Podcasting, Museums & Info Evolution

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A short history of podcasting in the National Gallery and some new trends in information management, a presentation created for internal consumption and communications.

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  • I am going to try and answer these questions based on the learnings that we have achieved in the 18 months we have been podcasting.
  • Then I am going to talk a bit about our audio interpretation strategy and how it is being formulated
  • Then I will update you on some new and exciting developments in museums new media, feeding back from the conference I have just attended.
  • I am then going to explore a little bit my current thinking about information and searching for information on the collection
  • Then I am going to update you on some of the current thinking in culturally sensitive translation and our efforts to develop rich foreign language content and a variety of languages on offer.
  • And then you will have the change to ask questions, discuss what I ve presented and input into the audio strategy.
  • But first, lets start with the end product and see how you have been involved so far (5 mins)
  • What are MP3 players? The podcasting phenomenon: hybrid of the terms iPod and broadcasting: a revolutionary mechanism for distributing content directly from provider to user.
  • It serves audio, video and other media files directly from a podcast creators’ website to a subscribers mobile device, computer or MP3 player. It is not a single source of content on an one time basis, but the basis of it is that podcasts allow users to subscribe to many content streams simultaneously using feed reading programs called aggregators As new files become available, listeners are notified automatically. Think of it as a library and the podcast being a free magazine that not only gets delivered to your door, but archived next to the previous issue and you get notifed that it is there!
  • How old are podcasts? Podcasting’s origins are firmly rooted in webradio. A combination of factors and technologies contributed to its eventual birth in 2003. By the late 2004, detailed articles on podcasts became available online. In less than year, the podcasting phenomenon exploded with more than 2 million hits generated for a “podcasting” Google search. Podcasts originating not only from the US, but also from Canada, Sweden and Australia were reported. These podcasts even dealt with a disparate number of topics like veganism, politics and entertainment news. By 2005, the popularity of podcasts has spilled over to the mainstream. Apple Computers, Inc. integrated podcasts in its iTunes software. Even Pres. George W. Bush became a podcaster when his weekly radio addresses became downloadable audio files at the White House website, as well as the Queen.
  • Users can chose to have the podcast delivered directly to their PCs or MP3 players or to download files selectively at their leisure.
  • The Internet’s own form of ‘pirate radio,’ podcasts have proliferated organically and broken from the polished conventions of mainstream radio, leveling the playing field between ‘outsider’ and ‘sanctioned’ content providers. Inexpensive software and freeware have simplified the editing process, enabling people with limited resources to post their own podcast ‘shows.’ The resulting podcasts are often characterized as much by their irreverence and homemade production values as by their delivery mechanism. Today a diverse community of podcasters flourishes on the Web, still bound by a common understanding that content should be shared freely – in both the democratic and monetary sense. A new genre of programming has been born.
  • Ironically, it was the buzz around the early renegade podcasts that first brought the genre into the purview of museums and galleries. In May 2005, New York Times journalist Randy Kennedy reported on Art Mobs , a podcast project created by the students of David Gilbert, a professor of organizational communications at Marymount Manhattan College, to provide alternative audio tours of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Described on the Art Mobs blog as a means to “hack the gallery experience” (Gilbert, 2005), the project alerted many museums to the genre’s potential as an effective tool for facilitating interpretation. In an interview, Gilbert explained the sense of empowerment that podcasting inspired: “ The platform is already out there, in our bags, our coat pockets, on our belts … [W]e have a seamless system – from Web to application to player – for delivering any sort of homemade audio content we want. In a sentence, we are democratizing the experience of touring an art museum; we are offering a way for anyone to ‘curate’ their own little corner of MoMA. ( Gilbert , 2005)
  • The museum interpretive marketplace dominated by Antenna and Acoustiguide Can podcasts threaten the traditional audio guides? Why co-produce with Antenna? Our podcast identity and audio brand
  • The history of automated audio tours goes back five decades to the primitive reel-to-reel players of the 1950s. Since then, the audio tour has become a fixture and default learning tool in museums and cultural heritage sites around the world. As audio technologies have evolved, so have the nature and tone of the audio tour. The cumbersome players of the earliest incarnations have given way to generations of ever more portable alternatives – from audiocassette players to handheld devices to wands and MP3 players that can be used with one hand.
