Interactive Media Museum blogging MW2007 Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

M&W07 – Day two: Web2.0, EyeLevel, Brooklyn Museum, Science Museum UK

The Web2.0 stream began with Jeff Gates from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s EyeLevel blog. Discussing EyeLevel, Gates explained their cautious but highly successful approach to getting blogging activated within a large and venerable organisation like the Smithsonian.

Before gong public EyeLevel was used internally for two months with sample posts and comments within SAAM to ensure that they had got the workflow for the blog sorted out. Their workflow, which continues today is that posts are suggested, discussed by the web team, drafted, then rewritten where necessary. All posts are then edited by the publications unit, and require individual approval by the Director before going live. They use Basecamp for the drafting and discussion (which is a nice way doing things).

Whilst this approval model brings delays and limits their ability to do quick response posts it brings great clarity to the roles of each blog team member which has helped keep the blog sustainable. Also, by defining and articulating their blog policy internally prior to launch EyeLevel has been able to maintain “authenticity and transparency” with their readership without being dragged into being overly promotional. That said, part of he rationale for establishing EyeLevel was to help expose their long tail of collection and online content, and to build a strong connection between web visits and bricks and mortar visitation.

The Brooklyn Museum team presented their very inspirational work in engaging their communities through the use of Flickr and MySpace. They were at pains to point out that before the web the Brooklyn Museum was already very heavily oriented as a museum belonging to and integrated with the local community. It was also already highly interactive. They showed their public graffiti wall within an exhibition on street art and graffiti, and it was from this exhibition that they started using Flickr as a way of documenting the use of the wall. By using Flickr they were able to connect to other images of graffiti around Brooklyn and connect with the Flickr community. Likewise they have used Flickr to pull in public images of the Brooklyn Bridge.

From this point they moved to establish a main navigational node on their website titled ‘community’. This uses Flickr and YouTube APIs to pull in user generated content from those other external sources to the Brooklyn Museum site based on user tags. They also established a comments gallery which is user-moderated, and most excitingly, replaced all their paper comment forms with kiosks in the galleries for visitors to type their comments directly in. By doing this they have removed the distinction between the comments of in-gallery visitors and web visitors – ALL are visitors.

The final presentation was from Mike Ellis at the Science Museum in London. Mike talked about ways of navigating the institutional barriers to implementing Web2.0. He pretty much addressed each of the major concerns of those outside of web teams – do the users want it?, issues of voice and authority, technical impediments with small teams, resourcing and cost, and legals.

Copyright/OCL Digitisation MW2007 Web 2.0

M&W07 – Day two: Brewster Kahle

Museums & the Web is very big this year. There must be nearly 1000 people here and there is a good buzz in between sessions.

Today opened with an entertaining and motivational opening plenary from Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. Kahle talked about the Internet Archive disucssing the various types of media it is digitising and making openly accessible, for free, using open standards. The big stumbling block is rights.

Starting with books he gave some interesting figures on digitisation costs. The archive is scanning 12,000 books per month over three locations (USA, Canada and the UK). It costs about $0.10 per page to do scanning, OCR, PDFing, file transfer and permanent storage (forever). Distribution problems are being solved by print on demand which costs as little as $0.01 per page and is being rolled out through mobile digital book buses in Uganda, India and China with print on demand. Kahle handed around some samples of the print on demand titles and they were of acceptable quality and had proper covers. He also handed around one of the 300 prototype $100 laptops from MIT which was pretty cool with a great hi-res screen which makes the concept of a low-cost, developing-world-friendly e-book reader viable.

Audio recordings are costing $10 per CD or roughly $10 per hour of recording. Internet Archive will host forever, and for free. Video recordings are slightly more at $15 per hour. They have also been recording broadcast television, 20 channels worldwide, 24/7. Only one week is available online so far – that of 9/11. They have also started on software archiving but are stymied by the DMCA.

The Wayback Machine (web archive) is snapshotting every two months at 100 terrabytes of storage per snapshot. Interestingly he quoted the average webpage changes or is deleted every 100 days making regular archiving critical.

Kahle emphasised the importance of public institutions doing digitisation in open formats rather than the exclusivity of GoogleBooks deals. His catchall warning for museums was “public or perish” which is a great start to the conference.

