Already images and videos of the exhibition and the launch, taken by members of the public (“the people formerly known as the audience”) are starting to appear online across the social web.
Here’s photos on Flickr and no doubt tomorrow there will be videos on YouTube uploaded by visitors. And over on the fan forums there’s already much chatter. The Facebook page should get a bunch of uploads shortly, and tweets and status updates across the social networks will begin to happen (of course in far lower volume than in the US).
Of course in times past these images and discussions would have been private but now they are public and discoverable. We’ll be keeping an eye on activity over the coming weeks, listening and learning. We’ll also be posting ‘official’ photos soon.
If you swing by the exhibition yourself then make sure you post and tag your photos and comments.
One of the best things I saw at the National Digital Forum in Auckland last week was DigitalNZ. Being a Kiwi myself, I am immensely proud that New Zealand has leapt forward and produced a federated collection product that aggregates and then allows access through a web interface and an open API. That it has brought together very disparate partners is also very impressive.
I spoke to the team behind the very choice project who are based at the National Library of New Zealand – Virginia Gow ,Courtney Johnston, Gordon Paynter, Fiona Rigby, Lewis Brown, Andy Neale, Karen Rollitt – who all contributed the following interview.
The Wave 1 implementation project has been led by National Library but is a very collaborative project. We’ve got representatives from education, culture and heritage, broadcasting, geospatial information, Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Māori Development) and the National Digital Forum on our Steering Committee. The project began earlier this year and then really ramped up in June 2009. The project aimed to set up the ongoing infrastructure for the programme and to deliver with exemplars that demonstrate what is possible when there is concerted work to improve access and discovery of New Zealand content.
We’ve taken a test lab approach – we’ve identified and worked on potential solutions to some of the many issues that prevent access, use and discovery of New Zealand digital content. Some of these areas have included licensing, metadata quality, improving access to advice around standards, formats and protocols and the development of a draft framework to help organisations prioritise content for digitisation.
It is important to us that DigitalNZ isn’t seen as ‘just another website’.
We are working with New Zealand organisations, communities and individuals to aggregate their metadata and help make hard to find content available for discovery, use and re-use in unique ways. We’ve developed three innovative tools that are ‘powered by Digital New Zealand’ and fuelled by the metadata and content from the many different content providers that we’re working with.
DigitalNZ is made up of:
1) A customisable search builder lets people design their own search widget to find the type of New Zealand content they are interested in – be it antique cars, pavlova or moustaches! People can flavour it and embed it on their own blogs and websites. We developed this to show new ways for people to discover and interact with New Zealand content and we especially wanted people to use the tools how and where they wanted.
2) New Zealanders can craft their own commemoration of the 90th Anniversary of the Armistice using the Memory Maker – a tool that lets people remix film, photographs, objects and audio clips into a short video that can then be saved, shared, and embedded. This example is helping us show what is possible when you can free the licensing of publicly available content for reuse and remixing.
3) We’re using ‘API Magic’. We’ve developed an open API that enables developers to connect the metadata that fuels DigitalNZ with other data sources, enabling new digital experiences, knowledge, and understanding.
How did you manage to get each of the content owners to buy in to the project?
By lots and lots of talking, visiting, sharing and blogging!
We started by identifying and contacting a wide range of New Zealand content providers, building also on our existing professional networks and contacts as far as possible because time wasn’t a luxury on this project.
It was hard work because DigitalNZ was a completely abstract concept for many content providers until a few weeks ago. We didn’t even have that snazzy diagram explaining how it all fits together until we had gone live!
[That’s a cool magic hat!]
So we basically just committed ourselves to communicating (and communicating and communicating), being open with our information and honest about what we did and didn’t know each step of the way, and helping people out so it was as easy as possible for them to participate.
Content providers took different amounts of time to reach an ‘ah ha’ moment with us and to realise what this could potentially mean for them – “OK, so you’re like a giant free referral engine to my content” or “So I could basically use your tools to make my own search box for my site”. At the end of the day we aren’t doing this for us!
