ABC Innovation ’s Chris Winter is at XMedia Lab, Amsterdam, this week mentoring the development of future digital public media projects. This is where some of the most cutting edge work is developed. Chris will be speaking at the Allsorts Online forum in Adelaide on December 1. He will be speaking about the exciting new projects ABC Innovation is working on as well as giving insights on Sydney Sidetracks and Gallipoli.
What is your role at the ABC?
I have been involved in a number of projects over the last few years – managing ABC2 from launch in 2005 until mid 2007, the ABC mobile election & news application in 2007/2008, Sydney Sidetracks, delivered to online and mobile platforms in 2008 (and pleasingly winning some commendations and an award along the way), an oversight and mentoring role on a number of other projects – ABC Earth, ABC FORA, ABC Mobile (2009), the Big Diary — and now more and more developing and managing relationships with outside bodies that are pertinent to our work – universities, research organisations, museums and other collections (as a result of the Sidetracks project), government (state and federal) and helping organise for staff presentations by interesting visitors, as well as internal events promoting learning, discussion and collaboration – a day for the ABC’s web developers for example, held early this year.
What is the focus of this years’s XMedia Lab in Amsterdam – XML Amsterdam “Public Media”?
The general themes are articulated at XMedia Lab. I have chosen to focus on interaction and audience behaviours, and how the latter have affected our work and our strategies.
XMedia Lab is designed to assist people to get their own digital media ideas successfully to market. How does your role at the ABC support this idea?
XMediaLab is a golden opportunity for people seeking feedback and advice about digital media projects at various stages of development. Getting to market may indeed mean a commercial outcome, or it may simply mean an idea is on its way to realisation and publication. Helping any project along this path is completely consistent with my role at the ABC, and has the added benefit of improving my skills, knowledge and experience through exposure to both the other mentors and the project teams.
Over the years quite non-commercial ABC projects have benefitted from the hothouse of an XMediaLab and exposure to experienced media workers who may bring a completely new and refreshing point of view – not only through their formal presentations, but through the intense one on one sessions in the lab.
Do you see a role for collecting institutions within public broadcasters’ multi-channel programming? Is there an example where there is happening in other countries?
Absolutely – and by the time I return from my trip, I may have a more detailed answer for you! Perhaps not a whole channel though …
How could collecting institutions, as not-for-profit entities, apply the principles of “commercialising digtial media ideas” to their own operations?
My interest in collections so far has been confined to finding reasons and opportunities to give often hidden treasures an airing – again Sidetracks is one such example, a reminder of past places, people and events, and so too is Gallipoli, although much more focused of course – without any thought of making money. Interestingly, as the Powerhouse has discovered, making some of a collection more accessible under a Creative Commons licence – in other words, in a limited sense, for free – has not affected their ability to make money from the collection. However, one hopes that more and more examples of a collection become more and more easily browseable – making them more easily appreciated and acquirable. Of course I am talking of images here, rather than three-dimensional physical objects.
To what extent should publicly-funded cultural bodies be involved in developing digital media projects that competes alongside commercial entertainment in the marketplace?
Many publicly-funded cultural bodies are the homes of wonderful stories – the challenge is either getting them out so they can be enjoyed in places other than dark rooms in far away cities, or presented in such a way that word of mouth makes an exhibition a “must see” – perhaps ACMI’s new display area is one such example. Or its Mediatheque which allows rights-fraught material to be seen without breaking the law. Perhaps one day the three-dimensional objects that populate much of the real estate in museums can be enjoyed remotely and cleverly without losing any of their “presence”. After all, what’s important about a museum is not the four walls, but what its collections stand for and the staff who understand their importance and the stories that surround them. If solving these problems distracts people from “commercial entertainment” or even makes money, that’s fine with me. The ABC is publicly-funded, and largely not-for-profit, yet it is allowed to generate income from goods associated with its charter activities – although of course, not everyone is necessarily happy about that!
As an XMedia Lab mentor, what message will you be sending out to those people travelling to Amsterdam?
I’m not sure exactly who these people will be, and I don’t really have a single message – but what’s important to me about a place like the ABC are the wonderful storytellers who work there – whether the stories are real or made up – and whether we can keep a grip on how important it is to reach everyone with those stories – regardless of who they are, where they live, when they choose to become absorbed in our stories, what device they choose to use – and to ENGAGE them. Alarming for some perhaps is the reality that we are becoming curators as well as creators.
Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks
Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm
Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.