Interactive Media Museum blogging MW2007 Web 2.0

M&W07 – Other workshops: mashups and blogging

M&W07 is already causing timetable clashes! Running simultaneously with my workshop were many other excellent workshops. Two colleagues have posted their workshop slides and notes online as well.

The team at Walker Art Center ran their Beyond blogging: is it a community yet?. They have posted some rather extensive and excellent notes for their session which give a great overview of museum blogging, all the necessary technical details to get you started if you aren’t already, tips to improve your blog, as well as rationales to sell the concept of blogging to your colleagues. All of this is accessible through their nifty wiki (the only downside of the wiki being the inability to print or read the whole thing flattened on one long page)

Jim Spadaccini and his Ideum cohorts ran a workshop outlining the processes and practises of making mashups. Ideum has done a lot of work with mashups and is a great advocate of their use within museums – especially as a way of more easily making the type of rich media, geotagged experience that impresses everyone but can nowadays be done on a shoestring with a bit of nouse. Jim has uploaded his slides for the workshop which explain and deconstruct some of the recent mashup work done by Ideum.

MW2007 Web 2.0

M&W07 – Planning for Social Media in Museums workshop

Angelina Russo, Jerry Watkins and I have just finished presenting our Planning for Social Media in Museums workshop.

The slides for those who came are packaged as a PDF for download.

The workshop was designed to get people thinking about ways of planning for and overcoming the hurdles that inevitably need to be negotiated when deploying social media technologies to meet a strategic objective within a museum.

Interactive Media MW2007 Young people & museums

Schaller & Allison-Bunnell on learning styles and interactive design

David Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell’s day long workshop on designing educational interactive media was one of the highlights of Museums & the Web in 2005 for me. It was a fantastic workshop and one that gets run each year (and always books out well in advance!). If you managed to book a place this year then you are in for a treat.

Scheller and Aliison-Bunnell have now published their latest paper delivering some of the research findings from their work.

Drawing on their earlier work (which made me track down Kieran Egan’s 1998 book The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding), their latest research looks at the different types of interactive learning experience different groups of people gravitate towards, and learn from most effectively.

This work, and their earlier papers, are especially important for museums developing interactive experiences be it in the gallery space itself, or on the web. Interestingly, many of the new opportunities afforded to developers at low cost as a result of Web2.0 style tools, we may be able to better reach out to ‘social learners’ than ever before – but we need not to forget those who may learn better from other learning styles as a result of individual preference, gender or age.

Museum blogging MW2007 Web 2.0

Museum blogs survey results online / San Francisco blogger meet-up

Museums & The Web has published the survey conducted by Jim Spadaccini and myself earlier this year titled Radical Trust: the State of the Museum blogosphere.

As 2006 began, there were less than thirty known museum blogs; since then, that number has more than doubled. Today there are well over 100 blogs exploring museum issues, from a range of institutions and individuals across the globe. All of these blogs have embraced the concept of ‘radical trust,’ taking the big step to trust (radically) the community on-line. This paper reports the findings of the first major survey of museum blog operators and their readers. Developed by Powerhouse Museum and Ideum, this comprehensive survey of bloggers paints a picture of where the field is today, and where it is headed in the future.

How popular are they? How is popularity measured? Do these blogs operate from the inside or the outside of museums? Who is their audience? What of RSS, aggregators, and link exchanges? Are there emerging commonalities in practice and usage that can be brought together to strengthen and expand the collective worth and impact of museum blogging? This paper explores these questions and more. Several successful operational models have emerged and are outlined here, along with emerging trends for the field. It is our hope that these survey results will also provide a starting point for those museums looking to launch their own blogs.

I hope you find the results interesting and useful – thank you, too, to many of you who participated in the survey and also helped beta-test it for us.

Jim and I are running a one hour workshop presenting the results, discussing them in detail, making recommendations to organisations currently running or considering setting up blogs and, bringing the results a little more up to date with some new analytics on Friday 13 April at 10am at M&W07.