  • The same content can live in different PLATFORMS As advances in technology have changed the way users interact with audio tours, the content of the tours themselves has undergone a transformation. Inventive scripting has replaced the dusty, uninspired monologues of the earliest tours. Historically Acoustiguide and Antenna Audio have dominated the interpretive marketplace The advent of podcasts and mobile phone-based audio tours has created an opportunity for museums to produce tours and audio content on their own, while raising the question of what is to become of museums audio tours? By shifting the focus from a proprietary hardware base to the visitor’s own personal devices, museums that embrace podcasts and mobile phones have a significant opportunity to circumvent problems of cost, maintenance, and obsolescence that currently plague audio tour stakeholders. Because of podcasting’s unique ability to mesh directly with an everyday personal device, the medium brings the content – not the tool – to the forefront. The technology shift is particularly effective with the under 35 demographic. It is worth noting, however, that older visitors still comprise the majority of art museum members and podcasts are far less intuitive to them. So a quick answer is: they are different platforms for different audiences and should not be a threat for eachother. That is what Antenna Audio quickly realised and instead of seeing it as a threat, they saw it as an opportunity and took ownership of the new developments. Thus their interest in podcasts. By outsourcing our podcast, we took the decision to not follow the “home-made” trend that other museums followed (like the V&A). We wanted something that reflects our brand, that is elegant, inspiring and inclusive. That reflects our audio identity, our audio brand and that sits well with all our other audio offer. Thus the collaboration with Antenna Audio. Operational and resource issues forced us to outsource production to Antenna, as well as the need to have a continuous, uniform approach to audio content and interpretation.
  • Antenna came to me in the summer of 2006 and spoke with enthusiasm about the new trend, podcasts. About 2-3 years old, it was very new to the UK with only a few UK produced podcasts, with Ricky Gervais’ podcast being amongst the first, the V&A was the first museum podcast. Produced in house and of very basic quality, it was the only example of a UK museum doing guerilla podcasting. In the US we had a couple of succesful examples: the Met and SFmoma podcasts. We started discussions with Antenna and Communications created a project group to look into this. The deal was that Antenna would fund the initial 10 podcasts and test their viability, success, sustainability etc. We would then review and decide whether to continue or not. The project group involved Communications, Education and Antenna. New Media, Press, Marketing, Information and Communications were involved to ensure we learn from this new medium in all its aspects.
  • We decided on a audio-zine format, monthly episodes of 15 minutes, separated in 3 “segments” covering a topic each (for about 5 minutes each). We didn’t want to be extremely prescriptive though and wanted a format that allowed flexibility despite having a structure. We realised that we could illustrate the artworks featured by choosing to use the enhanced audio feature, but that would mean that users with the old iPods and smaller MP3 players would be at loss. There was a lot of discussion initially about the format and technology behind it. The hosting would happen through Antenna belonging to one of the largest media groups, Discovery travel, which could use their giant server to host. The content generation was decided to come from the gallery, through a participatory process whereby different departments would input and do forwarding planning (monthly content planning meetings with Information, marketing, press, education and most recently curatorial) linked to gallery activity and often London cultural happenings and ephemera. The style and tone we decided to follow was that of Front Row. Interview based, a spontaneous tone, encouragement of “multiple voices” (creators and artists, composers, chefs and other creatives) alongside the more authoritative museum voices. We also wanted to link back to the gallery, giving users the sense that its being “broadcasted” from whithin, live. That is why we chose to use a narrator, the same and named person, Miranda Hinckley, who was auditioned amongst others for the warmth and directness of her voice. We also decided to use one external collaborator who generally conducted the interviews: Leah Kharibian, who was worked with us for a long time and is a good interviewer as well as familiar to staff and this was very important to ensure the spontaneous and relaxed tone we wanted to achieve. The production values we embraced were not the guerilla podcasters out there with cheap and unedited sound texture. True to our brand, we wanted to keep the elegance and eminence by creating a rich acoustic tapestry, a certain level of polish without losing the informal feel, and a rich, studio-enhanced sound texture. We created our own, characteristic sonic signature (in the start of the podcast) and designed our own indent for our iTunes presence, like a logo. We also had to re-think photography as the format