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Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts
and Culture? Results of a Survey
Professor Melissa Terras
Professor of Digi...
Google Arts and Culture (GA&C)
• Online aggregator, high res images of artworks
from partner cultural organisations
• ‘our...
Previous Research
“Digital cultural colonialism: measuring bias in aggregated digitized content held in Google Arts and Cu...
Understanding the GLAM sector’s views of
GA&C
• Jisc Online Surveys
• From mid January- mid
February 2021
• 36 detailed qu...
Respondents
• 70 responses (66 in English, 4 in Russian)
• Thanks to all who filled out the survey!
• No answers mandatory...
Types of GLAM Institution
Positions in GLAM institution
Relationship with GA&C
• 69.8% had personally engaged with GA&C in the
context of work within current institution
Why did the institution partner with GA&C?
Emergent Themes – Access/ Promo Benefits
• “The reach has been great, we hit people in over 60
countries. It is also a gre...
Emergent Themes – User Data
• “I haven't seen any”
• “Not really. The reports are in CSV format and need to
be manipulated...
Emergent Themes – Choices, Labour
• Autonomy of Choice re what to select, but…
– Incredibly short timelines
– “We discusse...
Emergent Themes – Licensing
• “A lot of back and forth with the Legal team about clarifying
exactly what the contract mean...
Emergent Themes – Process
• Easy to use, but inflexible
• Limited Feedback, issues not dealt with
• “The CMS was relativel...
Emerging Themes - Sustainability
• Unclear as to how long the content will be up there:
– “Google have a reputation for de...
Other issues
• Some benefits for individual professional development
• Interesting to gain insight into Google/ tech giant...
Advice for Others
• “think very carefully about how you are going to
measure the impact or importance of your presence of
...
3 words for GA&C
Future Work
• Follow up with interviews with individuals who are willing to talk
about their experience
– If interested, p...
Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts
and Culture? Results of a Survey
Professor Melissa Terras
Professor of Digi...
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Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts and Culture? Results of a Survey

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Google Arts and Culture is now one of the largest online aggregators of high resolution of images of artworks from partner cultural organisations. Why are GLAM institutions providing content in this way for Google? This paper presents the preliminary results of a survey of GLAM professionals that was undertaken in Spring 2021. The main reasons for taking part in GA&C include the promotion of collections, to improve access to them, and the raise the profile of institutions. However, emergent issues include: poor understanding of user data; the short timelines for upload; workload, and the labour being undertaken by institutions; licensing and copyright issues; who owns the resulting content; the inflexible process; whether or not GA&C will be sustained; and lack of community of those taking part. This is preliminary work and will be written up in latter 2021. There is more to do to look at the relationship of Google, and commercial providers, to GLAM institutions. Institutions must look after their collections in the digital space, to help shape and control the messaging they put out regarding them.

Presented at ICTeSSH 2021 virtual conference, June 28th 2021, https://ictessh.uns.ac.rs/register/

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Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts and Culture? Results of a Survey

