Archive for November, 2012

NDF Day 2 #ndf2012

Keynote 1: Sarah Barnes

Past forward: speculative adventures in the city’s archive

Barnes became interested in how our experience of digital is changing the way we view the past. “The 20th century has released us into history through technology” – NDF2011. W can interact with the past through resources eg. History Pin, TV shows from our past like Seasame Street on Youtube. What about the Instagram movement. Is the obsession with Instagram part of that desire to view our present through the past?) What is this doing to our sense of time?

Barnes quotes from Italo Calvino – Invisible cities

Her work seeks to reveal the invisible aspects of our environment and spaces.

Speculative adventure #1: Used sound, audio archives to experience the past in a contemporary space.

Speculative adventure #2: ABC Sydney Sidetracks: Publishing video + audio “Listening to a contemporary space through its auditory past” – archival material as experience.

Speculative adventure #3: Unguarded Moments ,Last Drinks which is focused on The Australia Hotel

Keynote 2: Going back to gallery land

Courtney Johnson

Refers to Atlantic article.

Most of us are immersed in our work “breathing that thick air of administrivia” and we need to lift ourselves out of it.

Too much real-world “404 Not found”, “403 Forbidden” in institutions and collections.

“Our front of house staff need to be our fail whales”

“We can’t afford to have our visitors to be feeling stupid and wrong”

Feels the need to have more emotion, personality in our institutions. “Visitors are hungry for experience and we need more emotion in our galleries.” Can our institutions become places where we experience emotions that have fallen into disuse, or are unfamiliar? What about the ability to search our collections by emotions?

Concurrent Sessions

Digital Initiatives in post-quake gallery: David Simpson

The Christchurch Art Gallery website was never intended to tell the story of a gallery that was closed. Website needed serious emergency management once it became clear that the website was all they had to engage, get repeat traffic.

First step to re-brand the blog – Bunker Notes. Considered other names including Bob Parker’s Arts Hole. 🙂 Set themselves a task to blog once a day. Unpredictable nature of the blogs made it different to other blogs from galleries. From light hearted to serious.

Also started to improve database by adding Getty tags.

Commissioned a mobile site.

Started to work hard on social media. Been on Twitter but grew Facebook.

New website launched – blog features heavily because it’s the most dynamic. My Gallery an attempt to engage community (like a pin board). Gets used by curators to plan, educators and people use it for fun.

Worked with Gapfiller to launch into community which reflects change in focus for audience – no longer international, national visitors. Now looking more to locals, passers in the street.

Don’t have a period of normality to compare the new website with.

Level of involvement of staff in the website, social media has increased, cultural change. Improves relationship with clients.

Conceiving the born digital museum: values, technologies and approaches: Suse Cairns

The way that technology’s disruptive change is changing fundamental museum practices.

“new media do not make old media obsolete; the assign them other places in the system” ~ Friedrich Kittler

Digital is beginning to assign museum and info to another place in the system.

“institutions tend to want to preserve the problems to which they are solutions” ~clay shirky, 2012

Mission and practice, acquisitions, conservation, research, communication, exhibition, tangible and intangible heritage, study and enjoyment – all affected by digital/internet.

Tensions emerging between:

  • museum time vs Internet time
  • opaque, Uni-directional authority models vs changing shape of expertise
  • closed vs open
  • preservation vs innovation
  • objects vs data
  • agile, kieric institutions vs slow burning developing institutions

Now becoming important to museums to be open, responsive. Co-operation and co-curation becoming important. Transitory space rather than being the destination.

Transparency eg Dallas Museum of Art’s Dashboard. Transparency is about integrity, authenticity for an institution. Talking about what works and what doesn’t. Wikipedia provides transparent record of edits why don’t cultural organisations? Contextless items without curatorial interpretation – leads to people making their own interpretations.

Are we remaking the museum in the image of the internet? and if so, what does that mean?

Digital channel strategy: onsite and online: Karen Mason & David Reeves

Working with an external partner about re-doing the website but turned into something bigger. Future museum project

Digital channel= technology based pathway used by museum to communicate to audience.

Challenge – audience focused and collections.

