Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

News cycle and collections

GLAMs can set up their own little media empire online using YouTube and a blog. Web 2.0 has made traditional media platforms like television, radio and print available to everyone to utilise. Now there are opportunities to engage new audiences by tuning into the news cycle and analysing how a collection fits within this framework. Making a collection relevant beyond its cultural heritage.

Tram in Loftus St (detail), photographer unknown,1955. Len Stone/Vic Solomons collection, City of Sydney Archives.

Shooting Through was a beautiful exhibition of old photographs, tram conductors uniforms, tickets, destination boards, historical footage and interiews about the trams in Sydney at the Museum of Sydney. What made the exhibition especially interesting was Historic Houses Trust and Sydney Tramway Museum’s contemporary approach to the subject matter by trying to “reignite the debate for light transport in Sydney”. Bob Carr was chosen to open the exhibition as he was responsible in 1997 for the only light rail in Sydney. Within the exhibition, Lord Mayor Clover Moore talks about her vision for Sydney and advocates for the development of light rail to improve the public transport system.

As you may know, CAN is hosting a forum in Adelaide that will look at how collecting institutions are becoming cultural producers. If you are interested in using online publishing to get your stories out, then it will be worth the trip to South Australia to meet like-minded people and share ideas.

Allsorts Online: the collecting sector, academia, the arts and the media.
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Time: 8.30am-5.00pm + drinks
Cost: Free
Place: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia


A toolkit for supporting your own learning online: Joy Suliman

Joy Suliman facilitates workshops in multi-media production and content development at the Powerhouse Museum’s Thinkspace creative media labs. She has a special interest in adapting widely available online tools and accessible hardware for learning purposes. Previously she has worked as a regional radio producer and community development worker. But most people will know Joy as the former Collections Australia Network National Project Manager – delivering training and online support to the national collections sector.

Professional development and learning are a vital part of everyone’s working life. We are increasingly getting our information and learning resources from a variety of online sources such as websites, blogs, online journals, wikis, forums and discussion lists. And then there is also the social networking sites like Twitter, Slideshare, Facebook and YouTube. It can seem like a real nightmare trying to stay in the loop, keeping track of everything you come across, and then finding it again when you need it. Creating your own “Personal Learning Environment” or PLE is a handy way of integrating all your online learning and resources, and creating ways of managing your own learning online.

PLEs are, very broadly, the ways and structures an individual uses to find, organise, reflect and share their learning in online environments. It’s more than just elearning or doing a course online, it’s everything you do online to grow your knowledge and skills. It’s a highly contested definition, but I like what Melbourne academic Ron Lubensky has written about it here. There are some formal PLEs that are used by schools and universities, but for most of us, it will be a matter of integrating some of our already existing online practices and looking at other online tools that will help us fill in the gaps. Many web 2.0 and social media tools are great for creating your PLE. In this post, I thought I would share with you the top 5 applications in my PLE toolkit, and how I use them.

1. Delicious
Delicious is a social bookmarking site. Using delicious you can save bookmarks, tag them using your own terminology, add notes and comments, manage them from anywhere when you are online, and share them. It’s a big leap forward from the “favourites” in your browser, because using tags you can label pages in a way that makes sense to you and that will help you find them again later. I save everything I think I might like to read/hear/watch again, so when I’m having one of those “where did I read that” moments, I look in my delicious links first. I also keep a list of resources and articles for Thinkspace in Delicious.

2. Google Reader
Feed readers are great for checking all your blogs in one place. There are lots of them around, but I use Google Reader because it’s simple, and I can check it from my home, work, laptop or iphone without too much hassle. I scan through the summaries of all the posts from all the blogs that I follow. It has replaced the morning newspaper for me. If I want to read more, I can, and if I’m really interested I will click through to the post, and then bookmark it in Delicious. There are also some tools that allow you to favourite, share, email and tag with the reader itself. Essential.

3. Zotero
This is a seriously good tool for those doing research. It’s an add-on/extension for firefox, and it stores the citations and notes for websites, pdfs and basically anything you might come across online. Bibliographies can be exported into Word or Open Office. Open source and free. Wish it existed when I was writing my thesis . . .

