Some readers may know that I and several members of my team are hard at work on a range of location-centric cultural sector data applications. We have been combining data sources from across the sector and government and building new ways of traversing very diverse data sets. (If you are going to be at Museums and the Web 2008 in Montreal you will be able to get a sneak preview!)
Henry Jenkins and others have been rightly critical of the notion of ‘digital natives’. Their core argument is that digital skills are very unevenly spread across age groups and digital literacy levels are not as they might necessarily seem when you read Pew Internet Reports or similar claiming that “64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation” for example.
Last year there was an incredible presentation at TED which featured a demonstration of Seadragon, a technology that Microsoft licensed and has continued to develop.
Whilst the BBC and others have been using the Seadragon spinoff Photosynth quite effectively, Seadragon itself seems to have the most immediate use within the cultural sector with our large volume of 2D digitised resources.
One of the slides from my recent presentations has been generating a bit of interest so here it is in a slightly updated form – the four intersecting circles of online strategy. This is still a work in progress and I welcome your comments and feedback.
The purpose of this diagram is to show that ‘online strategy’ is now much more than just one isolated strategy. It is also intended to demonstrate that web teams may offer the best value to an organisation when they are able to exist independent of both IT and marketing. It should also begin to show the existing areas from which resources will need to (re)deployed to deliver a holistic online strategy and a distinct social media strategy.
In the ‘animated’ version of the image the first two circles to appear are ‘web strategy’ and ‘IT strategy’. Every organisation has well developed IT strategies and their main impact on web strategy tend to be around hosting environments, backup, and security, as well as in the interconnection of web applications between internal and external environments – ecommerce, collection database access etc. Increasingly we will find that organisations begin to move more of their hosting, backup and security, as well as some corporate applications out to cloud computing environments. Whilst many in the cultural sector already have their websites externally hosted, many more functions will move external as utility computing takes over. Obviously each organisation will also have a well developed marketing strategy that overlaps with web strategy in the online space usually in terms of brand consistency and continuity and offline/online campaigns, targetted email marketing etc.
Now, the final circle to appear is that of social media strategy. Social media overlaps with all three areas – web, marketing and IT. The size of these overlaps will vary from organisation to organisation but it critical to understand that social media strategy is NOT just marketing or web.
Let’s take a look at the overlaps with reference to some of the work of the Powerhouse.
Social media overlaps with marketing at the Powerhouse most significantly for the Sydney Observatory blog. The Observatory blog exists to engage new audiences, build an online community, but also to operate as a significant part of the online marketing and promotion of the physical world site as well. The blog is also a key part of the Museum’s web strategy for the Observatory – content production has been decentralised and the blog operates as a defacto content management system. In other organisations a Facebook profile or group, a MySpace page/persona would also be good examples of where marketing and social media strategy clearly intersect with resource implications.
Social media overlaps with IT strategy in two key areas. The first of these is hosting and security. Once museum content begins to be decentralised to third-party sites such as Flickr and You Tube there are very real issues that need to dealt with around ownership and control. The second is around digital preservation. Once content is decentralised how is it to be ‘preserved’? And, more importantly, how are community interactions on these and the museum’s own social media projects preserved? Does it even make sense to preserve ‘the conversation’? What happens to a project blog once the project is completed – how is it ‘archived’?
This is still a work in progress and I welcome your comments and feedback.
Regular readers will have noticed that my post-rate has been down significantly over the past two months. This has largely been because of some new and exciting projects and the extra load that preparation for presentations has brought with it.
Blogging, like any form of social media content creation, takes time and effort. Without regular and sustained effort, the community that grows and engages with this content, quickly withers and disappears.