Open Culture 2011 – Sustainable Collections management

This session by Kostas Ntanos, Head of Conservation Research and Development, National Archive.

Interesting example from the National Archive – use database of material locations mashed up with metadata of material type (not as easy as it sounds, as material type metadata had a huge amount of variation in it) to produce map of where different material types are concentrated in the physical space. Now planning to combine this with information about the building environment, so materials can be put in most appropriate parts of the building…

Visualisations of how areas of the environment are suitable/unsuitable for material over time – easy to see that some areas become very unsuitable over the summer months – with peak in September where temperatures relatively high and humidity on the rise.

Also helped identify issues with monitoring – some monitors regularly registering higher temp than surrounding ones.

Using this evidence able to build environment modelling – computer simulation – then tried out different scenarios of changing various parameters – could look at both outcomes for environment and energy consumption. Sustainability targets also influence decisions.

National Archives asks itself ‘how long is long? 5 years, 100 years? Forever?’ – think in terms of percentage loss over period of time. Question of ‘what will we value in the items we keep’; who is it for, and what do they value?

Standards & Guidelines for environmental conditions – lots to choose from!

Next steps – (the difficult bit?) Implementation!

Open Culture 2011 – Hacking Arts and Culture

This is a panel session. Phill Purdy starts by summarising what a Hack Day is – getting people together for a day, computer programmers, solve problems, think about creative ways of using the collection. Now three presenters talking about different hack days:

Linda Ellis from Wolverhampton Arts + Heritage

Completely new experience. Hack day came out of a much bigger project – about getting Black Country collections online – but the result was a website with an API…

Data is fed into culture grid – so actually 2 APIs available (although on day, everyone chose to use the Black Country website API)

Why a hack day?

  • To meet local developers
  • To find out developers view on our data and our project – and form relationships
  • Generate new ideas
  • To start to create new uses of our data – get out of the curatorial mindset

Main thing – it had to be fun – asking people to give up their time (a Saturday) to this. First of all got all participants to make badges – engaged them! Brought along objects for them to look at, and also provided small value Amazon vouchers for best hack (voted for by participants)

For the hackers – it was hard work! Started at 10, went through to 4(?) when it came to a natural conclusion – got as far as they could in a day.

5 hacks created on the day:

  • Go Fish – type in a keyword ? 9 random images, user challegned to create a story round the images
  • Pairs gam – 20 images, user has to find the pairs
  • Around here – mobile app displays images based on users location and location data – but Linda notes location data not given high priority when describing the collection
  • Connections – 16 images user has to find connections
  • Black Country fashion – user selects items of clothing from pictures in the collection to put together complete outfit

Would like to see Black Country fashion app developed further – e.g. enable posting to facebook once you have chosen your outfit.

Lessons learnt:

  • Crucial elements
    • Good wifi
    • Venue
    • Lunch
  • Keep it informal
  • Doesn’t have to be a whole w/e
  • Great for generating ideas – engaged museum staff who were amazed at what the developers could achieve in a short amount of time
  • Technical support
  • It’s fun!!!

Would like to take a couple of the hacks forward – but lack of resources is a real issue – not just finding money for more development (sometimes developers will do for free) – but once the hack completed need resource to host etc.
Day cost £500 – not much, but still £500 they didn’t have in the budget

Follow @wagwebteam

Rachel Coldicutt – showing video CultureHack day – see Culture orgs provided data – could be a spreadsheet, could be an API. Rachel mentions that the breadth of organisations and individuals involved:

  • 69 developers
  • 8 speakers
  • 12 cultural orgs
  • 1 software company
  • 3 media orgs
  • 2 funding bodies
  • 80 ppl who attended talks

Very casual environment – but lots of work done
Hackday inspired by observation – other people were ‘doing this better’ than arts organisations (e.g. “Showing not telling” – don’t write a business case, make a proof of concept; work like a creative business not a paper-bound bureaucracy; Iterate something quickly to get it right.