Face-to-face meetings were the most effective, as it meant we could just chat with people about the issues and problems we are all trying to solve. It was a great way for us to learn about people’s content too.
But we also glued ourselves to our inboxes and set up a private DigitalNZ content blog so content providers could talk directly to each other. The discussion of issues around licensing, for example, was great because it meant we didn’t have to do all the thinking and talking!
The private blog also allowed us to share sneak previews of wireframes and functionality that helped us build a better picture of what we were doing.
In the end we actually got more content providers to take a leap of faith with us than we were able to process in time for launch. There is a real commitment out there to increasing access to and use of New Zealand content. We just convinced people to take it a step further and try something new.
What technologies are you using behind the scenes?
The DigitalNZ Harvesting model is best described by this diagram that our Technical Architect Gordon Paynter has whipped up.
We started out hoping that OAI-PMH would be the best way to harvest. However, very few organisations are set up to do this and it was clear that we had to work on something easier. So we then worked setting up harvesters using XML Sitemaps and also for RSS feeds. The majority of our content contributors are using the XML sitemaps option.
The DigitalNZ system is in 3 parts: a backend, a metadata store and a front end. The backend harvester is written in Java and some legacy PHP (based on the open-source PKP Harvester project). The metadata store is in MySQL, using Solr to power the search. The front end, including the API, the website, widgets and so on, are in Ruby on Rails. The also uses the open source Radiant CMS.
We’ve also set up a DigitalNZ Kete for organisations to upload any content that doesn’t have a home elsewhere on the web. Kete (basket in Māori) is an open source community repository system (built on Ruby on Rails) that we can harvest using OAI-PMH.
One of the great things about Kete is the built-in Creative Commons licensing structure – our ‘technology’ (in the sense of tools) for dealing with the issue of uncertainty around what people can and can’t do with content.
We extended this by adding in the “No known copyright restrictions” statement as well – taking a leaf out of the wonderful Flickr Commons book. A number of Aotearoa People’s Network Libraries are using Kete to gather community treasures and we are including that content in DigitalNZ as it comes online.
The Memory Maker uses the Ideum Editor One which we have sitting on our server in Christchurch, New Zealand.
We’ve worked with three vendors (Boost New Media, 3Months and Codec) and have taken an agile development approach using Scrum. This was very successful way of working and it enabled us to complete our development with in 16 weeks from go to whoa. It was fast, furious and an absolute blast!
The search widget is really great – how are you expecting this to be used?
We think that it is going to be of really useful in education for teachers to use to define project resources or for kids to build into their own online projects. We also see application for libraries, museums and other organisations to use for setting up ‘find more’ options relating to specific exhibitions, topics or events. We’ve also had feedback from some content providers that they are considering it as their primary website search. We’re pretty delighted with that! We also really hope to see some unexpected uses as well.
Tell me something about the Memory Maker?
We think that these guys can tell you about the Memory Maker much better than us!
We ran the ‘Coming Home’ Memory Maker campaign to demonstrate what is possible when content providers ‘free up’ selected public cultural content for people to remix with permission; and used the remix editor to deliver the content to users. We filled the Memory Maker with content relating to celebrations for the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day on 11 November 2008. A number of National Digital Forum partners provided the content and the Auckland War Memorial Museum has been the wonderful host.
We’ve been delighted to watch as schools and other web users make their own commemorative videos out of New Zealand digital content – not by stealing it, but because they know they are allowed to and we made it easy for them.
Our detailed case study of the Memory Maker project describes all of the details and issues we worked with.
We’re hoping to work with others on new remix campaigns in the future.
What sorts of mashups are you hoping other developers will build using the API?
We’ve got a couple already – check out the Widget Gallery for Yahoo Pipes mashups of the DigitalNZ search combined Flickr and also a headlines search of StuffNZ (NZ website of newspapers and online news) over the DigitalNZ metadata.
