Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Powerhouse collection records in Artshare Facebook application

January 10th, 2008 by Seb Chan

The ever-busy crew at the Brooklyn Museum made live a nice and simple Facebook application called Artshare late in 2007.

This allows you to add selected objects from museum collections to your Facebook profile. These object images then link to your museum’s collection records, the idea being that people can effectively ‘friend’ objects in your collection, promote them for you on their profiles, and drive traffic back to your website.

Brooklyn did a great job with the application and then took it a step further by opening it up for other museums to add some of their collections to it as well as individual artists. This very collegiate attitude is hopefully going to spread across the sector with more data and technology sharing efforts in the future.

The V&A quickly added a selection of their objects to Artshare and now the Powerhouse has added some as well. Because you can add your collection via an RSS feed we simply modified our existing Opensearch capacity on our OPAC to send a trimmed down selection of some of the less obvious things in our collection . . .

If you are on Facebook go and add the application to your profile and choose some objects.

Tags: 14 Comments

  • Charlie

    When I first read the title I thought you were objecting to the Facebook application

  • Seb Chan

    Updated . . . . .

  • lyndak

    Hey Seb, cool app! How will you know if your web visitors have come to your site via finding objects on Facebook?? It’d also be really cool if you could add text about why you chose the object for your FB profile (although you could write that on your own wall I suppose).

  • http://www.freshandnew.org/ Seb Chan

    I think Brooklyn is adding a whole heap of extra functionality later on – much along the lines of what you are suggesting. Currently it is really a bit like a Facebook rotating screensaver thing.

    Web visitors – we will know via referrers. When you click an object you will land on that object in our collection database. It works like that for Brooklyn as well, although the V&A has taken a different approach where clicking on one of their objects only takes you up to the ‘collection summary’ pages (eg clicking a particular case takes you to their ceramics section).

    This approach would work for natural history museums where you could have a funnel web spider linked through to a page about venomous Australian spiders rather than a singular specimen.

  • lyndak

    Thanks. I think this has great potential. I’m also guessing that the app gets around the problem of different object databases as it could be applied across collections that are managed by diverse systems – is this right?

  • http://www.freshandnew.org/ Seb Chan

    Yes everything on how to add a collection is over at the Brooklyn Museum website.

    Because you either add manually or via RSS it is totally agnostic.

    Playing devil’s advocate, the take up of particular apps on Facebook has a lot to do with their interaction design, relevance, and viral potential – so whilst this is a very cool application from *our* perspective as a content supplier it is questionable whether there will be a high level of take up from non-museum users.

  • lyndak

    Taa, and I do agree with you (and was thinking it seemed rather pointless as I uploaded the Gauntlet to my profile…). It’s actually the agnostic side of the app that interests me. Still, really pleased and grateful that people are experimenting and willing to share (even if it is on the dreaded FB!) – we all benefit from that.

  • http://www.brooklynmuseum.org mike

    lyndak, i really like your idea of being able to state why a user chose to add an artwork to their profile. i’ll definitely try to put that in the queue for our future releases. also, i agree that the app is fairly limited in it’s “viralness” and welcome any more suggestions that you guys would have in this area.

  • http://www.brooklynmuseum.org shelley bernstein

    We will be releasing stats as we go along in our blog, but just a word of caution on the click-thru rate: users on social networking sites don’t really like leaving them and this is why fully syndicated content is so important in the web 2.0 sphere. I would expect fairly minimal traffic coming back to the museum, but we’ve included the functionality to give folks the option if they really want to learn more.

  • http://www.freshandnew.org/ seb chan

    Shelley, Mike

    The viralness I think would be helped by adding something like ‘a guess what this is’ type of quiz element to it . . . .could be a museum-nerdiness quiz (where you can rate your friends heh heh).

    On the stats front, it would be great for content suppliers to know how many have installed the app in total, how many times their objects have appeared on a profile, and individual rankings for each object (what has been most added etc).

    Once, again, thanks for making this open access. It is hopefully an indicator of greater openness in the museum world.

  • lyndak

    Could you somehow send the objects as gifts? That might help spread it. At the moment some of the gift applications are limited in what you send (and I get tired of sending people booze!). That way people could add a message about why they chose the object for the person. Just a thought.

  • http://www.getty.edu Susan

    This is so cool. I love this and the potential it has.

    I have a question about copyright. In their terms of use, FB (and other social sharing sites such as YouTube) state explicitly that anything you upload to their site is then theirs to use as they see fit. I am curious how the institutions already on Artshare on FB have grappled with this issue. Did your legal department grumble? Or did they decide the risk was worth the potential benefits? Did this govern your decisions about which images to upload to FB? (I noticed Serrano’s photo of Snoop Dogg in the BMA collection….must be some copyright issues there!)

  • http://www.brooklynmuseum.org shelley bernstein

    @susan: if you go back and read my original post on the subject, you’ll see we specifically sought permission.

  • http://www.museummarketing.co.uk jim

    I think this has a major drawback!

    Facebook users don’t look at friends profiles in the way you would with MySpace, your visit is more likely to revolve around your own profile and groups, so who is going to see the Artshare widget? Just me… which is fine, but this app would work far better on MySpace.