A European Cultural Commons 30102012


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Talk delivered at the 2nd Strategic Briefing on the European Cultural Commons on October 30th 2012 in Limassol, Cyprus

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  • Thank you for inviting me along. I am thrilled to be a part of this process. I’m going to give you a ’lightning-talk’ about a small scale Commons initiative that we’ve been working on for a couple of years in the Danish museum community.
  • My background is in Art History. I get lost in tech discussions. But even I can see the enormous potentials of the infrastructure and openness of digital media in museums.
  • Museums need users to care as much as we do. In order to make that happen, we need to allow users to own, share and use our assets – otherwise they won’t be useful to them, and then… [next slide]
  • As outlined in the paper for this workshop, there is no such thing as The Commons. The concept of commons is complex and takes on many faces. I haven’t used the concept on our initiaive before, but thinking about it in the context of this workshop, I think that it is adequate to refer to it as A Commons around digitized art collections. Why do we think that is important?
  • This question is crucial to me. As I see it, museums should want nothing more than to have our images be among those that are used. It is to the benefit of all, museums and users alike.
  • These are some obvious common challenges that museums face in web 2.0 reality. I’m stating the obvious, I know. But while it may sound trivial here in this crowd I tell you, it’s still a pipe dream to many museum professionals. Take it from one!
  • Again, I’m stating the obvious, but again I must stress that this is an ongoing discussion even at the largest art museum in Denmark to get these things written into our core mission and permament budgets.
  • So; what to do about it? Like so many other GLAM people I have been using the incremental change method to try and make things happen. Think big – Start small – Move fast.
  • At SMK, we’ve initiated a couple of pilot projects to get Danish art museums to work together to solve common challenges in smart and efficient, and fun, ways that utilize the potentials of digital media for outreach and participation. The first ran from 2009-11 dealing with how we can establish free image sharing between Danish art museums. Save money on licensing images to colleague institutions Lighten administrative burden - let users download the images they need Create synergies between collections – send users on to each other
  • The second one is still running; we expanded from 5 to nine museum partners and are working to get more to join. In this project we are building a shared networked mobile platform in order to put the principles of free image sharing into practice.
  • Throughout these pilots, we have learned that the Danish art museums are just waiting for the National Gallery to take leadership in the change process. Here, we could take the lead from Yale who (though on a completely different scale) has provided thought leadership in the US museum community: “Discussion among twenty of the largest museums at the Mellon Foundation last year made clear that they as a community are ready to embrace new policies, requiring only a leader they can point to in order to effect similar policy with their boards.” (Yale memo as cited on slide 3). If we take on the coordinating role, and move first by sharing our assets for free, our colleague institutions are likely to follow.
  • The invitation for SMK to join the Google Art Project gave us a chance to do just that. We contributed a selection of highlights from our collections for the launch of version 2 of GAP in April 2012, seeing this as an excellent opportunity to reach out to new and wider audiences on an international platform.
  • But, to quote what Michael Edson has expressed in clear terms, ”access is not equal to sharing”. GAP is a great showcase but it’s also a walled garden. We used our participation in GAP as an opportunity to go further. In the winter of 2012, Michael offered us the idea to make the batch of selected artworks into a “charter collection”  for testing free image sharing and open access on various platforms.
  • What we did was create a simple and no nonsense page on our museum website where you can download the hires images that we feature in GAP. They are free and available in the highest resolution available ranging from 10 to 400 MB.
  • Each image is available for individual download under CCBY. All the artworks featured in the charter collection are in the Public Domain. Sp why not just use CC0 or PD Mark? Personally, I am not happy with putting new restrictions on images of artworks that are in the Public Domain. But for SMK it was a major leap to even consider implementing Creative Commons licenses in stead of charging for the images as usual. The economic argument was swiftly ended by hard evidence, for instance Simon Tanner’s report from 2004 on ”Reproduction Charging Models & Rights Policy for Digital Images in US Museums”. But there was much concern that our images would be abused. After lengthy discussions and advice from Creative Commons Denmark we were able to decide on the CCBY license that stresses correct attribution to the source. This is similar to the process at the Rijksmuseum, that started out using the CCBY license on their open API, but changed it to CC0 after 6 months because it didn’t guarantee correct attribution anyway and they don’t have capacity (nor the desire) to chase down users who don’t make correct attribution. I foresee a similar change at SMK when we evaluate the release and use of the charter collection.
  • It works like this: Simply click the link and you can save the beautiful large image file on your computer.
  • The high resolution is crucial. We want our images to be among those that are used.
  • Our objective for providing free download is - again inspired by the Rijksmuseum – to feed the internet with high quality images in order to push out the poor copies.
  • As Lizzy Jongma says in an email where she shared the story of the Rijksmuseum’s open API - and yes, she did allow me to quote from it – their primary mission as a research institution and national museum is to ”tell the truth”. That is why they made the principle decision to provide images in the best available resolution for detailed scrutiny.
