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Digital Strategies for Cultural Institutes.

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Digital strategies primarily focus on how organizations can benefit from technological developments. In the case of cultural institutions, such strategies ought go beyond an utilitarian approach and …

Digital strategies primarily focus on how organizations can benefit from technological developments. In the case of cultural institutions, such strategies ought go beyond an utilitarian approach and critically reflect on technology in order to historically contextualize it in our current society.


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  • Digital strategies primarily focus on how organizations can benefit from technological developments. In the case of cultural institutions, such strategies ought go beyond an utilitarian approach and critically reflect on technology in order to historically contextualize it in our current society.\n
  • A modern digital strategy encompass all public outputs. These might include content creation and management, publication context (during an exhibition, at a website, mobile devices, etc), gallery based exhibits and experiences, community and social media, commercial activities, digitization and infrastructure.\n
  • In order to define appropriate models for digital strategies, we have documented the websites of the 100 most visited art museums and analyzed some of them. The first insight that we’ve gained is that cultural institutions tend to be more innovative on micro-websites of side projects than they are on their official website. Often the official website is run by a marketing team.\n
  • Most cultural institutions no longer regard their online presence as pure marketing strategy. Their websites are no longer run exclusively by communication/marketing teams. Institutions have moved away from the so called brochureware and understand that their websites are much more than announcement platforms.\n
  • In 2001, there was approximately four times more people visiting the Tate galleries than people visiting the Tate website.\n
  • In 2004, for the first time in history, the number of online and offline visitors was comparable.\n
  • Four years later (2008), the number of online visitors was approximately twice as large as the so called offline visitors.\n
  • There is an audience online that would be unthinkable a decade ago. Such online audience seems to be interested in more than just practical information about exhibitions, instead, there is a clear growing interest in experience art online. In 2008, people under-25s already spent 36% of their leisure time online.\n
  • The extraordinary number of online visits is not an exception of some art institutions. In 2010, the Metropolitan Museum of Art registered a record of 30 millions visits in its website remaining the most visited art museum website in the world.\n
  • An online platform with a growing 24/7 world wide audience is extremely valuable. There are unexplored opportunities in presenting collections online as a whole. Websites can offer a multitude of views over the same information where journeys can take as a starting point any artwork, artist or subject present on a collection.\n
  • The online strategies that we at INTK develop together with cultural institutes start from the point of view that a website is a platform in itself and that it is meant for an online audience. This is not a unique point of view, see for example, the ten principles that John Stack published at the ʻTate Online Strategyʼ for 2010-12. These principles have pragmatic implications, for example: “The website’s structure and navigation must aid the visitor’s experience and conform to their expectations rather than echoing organisational structures.”\n\n\n
  • Many cultural institutions have made available online not only their collection but also their archives. Each organization has a different understanding of what their collection and/or archive is. In the context of the organizations we have worked with, online collections are usually composed by images and videos documenting artworks that have been presented at exhibitions. Online archives contain information about events, publications, interviews, artists etc.\n
  • For historical reasons, the archives of art institutions that we have worked with have been developed as separate systems from their main website. In some cases, the archive was accessible as a section from the main website in order cases was accessible via a subdomain (for example: archive.museum.org). Also there was a clear distinguish of responsibilities where the main website was run by a marketing and communication team whereas the online archive was maintain by a preservation and archiving team.\n
  • We’ve analyzed their information life cycle and noticed that new information would first appear in their organizational website. After an event had occurred that information would be moved to the archive website and updated with further documentation. This approach not only divided the visitors as it doubled the amount of work for the already scarce human resources. Visitors browsing the organization website remain unaware of the historical context and visitors searching the archive might not noticed information about a relevant ongoing event. For example, a researcher collecting information in the archive about a specific artist might not be aware that there is a retrospective about the work of that same artists.\n
  • The solution passed through merging the two websites. The announcement platform and the archive platform had to be one and the same. Now it sounds like a no-brainer but it was not obvious back then. How can you present fresh news while at the same time show a rich archive of the last 30 years? How can you stay light and engaging while at same time remain informative and interesting? These were some of the questions we had to answer. \n\n
  • New content needed to be historically contextualized using archived information while at the same time visitors searching for historical content should be informed about recent developments or events. We needed a model that would be simultaneously temporal and semantic. We implemented a system that allowed editors to relate content in a semantic manner and presented it in a well structured page.\n
  • For example, a page that represents an artwork is automatically associated with a page that contains information about the author and associated an exhibition page where that artwork has been exhibited. If the artwork is presented on a new exhibition the page is automatically updated.\n
  • It was also important to include relations that only emerge with time. With that purpose in mind, we developed a ʻrelated contentʼ system that is presented in all pages and is driven by meta-information. All content is documented with tags but instead of showing the tags to the visitors, we use them to search for archived content and to generate a suggestion list of related content. This is not much different from youtube related videos or from what a lot of bloggers do by manually linking new blog posts to previous related ones.\n
  • For most art lovers it might still be disappointing to experience art online when compared to a printed catalogue or a video documentary. Publishing art online is far from its mature age. While web technologies can learn a lot from other medium, it is also important to realize that the internet has its own characteristics and therefore ought to pursue its own route.\n
  • As an example, we have researched how images are shown online. In particularly we looked at Flickr. For each image in the slideshow the visitor has to wait for the page to load. The image appears gradually and visitors cannot decide the pace of their experience.\n
  • We have developed software that creates slideshows with pre-loaded images. This means that images are displayed instantaneously allowing visitors to define the pace of their experience. At the same time the pages where the images are displayed do not change and visitors can focus on the artworks. Since we implemented the new system we’ve noticed that people spend more time and see more images than with the previous system.\n
  • One of the chalenges to design experiences online is that vistors can be in a diversity of situations and contexts. The computer is no longer restricted to an office like environment.\n
  • Visitors can be lounging in a living-room's sofa or sitting in a cafe’s stool. In order to create compelling experiences it is essential that both the interface and the information is adapted to the visitors situation and device.\n
  • With the rapid proliferation of smart phones, location base applications become more relevant. Users might be checking their mobile devices while visiting a gallery. Depending in which room they might be an audio tour can be automatically suggested. Maybe even more intriguing, would be to incentivate visitors to record and share their own audio tours.\n
  • It is important to realize that even the displays and interactive screens present at institutions should be part of the online/digital strategy. It is essential to integrate all publishing workflows in order to maximize efforts and reduce costs.\n
  • Websites can no longer be perceived as isolated islands. In fact, they are nodes of a larger network.\n
  • The Moma publishes in average 2 posts a day at its Facebook official page. For each post it receives hundreds of reactions (likes or comments).\n
  • MoMA is the art institute with more Twitter followers. They publish in average 3 tweets (short messages) a days that reach more than half a million of followers.\n
  • Institutions have now an increased responsibility of not only updating their own website but also all kinds of social network websites. This situation has led to the so called “social network fatigue”.\n
  • In order to mitigate this problem, we have developed a system that automatically republish content on relevant social networks.\n
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  • Although the system does not eliminate the need to check and maintain social networks, it does increase regularity that those networks are updated.\n
  • Equally relevant is the content that visitors generate and upload to social networks.\n
  • \n
  • The content provided by the institutions is clearly differentiated by content generated by the public. By integrating user generated content in the online platform, events get documented from a multitude of views. Furthermore, users feel rewarded to see their content published in the institutional websites and are encouraged to further document future events.\n\n\n\n\n
  • In all institutions that we have implemented a new online strategy the number of online users has grown considerably. In the case of V2_, the Institute for the Unstable Media, the number of online visitors has double in the three quarters after.\n
  • * Although the software might be open source and free to use, it does not mean that the services are also free.\n* International standards;\n* Joint development;\n* Subcontract several companies;\n
  • The ability to critically adopt new technologies depends on how flexible institutions are in adapting to changes and new ways of working. Strategies that deal with new technologies ought to be continuously evaluated and updated.\n
  • \n
  • Transcript