We don’t have any specific expectations – just excitement about what is possible. We want to be surprised by what people come up with. The whole point of putting the open API out there is to drive others to make new, exciting things with the content that we’ve made available. DigitalNZ wants to share the love!
Go ahead and make us and our content providers happy.
We’re hoping that when people develop new things they’ll let us know so that we can make it available to others through the widget gallery and share it with others.
What other kind of work is DigitalNZ doing?
Another very important aspect of DigitalNZ is that we want to work with NZ organisations to improve understanding and knowledge about how to make their content, easier to find, share and use. One of the issues that we’ve come up against was metadata quality. The search tool has shown that search results can only be as good as the quality of the metadata that goes in. Working with people to improve their metadata will make the API stronger and also the discovery experiences for people.
The Contributors’ section of the site provides guidance on how to participate in DigitalNZ as well as good practice advice on content creation and management. The good practices guide are being developed across all aspects of the digital content lifecycle: through selecting to creating, managing, discovering, using and reusing (including licensing) as well as preservation. We’re interested in hearing from people that might be able to share expertise and perhaps help build up the material on the site.
We’re also working on an advisory service that will provide support and guidance across the spectrum of content creation and management issues that organisations are facing. This will be developed further over 2009 and we hope to include information, training and development, peer support, discussion forums, as well as draw on the knowledge of collective experience and wisdom out there.
Lorcan Dempsey pointed to this rather excellent presentation titled ‘There’s No Place Like Home?’ from Ann Cameron at the National Library of Scotland. In it she describes way that the NLS has been uploading archival video materials to YouTube and highlights some of the issues around Copyright, and metadata that have emerged from the project. The issues around context (slide 15) are also important in light of Henry Jenkins’ recent presentation.
Brookyln have also released some of them at 3000 pixel and higher resolutions – asking re-users of these images to contact them to tell them whether this extra high resolution is useful. (I immediately thought that it might be fun to Photoshop in some Indiana Jones images into some of the Egypt images).
Flickr is already flagging that there will be many more contributors to the Commons coming very soon and that there will be some new features – an internal Commons search – as well as greater promotion of the Commons across Flickr. The addition of Brooklyn also seems to have solved the problem of the Commons needing a separate account – Brooklyn have sensibly merged their Commons images into their already very successful Flickr presence.
Back at the Powerhouse we’ve just uploaded our 500th image. This latest batch includes some lovely shots of the Sydney Observatory which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. There are also more shots of old Sydney, and the Tyrrell Today group is now starting to fill up with complimentary contemporary shots of the Tyrrell locations takne by a diverse range of other Flickr users.
And two other things, if you search Flickr regularly then you will love CompFight. It is a really nifty quick search of Flickr with various options for Creative Commons images and (un)Safe Search that leverages the Flickr API.
If you want the more ‘wow’ but far less practical search of Flickr then this 3D globe-style search from Germany, Tag Galaxy, is pretty amusing – especially on a fast connection.
This is a long and sprawling post and comes off the back of two weeks of presentations around the country and a lot of discussions about the ‘future of museums’. Perhaps find a comfortable chair and a hot beverage.
Checking my RSS feeds this morning I came across this piece from the Boston Globe which looks at the way the nature of what constitutes ‘history’ is being opened up with social web tools. It talks about the Commons on Flickr and the respective contributions of the Library of Congress and the Powerhouse Museum. Given the typical questions I’ve been asked in recent weeks about our own experience in the Commons, this section jumped out immediately.
Late last year, the Library of Congress posted several thousand of its photographs on Flickr and asked the public for help: What is this? Who is this? When was it taken? Curator Helena Zinkham, who oversaw the program, was stunned to discover how quickly the gaps were filled by amateur enthusiasts – and in some cases, people with firsthand recollections.
This was particularly the case where the images attracted the attention of a particular group of enthusiasts: military aviation buffs, for example, or aficionados of early baseball. One collection depicted early-20th-century boxers, many without vital information – perhaps just a last name, like “Wells.”
