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Doing us the Power of Good? Ethics, sustainability, and continuing GLAM reliance on Google and Facebook


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Jon Pratty – PhD Candidate (University of Sussex)

This session will surface academic research about ethics and political philosophy that will begin to make sense of current debates about whether GLAMs should have websites, social media sites, or both.

It will explore historic examples of how innovative platforms quickly become obsolete, indicating how we could possibly go forwards making better digital strategies within GLAMs that will be better value for money, and which will have longer lasting legacy value.

Published in: Technology
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Doing us the Power of Good? Ethics, sustainability, and continuing GLAM reliance on Google and Facebook

  1. 1. Doing us the Power of Good? Ethics, sustainability, and continuing GLAM reliance on Google and Facebook
  2. 2. Goodbye Storify - which of our tools is next? • Culture orgs: enthusiastic users of Blogger, Flickr, Wordpress, Tweetdeck, Storify, Vine • Being free-to-use is the quickest way to bring people onboard • To survive, they need high volumes of users to sell advertising, and to harvest data from. Users=data=income • Yahoo bought & closed online community site Geocities, 3rd largest website in US, abandoning 38 million users • For museums considering digital lifecycles and value for public money, alternative services may also have weak legacy potential • Ethically, still issues for public sector or academic institutions using services that trade user or audience data to sustain their business model
  3. 3. Themes from MCG E-List discussion • Should the public sector provide digital platforms to rival Facebook? • Open web is not dead – should be a mix of publishing on web + social • Issue: KPI-driven short-term digital objectives usually favour MVP • Losing content into Facebook isn't a killer, but having no website backup is • Social: huge audiences, excellent experiences, great SEO. No reason to not use them. • Publishers get little traffic back from Facebook, no analytics, no revenue • Facebook: ephemeral, unsearchable, unstructured, inconsistent algorithm • Facebook: built very effective way of creating communities of interest and then closed it, because that’s profitable.
  4. 4. What might go wrong? Ethics and data "The impermanence of the technologies employed, and their architecture, present challenges of near-, medium- and long-term sustainability for the users who create, curate and populate these unintentional archives – unintentional in that they are ‘run by individuals or collectives who do not conceive of their practice as archiving.'" (Baker and Collins, 2015: 987)
  5. 5. Funder influence and GLAM independence • Counting What Counts (Arts Council England/NESTA 2013) added Big Data themes to funder interests • ACE: Provide support to arts and cultural organisations to capture and use data to improve resilience, build new markets and explore new sources of income • ACE: "We will further develop fundraising capacity in the sector, invest in skills, encourage data collection, sharing and analysis, and support the use of digital technology to engage more audiences and increase revenue streams." • ACE: "We will work with partners including Google, the BBC and funded organisations such as Rightster and The Space to build digital skills and capacity in the arts and culture sector" • MA ethics comment: "There are a number of very valid criticisms of working in a way which transfers some control (and potentially the ability to generate income) to tech companies."
  6. 6. Time to seize control? Berners-Lee and Re- Decentralisation • Irina Bolychevsky: centralised systems perpetuate power relationships • ODI: Open Data Stakeholder landscape (2011) – an open document • Tim Berners-Lee is building his own version of the more ethical web, called SoLiD, new platform called InRupt • Doteveryone: exploring what 'responsible technology' means • Martha Lane Fox: 'Technology is a marvel – now let's make it moral' • ODI: Open Data Stakeholder landscape (2011) – an open document • privacy, transparency, autonomy
  7. 7. Hacking Accreditation • Accreditation standard needs to acknowledge data/digital economy • Arts Council England environment/sustainability requirements • A Registered Museum entirely based on 'freemium' platforms? • Accreditation standards: require an ethical approach to preservation • Develop an ethics around participatory digital activity • Do not track, do not sell, do not trade data • An approach to data commons, or regional data unions • Recommended local or subject network infrastructure
  8. 8. Thanks for listening! Jon Pratty Chair, National Disability Arts Collection & Archive CIC @jon_pratty