4. Twitter
Microblogging – updates of 140 characters or less. I’m a bit surprised at how quickly I have become a fan of twitter. What can you learn in under 140 characters? Plenty it turns out. I follow people who I have met professionally, and through twitter I know what they are reading, and read it straight away if they have provided the link in their tweet. I get information about events and training. I put information about what I am working on and the workshops in the Thinkspace labs in my tweets. People who follow me comment, advise and “re-tweet” to their own networks. At conferences that I’m not attending, I appreciate that I can follow the presentations through the tweets of others who are there. I can tweet from any computer or my iphone. Want to follow me?

5. LastPass
Lots of accounts and logging in mean lots of logins and passwords. I use LastPass to manage my accounts. I have it set up on the browser on my laptop. Secure and easy to use. One password is all I need now.

I was really inspired by a presentation that Kathryn Greenhill gave at the CAN Collections and the Web event in Perth last year “”…but I don’t have time and THEY don’t get it”: Finding time and reasons for emerging technologies”. Kathryn’s presentation is on slideshare, and reminded me that everything I want to learn is out there, I just have to make it personal and take responsibility.

If you are looking for more hands on professional development and practical digital skills learning, we have a range of adult learning and professional development courses at Thinkspace, including Digital storytelling, Digital video editing, Photoshop, Web 2.0 toolkit, Online planning and research skills, and Interactive whiteboard skills. We are also putting together a professional development program for people working in museums, history, cultural heritage, collections and the arts, called Digital Culture. The first Digital Culture workshop will be Podcasting, and is scheduled for Thursday 12 November. Book here.

If you would like to know about future Digital Culture workshops in video and youtube, blogging, photography, nings and wikis, send me an email and I’ll let you know when they are coming up.


Key elements to a successful online collection

Daniel Wilksch, Manager, Online Projects, Public Record Office Victoria, spoke at the Collections and the Web conference, on 24 November 2008, at the Melbourne Museum.

Before starting to develop an online collection catalogue, it is a good idea to research how other organisations have approached theirs. The National Library of Australia and the Powerhouse Museum are leading the way in web-based catalogues. They have already considered questions like – What do people want to see? What should the online catalogue do? Developing online collection catalogues can be a large but necessary jump for small institutions.

Online catalogues command a different way of organising information from the traditional library catalogue and provide a wider range of benefits. Beyond being used for insurance purposes, they help people find your collection items – on site and online, offer information about the item, help with enquiries and act as a marketing service. Web 2.0 technologies can be used to start a conversation with the public about a collection, engaging and building audiences. The United States Library of Congress started this form of social networking when they uploaded their historic photographs to the Flickr Commons in early 2008. Using a similar principle, the Public Records Office Victoria has set up a Wiki on their site to build on their collection descriptions.

People in organisations have different needs to the public so the web team needs to separate management information from keywords, descriptions and object photographs the end user may need. Questions to be asked are – Is it just access or information people want? Should the CSV file be made available for download with all of the information about the object. The catalogue software should provide archival information about the item, as well as physical and digital information about the object.

Libraries, archives and museums demand slightly different function of catalogue software. Libraries hold a collection of books and so require subject thesauri and controlled vocabularies. Museum software needs to create lot of information around an item, such as photographs, places to add information, item description rather than just noting the item. Archives lead the user down a path of how to find a search result object so they can be led back into that search result.

Designing your website for people interested in looking at single pages is an effective way of maximising the Google search. People may not want to navigate your website but use Google as their collection search tool so you should try to accommodate both approaches. A library catalogue card is equivalent to a web page and each web page has a URL (address) used to organise and search for information in the catalogue. Try to provide a list of things in the collection so people can organise their own data.

The key elements to a successful online collection are:
*a page for a collection of items that can be clicked through to one page per entity, each object has a registered address,
*if there is a change of software the address should be transferred so links don’t break and gives items permanent place on the web,
*URLs should be descriptive with the object name and catalogue number,
*URLs should be intuitive so people can guess the URL if looking at another item.
*each page should have links back to the content of the item so people can explore the catalogue,
integrate catalogue information into the website,
*consider a system to store the image of object and its description because a catalogue holds the information not the actual entity,
*embed the catalogue in the website and allow the user to return to the same place to start another search so that information is not duplicated on the website.

Email Daniel if you have any questions relating to online collection catalogues.

