MCN 2013 Verso Presentation

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Slides presented at MCN 2013 on Verso.
Session title: Dynamic, Dimensional, Digital: Creative Strategies for Moving beyond the Printed Page in a Museum Context
Presenters: Kris Thayer, Douglas Hegley
Verso is a digital publication produced by the MIA via Adobe DPS for the iPad platform.

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  • Douglas: Good afternoon and welcome to the final session on Friday!
  • Douglas: We are privileged to speak to you today about Verso: Unveiling the Backstory
  • Douglas: Verso is a digital publication …
  • Douglas: … created by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the iPad
  • Douglas: Verso provides an insider’s view of the art museum world
  • Douglas: It’s filled with a wide variety of digital content and types, from good, old-fashioned text through images to audio, video and touch interactives.
  • Kris:
    Verso enables us to tell stories using the best features of interactive digital media. Topics range from scholarship and research …
  • Kris:
    … to community and contemporary art …
  • Kris:
    … to collecting …
  • Kris:
    … to acquiring works of art …
  • Kris:
    … to fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about the kind of things that go on day-to-day in the museum setting, often out of the public eye … for example, conservation
  • Kris:
    … and even surprising and (hopefully) delightful stories, such as the MIA’s recent project to join the local, sustainable honey bee movement!
  • Kris:
    Please bear with us for a moment while we swap devices, so that I can take you on a little tour of Verso
    (hook up iPad – show Verso, ~15 minutes)
  • Kris:
    Verso has been recognized by peers and industry experts, including AAM, IDC, and GD USA.
  • Kris:
    We have engaged audiences, primarily in the US but also across the globe, including some rather surprising locations as you can see.
  • Douglas: Let’s talk a bit about the WHY behind this effort, then Kris will talk about the how.
  • Douglas: Being perfectly frank, Kris gets a ton of credit for Verso, because it was really her individual drive to learn a new platform and expand her own horizons in alignment with the museum’s new strategic directions. Her passion and commitment got us started. One person truly can make a difference.
  • Douglas: All museums and cultural heritage organizations have almost limitless stories to tell, and we have envisioned Verso as an ideal NEW platform for sharing some of that wonderful content. This is why the approach applies directly to the theme of “Re-making the Museum”
  • Douglas: The content is both broad – across many topic areas …
  • Douglas: … and deep – at times going into rich detail about one particular object or museum practice.
  • Douglas: The content can also be light-hearted, related to current topics or trends, but always crafted smartly and at the highest levels of quality. We aim to engage a variety of audiences, ranging from art neophytes to experienced museum-goers.
  • Douglas: The MIA is embracing digital, and feedback from our audiences tells us that *interactivity* enables experiences that are more-deeply engaging and can be truly moving.
  • Kris:
    Now let’s talk about how Verso came to be. In all honesty, it was NOT born as a major strategic initiative. Instead it was sort of a personal experiment. My background is print design, but I have always wanted to make things move and make noise! Soooo….
  • Kris:
    I was able to get support from my manager to devote a portion of my time, beginning summer 2012. Really, all I needed to start was an iPad, a pair of headphones, and some time…..pretty straightforward.
  • Kris:
    I started with Adobe’s Creative Suite, which I was already familiar with. And then added Adobe’s Digital Publishing tools (DPS). My learning was completely independent and self-directed, and lot of it was trial and error, But, I wasn’t completely alone. When I couldn’t figure something out, I turned to the on-line community in forums and blogs.
  • Kris:
    For my first prototype, I re-purposed content I already had for a print publication. And when the prototype was finished, it was very interesting to compare the same content presented two very different ways: as a print magazine, and as an interactive, digital publication.
  • Kris:
    When it came time to show the prototype, everyone - from my colleagues to my boss to the museum’s senior executives - got pretty excited ... being able to SHOW Verso was key to winning over management.
  • Kris:
    Of course, this meant that I had to move really fast from a one-woman-experiment to a full-blown production workflow!
  • Kris:
    So, we built a small, cross-departmental, collaborative team …
  • Kris:
    … We found the best ways to fit the effort into the work we were already doing …(honestly, this was the hardest part!)
  • Kris:
    And… We tried to make HARD decisions about what to stop doing …
  • Kris:
    … And, well, you’ve probably all guessed it….we are still working on this …
  • Douglas: So let’s talk briefly about our choice of the iPad platform.
  • Douglas: First and foremost, it looks great, just beautiful. As an art museum, we aim for very high quality in all of our reproductions.
  • Douglas: Secondly, both industry- and our local-level research shows that the iPad is simply the tablet of choice, at present and for the immediate future, within our audience segments.