Social media channels to drive people to website and then out to other areas eg databases, blogs etc

Guiding principles: 1. digital guardianship (caring for them) 2. sustainable delivery 3. universal access

1. Collection data and context are an essential foundation but don’t have it all in digital form yet. Re conceptualise the traditional collection database? Could an item in a collection have a kind of “Facebook” page with a timeline, comments, go to events, like things?

3. Universal access. Rapid tech evolution recommends against over investment in hardware solutions in the short term. We need to pilot, evaluate, prepare. Concept of BYOD of interest to museum.

Lightening talks

Jock Phillips, Roadside Stories

Made an audio tour of NZ with photos. Available as an app on the Google play store and ITunes.

However, main way people accesed it was through Youtube.

Illustrates the value of making content that can be distributed in other places. Value of short films.

War story: george bollinger

Max Sullivan, Digitising sensitive material

Digitising Salient magazine from the 60s. Context very important. What will offend people? <– Very hard to determine. Good to develop a defensible position that is apparent to all visitors.

Have decided to display Salient in full but block all Salient images from search engines and will display an image policy. Report in http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz

Stuart Yeates, Web statistics

Goog analytics etc good for some kinds of questions.

We value the remix, reuse etc of our content but few report this up the food chain.
No plan to report = plan to fail. Unless you measure that stuff even you don’t know whether you’re got good stuff.

If we want to be kaitiaki we need to let go of the broadcast media mindset.


Chris Thomson, Digitising a Bibliography of Writing by Māori in English

OxGarage: turns txt into xml (?) other formats

Clarion Wells, Zombies and NZ On Screen

1. Use the right tools

2. Find your peers and work with them

3. Find allies outside of your peers

4. Make yourself known to the public

Optimizing crowdsourcing websites for volunteer participation: Donelle McKinley

1. Show the value of participating.

2. Motivation includes being involved in cultural institution, involvement in research, community interaction, personal interest.

3. Incentive – eg. project progress, leader boards, use of the stuff they have contributed.

Sources of friction include too many steps.

Keynote 3: Nate Solas

Cats, content and community: a year of long tails on walkerart.org

Walker arts museum launched a new website. No longer an island on the internet. Looks more like an art news magazine. Tells a story from the Walker arts centre. Provides context from Walker arts perspective and also the outside world.

People will engage with your organisation if you provide them with content that delivers value.

Connect the dots for them. Auto-suggest for searching (Google has set the bar for this now). Included some fun stuff.

Long term investment was made in the web team because the museum sees the web site as critical to the success of the institution.

Can’t separate the thinking from the doing.

Lots of daily content.

80 days: it’s in the long tail. New approach. When good articles are online, they persist in the long tail. The cost/benefit in making content web accessible. The people are searching for this stuff and they are new users. Two weeks on the home page = year in the long tail.

External search drives the long tail, people seem to need it more and maybe an opportunity for monetising.

Online community exists in the overlap between authenticity and audience.

Weather widget anchors site to physical and community, gives it an authentic voice.

Found that event pages didn’t have much activity post-event until they allowed commenting. Don't kill the event – that kills post-event discussion.

Sees the new website for the Rijks museum as the new standard for museum sites. Very simple, easily converts to mobile viewing,

Stop inventing, start iterating.

Do the obvious thing excellently.


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NDF Day 1

I was fortunate to attend National Digital Forum in Wellington, held at Te Papa. These are some of my brief soundbites from the sessions I attended.  I believe the sessions were videoed and assume they will be made available from the NDF website shortly.

Conference organisers address

  • Digital is part of what we do along with all the other stuff.  We’re building a digital ecosystem of datasets, websites etc.
  • If someone wants to use your content, let them, don’t get in their way, don’t charge them, get attribution.  Participate fully in the digital ecosystem.

Vikram Kumar: Opening address

  • Kumar’s address was similar to the one he gave earlier in the year at Nethui. One of the things he does is curate stories about the Internet.  It’s driving massive disruptive change.
  • He quoted from Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore, (1967). The medium is the message.  “We march backwards into the future” and used this as the framework for his address.
  • He played an excerpt from this TED talk from Thomas P Campbell, of note is this quote about museums and galleries are about “Bringing people face to face with the objects … with passionate scholarship.” Campbell also says our job is to “capture people at that moment of discomfort where their curiosity can expand”
  • What should we be doing?  Don’t extrapolate the past to define the future.  Wrong way to think about the future.
  • Is the future of the GLAM sector to be the kaumātua of New Zealand?
  • Kumar mentions television and the effect that medium had on society at the time.  He quotes again from McLuhan, “A medium affects the society in which it plays a role. Not by the content delivered through it but by the characteristics of the medium itself.” Marshall McLuhan. (2005). Understanding media: the extensions of man
  • The medium of the internet challenges the whole basis of copyright.