  • One brilliant result being that their CC0 licensed high resolution images are harvested by Wikimedia where they push out the poor book scans that used to represent their beautiful artworks.
  • Thus making them available to be used in Wikipedia articles, blogs, publications, videos, apps etc.
  • This is exactly what we are hoping will happen with our collections. That they are findable, shareable and reusable. They become a ressource that does work in society, that help people do stuff, that they become tools for learning and creating. And now, after 4 months, it is starting to happen. Wikipedia Denmark has initiated a project with the charter collection to describe the artworks and the artists in Wikipedia articles.
  • Back to the collaborative pilot project: A starting point for action on the principles we established in the image sharing pilot: The idea is to build a shared mobile platform that will put the principles of free image sharing into practice in a coordinated effort. We have established three principles that will shape the platform.
  • The three principles are realized through the Twitter API. Twitter has all the features we need, and users are already there and familiar with the functionalities and platform. In practice, using Twitter as our platform means that: All artworks will be equipped with individual hashtags Comments can be maximum 140 characters All senders are named and have profiles, creating a democratic environment for interaction and dialogue All languages are represented It is easy to create relations to online content (links, pictures, full text, videos…) which gives museums an opportunity to link to and activate all their rich content about their collections, and create relations between artworks in different collections The partner institutions will not carry the burden of maintaining the platform – minimum effort required both in terms of content production and technological support, in order to make the collaboration realistic
  • Twitter already is an ecosystem made up of many niches. People use the platform as a Knowledge Commons. This potentially is also a threat: It is used by communities as a commons, but as Harry pointed out when we discussed it, Twitter is a privately own company and the decision making and legal framework is not democratic.
  • Our main objective:
  • Is to inspire users to look closer at the artworks. Knowing the 1 % rule we don’t expect as a default a lot of user participation. But we are designing the plsatform to make it dead e
  • So far, we have tested the concept in three of the partner museums. I’m going to run you very quickly through the test methods and what we learned.
  • We used a very simple testing method to get users to respond to the concept alone without technological issues standing in the way. Our objective being to learn if the users would be urged to look closer and deeper by way of the Twitter-specific features of short comments opening up to related artworks and richer content.
  • It worked like this: A pile of short comments about a specific artwork was stuffed into a white envelope. The comments that were useful to the test user were stashed in a green envelope, the comments that were not useful went into the red envelope.
  • After testing like this in front of 4 artworks in the galleries, a short survey was filled out…
  • … followed by a focus group discussion.
  • Users responded that many of the short comments made them look closer and longer at the artworks. They felt encouraged and inspired to know more about the artwork as the comments worked as a lens/a pair of glasses they could look through. The concept seems to make users look up at the art instead of down at a screen – this must be proved when we test the prototype.
  • Thanks to the shortness of Twitter comments (140c) users felt more encouraged to participate. It was a key factor for the users because participating seemed to be a manageable task. They were especially keen on making two kinds of comments: Posting a question directly to art experts that would reply via Twitter Posting links to related artworks that came to the users’ mind while looking at a specific artwork
  • Users were generally surprised that the dialogue is ahierarchical and breaks with the authoritarian museum voice. They appreciate the open, democratic notion that everyone can comment, and while all users are named and have a profile, it is up to the individual user to choose which voices are interesting to listen to. This, however, is also perceived as a potential disadvantage. Test users expressed concern that the experience is like a fortune cookie – you don’t know if you’re going to like what you get. They want to be able to filter the content or else they will get overload with comments that are indifferent to them and will want to turn off the ”noise”.
  • Test users pointed out that the platform should be able to support a shared museum visit experience. They don’t want to shut their friends or family out by immersing themselves in the content. Suggestions to develop the concept into a game-like experience for instance where users can challenge each other on what they discover and know.
  • The platform is designed to lower the barrier of System maintenance – Twitter is dynamically developed and updated Content creation – based on reuse, linking to existing collection-related content Participation – everyone has a voice, and you just need to spill 140c Joining the network – every museum can join, the platform is multilingual by default
  • Next step is to build a betaversion based on Twitter’s API, test it and adjust it according to user feedback. We have no illusion that this project will magically solve all the challenges we address, but it is a way to get started working together towards shared solutions and a paradigm of openness.
  • After the pilot is launched and evaluated in April 2013, what we really need is to move from small scale pilot mode to an established and coordinated default practice. Open licensing of Public Domain content Shared platforms – no more silos that fences in content that is useful to others Distributed ownership – cultural heritage belongs to all, the ownership should be shared Democratic dialogue
  • That is one of the reasons why I’m very excited to take part in this workshop today. We need a network with the mindset, the expertise, and the scope of Europeana, to help our efforts solidify.
  • These things are also topical at the international GLAM seminar ”Sharing is Caring – Let’s Get Real” on December 12, 2012 in Copenhagen. Keynotes by Shelley Bernstein, Brooklyn Museum, about crowdcurated project management, Jasper Visser about the necessary mental change in museums following the technological. And Jill Cousins will round up the day by presenting the Europeana Commons. We hope you will join us!