  • Douglas: Finally, we only have the resources and bandwidth to produce one version and format of each content element. More platforms would mean a LOT more content production work. We can all hope that this variability in content needs will fade over time as epublishing platforms mature and standardize.
  • Douglas: There are some negatives, of course, starting with the fact that not everyone HAS an iPad.
  • Douglas: And when you produce for a specific output device, you essentially lock your content into one format, preventing cross-channel sharing. We know that we made a tactical decision here, and that our longer-term strategy is in fact the polar opposite – content that can be shared across multiple platforms.
  • Douglas: Finally, upgrades worry us. We don’t control when they happen, and we may not have the capacity to go back and re-write all of the earlier content and complete issues of Verso in case they suddenly stopped working. Yikes!
  • Douglas: The project built upon its early successes to reach where it stands today. Showing instead of telling was VERY effective, never underestimate the power of a working prototype!
  • Douglas: The support from museum leadership led to a small amount of private funding that has helped to drive the project forward during its early growth phase.
  • Douglas: We are working hard at the museum to change the working culture, to embrace cross-functional teams, eliminate siloed-thinking, and maintain a sense of project independence (and move fast!)
  • Kris: There are a number of challenges we face. First, all I want for Christmas is a Project Manager! We are working with a small team, and all of us have other responsibilities beyond producing Verso. Plus, both my writer and I are part-time!
  • Kris: Despite our successes to date, we still struggle with how to get the word out, how to engage an even larger audience.
  • Kris: And finally, paying for this effort leads to questions of sustainability, and brings us back to the question of what we will STOP doing to free up the resources to take on the consistent production of a high-quality e-publication.
  • Douglas: Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can think about alternative approaches. For example, instead of Adobe DPS and iPads, we could have gone with a responsive website design using HTML5. This would require an internet connection of course, and would also limit the interactivity at present, but stay tuned as web technology continues to evolve.
  • Douglas: Digital publishing tools are proliferating, including many open source choices. Which would be best for you?
  • Douglas: Of course, you can simply let this be someone else’s headache, but then you miss out on the chance for building institutional knowledge, developing new workflows, and of course out-sourcing can be rather expensive. One tip: beware of inexpensive options, you may get exactly what you pay for.
  • Kris: Verso has clearly engaged an audience, because they rate it and comment on it like NO OTHER museum’s digital publication, as you can see. Our readers are BIG FANS, and they are letting the world know about it.
  • Douglas: Let’s close our presentation with a brief consideration of what’s next. Truth be told, Verso is still an experiment. We’ll track it to see if it continues to engage and grow. But even if Verso doesn’t reach the highest heights, we’ve learned so much by doing this project that it has had a lasting impact on how we work as a museum and how we think about our content and the ways we share it.
  • Douglas: Here are just a few examples of that impact.
  • Douglas: And one final thought – as we explore the many avenues for sharing our digital content, it becomes more and more clear to us that we need to have a strong foundational content strategy. We need to understand our channels, plan our communications accordingly, and craft stories that engage audiences wherever they are and however they interact with us. Thank you!
  • MCN 2013 Verso Presentation

    1. 1. Dynamic, Dimensional, Digital: Creative Strategies for Moving beyond the Printed Page in a Museum Context Brought to you by Live streaming and video recordings made possible by
    2. 2. Dynamic, Dimensional, Digital: Creative Strategies for Moving beyond the Printed Page in a Museum Context Kristine Thayer, Senior Designer Douglas Hegley, Director of Technology Museum Computer Network Annual Conference Friday, November 22, 2013
    3. 3. Douglas
    4. 4. Douglas
    5. 5. Douglas
    6. 6. • Provides an insider’s look at art & art museums Douglas
    7. 7. • With a range of media content: text, images, video, audio, interactive Douglas
    8. 8. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Scholarship and Research Kris
    9. 9. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Community & Contemporary Kris
    10. 10. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Collecting Kris
    11. 11. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Art Acquisition Kris
    12. 12. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Behind-the-scenes Kris
    13. 13. Verso: Telling Stories with Digital Media Even bees on the roof!
