (it has to get in line after Museums in a Troubled World and The Dawn of Everything).
  • Bloomberg has this rundown of how workplace consultants have rebranded themselves as return-to-office specialists (followed by their own interview with Petersen and Warzel).

Tech, including NFTs, crypto, and Web3

It’s a new way to work: shared ownership by all the contributors, and you have a community-driven governance process versus traditional top-down decision making. I think that ownership is really big in motivating people to make good decisions and do what’s ultimately best for the project, since they have a direct vested interest in it.
  • Also, scroll down in the article for interviews with Gail Wilson about community platforms (she recommends reading The DAOly post) and Sarah Drinkwater about creative experiments like Loot or Mad Realities (she recommends this YouTube explanation).
  • Other descriptions I've found about DAOs can be found here and here—I haven't read these yet, so please forgive any skeevyness.

There's so much about NFTs and the art-and-museum world that makes me shiver but those of us in the sector have to be aware of and knowledgeable about it before we find ourselves put onto crypto projects.

I'm reading more and more about DAOs because, as I wrote above, there is potential here for non-hierarchical workplaces, even perhaps new forms of museums. I'm less sanguine about NFTs, not because artists don't deserve to be paid, but because, like with the self-publishing craze a few years ago, the truth about how many artist NFTs don't generate any income except for the issuing orgs, is often deliberately obscured. Expect more on this in January if I don't disappear down a rabbit hole over the holidays.


You all know that more and more of Museum Human's writing this year was about capitalism, as the fight against the extraction of time, money, and resources from museum workers raised the stakes of a discussion about the capitalist assumptions of our nonprofit sector.

I hope this long list of links will provide you with holiday reading. Thanks for checking out the links and we'll be in touch in 2022!

If you're reading this and not a subscriber to Museum Human, consider signing up for a free subscription below—it's the only way to read the site's longer weekly post on the organizational culture of cultural organizations. Thank you for reading!

cover photo by Evi Kalemi / Unsplash [description: outdoor brick stairs against a wall covered in heavy graffiti]

Creative Commons License

Links of the Week: December 17, 2021: Everything Must Go, part 3 by Robert J Weisberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.