Archive for the 'Reviews' Category



Here at Shelley Bernstein’s masterclass

Here at the Transformations in Cultural and Scientific Communication Conference, Shelley Bernstein is giving her first masterclass! Follow the feed on twitter – tag #tcsc. I’ll be summarising feed as we go!

What do we do when someone sets up a blog called Museumsuck.com?

This morning’s twitter feed (artech05) included a link to the ‘Museums Suck” website (thanks to Seb Chan).
While the article is provocative, the site itself is quite interesting. William Crowley, whoever he might actually be, has actually spent a great deal of time posting videos he’s taken, discussing museums he’s visited and sharing technical knowledge.

This last point is of particular interest. Crowley provides insight into how to create interactives simply, efficiently and cost effectively. He discusses iterative exhibition design, provides instructions for developing a simple tilt application and a simple multi-touch surface platform. This type of public user innovation is quite rare to find in a museum context. Between Crowley’s sometimes hurtful assessments of the museum environment, he’s actually providing useful design and exhibition information.

The blog is only new and Crowley doesn’t tell us enough about himself to assure the critics that he isn’t a fraud, yet his desire to share useful technical information seems genuine. Granted he does this between his individual insights, but I admire his generosity.

Be warned though, the rest of the blog is not for faint-hearted! Perhaps this site is an example of ‘look who’s talking’ – one of the themes for next week’s Transformations in Cultural and Scientific Communication Conference!

Here at Enterprise 2.0

Just spent the day at Enterprise 2.0. Really interesting conference! Well done to Ross Dawson. Here are some notes from the conference. It also ended up being a great example of how Twitter can be used to broadcast conference ideas live. You can follow the feed at #e2ef

Ross Dawson: Enterprise 2.0
– understand drivers
– create enabling frameworks
– support initiatives
– drive adoption and value
iteration and refinement – unpredictable intersection between culture and technology
build on what the community is already doing

focus on people, not on technology

discover, pilot and integrate
find champions within the organisation
be open, transparent, honest

Nathan Wallace: http://www.e-gineer.com
all news to be posted to internal intranet
anyone can edit almost anything
we know who you are
capturing the flow of ideas – lead to more conversation and collaboration
shift from user innovation to open innovation
embedding this flow of ideas in the development of products, services and experiences

Twitter
What is the business value?
focus on interactions over processes and tools
ease of use over comprehensive training
flexible tools over completeness
respond to needs rather than creating demand

clarify what the business is looking for
simplify
implement

Peter Williams: Deloitte
leadership and culture is where it starts
employees want to put in vs employees are scammers
experiment and embrace
make it participative
make sure you do something when you get the involvement
don’t be scared
it’s emergent so just do it!

JP Rangaswami
consume structure
produce structured
consume unstructured
produce unstructured

post 1982 – trained to use computer capabilities and facilities well before they began work

trading information across conversations – marketplace

giving people the right to right – upload rather than download rights

what do people do at work?
search – all search is wildcard – not deterministic
syndication – subscribing only to those aspects of information you are interested in.
eg: Twitter – subscribe and publish – requested information rather than broadcast at a time and in form you require
fulfillment – what the inventory is, does it match your needs, price, deal, settlement instructions

Focus on value of output rather than input

While much of what we do in enterprise is insecure, in Web 2.0 environment we leave a trail!

David Backley Westpac
PhD – role of ICT in work/life balance
new initatives must demonstrate
– retention
– new business
-drive down costs

You even need to have a methodology for doing something agile within an organisation.

Code of contact online is same as that offline

content and context: the technology is not the issue, it’s a work style generational thing!
– my revelation!
i sit on the phone most of the day and then I go home and phone friends and family – do I wonder about the work/life
balance of this technology?

technology needs to be able to scale
stop or wind up a project when it is done!
have fun
getting something to stick – embedded in the organisation!