for images on iPods was square and different to other gallery photography. It had to give listeners/viewers a sense of immediacy. We briefed Photographic and produced a series of gallery photography that works well with this medium. Now, at every interview, Photographic are there to capture the moment. We had issues with exhibition images and loans images and copyright. After laborious negotiations with Image Library we came to an agreement. We had to consider archive life on the website as visitors often want to refer to older Podcasts (especially if they join now, they wouldn’t have access to our older content on their iPods and have to source manually from the website) We also had to think about the buzz word: metadata. The bits of Information that can make people who research iTunes for new content be interested in us. We needed to develop skills for e-copywriting, which is rather different to traditional copywriting. We had to come up with inviting, to the point (as word count counts!) information that accurately describe the product but sell it in the same time. The new media team took that on and developed it and incorporated it into their work schedules. We used all the in house skills and transferable skills from other projects to develop new skills to be able to manage this new endeavour. We had to think early on about future possible developments as we need to keep enough flexibility to create multiple podcasts and how each one would sit with the rest of the offer. We had to think about internal resources, budgets and sustainability. What percentage of the production would be done in house and what outsourced with Antenna? How ambitious were we to aim to add another monthly production cycle to our already full plate of deliverables? What would happen after the 10 free episodes, given that each one started with an estimated budget of 1.5k and is now nearer to 2.5-3? With no built-in financial benefit to the museum and no precedence of its success in terms of user numbers how could we justify the new podcast program to the rest of the museum? Antenna have been very flexible with us (and generous) and we have yet to pay for an episode. They either build them on the back of exhibitions as promotion, or keep the cost with the intention to recuperate it from an new venture with iTunes (which im going to explain a bit later). So, armed with all the information we had on this new and obscure medium, enthusiasm, ideas, ambition, research and a fantastic and experienced producer, Cathy Fitzerald, who you already know, we embarked on launching our first episode out there. And hoped for the best. I need to point out at this stage that on the back of our minds this was always a pilot program. What we were hoping to achieve initially is: To establish a working partnership with Antenna to explore the potential of this new platform To ensure a rich audio texture in our podcasts To share the production workload To develop an understanding of the new medium and its users To streamiline internal production process in order to minimize effort
  • We decided on a audio-zine format, monthly episodes of 15 minutes, separated in 3 “segments” covering a topic each (for about 5 minutes each). We didn’t want to be extremely prescriptive though and wanted a format that allowed flexibility despite having a structure. We realised that we could illustrate the artworks featured by choosing to use the enhanced audio feature, but that would mean that users with the old iPods and smaller MP3 players would be at loss. There was a lot of discussion initially about the format and technology behind it. The hosting would happen through Antenna belonging to one of the largest media groups, Discovery travel, which could use their giant server to host. The content generation was decided to come from the gallery, through a participatory process whereby different departments would input and do forwarding planning (monthly content planning meetings with Information, marketing, press, education and most recently curatorial) linked to gallery activity and often London cultural happenings and ephemera. The style and tone we decided to follow was that of Front Row. Interview based, a spontaneous tone, encouragement of “multiple voices” (creators and artists, composers, chefs and other creatives) alongside the more authoritative museum voices. We also wanted to link back to the gallery, giving users the sense that its being “broadcasted” from whithin, live. That is why we chose to use a narrator, the same and named person, Miranda Hinckley, who was auditioned amongst others for the warmth and directness of her voice. We also decided to use one external collaborator who generally conducted the interviews: Leah Kharibian, who was worked with us for a long time and is a good interviewer as well as familiar to staff and this was very important to ensure the spontaneous and relaxed tone we wanted to achieve. The production values we embraced were not the guerilla podcasters out there with cheap and unedited sound texture. True to our brand, we wanted to keep the elegance and eminence by creating a rich acoustic tapestry, a certain level of polish without losing the informal feel, and a rich, studio-enhanced sound texture. We created our own, characteristic sonic signature (in the start of the podcast) and designed our own indent for our iTunes presence, like a logo.
