Collection databases Interactive Media Web 2.0

Kathy Sierra on serendipity

I’ve just spent the last while finishing off my papers for Museums & The Web 2007. One of them on the OPAC2.0 collection database talks alot about the idea of ‘serendiptity’ and its importance in creating new ways for users to not only navigate but to find and create meaning in a database.

Kathy Sierra has a nice post introducing the very idea and calls for more randomness to be added to products, software and experiences.

Imaging Interactive Media

World visualisation – Worldmapper

Some interesting global statistical visualisations on Worldmapper.

Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

CBBC World – a children’s ‘second life’?

This project by the Childrens’ arm of the BBC sound interesting especially in light of all the talk around Second Life and museums.

CBBC, the channel for 7-12 year olds, said it would allow digitally literate children the access to characters and resources they had come to expect.

Users would be able to build an online presence, known as an avatar, then create and share content.

Bosses said CBBC World would not have the financial aspects of other online worlds such as Second Life.

A spokesman said: “This kind of cross-platform broadcasting is becoming the norm for people who have been born into the digital world.

“It will give children a chance to move around a safe, secure world where they can not only interact with familiar characters but have an opportunity to make that world a more fascinating place with their own imaginations.”

Perhaps the BBC has the audience reach to make this sort of project work, as for smaller organisations colonisation of other existing services may well prove more fruitful. Or, would museums be better off colonising worlds such as CBBC’s proposed world where the synergy between public broadcaster and public museum may ensure a better take up of virtual content?

Interactive Media

Many Eyes – another online data visualisation tool

Many Eyes is another online data visualisation tool. Created by the people behind the Baby Name Voyager and other nifty visualisation tools, Many Eyes looks pretty amazing. It uses Java rather than Flash for the visualisations.

Unlike Swivel, who modified their T&C to offer a Creative Commons model the T&C for Many Eyes, being an IBM project is overly restrictive.

Any information that You submit to IBM and the results are considered non-confidential, and IBM will be free to disclose them for any purpose. IBM will not return to You the information You submit. For quality control and other purposes, IBM may monitor your use of the Service and transmission of information through it. IBM is not responsible for any third party seeing or obtaining information or results transmitted through the Service.

Any data submitted should at least require proper attribution by IBM.

That said, take a look, the data upload is just a cut & paste which is surprisingly robust and easier than uploading a formatted file. The range of visualisation choices, their speed and interactivity is lovely.

Young people & museums

Children’s participation in cultural activities in Australia

In December the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the results of the survey into children’s participation in cultural and leisure activities.

Museums and art galleries

There were 995,200 children who visited a museum or art gallery during the 12 month period. The rate of attendance at museums or art galleries was similar for boys and girls (38% and 36% respectively). The attendance rate was the same for 5 to 8 and 9 to 11 year olds (40%) but lower (31%) for those aged 12 to 14 years. Children born overseas in main English-speaking countries were more likely to go to a museum or art gallery (48% attending) compared with those born in Australia (38%) and in non English-speaking countries (26%). Attendance at museums and art galleries ranged from 60% for children in the Australian Capital Territory to 32% for those in New South Wales.

There are also interesting figures on internet and computer usage amongst this age group in Australia.

The full report can be downloaded for free.

Web 2.0 Young people & museums

Dragon & the Pearl on YouTube

We’ve put some ‘ultrasound footage’ of our resident baby dragon, from before it hatched from its mysterious egg, up on YouTube and linked from the dragon blog.

In putting it on YouTube we’ve tagged it in a way that we hope will attract those interested in UFO footage and the like, exposing our museum programme to other audiences. We’ve already started getting a few people who have seen the dragon posting about it on their own blogs, but hopefully with YouTube we can get it out to many more people.

It has been a very successful public programme and lots of fun. The dragon is ‘resting in the mountains’ at the moment but will return one last time in March.

Feel free to comment and rate it on YouTube. I’m hoping that such activities might have a similar result to that achieved by Ideum’s experiments with the Flickr ‘interestingness’ measure.

Web 2.0 Web metrics Young people & museums

Latest Pew report – teens and social networking usage

It has taken a few days for the figures from the latest Pew internet report to spread across the blogosphere. This report, Social Networking Websites & Teens, begins to problematise some of the ‘trends’ that have been generally ‘accepted’, and reveals some of the uneven use of these services by different genders and age groups.

Here is the abstract –

A social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of internet users. More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey also finds that older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. For girls, social networking sites are primarily places to reinforce pre-existing friendships; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends.

danah boyd presents some excellent discussion of the report and points out that some of the figures might be the result of Pew’s methodology. That said, she focusses in on some of the ways that Pew reports that different teens actually ‘use’ services like MySpace. Fred Stutzman also covers the report.

