AV Related Interactive Media

Cabspotting at Exploratorium

SF’s Exploratorium has launched a collaboartive art project called Cabspotting that tracks the movements of San Francisco taxis as they traverse the city, mapping their movemements.

This geo-spatial data is then mapped in real time onscreen and made available for others to manipulate and build their own visualisation projects using an open API.

The Exploratorium is involved in a multi-year project to explore alternate views of the Bay Area’s infrastructure. Entitled Invisible Dynamics, the project hopes to reveal radically surprising and inspiring views of the systems interconnecting the communities of the Bay. We are already familiar with the dominant street-map view of our city. This project will reveal other ways of seeing our environment, such as the view of the sewer infrastructure; the flow of water; the commercial activity of boats, trucks and planes; or the ecological activities of the marshes and wetlands surrounding the bay.

Cabspotting is designed as a living framework to use the activity of commercial cabs as a starting point to explore the economic, social, political and cultural issues that are revealed by the cab traces. Where do cabs go the most? Where do they never turn up? Cab Projects are vehicles for artists, writers, or researchers to explore these issues in the form of a small experiment, investigation or observation. These projects will be included on an ever-growing Cabspotting site to form a continually expanding view of the anthropological record created by this system.

Interactive Media

Corporation For Public Gaming

I like this idea.

A Corporation for Public Gaming (CPG) could be established that would operate on a model similar to its broadcasting equivalent, providing grants to develop a diversity of games for the public good. Like CPB, the goal of the CPG would be to provide high-quality games, which “inform, enlighten and enrich the public.” A $15 million annual investment would be made for a three-year period with a review conducted at the end of year three followed by recommendations for continuance, modification, or termination of the program. Grants would be made available to qualified non-profits who could partner with commercial game developers, universities, museums, schools, or government entities. All grants would require a 15 percent set aside to support a rigorous evaluation of the game’s impact. A portion of the overall funding would go to universities to conduct research on how to improve the content, impact, and evaluation of such games. An alternative model would be to support serious games within the existing Corporation for Public Broadcasting, by increasing the appropriation and changing the allocation formula from the 75-25 percent split between television and radio to one that reflected the additional funding for games.

AV Related Interactive Media

Redshift/Ontario Science Center podcasts & aggregators

In a post a few days ago I asked, rhetorically, how Ontario Science Center was doing with their weekly podcasts on their RedshiftNow site.

A few hours later, Ken Dickson, from the Ontario Science Center sent me an email with their visitation figures! He has very generously allowed me to share them with you. I also asked him a few follow up questions that reveals more nuanced detail about the figures as well as an insight into the production process of what are very popular museum-style podcasts.

In the month of March, there were 6,655 downloads of the various MP3 files.
In total, since it launched last June, we’ve had 35,264 downloads.

Downloads by month

Downloads by month

All episodes by time

All episodes by time

Last three months by episode

Last three months by episode

Interestingly, OSC reports that the majority of traffic that downloads these reports/podcasts does not come in though their website. Instead 40% comes from iTunes and the rest through XML and other subscriptions. Also, doing a search for the Redshift in Google reveals that the podcasts are quite well linked and appear in other aggregators.

So far in April, Ken reports, “we had 269 visits to the web page about the RedShift Report yet 2,911 downloads of the various episodes”.

Aggregation and smart aggregators are where it is at.

Museums need to be looking seriously at buidling these not just around collection content (many of us do that already – in Australia we have Collections Australia Network formerly AMOL (disclosure – the Powerhouse Museum hosts this)) but around other content as well. The 24hr Museum portal site in the UK – especially their children’s area – is a great example of aggregation – they have very effectively pulled together a ‘best of’ online museum interactives by deep linking to educational games on museum websites.

But their aggregation is manually done – real people, curating the ‘best of’.

In some ways this blog and others like Walker Art Center’s, Ideum’s and many others are also manually curated aggregators of information around museums and particularly web and digital/new media.

So could/should we individually, or collectively build a ‘Google News’ of museums? Is the even possible?

And for those who are wondering how does OSC manage to create a weekly podcast?

