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1) To support organizations whose missions advance and enrich the public;

2) To employ my skills in communications, media, and technology;

in order to:

  • Apply expertise in using contemporary and emerging communications channels, techniques, and tactics
  • Help navigate in challenging times
  • Participate in developing new working models
  • Assist in creating a bridge to the new economy
  • Help re-position for the burgeoning global paradigm
  • Invest in upcoming generations while caring for the older ones
  • Fully engage in our increasingly networked environment

After graduating from art school I pursued a kind of dual career — as an artist and a museum professional. I also pulled teaching into the mix, through college courses and public presentations.

My work in the museum world (stretching back close to 30 years) taught me many things. For one, the world is always in transition. Understanding the nature of the transition is key. One such instance, technologically speaking, was so-called new media going from being an interesting experiment and curiosity to being the very centerpiece of both organizational and personal communication. As a part of this, in the 1990s and early 2000s, as we moved toward Web-centricity, we institutionalized the evolution from film-based photography (slides and larger-format transparencies were once the museum's primary representation of their collection) to digital images (and Digital Asset Management Systems to wrangle and avail them).

There was also the larger sociological transition. As public literacy with computers and the Internet grew, we had a long, spirited conversation about the right proportions between print-based communications (mostly out-going), and networked, electronic communications — by its very nature, more of a two-way street, and capable of re-defining the very role of the audience.

Throughout this conversation, something very exciting was lurking behind the hard work and the worrying and arguing and deliberating about what was to be done. That something was in fact a real revolution in our midst — the enormity of which we only sometimes recognized or collectively grasped with any clarity, but which constantly pulled us forward nonetheless. Luckily, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts was by and large a friendly environment for new ideas.

When I was a kid in the 1960s and '70s, and we talked about newspapers folding, it was always in the context of throwing a copy of the St Paul Pioneer Press from a bicycle to a doorstep. Today, the newspaper industry is folding — or otherwise transforming before our eyes — as traditional communications organizations large and small are grappling with revolutionary developments that present questions about how best to proceed — or whether they will continue to exist at all.

Why is this happening? As author Clay Shirky describes it,

"It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem [print-based] publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem." — From Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Good News
A positive message is barely hidden behind Shirky's death knell for newspapers — that some of the obstacles we've spent most of our lives trying to overcome have gone away, and all we need to do is recognize it. We're living in a world of opportunity, and if we don't understand, appreciate, and take advantage of that, it's probably our own fault.*

Perhaps our hesitance comes from decades of conditioning that we now must un-do. The pure, top-down model (if it really ever existed at all) is becoming a thing of the past. The world of few broadcasters and many receivers is disappearing. But perceiving this and living it are two different things. Most people under 25 or so don't have this archaic skin to shed. They are ready — and rightfully expect — to play an important role in the creation of our collective future. Yet our embrace of the younger generation must be matched with a commitment to the well being of the older one. Being somewhere in the middle, I believe I have the perspective to bridge this generational divide, and like to think I am among the visionaries when it comes to the communications revolution still playing out.

Put simply, All we have to do is pick up the new tools and use them! There is less and less need to rely on others in the act of growing, managing, developing, and connecting with — and within — our communities. And why should we? Organizations and their constituents possess more relevant, collective knowledge about their designated field than any third party possibly could. Audience/customer participation and interaction with non-profits and commercial ventures alike is becoming more direct every day, making communication strategies and their continual application all the more vital. Healthy organizations are deeply engaged with their constituents, or at least on a clear path to such engagement.

Reinventing Ourselves and Our Institutions
Despite the fact that there is unprecedented opportunity, we find ourselves in a precarious economic environment. While we may not be lacking vision, there is real uncertainty about resources. Writ small, you could illustrate it this way: We know that changing all of the light bulbs in our house will save us money in the long run, but can we afford the up-front cost of the more expensive units right now? This question extends to organizations, businesses, and the world as a whole. On good days we can see the future. Can we get there? One of my favorite aphorisms applies — Don't mistake a clear view for a short distance. At the same time, some objects may in fact be closer than they appear.

I would like to help an organization (or two, or more) get there.

What can I do for you?

*See Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy


Jim Ockuly Résumé, 2014

Image: Portrait of Jim Ockuly
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