  • A European Cultural Commons 30102012

    1. 1. Merete Sanderhoff merete.sanderhoff@smk.dk @MSanderhoffCommon Challenges, Common Solutions 2nd Strategic Briefing Europeana Commons Cyprus, October 30th 2012
    2. 2. My motto:
    3. 3. “The preservation, transmission, andadvancement of knowledge in thedigital age are promoted by theunencumbered use and reuse ofdigitized content for research,teaching, learning, and creativeactivities.” Memo on open access to digital representations of works in the public domain from museum, library, and archive collections at Yale University May 2011 http://odai.yale.edu/sites/default/files/OpenAccessLAMSFinal.pdf
    4. 4. …why should they care?
    5. 5. Why an Art Commons?
    6. 6. ”…what does it mean that there aremillions of images on the web that weare not allowed to touch while at thesame time there are other millions ofimages that we can actually use?” Peter Leth, Creative Commons For All (in Danish only), 2011 @peterleth1 http://www.creativecommons.dk/?p=537
    7. 7. What are common challenges?• Rapid technological change• Silo culture – high maintenance• Charging for digitized images• Relevance to new generations of users
    8. 8. What could be common solutions?• Working together in networks/hubs• Using shared/existing platforms• Providing free and easy access to digitized images and data• Listening to and engaging users
    9. 9. Pilots since 2009• Save money• Lighten administrative burden• Create synergies between collections
    10. 10. Takeleadership
    11. 11. http://www.googleartproject.com/collection/statens-museum-for-kunst/
    12. 12. Access is not = to sharing Michael Edson, Director of Web and New Media Smithsonian Institution @mpedson
    13. 13. http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/the-royal-collections/free-download-of-art-works/
    14. 14. http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/the-royal-collections/european-art-1300-1800/highlights/andrea-mantegna-christ-as-the-suffering-redeemer/
    15. 15. http://www.kdcs.kcl.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/USMuseum_SimonTanner.pdf
    16. 16. "Like other museum institutions SMK is used tobeing seen as a gatekeeper of cultural heritage. Butour collections do not belong to us. They belong tothe public. Free access ensures that our collectionscontinue to be relevant to users now and in thefuture.Our motivation for sharing digitized images freely isto allow users to contribute their knowledge and co-create culture. In this way, SMK wishes to be acatalyst for the users creativity." Karsten Ohrt, Director, SMK
    17. 17. http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/SK-A-2344/het-melkmeisje
    18. 18. ”Our primary missionis to ”tell the truth.” Lizzy Jongma, data manager Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam @LizzyJongma
    19. 19. Pushing out poor copieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Johannes_Vermeer_-_De_melkmeid.jpg
    20. 20. Enriching public knowledge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Milkmaid_(Vermeer)
    21. 21. http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProjekt_Maleri/158_highlights
    22. 22. How an Art Commons?
    23. 23. 3 principles1. All Public Domain content is freelyshareable and reusable under CreativeCommons2. We use an existing platform that users like instead of custom-building a new one3. Target users take part in developing theexperience and creating the content
    24. 24. • Artworks have individual #• Comments are <140c• All users are equal and have names and faces• It is multilingual• Comments lead to richer content• The platform is dynamically updated and improved
    25. 25. And perhaps most importantly… Twitter works as a Commons
    26. 26. How will it work?• Stand in front of an artwork in a museum• Pull out your smartphone or tablet• Scan a QR code or enter the URL• Scroll through a stream of brief comments and questions, open links to related images, texts, videos etc. (anyone can do this)• Post a comment, question, add a link, photo, video etc. (you need to be a Twitter user to do this)• Maybe you get a response – if you direct a question or comment to a museum tweep, you certainly will!
    27. 27. Objective
    28. 28. Inspire users to look closerat the artworks Objective
    29. 29. Testing the concept
    30. 30. Paper prototyping
    31. 31. Follow up survey
    32. 32. Focus group discussion
    33. 33. Lowering the barrier of• System maintenance• Content creation• Participation• Joining the network
    34. 34. What’s next?
    35. 35. A common framework and infrastructure• Open licensing• Shared platforms• Distributed ownership• Democratic dialogue
    36. 36. http://www.formidlingsnet.dk/sharing-is-caring-2012-program
    37. 37. Read moreAbout the shared mobile pilot project• Open GLAM http://openglam.org/2012/10/23/the-participatory-museum-of-denmark/• Swedish Exhibition Agency http://www.riksutstallningar.se/content/spana/curating-and-participation-new-mobile- platform?language=en• MuseumNext 2012 http://vimeo.com/45705253#at=0About SMK’s free charter collection• CC GLAM wiki http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Case_Studies/Highlights_from_SMK,_The_National_ Gallery_of_DenmarkAbout Public Domain and open licensing• Public Domain and Image Sales References http://smithsonian- webstrategy.wikispaces.com/Public+Domain+and+Image+Sales+References