Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

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


Not So Innocent Objects: a digital story

Not So Innocent Objects is a five-minute video threading stories about seemingly ordinary objects together to reveal their dark and often emotionally-charged nature. The Collections Australia Network invited Victoria Police Museum Public Programs Curator Kate Spinks to develop a concept based on the theme of ‘crime and punishment’. She came up with the concept Not So Innocent Objects to illustrate that collections often comprise of unremarkable objects with intriguing stories.



CAN Outreach wanted to start a project that actively worked with institutions of all sizes to upload their collections to the national heritage collection database. Once Kate sent through the working concept and five objects from the Victoria Police Museum collection, CAN invited nine other institutions to submit material. This project enabled CAN to collaborate with galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The video showcases a small selection of the 50 items sourced from the ten organisations. A Google Earth tour will also be made over the next few days to explore the full collection of the not so innocent objects uploaded to CAN. It can be seen on the collectionsaustralia YouTube channel.


The participating institutions are the Justice and Police Museum (Sydney), State Records NSW (Sydney), The Rocks Discovery Museum (Sydney), Mackay Regional Library (Queensland), Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), Australian Federal Police Museum (Canberra), Museum of Old and New Art (Hobart), National Museum of Australia (Canberra) and the Victoria Police Museum (Melbourne).


CAN made this movie using the free software – iMovie and Google Earth. The Powerhouse Museum’s creative media training suite Thinkspace recorded the voiceover but this can be also done using the free software Audacity and the microphone on your computer.


CAN is now working with the National Museum of Australia senior curator Richard Reid in sourcing success stories about Irish professionals in Australia. This project will help the National Museum of Australia source material for its Irish in Australia exhibition to open on St Patrick’s Day 2010. More importantly, it will help institutions of all sizes to promote their own collections. Once the Irish professionals story has been posted on YouTube in early October, institutions participating in the project will be able to embed the video into their own websites or play it in their exhibition space alongside the items they have submitted to CAN.


For more information on how to be part of the CAN digital stories projects, email Sarah Rhodes.


Digital storytelling: “Inside the Vault @ Powerhouse Museum”

Rita Orsini talks about how the Powerhouse Museum is using digital storytelling to bring museum objects to life. Not only are these pieces of the collection rarely seen but their stories have not had the opportunity to be shared in so much detail. Rita is the second guest writer in our series.

Three months ago I was appointed assistant curator in Total Asset Management at the Powerhouse Museum. My role was to research the Collection and upgrade the documentation about the history and significance of objects. This documentation is placed online and available through the Museum’s website.

I saw that a way to increase access to the Collection was to provide an instantaneous and easy point of entry to this documentation through short videos about the objects, a little teaser to whet the appetite, uploaded on You Tube and other relevant sites. This series Inside the Vault @ Powerhouse Museum takes the Powerhouse Museum Collection onto the Internet and unveils extraordinary stories behind objects usually tucked away in the Museum’s vault.

Every object tells a fantastic story. They often also resonate or have direct links with our world today.

Episode 1 – the Transatlantic Cable (Object number B2158)

Go to YouTube to find out the story of the first transatlantic submarine telegraph cable told by Matthew Connell, Curator of Computing and Mathematics. It is a story of grand plans, human folly and triumph, advances in technology and communication. There are strong parallels between these cables, which connected for the first time Europe and America in 1858, and what is happening in the world today with instantaneous global communication and the world wide web.

Episode 2: the Traeger Pedal (Object number B2125)

Head to YouTube to hear the story of the Traeger Pedal told by Curator of Computing and Mathematics, Matthew Connell. The Traeger Pedal, developed by Alfred Traeger in 1928, represents a significant milestone in the history of communication in Australia and was integral to the development and success of the AIM Aerial Medical Service (later known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service). Pedal-power is having a resurgence today and is the subject of research in institutions around the world. The Technical University of Madrid recently won an award for developing a pedal system enabling students to power their laptops while using them. Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) designed a similar pedal-power generator to support the campus energy-saving goals as part of their IT Energy@MIT Initiative.

Episode 3: AWA Microphone and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Object number 2007/147/1)

On YouTube curator Matthew Connell relates the story of a small block of marble packed with graphite granules. It is in fact the very microphone used at the official opening ceremony of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932.

What makes the microphone especially significant is that it was signed by ten of the dignitaries officiating at the launch, including the NSW Premier Jack Lang, NSW Governor Philip Game and the Bridge’s Chief Engineer, JJC Bradfield. Thanks to this simple devise we are able to hear their voices today and witness the unveiling of a great Aussie icon, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which symbolised progress, pride and hope for people at a time of great economic depression. All images courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW. Footage courtesy of Collection of the National Film and Sound Archive’ & ‘Australianscreen Online’.

Rita Orsini


Guest writer: Liz Holcombe, Australian War Memorial

We have started to invite writers to regularly contribute to the CAN Outreach blog as we want the discussion forum to be the voice of the community. Our first guest is Australian War Memorial web manager Liz Holcombe who we interviewed last week about the AWM’s social media strategy. Liz uses the analogy of gardening to explain how she builds and maintains the Memorial’s online community.

Liz Holcombe

I like gardening, and really enjoy my vegie patch at home. I get to garden at work too. Here at the Australian War Memorial, we have been using social media in various forms for the last two and half years. Our first major foray was with blogs in late 2006. By early 2008 we had a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and a presence on Flickr. In November 2008 we joined the Commons on Flickr, and in March 2009, joined Twitter.

One of the key things we have learned from this work is that you need to become a constant gardener, and gardening takes time. Gardening is the term I use to describe the constant activity that needs to happen on social media sites to keep them going. This means paying attention to comments, notes, fans, subscribers, and statistics (because someone will ask sooner or later what sort of result the site is yielding).

