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
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.
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.
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
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.
New truths, old truths with new perspective
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.
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 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!