You’d have to be really paying attention to get this, but in 2005 the podcast schedule was pretty haphazard. We were playing around. When a question came in and a researcher was available, I’d record one. We changed that for 2006. A bit of background: we’ve got a “current science” space within the Science Centre, and each week one of our researchers is assigned to keep it updated. Nowadays, as part of that “updating”, that same researcher is now also required to record a podcast with me. We meet early in the week, decided between the two of us what it’ll be about, go off and do our research and reconvene later in the week and make the recording.

This integration of new media platform content production into what is very much traditional museum content production seems to have been they key in getting the regularity necessary to make the podcasts a success.

From my earlier post I re-iterate that

podcasts need to be able to have a use value or life outside of the phsyical museum visit – otherwise you are unnecessarily limiting your audience for your podcast to the very small subset of users who happen to be a) internet and podcast savvy, b) own and can operate a mp3 player, and c) actually want to visit your museum – all at once

OSC has managed to create something that through in-cast branding reveals/promotes Redshift and OSC but whose enjoyment is not reliant upon OSC.

Anyone else like to contribute their experiences? Theories?

Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

“Is MySpace Just A Fad?” Subcultural capital and social networking

This neat little essay looking at how Friendster gave way to MySpace was a bit of throwback to my university research days. All this talk of subcultural capital . . .

Portability of identity doesn’t matter. Easy-to-use interfaces don’t matter. Visual coherence doesn’t matter. Simple navigation doesn’t matter. Bugs don’t matter. Fancy new technologies don’t matter. Simple personalization doesn’t matter.

Before you scream “but it does to me!” let me acknowledge that you’re right. It does matter to you. The question is whether it matters to the masses. And it doesn’t. Especially for teens.

What’s at stake here is what is called “subcultural capital” by academics. It is the kind of capital that anyone can get, if you are cool enough to know that it exists and cool enough to participate. It is a counterpart to “cultural capital” which is more like hegemonic capital. That was probably a bit too obscure. Let me give an example. Opera attendance is a form of cultural capital – you are seen as having money and class and even if you think that elongated singing in foreign languages is boring, you attend because that’s what cultured people do. You need the expensive clothes, the language, the body postures, the social connects and the manners to belong. Limitations are economic and social. Rave attendance is the opposite. Anyone can get in, in theory… There are certainly hodgepodged clothes, street language and dance moves, but most folks can blend in with just a little effort. Yet, the major limitation is knowing that the rave exists. “Being in the know” is more powerful than money. You can’t buy your way into knowledge of a rave.

MySpace has grown so large that the needs, values and practices of its users are slamming into each other. It’s facing the archetypical clashing of cultures. Yet, interestingly, most users are not that concerned – they’re trying to figure out how to live in this super public. The challenge is that outsiders are panicking about a culture that they are not a part of. They want to kill the super public rather than support people in learning how to negotiate it. No one knows how to live in such a super public, but this structure is going to become increasingly a part of our lives. It is no wonder that youth want to figure it out. And it is critical that they do, especially since our physical worlds have become more segregated and walled off, partitioned by age, race, class, religion, values, etc. Yet, it is the older generation that did that segregating and they’re not really ready to face collapsed contexts at every turn or to learn how to engage with people who have very different values on a daily basis. Because of their position of power, outsiders are pushing the big red emergency button, screaming danger and creating a complete and utter moral panic. Welcome to a generational divide, where adults are unable to see the practices of their children on kids’ terms.

The rest of the article is a solid discussion of how to MySpace worked because it let its user community do exactly what it wanted to whilst at the same time Friendster was having all sorts of server troubles and locking down its system to any hacks. As the article argues, social networking sites need to maximise the opportunities for expression and personality – that’s why people use them – to create identity – and outside of those such as LinkedIn with an explicit action/goal-oriented ‘reason for being’, they need to be open, flexible and organised by their userbase.


AESharenet’s IP conference podcasts online

AESharenet, an Australian open content licensing organisation set up by the various state education bodies, have put all the sessions from their recent Making the most of creativity: In the public interest conference online.

There are some interesting papers including one by heavyweight Peter Drahos whose book Information Feudalism is a must read.