Immediately following the workshop at 11am Jim and I will be leading a merry band of museum bloggers to a local eatery for an informal meet up and get together. Many of us only know each other by our handles and avatars. Indeed, when Jim and I first considered running the survey and writing the paper, neither of us had met face to face!

Please join us if you are in San Francisco.

If you have any suggestions of somewhere close to Union Square for food that can accomodate a band of bloggers then suggest in the comments!

Collection databases Interactive Media MW2007 Web 2.0

Does your audience want Web 2.0? Lessons from SFMOMA

When ploughing through the M&W2007 papers (more are still going up), pay particular attention to Do You Know Who Your Users Are? The Role Of Research In Redesigning by Dana Mitroff and Katrina Alcorn from SFMOMA looking at the evaluation and redesign process behind their forthcoming new SFMOMA website.

Of particular pertinence to discussions about implementing, encouraging, (and sometimes requiring) user interaction comes this caveat/warning –

Example 3. Web 2.0

The finding: When we talked with our users about potential Web 2.0 features we could offer on our site (blogs, wikis, etc.), they showed surprisingly little interest in them. The users we interviewed were fairly passive about the types of interactive things they would like to do on our site. Instead of asking an artist a question, they would rather read what other people asked. Instead of giving feedback about an exhibition, they would rather read what other people wrote.

The insight: We realized that if we were going to add any of these new types of Web 2.0 features, we should not invest in designing things that our visitors would not use. And if we were to incorporate any of these features in the future, they should extend the interpretation dimension and make the artwork more accessible.

The design: In addition to providing an authoritative museum perspective on an artwork, we must include features that incorporate perspectives from a variety of users, from front-line staff to visitors. On the “On View” main page, for example, we plan to include a feature called something along the lines of “Guest Take” that will present rotating works from SFMOMA’s collection selected by prominent local community members, artists, writers, museum members, etc. These guests will write about what the works mean to them and share their personal reactions, thoughts, and musings. Another feature, called something like “In Focus,” will allow museum staff members at different levels throughout the organization to select works from the collection and share their personal thoughts and reactions. This informal, multi-vocal approach will bring Web 2.0 values to the site and complement what we are already doing with SFMOMA Artcasts, our podcast audio-zine. SFMOMA Artcasts feature “Guest Take” commissions of music, poetry, and prose in response to works on view as well as “Vox Pop” pieces that capture live reflections from visitors in the galleries. We see these as methods of engaging the community in a dialogue of art and ideas; they are excellent ways to bring Web 2.0 values to the interpretative dimension of the museum experience.

Nina Simon picks up on the importance (and dominance) of lurkers in commercial 2.0 applications and reconsiders in the context of museum.

We would concur.

Of the most “2.0” aspects of the Powerhouse Museum’s collection database – the tagging – it is important to note that out of nearly 10 million object views there have been only about 4000 tags. That’s 0.04% of views resulting in a tag – at most. Some views result in multiple tagging of the same object by the same person.

However, because lurkers can gain benefit from other people’s tags (frictionlessly/effortlessly) tags represent up to 40% of search interactions – they add usability and thus access points to content.

Interactive Media Mobile MW2007 Young people & museums

Museums & the Web 2007 papers online / Fantoni on museum ‘bookmarking’

The first batch of papers for Museums & the Web have gone online.

Picking the first one to read at random, I chose Silvia Fillipini Fantoni’s paper on “Bookmarking in museums”.

I am interested in this area as we developed a prototype mobile phone object bookmarking application just over two years ago but never rolled it out. There were many reasons and in the end the greatest barrier to implementation was the resistance from teachers to allowing students to carry and use mobile phones during a museum visit. Another reason was the difficulty in finding a ‘free call’ SMS service number – without which users would have needed to pay for each ‘bookmark’ through their mobile plan (and unlike America, all you can eat SMS plans are not that common or cheap).

Fantoni’s paper is an excellent reality check for those building personalisation tools for their museum website with the expectation that users will surely want to bookmark things to come back to later. She argues that the usage of bookmarking tools is small, generally much lower than initially expected. Bookmarking is an activity not done by the ‘general public, possibly because of lack of awareness, promotion, and an understanding of what ‘bookmarking’ actually offers or means. Despite this, such tools may be useful for specific dedicated audiences – especially teachers.