  1. 1. Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts and Culture? Results of a Survey Professor Melissa Terras Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage Director, Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society Director of Research, Edinburgh Futures Institute m.terras@ed.ac.uk @melissaterras Inna Kizhner Department of Information Technology in Creative and Cultural Industries Siberian Federal University
  2. 2. Google Arts and Culture (GA&C) • Online aggregator, high res images of artworks from partner cultural organisations • ‘our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere’. • Launched in 2011 as Google Art Project, by Google Cultural Institute. In 2016, changed name to GA&C • Initially 17 major partners, now 2000 • Major player in online cultural heritage space • What do institutions get out of being part of this aggregator? https://artsandculture.google.com
  3. 3. Previous Research “Digital cultural colonialism: measuring bias in aggregated digitized content held in Google Arts and Culture” by Inna Kizhner, Melissa Terras, Maxim Rumyantsev, Valentina Khokhlova, Elisaveta Demeshkova, Ivan Rudov, Julia Afanasieva. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqaa055.
  4. 4. Understanding the GLAM sector’s views of GA&C • Jisc Online Surveys • From mid January- mid February 2021 • 36 detailed questions • Workers in the GLAM sector • Anonymous, so people could speak freely • Ethical clearance from the University of Edinburgh • With Inna Kizhner (SFU)
  5. 5. Respondents • 70 responses (66 in English, 4 in Russian) • Thanks to all who filled out the survey! • No answers mandatory (so some questions unanswered) 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Respodent's GLAM place of work
  6. 6. Types of GLAM Institution
  7. 7. Positions in GLAM institution
  8. 8. Relationship with GA&C • 69.8% had personally engaged with GA&C in the context of work within current institution
  9. 9. Why did the institution partner with GA&C?
  10. 10. Emergent Themes – Access/ Promo Benefits • “The reach has been great, we hit people in over 60 countries. It is also a great 'highlight reel' for showing off our collections, and it give us good content to use across all our social media channels”. • “international recognition, being able to show our closed exhibition online without spending money” • “We reach an audience that wouldn't otherwise find us. Although we are a bit unsure of the actual reach”. • “Global platform exposing our collections to a much wider audience”.
  11. 11. Emergent Themes – User Data • “I haven't seen any” • “Not really. The reports are in CSV format and need to be manipulated to get usable data out of them, which we don't usually bother to do. We use Google Analytics for our main website and it would be much more useful if the GA&C reports were presented through Analytics. (Maybe they are and I just haven't figured out where yet. • “Yes, we learned which objects and stories users found most interesting.”
  12. 12. Emergent Themes – Choices, Labour • Autonomy of Choice re what to select, but… – Incredibly short timelines – “We discussed responsibilities: who is responsible for providing the material, who for the technical realization. Workload wasn't discussed” – “Google said it would be easy to export and upload our data from our current collection database. It was more time consuming than that” – “It was agreed that we should re-use existing digitised content and interpretation to limit increased workload for curatorial staff”
  13. 13. Emergent Themes – Licensing • “A lot of back and forth with the Legal team about clarifying exactly what the contract meant. Google were not willing to bend so we had to ensure we were happy with the terms before we proceeded at all” • “comms team did not have a full understanding of the rights issues… As a result there were a great many delays and the workload became a lot bigger than anticipated very quickly…” • “Google advised us that out of copyright material was best used for the platform, and that copyright considerations were our own responsibility. As such we elected to use out of copyright material or orphaned works”.
  14. 14. Emergent Themes – Process • Easy to use, but inflexible • Limited Feedback, issues not dealt with • “The CMS was relatively easy to use, after some getting used to it. As with any CMS there are some limitations with it, not least around usage statistics. Given that Google runs a highly sophisticated suite of analytics tools, it seemed odd that the CMS has very limited usage analytics available to its users”. • “We noticed a very big different in saturation/contrast on the Google Art images compared to the work we do. Not an accurate representation”
  15. 15. Emerging Themes - Sustainability • Unclear as to how long the content will be up there: – “Google have a reputation for developing services then suddenly withdrawing them with no notice. We would not rely upon it for preservation or exclusive long term access. It supplements our access and the hope was it would build new audiences.” – “Forever. It'd take time to remove it, and no one has the login credentials since the layoffs”. – “We will delete it soon. The exhibition view is out of date”
  16. 16. Other issues • Some benefits for individual professional development • Interesting to gain insight into Google/ tech giant • Intersection of Institutional website and GA&C • Lack of resources to take advantage of advanced features • Not known if institutional resources are available for maintenance/ continuing relationship • No community or forum of institutions taking part • Concerns about monetization of content & rights management • Ethical issues in partnering with google • “Whether the amount of work is worth the result” • “I think it appears to be altruistic, but is not in reality. Museums should be more savvy to Google's actual ambitions in accessing the metadata, images and audience engagement”
  17. 17. Advice for Others • “think very carefully about how you are going to measure the impact or importance of your presence of GA&C” • “If you re-use existing content and images it can be a very light touch way to reach the Google Arts & Culture audience” • “Don't give away your collection for free. Invest in your own web presence.” • “Talk to institutions that have already done it. Get a clear sense of how long it takes before you start. Decide on the metadata fields you are prepared to populate”.
  18. 18. 3 words for GA&C
  19. 19. Future Work • Follow up with interviews with individuals who are willing to talk about their experience – If interested, ping me on m.terras@ed.ac.uk – Again, this will be reported anonymously! • Transcription, Analysis • Write up of both survey and interviews by close of 2021 • … but there is more to do here to look at the relationship of Google, and commercial providers, to GLAM institutions • Encouraging a multitude of research voices and critiques, to ensure our culture is well represented online • Ensure that institutions look after their collections in the digital space, and can help shape and control the messaging they put out regarding them.
  20. 20. Why does the GLAM sector work with Google Arts and Culture? Results of a Survey Professor Melissa Terras Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage Director, Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society Director of Research, Edinburgh Futures Institute m.terras@ed.ac.uk @melissaterras Inna Kizhner Department of Information Technology in Creative and Cultural Industries Siberian Federal University

Google Arts and Culture is now one of the largest online aggregators of high resolution of images of artworks from partner cultural organisations. Why are GLAM institutions providing content in this way for Google? This paper presents the preliminary results of a survey of GLAM professionals that was undertaken in Spring 2021. The main reasons for taking part in GA&C include the promotion of collections, to improve access to them, and the raise the profile of institutions. However, emergent issues include: poor understanding of user data; the short timelines for upload; workload, and the labour being undertaken by institutions; licensing and copyright issues; who owns the resulting content; the inflexible process; whether or not GA&C will be sustained; and lack of community of those taking part. This is preliminary work and will be written up in latter 2021. There is more to do to look at the relationship of Google, and commercial providers, to GLAM institutions. Institutions must look after their collections in the digital space, to help shape and control the messaging they put out regarding them. Presented at ICTeSSH 2021 virtual conference, June 28th 2021, https://ictessh.uns.ac.rs/register/

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