He then goes on to bring out 6 points about the internet.

1. Ubiquitous – the Internet is ubiquitous and everywhere.  (I would argue it’s not distributed evenly though).

2. End-to-end principle, layered architecture -things that are built on top of the internet is what is really interesting.  Based on simple bits of data packets being sent from one place to another.

3. Everyone can be a producer eg. crowd sourcing, digitising meta data

4. Openness – permissionless innovation. Deep engagement.. leverage this to get people involved. eg. crowd source funding (Pledge me)

5. Bottom up evolution

6. Global, universal

What is the future you want? Use the next two days to work out how to deliver it to you.


Keynote 1: New memory palaces and the sublime

Piotr Adamczyk

There is tension between how closely we’re tied to the physical when looking at collections. We’re now visualising collections through different ways when move away from the object as a physical item and use the digital version.

Google Art Project

  •  in 40 countries, 180 museums
  • targets 4000 pixel scans OR… higher (to get brush stroke detail).  This detail is higher than we’ve ever been able to see these things with which enables new ways to interact with the collection.
  • They added in a Google Hangout function where you can share a screen of image and take a tour with educator

What can we do with the digital object that we can’t do with physical? What we can do with the digital image that we can’t do with the original?

Piotr mentions memory palaces which are a memory technique to aid recall.  The archive (of stuff) can be overwhelming and we try and organise it in particular ways. We’re driven to the exposure of the personal eg “what’s in your bag” projects on Flickr.

Implications arise because we can see patterns in data visualisations – are they meaningful, what should we do with them?

New art is being created as a result of the Google Art Project.  People are creating new paintings from the art blurred out due to copyright.

Curation language and practice needs to change in the new world of digital – bringing together online collections from disparate institutions with different meta data creates new challenges. Collections no longer exist in the same way as they do physically (5% on show physically, but more can be on display online).

Richness of big data and content still requires human intervention via metadata.  That’s how we give meaning. How do we keep curating and also add meaning to this fire hose of information?

Do people who view the Google art project spend more time in the physical place when they visit?  The ability to see analytics data as a result of the Google Art Project means museums and galleries can analyse the use of their digital collections.



Lightening sessions

Beyond social: DK

Social media is all about reward.

Tweriod – a tool to see when your tweets are going to have the most impact.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch” – Peter Drucker.  Need a culture of social media in an institution, not a strategy.

Become a lot more curious of other people’s work, not just from GLAM sector.  Look sideways.  Look for intersections not the destination.. It’s not about people coming to the destination but about going there and jump off to somewhere else (eg. airports, Google).  Pull people to you and push them off to somewhere else.

Cultivate a culture of commenting on others blogs and interacting with their social media platforms. You have to add value to other people’s spaces before expecting them to add value to yours

DK told a story about his cheat sheet of the book, Rework : change the way you work forever  by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  Lesson from this is to share stuff.  Create content and give it away.

Look closely at desire paths – this is a good way to have a social media “strategy” or culture. Cultivate culture over strategy –  do we have a culture strategy?


Sembl, the game of resemblance: Cath Styles

Game from National Museum of Australia. Connecting objects =  creating interestingness.

First used paper, iPads and post it notes, then developed the iPad game.  The game provides a link between museum artifacts, and the technology creates engagement. It is about play, being a maker of meanings and thinking differently.

The game promotes co-authorship, a dialogue between museum and visitors, between visitors, and between things.

She quoted from Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed but I can’t remember the quote!  Also quoted from David Bohm, Dialogue “…the ability to hold several points of view in suspension…”

At present, this is a game based social learning in a museum but they are aiming for a game based social learning network and perhaps even bigger than that.

Sembl allows users to create their own context & connections from their experiences for understanding museum artifacts.

Resemblance the way to knowledge.