    14. 14. Verso in Action: Live Demo Kris
    15. 15. Verso: Award Winning Effort – American Alliance of Museum: 2013 Silver Muse Award – International Design and Communications: 2013 Best App – Graphic Design USA: 2013 American Graphic Design Award Kris
    16. 16. Verso: Reach – Over 7500 Subscribers • • • 80% US 10 % China 10% from 65 other countries – from Qatar to Borneo to Azerbaijan to Moldova ... Kris
    17. 17. Goals & Philosophy
    18. 18. Goals & Philosophy • Why make Verso? – Staff drive Douglas
    19. 19. Goals & Philosophy • Why make Verso? – Just so much content Douglas
    20. 20. Depth and Breadth of Content Douglas
    21. 21. Depth and Breadth of Content Douglas
    22. 22. Depth and Breadth of Content Douglas
    23. 23. Goals & Philosophy • Embracing digital • Interactivity = truly moving experiences Douglas
    24. 24. Process From Experiment to Production
    25. 25. Process – Needed: • Space/time for individual effort • Manager’s support • An iPad, headphones • Schedule: Summer 2012 Kris
    26. 26. Tools Used • Content layout & production: Adobe Creative Suite • Audio editing software: Hindenburg • Video editing software: various • Animation: out-sourced contractors • Published via: Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) Kris
    27. 27. Process – Researched (informally) – Built prototype based on print pieces – with interactivity Kris
    28. 28. Process – Demonstrated to senior management – Excitement! Kris
    29. 29. Process • Then I had to make it real! Kris
    30. 30. Methods • From individual to team effort – Build collaborative team, learn as we go Kris
    31. 31. Methods • From individual to team effort – Build collaborative team, learn as we go • Fit into existing work Kris
    32. 32. Methods • From individual to team effort – Build collaborative team, learn as we go • Fit into existing work • What are we going to STOP doing? Kris
    33. 33. Methods • From individual to team effort – Build collaborative team, learn as we go • Fit into existing work • What are we going to STOP doing? – We are still working on this … Kris
    34. 34. Platform • Why iPad? (not necessarily a strategic decision) Douglas
    35. 35. Platform • iPad: Pros – Elegance of interface – beautiful display Douglas
    36. 36. Platform • iPad: Pros – Elegance of interface – beautiful display – iPads = number 1 device Douglas
    37. 37. Platform • iPad: Pros – Elegance of interface – beautiful display – MIA audience statistics: iPads = number 1 device – Standardized format – needed only 1 version of content Douglas
    38. 38. Platform • iPad: Cons – Limited access – not everyone owns an iPad Douglas
    39. 39. Platform • iPad: Cons – Limited access – not everyone owns an iPad – Proprietary file formats Douglas
    40. 40. Platform • iPad: Cons – Limited access – not everyone owns an iPad – Proprietary file formats – Future: • iOS upgrades? • Feature maintenance? Douglas
    41. 41. Successes • Management buy-in via demonstration – Including Executives and Trustees – A working prototype trumps a written proposal every time Douglas
    42. 42. FUNDING! Douglas
    43. 43. Successes • Executive & Trustee support • FUNDING! • Siloes be damned! Douglas
    44. 44. Challenges • Complex – could use a project manager – Staffing (really only me and one writer) Kris
    45. 45. Challenges • Complex – could use a project manager – Staffing (really only me and one writer) • Promotion? How do we get the word out? Kris
    46. 46. Challenges • Complex – could use a project manager – Staffing (really only me and one writer) • Promotion? How do we get the word out? • Cost model, including content production costs Kris
    47. 47. Options • How else could this be accomplished? – Responsive web design Douglas
    48. 48. Options • How else could this be accomplished? – Responsive web design – Alternative digital publishing tools • • • • • • docpub2ebook EPUBgen Laker Treesaver The Baker framework even WordPress (see The Bangor Daily News) Douglas
    49. 49. Options • How else could this be accomplished? – Responsive web design – Now more digital publishing tools out there, which one would work best for you? – Developer v. Designer – Outsource it Douglas
    50. 50. Current Status • As of October 15, 2013, VERSO has 111 ratings/reviews on the iTunes App Store, the overwhelming majority at 5 stars. • • • • • • The V&A’s magazine has 0. The TATE’s magazine has 0. The Getty’s magazine has 0. The Hammer Museum’s member magazine has 0. The High Museum’s member magazine has 0. The Art Institute of Chicago’s member magazine has 8. Kris
    51. 51. The Future • Future plans and ideas – Verso is still an experiment Douglas
    52. 52. The Future • Future plans and ideas – Verso is still an experiment – Whether it continues or not, we have: • • • • New production workflows New skills for MIA staff Stronger collaborative methods That will transfer to other efforts Douglas
    53. 53. The Future • Future plans and ideas – Need: rigorous content strategy Douglas
    54. 54. Thank you! Questions? Kristine Thayer, Senior Designer kthayer@artsmia.org @kristhayer11 Douglas Hegley, Director of Technology dhegley@artsmia.org @dhegley http://www.slideshare.net/dhegley
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