Related links to online catalogue software
Online public access catalogue

To listen to more talks from the Collections and the Web conference
Collections and the Web, Perth, September 9, 2008
Collections and the Web, Melbourne, November 24 2008


Local objects global stories – our Museums Australia conference paper 2009

How do collections and objects “speak” to audiences? How can museums present their collections online in ways that can be resourced and sustained at a local level? Collections Australia Network national project manager Ingrid Mason presented this paper at the 2009 Museums Australia conference to discuss how galleries, libraries, archives and libraries (GLAMs) can bring their collections to life online and engage new audiences. Ingrid’s powerpoint presentation is now available on the collectionsaustralia Slideshare channel for people who could not make it to the conference in Newcastle last month.

It is an inspiring discussion about how the online presence of digitised collections opens up limitless possibilities. By relinquishing control of context, objects can embark on their own journey. Curators, researchers, students and the general public can reinterpret these objects, offering fresh perpectives and contributing valuable information. As Ingrid says in her presentation: ‘New territory… new stories… new practices’.

CAN national project manager Ingrid Mason

An institution must be canny about how it approaches its online strategy. It needs to work within its capacity and in line with its values and mission or mandate – taking into account its funding body’s needs while also establishing who its core audience is.

Museums can hope online collections will add value to current visitor experiences but what about the needs of the unexpected visitors? Little is known about new audiences so the strategy must be continually reassessed.

Shelley Bernstein, at the Brooklyn Museum emphasises that the Digital Media department needs to take risks, try new tactics, make mistakes and re-evaluate. Paula Bray, Visual & Digitisation Services manager at the Powerhouse Museum, has demonstrated that risk-taking can lead to unexpected yet positive results. She applied a no-known copyright restriction to a collection of 19th century glass plate negatives and uploaded them to the photo-sharing website Flickr. The ABC found the Tyrrell Collection on the Flickr Commons and invited the Powerhouse to collaborate on the Sydney Sidetracks project. Sidetracks is an interactive map offering historical stories based on public collections and archives. The Manchester Art Gallery was instructed by the national government to use online collections to reach wider audiences. Not only were visitor numbers falling but sections of the population were under-represented. Kim Gowland and Jane Wilcox invested in extensive audience segmentation analysis through meetings, online forums, surveys and by commissioning research. This enabled them to develop strategies for each audience type from ‘kids-first families’ and ‘learning families’ to ‘lifestylers’ and ‘third-spacers’.

We will be blogging about the Powerhouse Museum Flickr Commons and the Manchester Art Gallery MA conference presentations over the next week so stay tuned. You could even subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking the orange icon at the top right-hand side of the page.

So the most important thing to remember is that the online collection – social media partnership is an ongoing experiment where the only rule is to continually re-evaluate your strategy.

Sarah Rhodes


Best of the Web Awards @ Museums and the Web 2009

Museums and the Web is over for another year but the conference papers are still accessible. Here is the line-up of the best of the museum world’s online innovations with the Brooklyn Museum taking out the overall prize. Click here, to see more on the awards.

Best overall website
Brooklyn Museum collection
Panel says: not just because of what they have done (fantastic site)
but because they are pointing us in the direction we should all be
taking in the future.

Best on-line community or service
Brooklyn Museum Collection, Posse, and Tag! You are It!
Panel says: “The playfulness of “Tag! You’re it!” covers up a deep
understanding of what “the social web” is all about. Many other
museums are playing with web2.0, but none (IMO) are actually living
the social web in the way that Brooklyn are.

Honourable mention
Flickr Commons
Panel says: an excellent example of collaboration across both professional and community networks.

Best educational site
Tate Kids
Panel says: Wonderful interactivity.

Honourable mention
Firefly Watch, Museum of Science, Boston
Panel says: an excellent example of how to make a topic that is seemingly narrow into something engaging and fascinating.

Best online exhibition
Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition
Panel says: took a concept — “wisdom of the crowds” — and played it out.

Best innovative or experimental site
My Yard Our Message
Panel says: the quality of the final slogan boards were as good if not
better than a corporate ad agency.

Honourable mention
Astronomy Photographer of the Year (plus complimentary digital astronomy services)
Panel says: There are a couple of innovations here, especially the concept
of ‘astrotagging’ (instead of geotagging).