The tales we can tell: Tim Sherratt and Chris McDowall

Stories + data = ?

Linked open data is not an engineering project like connecting up the plumbing of the Internet.  It can be created with love, with anger.

Western thought – relates knowledge with accumulation of stuff. But linked open data can be more than just more stuff.  It can have meanings.


“Accessibility” not just the power to consume but also the power to create.

“I want an army of data artists creating a glorious confusing infuriating, WONDERFUL tapestry”

Mitchell Whitelaw’s TED Talk

“wondering the walls / brushing up against history – i want that experience online”


The future of products: Dave ten Have

Ponoko: asked how do you design a 21st century factory? Answer: “keep point of creation as close to point of consumption”

Ponoko see themselves as part of the mass individualisation movement <– from mass production. In the lineage of the company, the great grandma is Ikea, with Etsy, Cafe Press and Zazzle in the DNA mix.  Ponoko fits well with the maker movement, re-embracing manufacturing as a local concept rather than something that happens overseas.

Concept of relevance – enabling geeks to do industrial design. They approach it the same way they approach open source software. So, things like patenting the designs are irrelevant becayse by the time the patent is accepted, the iteration is into it’s 10th.

Eco-system moved from Kickstarter (market testing, funding)

–> to Techshop – local prototyping, local fabrication, traditional tools

–> to Ponoko – remote prototyping, digitised fabraication, digital tools (?)

Ponoko aims to build the physical environment just like people build their own digital environment.  e.g. Bootstrap solar


Going Mobile: lessons learned

Francesca Ford & Brooke Carson-Ewart

Designed and built new apps to deliver content via mobile phone and tablet devices.  They also provided iPads in the galleries. Didn’t lock iPads down – children were the ones willing to take it beyond the app. Positive deviance.

Eventually made cases for them that locked down especially the home key. Stays now on the app.

Moved on from making app for exhibition to having a mobile web site with ability to have exhibitions on it. Didn’t want to replicate the the desktop site with it’s navigation problems. Experimented with alternative labelling.

User testing – went with impromptu, elicited feedback

Sustainability the issue rather than technological challenges.


Ways of seeing: collections, stories, language and place

Eleanor Whitworth

Where do you come from? Place or an area?

Culture Victoria has a mandate to bring culture to the people. Have stories as a way to search/discover on their site.

Language groups don’t fit under one point on a map, they are areas so they had to look at borders.  Legal borders don’t always reflect the lived experience of place.  Had to “determine” the borders of the language groups but this difficult so tried to be representative not definitive. Places overlap. Some simple shapes, others not.

Differing spelling variations had to be catered for.


WW1 centenary

New truths, old truths with new perspective

Dedicated NZ History section

WW100 site

The centenary is an opportunity to show what the GLAM sector has been doing.  Opportunity to fill in the missing pieces eg the home front, conscientious objectors.

Cenotaph database from Auckland Museum – needs more entries and additional information.


Keynote 2: Aaron Straup Cope

I have to admit, some of what this keynote was talking about went over my head.  However, it was well received and others clearly got plenty from it.  I think it’s great that NDF appeals to such a wide variety of people.

Aaron asks, ‘why do we keep stuff’ and ‘how are we sharing it?’ These are good questions that keep coming up at NDF.

What ARE we doing online? Is it to get people in the building? Is the building really an “expensive perk?”

Parallel flickr – shadow services that aren’t in competition to the bigger service but that could rebuild themselves.


Lightening talks

Nate Solas

Listen, accept the offer… build on it, reincorporation.

Leverage existing tools that reliably get work done. Sometimes it is correct to use the shiny tool, but have in your back pocket good reliable tools to call on.

John Sullivan

John asked some provocative questions about privacy, copyright and images in collections.  He feels there are good reasons for not showing some images online.

Kim Baker: NZ On Screen

Kim spoke about her role at NZ on Screen as a rights manager and what is involved in that role.

Brian Flahery: Matapihi Future

Brian asks should Matapihi be managed under a palliative care plan or should the plug be pulled on this portal.

Emily Steel: Little slide dress

Emily presented on her research to create a functional piece of clothing that combined technology.


The formidable live blogger Deborah has more detailed blogs about the sessions. I am in awe of her ability!

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