Posts Tagged ‘Seb Chan’

Can money be made by giving content away for free?

Can money be made by giving content away for free or are these two ideologically opposed ideas? Should galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) be less dependant on government funding?

Seb Chan held a forum to discuss these questions at last week’s GLAM Wikimedia conference in Canberra. The answers were varied but surprisingly came back to the idea that the cultural sector should unite to successfully lobby for more government funding. People articulated Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson’s theory that giving content away for free allows for its true non-monetary cultural value to become evident. But does this mean the cultural sector will be increasingly reliant on government support?

Seb has written a blog post today titled Some clarifications on our experience with free content. He discusses how the Powerhouse Museum plans to leverage revenue from giving its images away on Flickr Commons.

At the same time, we can now build other relationships with those clients – rather than seeing them only in the context of image sales. This might be through physical visitation, corporate venue hire, membership, or donations.

Likewise, we know that the exposure of our public domain images is leading to significant offers of other photographic collections to the Museum alongside other commercial opportunities around digitisation and preservation services. Notably we have also been trying to collapse and flatten the organisation so that business units and silos aren’t in negative competition internally – so we can actually see a 360 degree view of a visitor/patron/consumer/citizen.

Seb’s argument works on a similar premise as Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson’s book Free: The Future of a Radical Price released last month. Income can be generated by using a vertically integrated business model. But Chris also believes cultural value is just as important as monetary value.

Malcom Gladwell’s review of Free in the New York Times argues that this business model does not support the owners or producers of content. ‘It would be nice to know, as well, just how a business goes about reorganising itself around getting people to work for “non-monetary rewards. .. Why are the self-interested motives of powerful companies being elevated to a philosophical principle?’ He has a point because the GLAM sector is looking to government to increasingly subsidise their existence.

Cory Doctorow argues in the Guardian, UK that Free and capitalism are ideologically opposed concepts.

Push Ball Scrimmage, Columbia, Bain News Service, 1910-1915, George Grantham Bain Collection, Flickr Commons / Library of Congress.

So can money be made by giving something away for Free?

Chris says, “In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.”

And he is probably right. The ball has started rolling and it shows no sign of losing momentum. The GLAM sector needs to start thinking creatively about how to make this work for them. Collections are comprised of material with moral and commercial rights so even if the GLAM sector decides to go down this path, rights and licences need to be individually negotiated.

Interesting links
Wiki on how to make money from free content
Chris Anderson on YouTube


Kia ora, Greetings..

Ingrid Mason: CAN National Project Manager



I started last week as the national project manger for CAN. I decided it would be good to put a face to a name, and I look forward to meeting some of the CAN Partners at the Museums Australia conference in Newcastle in a couple of weeks (16-20 May) in Newcastle, NSW.


As you know, CAN is posited in the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and CAN service reach out across Australia and beyond. The Powerhouse Museum is familiar territory for me – I worked here as a web content editor and reference librarian about six years ago.  The rest of the community out there however are a big ‘unknown’ and I hope to become better acquainted with you.. and to learn some more ways of saying ‘hi’.  My latest acquisitions are ‘buongiorno’ and ‘privet’ thanks to Italian and Russian colleagues at University of Sydney (where I’ve just been working). The greetings above though, along with talofa lava, malo e lelei, kia orana, are a means of giving you all a hint that I’m from Aotearoa – New Zealand and I am an Australian citizen, with a soft spot for Pacific culture, and a love of diversity, different cultures, and things digital.


Work-wise, gladly, I am in very good hands: Seb Chan from the Powerhouse Museum is briefing me on where CAN is at strategically, Joy Suliman (now in the SoundHouse Vector Lab at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney) is in the process of handing over CAN operations to me, Luke Dearnley is slowly acquainting me with things technical and Sarah Rhodes is easing me into the CAN website and blog.

Professional Background

To give you a bit of professional information about me: my background is in library and information management and I have interests in technology and research and a background digital cultural heritage and business development.  Prior to taking up this role I worked as the special projects manager (Digital Innovation Unit) at the University of Sydney.  In previous roles I have: managed a university digital repository, lead a web archiving team, and contributed to developing the requirements for the National Digital Heritage Archive in New Zealand.  So… I have a bit of cross-sector experience.. and I’m keen for more…and I look forward to working with the CAN community and across sectors.


Virtual-delegates at the Museum and the Web 2009

For those who cannot attend the Museum and the Web 2009 conference in Indianapolis, social media tools can link you to the action. In past years, participants were limited to blogging on the MW website but this year the use of social media will mean backchannel (or online dialogue) will play a significant role. Groups have been set up on Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, delicious and Facebook to enable better networking opportunities. You can even link up RSS feeds with conference updates. These social media applications are for people interested in marking themselves as key players in the industry, sharing ideas and meeting like-minded people.

There are several papers and workshops on social media tools accessible to the public.

Great Expectations: Sustaining Participation in Social Media Spaces by Angelina Russo, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria and Darren Peacock, University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Planning for social media by Seb Chan, head of Digtial Services and Research, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and Angelina Russo, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria.

Down to Earth. Social Media and Institutional Change by Vincent de Keijzer, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands and Patricia Deiser, Museum voor Communicatie, The Netherlands.

Of particular interest is a paper presented by Maxwell Anderson, of the Indianapolis Museum of Art called Moving from Virtual to Visceral. Anderson will discuss how museum’s can translate their on-site experiences online to penetrate through media clutter.

Sarah Rhodes


What are QR codes?

QR codes work in a similar way as barcodes but are capable of handling substantially more information. Museums have seen opportunities in using QR codes within exhibitions. Visitors point their mobile phone at the small black square and a URL will flash onto the screen with the object’s description. The Powerhouse Museum has recently applied this technology to Contemporary Japanese Fashion: the Gene Sherman Collection. The museum has also installed Bluetooth inside the museum so viewers can access the Internet for free.

Mobile phones must either have in-built software, like the Nokia N95, or you will need to download a code reader onto your phone.

The Powerhouse Museum’s Seb Chan and the Australian Museum’s Lynda Kelly give us a better understanding of how QR codes can be used for marketing, as well as within the museum, in a conversation on the Museum 3.0 blog.

Sarah Rhodes