  • We also had to re-think photography as the format for images on iPods was square and different to other gallery photography. It had to give listeners/viewers a sense of immediacy. We briefed Photographic and produced a series of gallery photography that works well with this medium. Now, at every interview, Photographic are there to capture the moment. We had issues with exhibition images and loans images and copyright. After laborious negotiations with Image Library we came to an agreement. We had to consider archive life on the website as visitors often want to refer to older Podcasts (especially if they join now, they wouldn’t have access to our older content on their iPods and have to source manually from the website)
  • We also had to re-think photography as the format for images on iPods was square and different to other gallery photography. It had to give listeners/viewers a sense of immediacy. We briefed Photographic and produced a series of gallery photography that works well with this medium. Now, at every interview, Photographic are there to capture the moment. We had issues with exhibition images and loans images and copyright. After laborious negotiations with Image Library we came to an agreement. We had to consider archive life on the website as visitors often want to refer to older Podcasts (especially if they join now, they wouldn’t have access to our older content on their iPods and have to source manually from the website)
  • Another thing we had to think about my favorite word: metadata. The bits of Information that can make people who research iTunes for new content be interested in us. We needed to develop skills for e-copywriting, which is rather different to traditional copywriting. We had to come up with inviting, to the point (as word count counts!) information that accurately describe the product but sell it in the same time. The new media team took that on and developed it and incorporated it into their work schedules. We used all the in house skills and transferable skills from other projects to develop new set of skills to be able to manage this new endeavour.
  • We had to think early on about future possible developments as we need to keep enough flexibility to create multiple podcasts and how each one would sit with the rest of the offer. We had to think about internal resources, budgets and sustainability. What percentage of the production would be done in house and what outsourced with Antenna? How ambitious were we to aim to add another monthly production cycle to our already full plate of deliverables? What would happen after the 10 free episodes, given that each one started with an estimated budget of 1.5k and is now nearer to 2.5-3? With no built-in financial benefit to the museum and no precedence of its success in terms of user numbers how could we justify the new podcast program to the rest of the museum? Antenna have been very flexible with us (and generous) and we have yet to pay for an episode. They either build them on the back of exhibitions as promotion, or keep the cost with the intention to recuperate it from an new venture with iTunes (which im going to explain a bit later). So, armed with all the information we had on this new and obscure medium, enthusiasm, ideas, ambition, research and a fantastic and experienced producer, Cathy Fitzerald, who you already know, we embarked on launching our first episode out there. And hoped for the best. I need to point out at this stage that on the back of our minds this was always a pilot program. What we were hoping to achieve initially is: To establish a working partnership with Antenna to explore the potential of this new platform To ensure a rich audio texture in our podcasts To share the production workload To develop an understanding of the new medium and its users To streamiline internal production process in order to minimize effort
  • The first month we launched we saw an amazing 10k downloads. This was a great success compared with the Met’s 2.5 k on their first month. We were scoring 5 th on the Most Popular podcasts list in the arts category in iTunes. Since then figures have varied. For example, the figures for this winter: October and November 07 we had about 8k. December saw 17k and January 12k. We had challenges in obtaining subscription figures from iTunes, so I cant give you a 100% accurate subscribers breakdown of figures, but we know that it fluctuates between 5 and 10k a month, giving us an average of about 100k downloads in the first year. Our format stayed the same, the 15 minutes monthly zine format, though there was some flexibility built in, that allowed us to devote a whole episode to one subject from time to time (ie May 07 Episode was about the gallery after public opening, what happens in the gallery at night). We often offer what we call a “bonus track”, which is an additional podcast on the back of the zine-format one. It can be a teaser for an exhibition audio guide or in May 07 it was a series of spoken word works and poems by a creative writing group who responded to gallery pictures. We also made the Be Inspired audio tour (which was sponsored by Expedia) into a podcast as well as the Grand Tour, as a whole and in parts (the specific tours).
  • This is feedback that came through the website as comments (most of these comment during the first 6 months)
  • We quickly realised from some of these comments, that there was a good possibility that the audiences we tapped on are not entirely domestic and young as we imagined they would be. We had comments coming in from Russia, Australia and Greece (and this had nothing to do with me, I promise, I didn’t self-promote at all!) We realised that for Britons living abroad, as well as for users from other nationalities that had some emotional link to the gallery or simply came across it in iTunes, it represented a means of “keeping in touch”, finding out what is happening in the gallery, even as a way of connecting to London and what it represents. I am going to come back to the “long distance affairs” with foreign audiences and building loyalty and the brand, a bit later. Now ,lets look at the competition.