Hackday concentrated expertise and effort – 2,484 hours of developer time! Talent attracts talent; opportunity to make new relationships with people who are interested.

Sum up as “Inspiration”; “Creativity”; “Excitement”

The ‘open data’ debate – start to talk about ways in which we could collaboratively get to a point where open data is a more recognised concept in the sector – we may find that the cultural heritage is missing from the internet because we worry about it too much.

Working on Culture Hack Wales (October 2011?) and Culture Hack North

Looking at other kinds of hacking:

  • Ideas Hacks (you don’t have to be a coder/programmer to hack ideas)
  • Hardware Hacks
  • Games Hacks

Follow @rachelcoldicutt
John Coburn – Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Culture Grid Hackday – testing the water with the Culture Grid API. Wanted to investigate the public value in the Culture grid. Also about forming relationships

60 signed up – 40 attended; 28 coders – 12 ‘non-coders’
Resulted in 5 working prototypes and 2 concepts developed over 8 hours – and funding was awarded to 2 projects to take further

  • Data visualisations
  • Object paletter generator
  • Map search tools
  • Mapping virtual world to physical world
  • Simple QR Code generator for exhibitions – was awarded some funding
  • Distribute content to Facebook networks

Hackday started new conversations (most ideas weren’t developed). 2 usable (inexpensive) ideas – good will shown to cultural orgs publishing data. New relationships – ongoing support and guidance.
Things to think about:

  • Difficult to balance ideas/time/people
  • On the day collaborations between coders and non-coders didn’t flourish as they had hoped… not enough time perhaps
  • Wonder if competition compromises collaboration – the potential funding aspect
  • Keep it social! People attend because it is a social thing

Take a look at Broadening Hack Days
Comment from a blogger after the even “If the data isn’t in a format that someone can easily access then it’s going to lie fallow, underused”

Hunt down and embrace your local ‘open data geeks’! – in this case it was @alistair_uk

Hackdays should not be about prescribed outcomes … although themes can help ensure relevance – ‘dinosaur hack’; ‘history hack’.

Now challenge to build on the new relationships – considering smaller events on a more regular basis (e.g. monthly basis)

Follow @j0hncoburn

Open Culture 2011 – Collections and Human Rights

First after coffee – David Fleming – Directory National Museums Liverpool

Museum’s no longer look solely to collections for inspiration – but to people and stories as well
Museum’s have become more emotive and emotional – no longer feel the need to appear ‘neutral’. David describes the concept of ‘neutral’ as the stupidest idea you can have in your brain as a museum (person)
Museum’s engaging with cultural diversity

But there is resistance – still people believe in neutrality (even believe it is possible) – people who think of musuems solely as collections of objects and not as places where ideas can be explored.

Museums are (“or they bloody well ought to be”) reflections of our society. Museums through their educational role should put diversity centre stage. Museums should consider:

  • Representation
  • Education
  • Action – e.g. International Slavery Museum – it is a ‘campaigning museum’ – campaigning on human rights – doesn’t just look at historic slavery (transatlantic slave trade), but current slavery and related human rights abuses such as child trafficking

Intention is that International Slavery Museum has significant social outcomes – wants people to leave in the mood for action.

David argues that museums cannot and SHOULD NOT be neutral – if they are to have public trust.

Torreon Declaration: – Intercom Declaration of Museum Responsibility to Promote Human Rights “INTERCOM believes that it is a fundamental responsibility of museums, whereever possible, to be active in promoting diversity and human rights, respect and equality for people of all origins, beliefs and backgrounds”

District Six Museum in Cape Town – portrays history of apartheid through history of peoples stories – no reference to collections – about memories, experience and stories (established 1994, same year that South Africa became a democracy).

District Six Museum – potent symbol, and to show that even after their downfall, repressive regimes can be held to account . They use emotion to put messages across and engage people.

