It will probably be a few months before my thesis is available online, so in the meantime I wanted to share the acknowledgements section – so many people have helped me over the last three years and I really couldn’t have got through it without so much support….
Firstly I would like to thank DEL for providing me with a studentship to complete this PhD, and prior to this, a studentship to complete an MRes (at University of Ulster). Secondly my thanks go to Elizabeth Crooke, Alan Hook and Ian Thatcher for providing invaluable and on-going support and supervision throughout my PhD. Particular thanks must go to Alan Hook, who joined my supervision team a year into this project and has worked tirelessly ever since to support and advocate for the more innovative elements of my work. Pushing boundaries and questioning established practice is never easy but Alan helped me to keep a sense of humour when knee deep in paperwork, and endless emails about university policy and PhD submission criteria.
Thanks must also go to the outgoing Head of the Research Graduate School, Stanley Black (who was always supportive of my desire to present at ‘amazing international conferences’, even though I pretty much emptied his travel budget over the last three years), and also to Lisa Fitzpatrick, current Head of the Research Graduate School for support in the weeks prior to submission.
Heartfelt thanks go to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which awarded me a fellowship, funding and support to spend 5 weeks researching museums and digital engagement in New York (in June 2012). I’ve never worked with a friendlier or more supportive funding body. Indeed to call them a funder doesn’t do their work justice; the staff and fellows are a community of enthusiastic professionals who go the extra mile to support each other. During my time in New York I was humbled by and grateful for the generosity shown to me by those working at the cutting edge of digital practice in museums, from inviting me to events, meeting me for lunch, dinner and drinks, introducing me to colleagues and ensuring that no door remained unopened to me during my visit. This trip in terms of developing my skills, confidence and knowledge was invaluable in helping me to create a rigorous and robust thesis. I am indebted to all of those people that took time out to meet me, including:
Julia Kaganskiy, Rosanna Flouty, Seb Chan, Katie Shelley, Micah Walter, Francesca Merlino, Jennifer Tee, Sarah Anne Hughes, Molly MacFadden, Colleen Brogan, Allegra Burnette, Carrie McGee, Rebecca Taylor, Ben Vershbow, Kim Robledo-Diga, Man Bartlett, Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria, Ryan Donahue, Don Undeen, Paco Link, Dina Helal, Gretchen Scott.
In terms of being able to develop an international outlook for my work, thanks must also go to the Alumni Fund at The University of Ulster, who provided me with a travel scholarship, which allowed me to speak at Museums and The Web in Portland (April 2013).
Throughout my PhD I have developed a really supportive international network of friends, peers and colleagues, many of whom I ‘met’ for the first time on Twitter. As the only person researching museums and digital culture in Northern Ireland these conversations, words of encouragement and support are simply too valuable to describe. Another important network that provided both support and encouragement is The Museums Computer Group. The groups JISC email list has acted as a daily learning tool from conversations around Metadata, to website hosting, games, to social media – every day is a school day, and its been great to get to know the people behind all these emails over the last couple of years. I became a member of the MCG committee in late 2011, and I want to extend a massive thanks to my fellow committee members, for being valuable sources of support, knowledge and banter!
When thinking about how to structure this acknowledgment I was conscious that I didn’t want to overlook all those people that spoke at my events, wrote blog posts, bought me coffee, helped out at events and encouraged me to keep on going, even when quitting seemed like a more appealing option. I know I’ve thanked you all individually over the last few years, and will do so again once I have formally submitted my PhD, but, I wanted to also put my thanks to you here in writing:
Matt Johnston, Chris Martin, Melissa Gordon, Chris Palmer, Dawn Hargy, Gawain Morrison, Steven Shaw, Martin McCloone, Mia Ridge, Lyndsey Jackson, Sharna Jackson, Danny Birchall, Nico Fell, Alex Moseley, Anna Patrick, Adrian Campbell, Gordon Campbell, Lance Wilson, Rachel Hook, Ali Fitzgibbon, Claire Kelly, Mar Dixon, Samuel Bausson, Andrew Bolster. This research wouldn’t have been possible without your support.
A special thanks to Karen O’Rawe who has become both a friend and collaborator over recent years, we first met when I approached Audiences NI about developing a collaborative research project as part of my PhD research. Since then myself and Karen have developed an event series called #ArtsNI, and Karen has provided lots of words of wisdom and support over the last couple of years. If you want to get something done, Karen is the woman to speak to.
Having thanked all those people that I’ve met through my research, I also want thank my fabulous friends, each one of whom provided me with so much support over the last three years. Sarah, Kate, Claire, Lucy, Saz, Paula, Thayna, Angela, Victoria thanks for reminding that there’s more to life than work. Making sure I always have a place to stay when I’m in London, and always having a glass of wine and ear for listening when I was stressed to the hilt about my PhD. I feel so incredibly lucky to call you all friends.
My final and greatest thanks goes to my parents, who have always encouraged me to aim high, question things and look at life from all angles. I grew up in a house filled with newspapers and debate, my parents had never travelled, and pasta was considered a ‘foreign food’. Walks in the forest and roast dinners, rather than package holidays and fancy food were a staple of my childhood. Despite our very different outlooks on life they have always encouraged me to travel, take chances, live for the moment, and do what will make me happy, not what will make me rich (although perhaps I shouldn’t thank them for that!).