“By the time the conversation was done,” Zinkham says, “we were able to tell Matt Wells from Bombardier Billy Wells.” (emphasis mine)
Conversation – this is what social media is fundamentally about – and Zinkham’s use of the word says a lot about how the Library of Congress has approached the whole Commons project. As we know (from meat/meetspace) conversations are unpredictable and whilst they can be steered they can rarely be controlled. For this reason we’ve traditionally been unable to ‘let go’ in our marketing campaigns and our gallery and online experiences. Conversations are hard work too, and require ongoing work to maintain.
Thinking about the Museum Futures summit last week in Canberra (organised by Museums Australia) I’ve come to the conclusion that museums must “assert relevance, don’t assume relevance”. As others at the summit have noted, there still seems to be an assumption within the sector that museums are, by their very presence, relevant. This is not the case.
Alternatives are everywhere. ‘Experience venues’ are less the preserve of museums than every before. Take a look at the cinema industry and you quickly realise how the declining cost of home cinema equipment combined with DVDs and the internet have, in a very short space of time, greatly reduced the appeal of the ‘cinema experience’. There is now very little reason to visit a cinema to actually ‘see’ a film – that act can be performed anywhere – and the connection between the ‘seeing’ of the film and physical space of the cinema has been well and truly severed. Of course there are still some who enjoy the cinema experience, but the ‘need’ to attend to see a film is no longer.
If we think that ‘information’, ‘fact’ and ‘knowledge’ are our domain then again the alternatives are everywhere. The internet as an information space is dominant, faster and easier to access.
Fortunately we aren’t alone in facing this disruption.
I was excited to hear Cathy Johnson, a reference librarian talking about the ‘Slam the Boards’ initiative that she has been eagerly taking part in. (Cathy was talking at the State Library of NSW last week at the Reference at Metcalfe conference that I also spoke at). Slam the Boards originated in the US as a way of reference librarians making their presence felt in the rather unruly world of internet Q&A boards.
It is a great example of ‘asserting relevance’. What Cathy and other reference librarians do is all head over to Q&A boards like Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers and the like and start answering questions. It sound simple but as even some in the audience felt, reference librarians find it incredibly challenging – even though they do the same every day in face to face situations in libraries. In answering questions professionally and tagging their posts and also identifying their avatars as ‘librarians’ Cathy argued that not only are librairans engaging audiences that have either forsaken libraries or are just unaware of their services; their answers act as promotion – not just of themselves and their library, but also of the idea of libraries as ‘trusted navigators of information’.
Actually all media industries face this question of ‘relevance’ in the face of alternatives. And, as ‘Future of media’ consultant Ross Dawson mused last week after attending a Powerhouse Future Directions Forum, museums are essentially media.
Come this morning and digital radio blogger, Tony Walker over at the ABC linked over to a fascinating post at Reportr about the changing motivations behind the newspaper world’s (slow) embrace of social media.
The Reportr article by Alfred Hermida is a fantastic read, as is the longer form report (by Hermida and Neil Thurman) it references midway through. As an investigation of how British newspapers have adapted to the changing media landscape – a result of the democratising of media production equipment and publishing technologies – it is very illuminating. We have seen similar adaptations attempted by Fairfax and News Limited.
Most of all Hermida’s research mirrors the attitudes and reactions of the museum world to social media, user-generated content, and the new demands of “asserting relevance” and engagement. From his earlier work –
While news organisations were providing more opportunities for participation, we also found evidence that they were retaining a traditional gate-keeping role. Moderation and or registration remained the norm as editors’ concerns over reputation, trust, and legal liabilities persisted.
This said, we did record a greater openness among editors. One described user media as a “phenomenon you can’t ignore”, another said they “firmly believed in the great conversation”, and one editor explained he was “very interested in unlocking” information from his “very knowledgeable” readers.
Hermida’s later research is showing that in light of low particpation rates (when compared to overall site visitation), and a lack of tangible ‘ROI’ and metrics, and ongoing concerns over ‘moderation’, there is still little in the way of more open forms of collaboration between audience and newspaper – potentially the most transformative.