David mentions Tuol Seng Genocide museum and recommends looking at photographs Also Cambodian Landmine Museum – specifically has a mission for ‘reconciliation’ with past (I think I got that right) “a place of healing for bodies, hearts and minds”

David talks about Museum of Genocide Victims in Lithuania – he says “Hugely impactful”

Open Culture 2011 – A History of the World

Today I’m at ‘Open Culture 2011’ conference – follow on Twitter via #oc2011

Opening keynote this morning is from Andrew Caspari (@caspari – BBC Head of Speeach Radio and Classical Music, Interactive) and Matthew Cock (@matthewcock – Head of Web at the British Museum) – talking about the ‘History of the World in 100 objects’ project.

Started as traditional Radio 4 series … but grew into a set of materials and programmes across local and national radio and a huge web presence.

Web site attracted 2.5 million visits to the site and almost 30million page impressions. Half a million referrals to the site from outside the BBC.

Notable that there was still healthy traffic to the site even when the series was not being broadcast.

‘Net Promoter’ score of 65 – puts its in the Top 8 BBC sites (and most of the others in the top 8 are foreign language learning sites). The ‘appreciation’ score was 85%. Score went up significantly after a redesign of the front page – moving away from complex flash front page.

There was a mobile site, but it was underplayed, and they feel that if they were to do it again they put make mobile experience at the heart of what they were doing (as well as desktop).

Podcasts are available permanently – and continue to be popular downloads – clear that permanence of that archive is really important.

Most popular object was – Mike Hailwood bike – over 92k views. The most popular ‘personal object’ was Edith Bowman’s grandfathers(?) flat cap.

Challenge for the British Museum was to allow digital objects to be starting points for the thousands of other projects. Key aims for digital was to be “Innovative and unusual and on time!” – and Matthew says nothing like a broadcast deadline to keep you to time.

Matthew notes the web is a visual and participative medium. This project true partnership – BBC about programmes, Museum about objects…

551 UK Museums worked with the project, 1400 objects – and post-launch more and more museums wanted to get involved – 50% of the 1400 objects added after launch. Examples of how regional involvement happened – got people bringing down objects – e.g. given of estate agents bringing house deeds. For regional example see this report from Suffolk

What did the BBC learn about museums? Andrew says – great enthusiasm; demand for involvement outstripped ability to respond at times. BBC (in London) over estimated the digital capacity of both museums and regional BBC centres – needed to give people more time.

What did the BM learn about the BBC? Different culture – BBC better at talking than writing things down; They leave things quite late!; They listen to partners and respond; Partnership within the BBC is harder than you think – not just one big org to interact with, but actually lots of smaller orgs in many ways; World Service is a hard nut to crack!

Big debate about contributors uploading objects – quality vs quantity. Initial worry that there would be lots of not that interesting, not that historical objects – that was not an issue – lots of high quality and huge variety of objects.

For BBC a genuine 360 degree project – user content created output. The ability to comment and debate is very important – once they supported comments on the objects site the quality of commentary was high.

‘Upload’ was a big ask – and hard to do – many started but didn’t finish… – reward was elusive – was presence in digital museum enough?

It only works with a big on air call to action – it needs sustained effort for the broadcaster.

Project lead to developments they never expected – e.g. ‘History of the World in 100 Sheds

Learning about social:

  • Underexploited Twitter until the end – it is not marketing
  • BM activity more extensive and successful than the BBC – they already had engagement in this area – learnt – don’t reinvent what is already there

The key social engagement happened when they asked for the ‘100th object’ contender – able to get ‘celebrity’ involvement as well – easy ask ‘what would your 100th object be’ etc.

Has the BBC changed as a result? – an new view on partnerships – defined by mutual benefit. Principles around shared content and benefit. Realised how much time needed to be spent planning this type of project. Challenging to balance partnership with editorial control.

Andrew asks – could this work in a commercial environment? He believes being able to start from public service ethos is important.

Has the BM changed? – understanding more about ‘participation’ – close the gap between public engagement and collection research… Developing new Skills, tools and infrastructure.