Links for 6 May 2012

Links for 6 May 2012

Everyone working in the arts should gather round and watch Ze Frank. The man’s a genius, has a million and one things to teach about all sorts of things (but if we’re being prosaic, we could start with UGC-based online projects) and has been doing it long enough that people should really have caught on by now.

Here’s the Kickstarter video for his latest run of shows by way of introduction.

Arts/digital links

I’m really not sure what to make of The Space yet. I think it’s somewhere between a spectacularly ill-conceived distraction and a rather good thing. Probably it’s both but it’s too early to tell for sure. Either way, here’s an interesting piece about how it was built.

I came across a few arts data-related projects this month, including Cultural Data ProjectSpace, TRG Arts’ Community Programs and Open Cultuur Data. There are plenty of these things around – arts sectors internationally aren’t short of information, the trick is in making sure useful information is available to the right people at the right time.

This is an interestingly introspective post about the Map the Museum project, posing the question “should you release 5000 records with well produced photographs, and meticulously edited text? Or should you simply dump 50,000 online, warts and all?”

Some other things:

Other links

Custom Report Sharing for Google Analytics and The Best Google Analytics Add-Ons. Can you tell what I’ve been working on a lot recently? On a completely different data/stats kick, Dan Hon’s post about data and diabetes was fascinating.

A couple of interesting collaborations from the world of journalism:

And while we’re on the subject, Writing in Newspapers and Magazines is worth reading for the George Clooney quote alone.



I’ll leave you with the first video in a series by Rui Guerra who interviewed John Stack, Head of Tate Online about Tate’s online strategy and new website. Lots of interesting stuff in there.

See also Rui’s other videos with Rob Stein from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Links for 10 March 2012

If you skip everything else, at least watch this video of Ira Glass talking about getting good at something. I definitely identified with that.

A little while back, John Coburn (who I was pleased to meet at Bits to Blogs a few weeks back) wrote a very interesting post called Understanding Compelling Collections. It was a write-up of a series of small-scale experiments looking to answer two questions:

Which of our collections best lends themselves to impulse sharing online?
Which of our collections are people most willing to talk about online?

I was reminded of this when Mia Ridge picked up on it recently. Like I say, it’s a good post. It also gives me the opportunity to quote another good post by Schmutzie:

What we do and create most often ends up being about meeting the perceived needs related to what we think people want and not what their needs actually are or what our own needs might be within that experience, so we are often left creating toothless pap that can be easily digested by the broadest community we can imagine and no one in particular. We try to appeal to the things a community of hundreds or thousands might all agree on like we’re all Martha Stewarts selling boring sheet sets.

There are distinctions to be drawn between the two viewpoints (not least between the institutional and the personal) but the question remains – should an instituion be concerned more with reach or effect (or both, or neither, or that magical sweet spot between the two)?

Ed Vaizey’s was up on his technological soapbox again during his keynote speech at the State of the Arts Conference:

I’m also, as many of you will know, excited about what technology can do for the arts. I think it provides an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to new audiences. I don’t regard technology in binary terms – that the future will be totally different, or that technology will fundamentally change the way we live. We will all still want to go to see live theatre, music, dance, or visit galleries and museums. But I passionately believe that technology can enhance that experience, by deepening and enriching what you experience, or by simply letting you know that something is happening nearby.

As much as I wonder about some of the digital stuff the arts funders are pushing, as very-top-level views go, this seems pretty sensible.

Arts/Digital links

The Young Vic have an alternative Twitter account. I really hope someone’s doing the smart thing and comparing/contrasting the effect of this and their main account.

The Arts Council announced the successful applicants for The Space. John Wyver at Illuminations has blogged about their unsuccessful application and said that he’d like to use the Illuminations blog to continue discussions about The Space.

Bruce Sterling looks at four possible futures where combinations of high/low tech and high/low art are played out. I don’t know why the audience look so bemused, I thought this was good.

A few other bits and pieces:

Other links

Pete Ashton wrote Flaneurism shouldn’t be easy and included this line:

Meanwhile the tech bloggers, who were supposed to be the scribes of this cultural revolution, are held rapt by the warring of their corporate gods, cheering like children as one multinational throws a patent lawsuit thunderbolt at another – like Homer, only without the poetry.