And finally, my take on measures of success:
It’s a boomer – you drive costs down or create new income
Collaboration – new partnerships
Impact on organsiational communication – new strategies
outputs – new products and services/ experiences. increased empowerment of key resources
innovation – broaden collection intelligence

Demos on Democratic Culture

John Holden from Demos recently released this report ‘Democratic Culture’ to explore what it is that we mean by culture in our times. The report establishes three useful spheres:the public, commercial and homemade. The public is that which is defined as culture through the act of being funded by governments, commercial culture is determined by the consumer and the homemade by the creator and/or community. Holden proposes that as these three spheres become increasingly interconnected and networked, the ambiguities between each is likely to increase. He suggestst that the reaction to this by those  who consider art to be ‘for an elite’ will be that they to try to maintain their power to define what art is by separating it from everyday life. This is probably not such a new thought; before the internet we found ways of defining high and low culture, particularly in the museum/library/archive/gallery sector. Kevin Moore’s ‘Museums and Popular Culture’ (1997) dealt with issues of interpretation and representation and focused on the paradox of the museum in attempting to maintain a distance from those cultural events which, in another time and another place may well be defined as high culture.

But this is not the place for yet another ‘divide’ discussion. Holden describes the impact of ‘exculsivity’ and ‘the cultural snob’, suggesting levels of expert skill and knowledge are relative. He proposes that the arguements which frequently break out between the ranks are in themselves a mechanism for ‘asserting exculsivity’ in order to  “guard the territory that they have mapped together, in order to keep the public out.” (Holden 2008, p. 20) Holden asserts that if we can begin to consider the demos as  ‘us’, ” a self-governing, enlightened citizenry, with the capacity to make judgements and decide questions” then three-way communication can develop.

The article is an interesting read and contexutalises existing debates quite well. Where it seems to lack punch is in a sense of the future. Recognising that there is a big gap between the rhetoric or access and audience expectation, I can’t help feeling somewhat worn out by the report. It’s not the fault of DEMOS. Perhaps it has more to do with a sense of frustration that before we can move forward, we have to locate the muscles that work together to propel us through space.

Musings on cultural organisations and tourism

I was recently at the Intercom Museum, Tourism Visitor Experience conference in Rotorua, New Zealand where a great program of events challenged some notions regarding the links between the cultural sector and tourism industries. I was particularly taken by Dame Cheryll Sotheran’s keynote ‘The designation museum’ and national brand. Dame Cheryll is the Director of the creative and tourism sectors for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. She led the development of a creative industries strategy in NZ and is responsible for the successful Better by Design program which promotes design integration for New Zealand businesses.

Dame Cheryll’s speech was underpinned by the convergence between cultural and economic industries and a holistic understanding of economic, social and cultural value. Here are some of the key points she made:

Economic development can be an incentive towards innovation and value-driven solutions
In a globalised world, economic development has new challenges and characteristics
– Decline in dominance of western economies
– Rise of new Asian economies
– New kinds of value and pluralism around cultural and social as well as economies
– Shift from production to consumption / market driven or value driven economies
– Value oriented consumption

This contributes to economic trends driven by consumer concepts and values, authenticity, climate change, sustainability. Additionally, there is a demand for immersive experiences, a breakdown of silos, and the new challenges of hyper-reality.

In this complex environment, Cultural organisations need to develop more nuanced response to experience economies. There is a big shift in the way experience is delivered – Innovation driven production is now occurring within increasingly converging markets such as sustainability , lifestyle etc. This is driven by innovation and niche-market design. It is culturally driven and is a point of difference

Cultural Organisations can led in this environment by – protecting, promoting, maintaining cultural difference. At the same time, there is a potential new role for design in this experience environment:
– Increasing design-driven innovation through
– Content ownership/ experience based industries
– Consolidating and looking at innovation in that market
– Value-based and driven solutions
– New practices based on collaboration

The next part of the speech centred on cultural organisations and tourism suggesting
– Experience and stories create value-driven demand
– Value-added memorable experiences can be combined with service industry
– Meta-narratives should be delivered with technical innovation and service excellence
– Integrity and authenticity, memorable approach

In terms of convergent experiences, she suggested that the following were areas of growth
Urban regeneration
National branding
Cultural value and distinctiveness
Destination branding
Non-collection institutions

Some of the tensions in this field include:
Local vs global
Collections vs content
Authenticity and authority vs market-driven experiences
Object vs hyper-reality

Cultural organisations can not dismiss these tensions but rather intelligently analyse experience and narrative to engage with a technically demanding audience.