  • With a myriad of podcasts out there, from comedy to arts to news to cooking, we are competing for users preference and time with not only other arts institutions but with brands as Times, Vogue, celebrities and the BBC. Lets have a look at this platform and explore the iTunes environment.
  • That is the rating we got at launch (5 th place on day one and around 7 th place in Most Popular after)
  • Other organisations’ podcasts
  • Lets now explore the iTunes environment live What do you want to listen to?
  • User survey: first of its kind What did we want to know: Demographics Relationship with the gallery Content engagement Technology use Distribution channels Attitudes
  • How do we go about addressing multiple audience needs? The SSD approach for content ( SKIM-SWIM-DIVE ) Content mapping Content generation and re-use
  • The thinking behind it: across the board in the gallery we offer free content to “initiate” people in the arts and help them engage with the collection. We then offer more free content, in different media, to enable them to “swim” a bit deeper. The interpretative material we produce for this level of visitor engagement is a bit more thorough, a bit more in-depth, but still overall light and informative. The third layer of content we produce is the more academic, authoritative and generated by the experts: you. This encompasses the catalogues, DVDs for sale, books, exhibitions, ticketed education events like lectures and study courses. In a similar way, we propose to develop audio content. Antenna and iTunes showcasing museums audio guides in a new development site within iTunes Our “shop-front” will have all the downloads available for sale in a similar pricing structure as music (so you buy one track alone or buy the whole album). People can mix and match content depending on their interests. There is a huge potential for foreign audio content. Guides for researching the collection, learning about european art history and offering the depth of content one would expect to pay in a learning model. So what we are proposing in effect, is generate academic, authoritative content directly from the experts, you. Sell it in this format as downloads on the internet, so that we can generate funds to produce what I call the “hook” content. The initiating content, the newcomer content. This way we not only fulfil an appetite for education and learning through the collection online, but we also work towards a sustainable model of content generation for developing new audiences. We can do teen casts, short, interesting first-time-in-arts podcasts, curators’ tours, video podcasts from educational events and talks in the gallery, downloadable art history guides, or experts tours. By hanging our audio content development strategy on the very useful model that Charlotte Sexton introduced for the website, we ensure that there is also consistency across the institution in the way we develop and promote engagement with the collection.
  • Last year we saw 2 new languages added to our audio offer, Chinese and Russian. We also saw one new audio tour, Be Inspired, sponsored by Expedia, which talks about how various creative professionals have used the collection as a source of inspiration for their own disciplines. In addition to this we just launched the new family audio guide, “Teach your grown ups about art” with a paper trail post-audio activity sheet (split in the 4 parts to reflect the 4 sections of the gallery) and an online manifestation of the creative input of the young visitors (Mini Masterpieces gallery).
  • This is what we hope to achieve this year.
  • Our ambition is to secure funding to be able to re-do the whole of the permanent collection in the newest, fresh and interpretatively innovative style, as it has been created over the last decade and half and thus is very much a “patchwork” of interpretation and information in different styles and tone throughout. We also want to produce at least one new trail per year for the adult audience and enrich our family offer (currently at 3 trails for our younger visitors). Expanding the language offer is one of my ambitions too and I am researching into visitor trends with figures I get from Visit London as well as community languages from the GLA. The goal of our audio interpretative program is to cater for many needs and levels of engagement with the collection, from the novice to the visitor who is a researcher of the collection. The Skim-Swim-Dive model that Charlotte Sexton has introduced is a very helpful model to hang all our interpretative content for the audio medium.