Interactive Media

Just 1% of web users listen to podcasts

Charlene Li from Forresters whose blog I read regularly reports that –

Our survey showed that only 1% of online households in North America regularly download and listen to podcasts. And when you include all of the people who are just interested or have used podcasts, they strongly favor listening to existing content like Internet radio or broadcast radio, not necessarily new content. (And for newspapers thinking about podcasting, putting print stories into audio format just ranked ahead of original content from bloggers) I think this has something to do with 1) original content just isn’t as well known; and 2) existing content benefits from users that simply want to time shift it.

and later

Which leads me to my skepticism about the adoption and breadth of podcasting – measurement is still really hard to do (there’s some light at the end of the tunnel from firms like Podtrac and Podbridge, the latter of which has a way to track listens as well as downloads). Forrester projects that just 700,000 households in the US in 2006 will use podcasting, and that it will grow to 12.3 million households in the US by 2010. (See Forrester’s “The Future Of Digital Audio” report). Just to give you some context, we expect MP3 adoption to be almost 11 million households in the US this year, and grow to 34.5 million households by 2010. So that means in four years, about a third of those MP3 owners will be listening to podcasts on those devices. Podcasting will get easier and the content will get better, but it will all take time.

We know from experience that if the content is rich, useful and portable (in that order) such as the Sydney Observatory night sky podcasts then they will be downloaded. By portable I mean that in terms of museum spaces, podcasts need to be able to have a use value or life outside of the phsyical museum visit – otherwise you are unnecessarily limiting your audience for your podcast to the very small subset of users who happen to be a) internet and podcast savvy, b) own and can operate a mp3 player, and c) actually want to visit your museum – all at once.

Now I know that probably as much as 60% of traffic to the Museum’s website is not directly visit-related (in as much as the user is not immediately planning to visit the museum) and we know from overseas experience that this is as much as 75% in the case of the larger American museums, it seems a little foolish to tie museum-based podcasts to an explicit visit experience, however attractive that may be to museums whose primary measure of success is still predominantly phsyical visitation.

I’d be very interested to know the figures that Ontario Science Center’s RedShift get for their popular science podcasts.

Digitisation General Metadata


There’s a really interesting article here from written by our old mate Lev Manovich that looks at ‘understanding meta-media’ and examines “what new media does to old media?” focusing particularly on the idea of simulation.
The article references some great new media works that explore the concept of ‘mapping’ as key framework for undertsanding the intersection.

“This is not accidental. The logic of meta-media fits well with other key aesthetic paradigms of today — the remixing of previous cultural forms of a given media (most visible in music, architecture, design, and fashion), and a second type of remixing — that of national cultural traditions now submerged into the medium of globalization. (the terms “postmodernism” and “globalization” can be used as aliases for these two remix paradigms.) Meta-media then can be thought alongside these two types of remixing as a third type: the remixing of interfaces of various cultural forms and of new software techniques — in short, the remix of culture and computers”

Digital storytelling General Web 2.0

More on the Prod-User

In the digital driven ‘Developmental Space’ of contemporary cinematic form whereby the relation and distinction between User and Viewer, between Viewer and Participant, between Player and Watcher is inceasingly thin there is the new noun we’ve heard much about and been kicking aorund – Prod-User. This noun is really growing on me as usuful and function in re-thinking viewer/audience/creator relationship. Obviously it also relates to a great deal of our discussion on Web 2.0

Dr Axel Bruns gives a thorough picture of the new role of the ProdUser in contemporary media. His blog has both a downloadbale MP3 podcast and the powerpoint slides from the Mojtaba Saminejad Lecture – Anyone Can Edit’: Understanding the Produser.

“Recent decades have seen the dual trend of growing digitization of content, and of increasing availability of sophisticated tools for creating, manipulating, publishing, and disseminating that content. Advertising campaigns openly encourage users to ‘Rip. Mix. Burn.’ and to share the fruits of their individual or collaborative efforts with the rest of the world. The Internet has smashed the distribution bottleneck of older media, and the dominance of the traditional producer > publisher > distributor value chain has weakened. Marshall McLuhan’s dictum ‘everyone’s a publisher’ is on the verge of becoming a reality – and more to the point, as the Wikipedia proudly proclaims, ‘anyone can edit.’”