Although there has been a continual increase in opportunities for readers to contribute over the three years of our work in this area, textual contributions are, in the main, still limited to short ‘comments’ on subjects or stories determined by professional editors. There is little in the way of longer-form contributions or opportunities for readers to set the agenda. We could suggest then that the media is creating an architecture of publication for material from the audience, rather than an architecture of participation.
Where opportunities for readers to set the agenda do exist (for example in readers’ blogs; or at message boards) they often seem to be part of what some have described as a “closed-off annex where readers can talk and discuss, as long as the media companies don’t have to be involved”.
Attempts to create genuinely open spaces where readers can set the agenda are few and far between. The Times’ ‘Your World’ travel site is one, but after initial external investment to get it running (it was sponsored by BMW) the site has atrophied without ongoing support and management. The most recent posts are 4 months old.
Will museums reach a similar point in their engagement with social media and pull back? At this stage I think there is a 50/50 chance. The gains that have been made with social media in terms of audience engagement and the transformation of the very idea of a ‘museum’ lie in the ability of the sector to overcome its inertia and begin to demonstrate the gains made so far and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Our relevance lies not in just creating an ‘architecture of publication’ but as Hermida and others say, designing ‘architectures of participation’. And this is not easy.
Coming back to where I started this post, George Oates from Flickr (and the architect of the Commons project), has written a nice piece over at A List Apart called “From Little Things”. The article is a nice introduction to the basics of designing for community interaction. Here she describes how Flickr operates as game –
If you imagine Flickr as something like Game for the Masses—a playing field without rules or a “way to play”—you can see how people can learn to engage with one another through conversations about their content.
This has certainly been our experience with the Commons. And the open nature of the game, and its evolving rules and social mores poses significant challenges for us. Museums are good at closed games – our galleries are full of them, our websites too. But we are only getting started at open ended evolving interactive experiences.
Aimed at managers, executives and marketing staff, the book (usefully) steers well clear of specific technologies and technical solutions and instead provides numerous case studies of how social technologies are being deployed by savvy companies to improve and transform their businesses. More so than the social technographics profiles, these case studies are the book’s strength. The case studies featured cover different audiences and social technographic profiles, widely different industries, and also very different strategies and are all interesting reading.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how museums might apply their methodologies – in particular their POST (people, objectives, strategies, technologies) method – to exhibitions and online content.
The POST method is simple but forces you to look first at the people you are trying to promote/engage/sell to and the objectives you are trying to achieve. Then choose a strategy and last, the appropriate technology. The Groundswell book covers, in detail, this methodology applied to examples such as the sale of tampons to young women . In this case study Procter and Gamble built a discussion forum, Being Girl, which is a platform for the marketing of a particular brand of tampons. It became a bigger and ongoing platform with which to engage the target audience. What the Being Girl case study shows is that by looking at the behaviour of the target audience first and their online behaviour it was possible to create a better aligned and more successful campaign that not only met the objectives of the tampon company (and created new opportunities as well) but importantly met the needs of the audience (to have a safe place to discuss adolescence – beyond just tampons). The company involved is also able to now undertake ongoing audience/market research through the forum to inform future campaigns.
Of course, engaging with audiences in these and other ways radically changes the communication flows from the traditional one-to-many shout methods of traditional marketing to multi-directional communication. These inevitably begin to transform the organisations involved as well as the customers/audience too. Groundswell outlines some of the challenges, especially around corporate transparency, that this throws up such as whether or not to acknowledge the existence of competitors in one’s own discussions with customers. (What if ‘other brands of tampons’ are discussed?)
Put simply, if you do engage, you organisation will change. If you engage strategically then this change can be managed and paced appropriately. For some organisations it might be most appropriate to deploy a range of ‘listening’ techniques and technologies before leaping into an poorly planned social media project. Even here at the Powerhouse we’ve had social media projects fail because we have over-estimated our intended audiences and their predicted behaviour.