    • 1. Digital Strategies Exploring befitting models.
    • 2. Digital Strategy• Content • Communication• Context • Business Model• Interaction • Experience• Community • Technology
    • 3. Websites are no longerexclusively considered marketing tools.
    • 4. Tate Galleries2001 2004 2008 Offline visitors Online visitors
    • 5. Tate Galleries2001 2004 2008 Offline visitors Online visitors
    • 6. Tate Galleries2001 2004 2008 Offline visitors Online visitors
    • 7. There is an online audience.
    • 8. Most Visited Art Museum Websites 2010Metropolitan Museum of ArtVictoria and Albert Museum Tate Museums Museum of Modern Art British Museum 0 8 15 23 30 Online Visits (in millions)
    • 9. Online platforms areextremely valuable.
    • 10. A website is meant for an online audience.
    • 11. Collections and Archives
    • 12. Online archiveswebsite archive
    • 13. Information Life CycleNew activities are Past activities are movedannounced on PR from PR website to website. archive website.
    • 14. Information Life CyclePR Archive
    • 15. Artwork Page Web Page Titlehttp://domain.com Google Artwork
    • 16. Artwork Page Web Page Title http://domain.com Google ArtworkArtist Exhibition
    • 17. Artwork Page Web Page Title http://domain.com Google Related Related Artwork Related RelatedArtist Exhibition Related
    • 18. Experiencing art online.
    • 19. Online Platform
    • 20. Facebook Museum of Modern ArtMetropolitan Museum of Art Musée du Louvre Tate Centre Pompidou 0 175,000 350,000 525,000 700,000 Facebook
    • 21. Twitter Museum of Modern Art TateMetropolitan Museum of Art Museo del PradoVictoria and Albert Museum 0 150,000 300,000 450,000 600,000 Untitled 2
    • 22. Social Network Fatigue
    • 23. Content is automatically republished onrelevant social networks. Online platform
    • 24. Images areautomaticallyuploaded to Flickr.
    • 25. Videos areautomaticallyuploaded to YouTube.
    • 26. News and eventsare automatically announced on Facebook and Twitter.
    • 27. User Generated Content
    • 28. Relevant user generated content is re-contextualized on the online platform. Online platform
    • 29. Online Visits 2009 New Online StrategyJan Mar May Jul Sep Nov
    • 30. Open Source
    • 31. The changes introduced by a new digital strategy are not just technological but more importantly organizational.
    • 32. rui@intk.com