  • Contemporary trends: Museums and the Web 2008, Montreal, Canada
  • Social Media: use of social networking sites, online photography communities, folksonomy and social tags Folksonomy: giving objects an alternative view point UGC: User Generated Content (or Visitor Contributed Content) Geo-spatial tagging and Google maps Integration (mash-ups): CMS with collection databases across institutions Outside/Inside Museum - expanding the remit of access and interpretation of objects in to community and place of origin Flickr: one of the largest online photo communities in the world ArtShare (Facebook) iPhone
  • This is the facebook ArtShare application that the Brooklyn Art Gallery have initiated. Museums join and users can customise their profiles on Facebook with a selection of their favorite pictures and objects from collections around the world. The only UK institutions that have joined so far to my knowledge are the V&A and the Wallace collection. It is a great way to let our visitors claim “ownership” of the pictures and develop an emotional link. As they are using this feature as a way to represent themselves better online, their preferences and choices will inevitably being them closer to the museum and will encourage further interaction.
  • Flickr is the worlds biggest photo sharing site. We used Flickr for the interactive element of the Grand Tour already, but other museums use it to stimulate deeper interactivity with their audiences. The element of personalisation and customisation seems to work very well for other visual organisations, why not us?
  • Museum “mash-ups” as the digeratti call them, is the increasingly popular effort in countries to join forces and share their collection information to create nationwide collection search engines. The data is taken, “mashed up” and re-presented and classified in new and interesting to users ways. Frankie Roberto from the Science Museum embarked on a pilot website, www.collectionsonline.org.uk, using the FOI legislation to obtain collection information from various UK museums, and then presented them on one website where you can search by various interesting fields. Interestingly, this MLA website is a search engine for UK museum collections. I typed in Vermeer to see how many Vermeers there are in the UK. None it appears.
  • Theyworkforyou.com, see the interesting seach fields!
  • Social tagging provides a supplement to existing documentation by providing an alternative vocabulary to describe works of art. The collection becomes a personally meaningful place.
  • The truth is, that Google and the internet in general have revolutionised the way we search for information. The linear, one way, standard and authoritative tags seem to be of less interest and what is emerging is a totally customised, irreverent, unorthodox way of searching for information. The cross links, references and search criteria have changed. Are we responding to the information needs of our audiences ? What is interesting to observe at the Information desks, is that visitors search the collection and seek information for the collection in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily think. They may ask the number of paintings that cost us more than 20 million to purchase. They may ask the number of paintings with dogs in them. They may ask which one is the smallest and the largest picture in the collection. Do we have a platform to respond to this changing information needs? We need to research the emerging taxonomies that our audiences will search us in the future. We need to anticipate the changing face of information search. We need to understand that the internet is not just a communications medium. It is a depository of knowledge, a first source of information. It also is a socio-behavioural agent of change. Society and internet walk hand in hand. It is not clear who leads and who follows in this tight embrace. One thing is clear for me, that if we are to keep up with times and ensure there will be audiences for us to communicate with in the next 50-100 years, we need to be a step ahead of the times and research and anticipate cultural consumer’s trends.
  • Geo-tagging or spatial-tagging reflects on the resurrected love of maps not as a tool for navigation but as a non linear platform to present information about objects. With the new technologies like GPS and Google maps, there is a new trend to use maps for finding information. Our visual information language through advertising, new media and TV, has developed beyond text. Increasingly, we use maps and charts and 2D and 3D information and find it easier to digest, to relate to. More and more museums chose to provide an alternative way of presenting collection information on a map, rather than on a list, or in the format of a database. As our collection links so well to a particular geographical area, Europe, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could re-present it on a map as an alternative?
  • ?
  • With the subject of maps fresh in your minds, let me open a can of worms: a subject that I feel passionate about- our cultural debt to Europe. Intellectual and interpretative cultural repatriation of our pictures . We have a European collection. We have a large proportion of our visitors originating from abroad. From the main European countries to the Americas and the Asian world, we cater for millions of non-natives. Yet, our efforts are concentrated on domestic audiences. Our interpretative programs, our information, from navigation to collection information, the website, labels, they all speak the same language. What I am proposing is to think and look after the 50% (60% in the summer) of visitors who are non domestic. Some of them (obviously not the North Americans) non english speakers. What is the current provision for them? What do we have on offer Is it unreasonable that Italian visitors (as I m often called in to interpret at the desks when Italians complaint..) are offended when they see their italian heritage displayed and interpreted , but not in their language and even often with the name of the artist culturally exported (Tiziano- Titian is the most complained for case). It is our obligation to help re-connect pictures and originating cultures. Im proposing a cultural and informational repatriation of the pictures. I am proposing that we give back to the communities that created these works, in the means of a rich interpretative experience.