Museums tend to focus on audience evaluation rather than market research – focussing on those who have made the choice to come to our sites already, rather than those who haven’t yet. Thus for museums there is a real need for us to understand the technographic profiles of our multiple audiences – and then take the most sensible approach for each audience niche. Unlike companies who tend to target a product line at a group of consumers and then develop that relationship across the lifespan of the product line, too often museums take a more schizophrenic approach to exhibitions (as products) – serving one niche with an exhibit then moving on to serve a totally different niche audience with the next. The audience cultivated through the first exhibition may not be served with a follow up ‘product’ for several years – or in some case, ever again. This is a grave strategy error.
Of course museums are more than just exhibitions, they are a collection of experiences. So, if we consider museums as experience venues with a visit containing multiple ‘samplings’ of a diverse product line – the average museum visitor stopping by several exhibitions in one visit – then we also need to be considering the impact of different technographic profiles for different audience needs and intentions as well.
In Lynda Kelly and Angelina Russo’s recent research presented at MW2008 they applied the social technographics methodology of Forrester to visitors to Australian museums. What is interesting in their work is that they found that the use rates of many social media tools was, in fact, higher than national averages. At the same time their qualitative research showed that amongst teenagers whilst usage of social networks is high, that there was an impression that these were for ‘private’ and ‘personal’ use – and that the intrusion of museums into these spaces were not necessarily desirable. Similar findings are being made by others across many industries. Likewise, Dana Mitroff and Katrina Alcorn’s exploration of the SFMOMA audience informing a web redesign sounded an early warning that any museum’s pursuit of Web 2.0 participative methods needs to be strategic. Social technologies aren’t yet appropriate for all audiences, nor are they necessarily desirable without strategic alignment.
Forrester provides an online social technographics profile tool in the promotional site for the book. This is a simple tool to start a conversation with managers about the general online behaviours of your audience and I’d strongly recommend exploring it with the backing of existing audience research around your ‘product range’ (exhibitions, interactives, online projects) rather than just applying it generally to your entire museum.
So where from here?
What Groundswell does is provide your web or digital team with a range of examples to present management, and it also provides management with a strategic framework with which to begin to evaluate proposals from digital teams irrespective of the technologies involved.
I’ve got two copies of Groundswell in the office now which are being read by everyone in my team and the key people around the Museum that we work with.
At Musuems and the Web 2008 in the Planning Social Media workshop I briefly talked about the need for organisations to engage with, rather than ignore, the reality that their staff are using social media – even if not in their professional lives, and that this can cause occasional issues.
One year ago we launched our blogging policy at the Museum. This was to cover the behaviour of staff on the offical Museum blogs as well as outline the approval processes for other blog activities. Already we are finding that it is in need of an update. As they say, one year is a long time on ‘teh internets’.
Not surprisingly we are not alone in this. There have been plenty of corporate blogging policies made available publicly however the best fit, in my opinion, are the recently updated policies of the BBC which now extend into covering social network participation and more.
The BBC’s new policy for its staff on using social networking services like Facebook, writing and commenting on blogs, contributing to wikis including Wikipedia, are all covered in detail. The over-riding principle in the BBC policy is one of ‘awareness’ rather than censorship. The BBC realises that their journalists and staff are enriched by participating in robust community debate (more and more of which now occurs online), and also, that to attract younger generation staff (who are growing up with the expectation of participation in online communities), they need to be proactive.
So the BBC encourages awareness amongst staff that their private comments and opinions need to be kept in check and balanced if they are identifying or associating themselves in any of these public forums as BBC staffers or journalists.
The Internet provides a number of benefits in which BBC staff may wish to participate. From rediscovering old school friends on Facebook or Friends Reunited or helping to maintain open access online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.
However, when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.
The intention of this note is not to stop BBC staff from conducting legitimate activities on the Internet, but serves to flag-up those areas in which conflicts can arise.