Unsurprisingly The Register takes a sobering view of the report and uses it as another example of the ‘about to pop’ bubble-like nature of everything 2.0 at the moment.

Interactive Media

Ellen Lupton on Free Font Manifesto

Our very own Design Hub interviews Ellen Lupton.

What inspired you to initiate the free font manifesto? Were you surprised by the response you received to the concept of free fonts?

Given my interest in ‘open’ design, I wanted to find out if there was an open-source movement in the typeface design community, which is a particular subculture within the broader graphic design world. Typeface designers have always been protective of their intellectual property, because fonts are so easy to steal and there is a huge problem with piracy. I had been invited to address typeface designers and typographers at an international design conference, so I decided to explore the topic of ‘free fonts’. I created a blog to accompany my talk — a new experiment for me. Given the controversial nature of the topic, I wanted to get feedback from my audience beyond the usual Q&A session after the talk. And feedback I certainly got! News of the blog spread like wildfire, and a heated debate ensued on-line. I learned a lot, not only about the passions and worries of the font design community but also about the nature of online communication.

AV Related Interactive Media

Using Keynote for digital signage in galleries

The Digital Signage Project is a nifty hack of Apple’s Powerpoint-killer Keynote to use it for kiosk-style signage.

Using Keynote for the presentation layer means visitors would get the benefit of superior text rendering and presentation styles to other signage applications.

Interactive Media Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

The future of social networking? What of Second Life?

The arrival of a new year always brings all sorts of fascinating predictions.

Two commentators on social networking sites who I always have a lot of time for are boyd and Stutzman. Between them they have revealed much about how young people use online social networking services and how young people interact with each other. Their predictions for the future trends in these services are revealing reading.

Stuztman makes a broad range of predictions, most notably that within the US there will be a shakeout of services and that the most established (MySpace, Bebo and Facebook) will be difficult to displace. He reminds us that whilst users might visit lots of different sites, they can only actively keep their own personas on one or two at a time. Protocols such as OpenID will become more necessary to support interoperability across different services – otherwise users will leave. Two other key points he makes are that informational/transactional sites with established communities of users/visitors will attempt to social-ise their user experience and that this will increase the importance of shared experience to the emergence of community.

boyd also introduces new ideas. A few days ago she reminded us that teens do not use these social networking services in the same way that older people do (that is – us). For some, forgetting a password is an experience that is fixed by simply creating a new identity on the site, or moving off to another site. Harking back to the youth studies field, she reminds us that for teenagers and youth, these sites offer a means for identity experimentation, in a way that adults do not often have the time to do with such zeal.

In her thoughts for 2007 boyd sees a fading of enthusiasm amongst teens for the major social networking services. She cites anecdotal evidence that on one hand, new teen users are growing wary of the negative coverage of stranger danger on these sites, and on the other, those who currently use these services are being turned off by the influx of PR and marketing which is getting in the way of the main reason they use these services – to communicate to their friends in their own space. The mass scale intrusion of marketing and more recently spam into some of these services is a growing problem and threatens to make some environments as unfriendly as the ‘mall’ where if you aren’t a potential shopper then you are not welcome.

So, what of Second Life?

Second Life is, as Nina Simon writes is really a social site with the look of a MMORPG. It certainly isn’t a game, as many commentators point out, Linden Labs has set it up with only the most basic of rules. People go to Second Life to, in the words of Simon, “buy items online, view/listen to concerts online, meet up with people you already know (through work, family, friends) all over the world”.

If this user intentionality is correct then I’m very interested in applying Stutzman and boyd’s predictions to Second Life. How will it survive – especially if the churn rates are as high as Shirky believes?

Some questions.

– What of persona interoperability? Using Second Life as a platform does require significant investment from the user which will inevitability take them away from maintenance of their personas on other services. Gary Hayes is positive about this, but also suggest that as open source WordPress equivalents for setting up ‘multi-user virtual environments’ become available, Second Life will have a lot of challengers. His post on MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach is an interesting look at what is likely to fragment that user base of all environments pretty quickly.

– This, then, leads into the next issue – what of the increased presence of real world companies? Will certain user groups be turned off by the presence of the real world in their Second Life alter-reality?

– What of intentionality? A lot of work has gone in from educators using Second Life as a platform for engaging particular niche audiences with learning – using Second Life as a classroom etc. But how many of these Second Life students continue to be users/citizens after class? Does it matter?