  • Our focus so far: 0.75% of our audience “speaks” to us (via comments, complaints, emails- not verbal feedback as we cant quantify) Less than 1%! What do the 99.25% say? Foreign users research and needs mapping INNOVATIVE RESEARCH INTO FOREIGN AUDIENCES The AHRB funded collaboration with the University of Westminster Issues of cultural repatriation of the pictures Culturally sensitive translation of information, cultural contextualizing Foreign interpretation and challenges, editorial responsibilities Foreign language content development, online and onsite
  • Strain on resources? Lack of funds? Getting it wrong? Lost in translation? One-off visits less important than repeats?
  • Finally, a quick note to say that originally I was rather sceptical about the “just pictures on the wall” policy. Having worked at Tate Britain for the past 2 years, I was coming from an interpretation heavy school of thinking. I have now changed my mind and I now think that : When visitors are in the physical site, let us engage their senses. Let us just show them the pictures alone. With no gimmicks, no visual “noise”, no clutter. But when they visit the site online, we need to engage their minds. The gallery and the online gallery site have to work together as the rest of our interpretative material. Audio guides, podcasts and downloads are the perfect medium to let this online interpretation “walk” back to the gallery. People can have all the information they need either on their personal MP3 players, or the gallery’s Explorers. Or on their mobile phones. This way the pictures can hang alone, uninterrupted by visual competition. Audio is the perfect condiment to a rich interpretation mix. We need to make the most of it.
  • Podcasting, Museums & Info Evolution

    1. 1. THE NATIONAL GALLERY 22 April 2008 Podcasts, Info-evolution and the Silent Visitor A “patchwork” presentation by Elena Lagoudi, Head of Information
    2. 2. PART ONE: THE NATIONAL GALLERY PODCAST <ul><li>18 months and growing </li></ul><ul><li>What is it? How does it work? </li></ul><ul><li>Who uses it? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the best use of this medium? </li></ul><ul><li>Is a podcast just an audio tour in a new guise? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, how it differs? </li></ul><ul><li>How does in enhance our museum communications? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the institution-wide challenges of launching a new and unfamiliar means of delivering content? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the threats and opportunities? </li></ul>
    3. 3. PART TWO: AUDIO INTERPRETATION <ul><ul><li>What about audio guides? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our audio interpretation strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The SKIM-SWIM-DIVE approach for content development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretative harmony </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ambitions </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. PART FOUR: WHAT IS NEW ? MUSEUMS AND THE WEB 2008 <ul><li>Museums and the Web conference, April 2008, Montreal, Canada: </li></ul><ul><li>What do museum’s “digeratti” say? </li></ul>
    5. 5. PART THREE: NEW TRENDS IN INFORMATION USE, PLANNING AND DELIVERY <ul><li>But how do “they” search us? </li></ul><ul><li>The changing face of information </li></ul><ul><li>Internet and the personalised research </li></ul><ul><li>Folksonomy and social-tagging: do they have anything to do with us? </li></ul><ul><li>The 21 st century freedom of “search”: The Google factor </li></ul><ul><li>Subject indexing v. social indexing: from libraries to IDEA STORES </li></ul><ul><li>The gallery of the mind </li></ul><ul><li>On site v on line behaviours: do they connect? </li></ul>
    6. 6. PART FIVE: OUTREACH AND VISITOR STUDIES <ul><li>Innovative research about non-native visitors </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural contextualising </li></ul><ul><li>The AHRC funded University of Westminster research collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural repatriation of our pictures and the interpretative challenge </li></ul>
    7. 7. SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION <ul><li>The risk factor </li></ul><ul><li>Your feedback? </li></ul>
    8. 8. Your involvement so far… Insert image caption here
    9. 9. iPod + broadcasting= podcasting
    10. 10. Creators’ website Subscribers’ mobile device
    11. 11. The podcasting revolution
    12. 13. Internet’s pirate radio?