I like the word gardening because it is positive, organic and ultimately nourishing. Gardeners are constantly tidying, trimming, planting, weeding, dreaming and designing. Things never stay the same in a garden, and they don’t on the web either. And like in gardens, sometimes the changes are small and numerous and if you aren’t paying attention, you suddenly have a tangled jungle.

We have a few automatic ways of doing some of the gardening. When someone puts a new post on our blog, our Twitter page and our Facebook page automatically publish a link to the post. Comments are automatically emailed to blog authors, so the expert on the topic decides if the comment can be published, and if it needs a response. There is always someone in the web team keeping an eye on activity too, just in case the person who should be dealing with the comments is away.

Each day we spend time gardening on our various sites, looking at what is happening, reading what people say, responding to comments when it is appropriate, recording statistics and telling our colleagues what we learn. The demographic data that comes from Facebook and YouTube is invaluable, and the things that people share with us here have been surprising and sometimes touching. The photos that people take of the Memorial building and grounds and upload to our Flickr group create a unique visitor survey: some were taken in the 1960s. The reaction to the collection images on Flickr Commons has been incredible. One of the images, a striking portrait of an unidentified soldier from the First World War, has attracted particular interest, but no one has yet been able to help us work out who he was.

Unidentified soldier
An unidentified soldier. Do you know who he is?

Of course, there is some gardening that you don’t have to do on external sites that you have to do on your own website. You don’t have to make and manage the user interface. You don’t have to manage users’ emails and passwords or to provide help for people using the site: that is all done for you. On the downside, you have to accept what you find and live with it: if you don’t like the layout, or it does not work exactly the way you would like, you are not able to do much more than complain to the site owners, who are not obliged to do anything about it. It is a little like renting a house with a garden: you can’t really do a great deal to it, aside from maintaining it. If you own the garden though, you can pretty well do what you want. There are risks in using the external sites: is the site viable in the long term? What happens to your data if the site disappears? How do you do your record keeping if the activity if on some else’s server? How much do you need to record anyway?

Social media relies on participation, on two-way conversations: it is not enough to put something up and expect people to come. You have to work at it, keep on gardening, all the time. This is important, as once it was enough to just have the content on the website. Now we need to do more and allow more to happen with our content, largely because people are expecting more because of what they can do on other sites.

The major implication is that you have to work out how much activity you can support. The more care you can put into a site, the greater the return is likely to be, just like in a garden. You have to pick the best approach for the result you want, be prepared to work at varying speeds depending on the time or season, and remember that big things can grow from very small seeds. The trick is picking the seed that will flourish and ultimately bring a change to the garden. Social media is changing the way people use the web and that will inevitably change how museums operate on the web, and how the web is used by museums.

Guest writer Liz Holcombe, web manager, Australian War Memorial


Part 5: CAN interviews Australian War Memorial on social media

Those fascinated by the death of the German fighter pilot Red Baron, also known as Manfred von Richthofen, will welcome the Australian War Memorial’s social media program. Web manager Liz Holcombe uploaded the video of the Red Baron’s funeral to the AWM YouTube channel last year and made links between the collection objects relating to this story on AWM blog Who killed the Red Baron? and on their webpage titled 1918 Australia in France. The video has received almost 25,000 views and the comment section is evidence that the public love the opportunity to debate and discuss the fine details of the Red Baron’s death. Canadian pilot, Roy Brown claimed he had shot Germany’s most prized pilot in 21 April 1918 from the ground. While Private Alfred Fowler, with the 40th Australian Battalion, claimed to have seen the bullets shot by the 11th Battalion pierce the cockpit. While it is believed it was Australian soldier killed the Red Baron, the details continue to be debated.

Watch the interview with Liz Holcombe on our collectionsaustralia YouTube channel about her social media strategy. She discusses how she uses Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

German fighter pilot Red Baron, also known as Manfred von Richthofen

Her main focus has been to intertwine all of the social media tools so that people can just be a member of one or two of the sites and not miss anything. For ANZAC Day this year, the AWM paid for ads on Facebook for the first time promoting their activities. They used Twitter to send out notifications on what was happening. Attendance to the actual event in Canberra jumped from about 3500 to 5000 visitors. In this video interview Liz breaks down who her audience is, how she evaluates viewer behaviour and how CAN’s use of social media works to promote the Australian War Memorial’s collection. As seen in our blog last week, the war memorial is using Flickr as an exhibition research tool. They have invited members of the public to share their wartime love stories in the Flickr group Australian War Memorial: Love and War. These images will work to generate interest in the exhibition and possibly unearth value exhibition material.

Liz will start our series of guest blogs this week with a piece on ‘Gardening the Web’.

Sarah Rhodes


Interview series: CAN plans for the future with its partners (introduction)

Collections Australia Network has been interviewing several of its partners to establish how well we are meeting your needs and what we can do to improve our service. While everyone so far has embraced what CAN has to offer, people have had some interesting ideas about the future direction of the heritage collection database. Please use this opportunity to offer your own suggestions and opinions.

The interview sessions were conducted with:
1) State Records Office of NSW public access manager Christine Yeats
2) Newcastle Regional Museum curator Julie Baird
3) Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority artefacts online special project heritage officer Zac Lambert
4) Hurstville City Museum, Library & Gallery historical and cultural services co-ordinator Gemma Beswick and technology and online services co-ordinator Luke Carter

Excerpts of the video interviews will be posted on YouTube and a full transcript will also be available on this blog over the next few days. The interviews with Christine Yeats and Julie Baird will be the first and second in the series and have already been posted on our YouTube channel.