Next steps?
Explore new approaches
Increased understanding of how playing an active role is an incentive
Understand value-based solutions
Leadership opportunities – new partnerships
Recognising the distinctive offering, value, heritage and narrative driven

Towards the end of the presentation Dame Cheryll discussed new forms of collaboration based on – scarce resources, scale, strong brands or consumer services. She suggested that cultural organisations had the potential to create powerful resource sharing to identify meta-narratives which link new partners together to offer value-driven solutions and experiences.

I’m going to spend a bit of time thinking about this important last point. My next posts will be speculations of what these partnerships might look like!

Design, innovation and cultural organisations

I recently found this article in BusinessWeek, “Art Museum as Research Lab“. It details an exhibition at  New York’s Museum of Modern Art (now closed) which presented new designs in data visualization and other disciplines. The show, “Design and the Elastic Mind,” featured 200 projects by international designers and firms.  The exhibition illustrated innovative processes in disciplines not usually associated with design, for instance in nanotechnology, as well as design for new markets in developing nations, and “three-dimensional printing” of physical objects directly from computer files.

The article is of particular interest because it places both design and cultural organisations in the centre of the innovation debate, something that rarely happens. I was recently at a Business Seminar at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum where I asked a question about the value of building new design relationships between cultural organisations and industry. While the panel responded with initiatives such as Proctor and Gamble’s ‘Connect and Develop’, the discussion stopped short of teasing out the potential of these debates.

I’ll be interested to see what happens in Australia in relation to design and cultural organisations. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation recently released a new paper SOCIAL NETWORK MARKETS: A NEW DEFINITION OF THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES where cultural organisations were finally considered part of both the innovation debate and the creative industries, but only when they were dealing with new knowledge. Additionally, design was added to the agenda all within the context of social networking.

As the exhibition in New York demonstrated, there are some real outcomes for design in collaboration with cultural organisations. I look forward to watching how this debate develops!

Converting user-generated content into cultural interactive physical experiences

I didn’t think it was going to be possible for a museumophile like me to be completely enthralled in an exhibition again. That was until I went to TePapa in Wellington, New Zealand last week!! 

Not only is TePapa an incredibly rich, complex and beautiful museum, it continues to be the single most popular tourist attraction in New Zealand – not a mean feat in a country well known for it’s extreme adventure possibilities!

Late last week TePapa launched the NZMuseums which showcases the museums and collections of New Zealand. This site aims to become a directory of New Zealand museums, and an online collection management system for museums.This initative will grow over time as more collection information and additional functions are added. Congratulations to the team!

While at TePapa, Wallis Barnicoat, Manager Museum Development arranged for a sneak preview of the soon to be launched ‘Our Space’ exhibition. And what an exhibition it is!! The space itself includes an 18metre projection wall where audiences can load user generated content and create their own creative works. Here’s how it works. You can visit the website, sign up and start loading your images online. The images are then transferred to kiosks within the physical space and are made available for audiences to remix as they desire. You can then buy your final artwork at the helpdesk or find your contribution online.

This exhibition brings the best of co-created experiences together in an impressive museum exhibition. It is a significant example of the conversion from virtual user-generated content to physical cultural interactive experience and we look forward to watching how it progresses once launched later this week.

Our Space also includes two other fascinating exhibits:
The Map – Images from all around New Zealand  and The Rides:

The Map includes a large floor map of New Zealand. As you walk across the map, images appear on the mirrored media walls around the Map, triggered as you move across the glass floor. Each time you step on a trigger, a new image of that region appears.

The Rides bring together the best of thrilling physical encounters with glorious images of life in New Zealand. Based on roller-coaster type technologies, the interactive rides situate you in front of a large screen which projects images of New Zealand as you fly, free fall, swim and skate across the space (while strapped into a seat!) Part theme park ride, part natural science documentary, the two rides are some of the most entertaining physical experiences I’ve had in a museum for some time. If you only go to New Zealand once, go and see these exhibitions – and make sure you go on an empty stomach!!

Thanks to Wallis Barnicoat for organising this special viewing. I look forward to watching the ‘Our Space’ exhibition evolve as audiences connect both physically and virtually with cultural content!


About us

This blog examines social media, cultural institutions and digital participation. It's based on the research projects Engaging with Social Media in Museums and New Literacy, New Audiences. Regular contributors are Angelina Russo, Lynda Kelly and Seb Chan

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Lynda and Angelina at the Conference

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