    13. 14. Birth of Museum Podcasts- May 2005- Marymount Manhattan College “ The platform is already out there, in our bags, our coat pockets, on our belts … [W]e have a seamless system for delivering any sort of homemade audio content we want. In a sentence, we are democratizing the experience of touring an art museum” ( Gilbert , 2005)
    14. 15. Podcasts v Audio Guides
    15. 17. Podcasts on MP3 players Website downloads Audio tours Content
    16. 18. The National Gallery Podcast is born…
    17. 19. Considerations Format, tone, feel, audience Voice, sonic signature, ident, brand, metadata Marketing, distribution Content planning process, sign off process Photography, copyright, shelf life Hosting, production sharing
    18. 25. From launch to now
    19. 26. What did they say? Great! I loved it. It brings your beautiful museum closer to me. Please produce more. All the best. JV Brilliant! Great to see the paintings in iTunes whilst listening. Looking forward to more - to use before visits to gallery. Thanks Cut the plug for the restaurant. We want to hear about the art not the food. A brilliant and uplifting idea, good to spread the news to a wide audience. Fantastic - you're really hit the nail on the head. Podcast is a perfect medium for this sort of thing - please consider making exhibition guides in a similar format either free of charge or at a price. I promise to be a regular customer! Really like this ,its very good for art students
    20. 27. … and more It's marvellous ! Episode five enhanced: really excellent. Not too long, not too short. Informative and concise. As a painter who works out of doors, I found the Jon Hall piece particularly enjoyable, and I've booked to go to Renoir Landscapes tomorrow. Overall, a really useful adjunct to the National's communications with its public. Great, loved the pictures!Wish I lived in London to visit more often, perhaps a weekend break is in order! we live in dublin It is very interesting to listen from NG in Omsk, Russia! Nice collections of rare paintings
    21. 28. Pod-Wars
    22. 41. iTunes
    23. 42. Researching our podcast users
    24. 43. Where did they hear about us?
    25. 44. After listening to the podcast do they feel:
    26. 45. After listening to it, how likely or unlikely they are to visit the gallery:
    27. 46. The content question: which features did they enjoy the most?
    28. 47. Some specific comments on content: Discussions with curators and other NG staff are by far the most interesting and inspiring … background info e.g. this month about Indigo they are often too serious, too intense, too precious.....they should relax
    29. 48. Would they be interested in:
    30. 49. And some demographics:
    31. 50. Where do they live?
    32. 51. And finally general comments: I've enjoyed my visits using the podcasts. Thank you for that. I wish you could issue your podcast in Portuguese so my family and friends that do not understand English could also enjoy it. I live abroad and always listen as I am so far away from my favourite gallery and feel in touch through this podcast It's a well structured podcast which I find interesting . BLUETOOTH You should make these available in the gallery by bluetooth even better if each picture had an audio guide available by bluetooth AT/IN FRONT of the picture - anyone with a mobile phone could get it. YES I know this would cost BUT you don't have to do it for every picture - the highlights say .It is good to see the NG keeping up with information technology by using podcasts. They are thoroughly lovely in every way! The National Gallery Podcast really is an excellent service and has become a highlight of each new month. Whilst being in Australia obviously limits the frequency with which I can travel to the Gallery; the podcast allows me a thoroughly enjoyable and educational visit. Its great and informative
    33. 52. Current thinking on content development: the Skim Swim Dive approach
    34. 53. Skim Swim Dive
    35. 54. Last year: The National Gallery Podcast Be Inspired Tour Highlights in Chinese Highlights in Russian Teach your grown-ups about art Be Inspired Podcast Grand Tour Podcasts
    36. 55. This year: The National Gallery Podcast Highlights in Korean/Greek/Polish? The Director’s Tour? The Director’s Tour family version? More podcasts? Audio Tours for sale/content repurposing?
    37. 56. Towards an audio interpretation strategy
    38. 57. Current trends: Museums and the Web 2008, Montreal
    39. 58. What do the “digeratti” say?
    40. 62. Something like this:
    41. 63. Folksonomy <ul><li>Folksonomy (also known as collaborative tagging , social classification , social indexing , and social tagging ) is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content . In contrast to traditional subject indexing , metadata is generated not only by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary . </li></ul>
    42. 64. Info-evolution or Info-revolution?
    43. 68. Time for innovation and intellectual repatriation
    44. 69. The risk factor
    45. 70. Questions?
    46. 71. Thank you

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