Best professional’s site
Panel says: knits together content, listings, resources and more.

Best podcast
RWM (Radio web MACBA)
Panel says: I like how they have organized the topics.

Best research site
Museum of Jewish Heritage Online Collection
Panel says:You can format the way the site is rendered.

Best small site
Museum 2.0
Panel says:anticipates the needs and questions of people all over the museum sector.

People’s choice
Video Active

Sarah Rhodes


How can museums be more like the Web?

Can we apply the principles of how the Web operates to the running of our cultural institutions? Nina Simon discussed this idea in a paper and a mini-workshop called Going Analog: Translating Virtual Learnings into Real Institutional Change at the Museums and the Web conference last week.

Nina says:
But now we should be going in the other direction and applying the methods and lessons of the Web and Web 2.0 to the museum itself. How can museums be more like the Web? How can they be open 24/7? How can visitors customize their experiences? How can museums become places to talk with other visitors and sneak into the most interesting drawers and move things around?

In Going Analog, Nina cites a fun example of how museums can behave in a similar way to a wiki. She says: ‘Dick Rijken, a Dutch researcher, wanted to find a way to encourage people to contribute to local historical archives. Rather than setting up a wiki, he erected a stall at a town festival, and cooked and served food based on 17th century recipes that were in the archive. To get fed, visitors had to submit their own recipes’. Rijken came up with a clever way of acting out a metaphor for how the Web operates.

Wikis, hyperlinks, creating your own aggregate site and user-generated content are just some of the tools museums, galleries and libraries can think about when designing public programs and exhibitions. By creating an emotional response to an artwork or object, the participant will be more likely to remember what they experienced and apply it to their everyday lives.

Sarah Rhodes


The small museum’s vital role in community engagement

Smaller cultural institutions have the opportunity to become the lead commentators in contemporary society. The fragmentation of the media, and consequently of civil society, has positioned the museum brand as a credible source of information. Ross Dawson wrote in his blog that the media and the museum are both curators of content facing the same question: Should they control the information or should they open-up the editing process? By starting an online dialogue, museums can take the lead role in the community as builder, shaper and connector.

Museums, libraries and galleries should use digital media alongside its exhibition space to help it build and engage a community. Through online discussion forums, social networking, open-source and other Web 2.0 applications, an institution can listen to its community and reflect civil society’s needs in its public program.

Samuel W. Shogren, of the Washington County Historical Society, argues in The Informal Learning Review No. 92 (Sep / Oct 2008) that small cultural institutions have a significant role in place making and influencing social change for three reasons:
- Museums operating from smaller facilities, rather than large temple-like buildings, can be more responsive to change within the community;
- Smaller institutions are able hold exhibitions and programs reflecting the issues facing civil society;
- Curators and exhibition designers could set up exhibitions in locations reflecting their content. This could open-up possibilities for community involvement in shaping the story for the exhibit.

The role of the small museum is more significant than ever as it has the ability to reflect civil society. (Larger institutions will be slower to respond to community issues as there are more layers of bureaucracy to cut through.) The online and on-site communities need to work together to transform the museum’s traditional spaces into places where dialogue and education can occur. Here vital links between cultures and social groups can be formed, placing small cultural institutions at the centre of a community.

Sarah Rhodes


A round-up of discussions relating to community-managed museums

Community-managed cultural institutions need to share ideas on how to use digital media to reach their audiences more effectively. Here is a round-up of discussion forums that might touch on some of the issues you have been facing.

First of all, we would like to invite anyone who would like to share their ideas in this discussion forum on how small and volunteer-run museums can use digital media to compensate for their lack of resources.

One idea is to upload your collections onto CAN’s online collection database. That way when a search is carried out, your objects will come up alongside those from larger institutions – giving them equal presence. Digitising collections and loading them into our online database is a dynamic marketing tool from which opportunities can be leveraged at a later date. For instructions on how to upload to the CAN Collections Database, click here.

Monika Lechner asks the question: Are museum-web 2.0 applications too time consuming? This question is particularly relevant for small museums and galleries who often do not have the resources to maintain these sites. It would be interesting to further this discussion on this site to work out ways to social network effectively.

Angela Ruggles has posted a forum about community museums and developing countries in preparation for her trip to Cairo, Egypt.

Sarah Rhodes