For those agencies considering introducing policies I would also recommend the fantastic work of Jason Ryan from the NZ Network of Public Sector Communicators. Jason has been at the forefront of developing and implementing sensible and realistic strategies for social media within government.
The first 24 hours of our presence on Commons on Flickr has been fascinating. I wrote about the launch yesterday but now let’s take a look at what has happened over night.
In short, we’ve been excited by the response. Here’s some quick figures.
Plenty of views (4777), and stacks of tags (175) – in such a short time. That’s more views in one day than the entire Tyrrell Collection would have previously gotten in a month. I’ve been really excited by the types of tags and the diversity of tags that have been added. One user has even added postcodes as tags. And, although we’ve had tagging available on our site for those same Tyrrell records, these tags far exceed those added on our own site in quantity and, arguably, quality. Obviously this has a lot to do with context.
Yes, you read that right. The Powerhouse Museum is the first museum to join the Commons on Flickr! And we’re excited because it went live today!
In the tradition of ‘slow food’ we have decided to do a slow release of content with an initial 200 historic images of Sydney and surrounds available through the Commons on Flickr and a promise of another 50 new fresh images each week! These initial images are drawn from the Tyrrell Collection. Representing some of the most significant examples of early Australian photography, the Tyrrell Collection is a series of glass plate negatives by Charles Kerry (1857-1928) and Henry King (1855-1923), two of Sydney’s principal photographic studios at the time.
We have also done something a little different to the Library of Congress – we have also started geo-tagging as many of the images we are uploading as possible. You can jump over to Flickr and see the images plotted on a map, then zoom in to browse and navigate. We are really excited by the possibilities that this opens up – suddenly ‘then and now’ photography becomes possible on a mass public scale. Because these images are being added to the Commons they are provided as having “no known Copyright” allowing maximum reuse.
We joined up with Flickr because we knew that the Tyrrell Collection were still largely unkown by the general public. This was despite fully catalogued sections (275 images) of the collection having been available on our own website for many years, as well as some of the semi-catalogued images (680 images) more recently in our collection database. We had also syndicated a feed of the fully catalogued Tyrrell images to the National Library of Australia’s Picture Australia. There are nearly 8000 Tyrrell images in total.
What Flickr offers the Powerhouse is an immediate large and broader audience for this content. And with this exposure we hope that we will have a strong driver to increase the cataloguing and digitisation of the remaining Tyrrell glass plate negatives as well as many more the previously hidden photographic collections of the Powerhouse.
There is a little bit of a back story here too. Joining the Commons happened rather by luck. Thanks to Maxine Sherrin and John Alsopp at Web Directions, George Oates from Flickr and I were speaking at the same event (Web Directions South) last year and were introduced. George visited the Museum during her time in Sydney and met the Image Services, Web Services, and Photography teams and we resolved to do something together. At that stage, the Commons was not public knowledge, and after it launched, George, being an ex-pat Australian, and I planned to get the Powerhouse Museum involved as soon as possible. Thanks to the swift work of Paula Bray and Luke Dearnley at the Powerhouse, as well as the support of internal management, the Museum has been able to seize this fantastic opportunity and react quickly.
George has blogged about the Powerhouse in the Commons over at the Flickr blog, and Paula will be blogging it over at Photo of the Day in a couple of hours.
If you’ve missed any of my recent presentations then I am doing a bit of a ‘remix’ of them this Wednesday, March 26 (edited!) at the Powerhouse Museum from 1230pm to 130pm. Entry is free after normal museum admission.
As a part of the ‘Talks After Noon‘ series I will be talking about the future of museums online looking at the different ways museums are engaging with social media, mobile technologies, collections and more. If you’ve seen and heard me speak in the last few months then you will be familiar with most of the themes but I am also going to include a couple of ‘sneak peeks’ at some slides and ideas from my forthcoming papers at Museums and the Web in Montreal as well. Of course, if there are any particular themes or issues you’d like me to cover then drop me a line and I will see what I can do. There should be some time for a Q&A at the end too.