I liked that. I also bought a copy of Pete’s This Much I Knew (which I hesitate to call a book). It’s effectively the collected works (2008-2009) of someone who, for me, represents the gold standard in using a blog as a tool for thinking out loud. In a similar-ish vein Lean back media: the shock of the old is a very good (and good looking) presentation from The Economist, who are doing a decent job of presenting their thinking and progress around the shift to digital.

What’s the waiter doing with the computer screen? is a nice illustration of what people will do to get around the limitations of software that’s not up to scratch.

I remember watching Lynda La Plante’s Killer Net back in 1998 but had completely forgotten what it was called until recently. If anyone knows where I might get hold of a copy, that’d be great. Here’s the synopsis:

Students get involved in a violent Internet-based game, around the same time as a series of murders – is there a connection?

Awesome. Here’s some other stuff:

My favourite bit of the BBC English Regions Social Media Strategy (PDF) was the instruction for “All defunct/dormant accounts to be closed elegantly”. More elegance, please.

Also, I really like the simplicity of The Two Things, which I found via Oliver Burkeman who neatly summarised every self-help book that crossed his desk:

first, if you can tolerate a little discomfort, you can achieve almost any goal; and second, it’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to to avoid discomfort.

Some apps and services


I like the first line of this:

We’re in a very exciting place where absolutely anyone can be a publisher. But I think a more interesting question is how to be a successful publisher

From a video of Faber & Faber, Random House, ustwo & Hachette discussing the future of digital publishing.

Links for 7 December 2011

Let’s start with something that made me nod my head quite a bit. It’s a post titled Digitally-literate staff are key to charity digital success and it’s a slightly better written version of a rant that I sometimes go off on. The whole thing’s worth but these bits will give you a flavour:

…the things that stand in the way of digital success. Internal politics, lack of money, lack of evidence, legacy technologies and lack of experience…

It’s one thing to deliver a fabulously interactive website, but if you don’t have the resources behind it to keep it running, it’ll be just window-dressing

No longer can those skills be the preserve of the harried and over-stretched digital teams. We have passed the tipping point where digital is something new, it just is

Moving on, I’m really not sure what to make of The Space. It’s “an experimental digital arts media service and commissioning programme” which doesn’t explain a great deal but there’s money and the BBC’s name attached, so people have jumped on it regardless.

The last arts funding cow to be fed to the raptors was the ACE/NESTA R&D Fund, with details of the commissioned projects now starting to emerge. For instance, over the next year the IWM Social Interpretation team will be regularly posting about their in trying to integrate social media models into museums’ outputs. It’s good to see these processes being documented in this way.

The abridged version of Mia Ridge’s notes for her talk, Open for engagement: GLAM audiences and digital participation have some good tips for designing participatory projects. In other talk-related blog posts, Hugh Wallace spoke about Beautiful small things at the National Gallery of Ireland’s 2011 Symposium, presenting five  projects that he believes exemplify good practice in digital media with an emphasis on the audience.

Arts/digital links

  • Arte TV livestreamed La Boheme from a council block in Berne, with online viewers able hop between different camera angles. I’m really disappointed to have missed this.
  • Silk was created by Yuri Vishnevsky as an experiment in generative art. It’s lovely.
  • Details and links to all of the hacks produced during Culture Hack North.
  • Mobile Museum is a series of semi-structured written interviews with people who have developed, authored or managed mobile projects.
  • StageScan aims to give personalised theatre recommendations based on what you’ve liked in the past, letting you follow individual creatives and/or critics. It’s kinda like the missing link between Theatricalia and Journalisted.
  • Far too many infographics are rubbish but this one showing how much artists earn online (including, spotify, retail albums and mp3 downloads) is very good.
  • PressBooks lets you author and output books in multiple formats, including epub, Kindle, print-on-demand-ready PDF, HTML and inDesign-ready XML. Could be handy.
  • The results are in on the’s research project: Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums. They found that museum professionals and the general public speak different languages and that a high percentage of user-submitted tags were useful.
  • On that theme, Brooklyn Museum’s Gallery Tag! is a pretty simple mobile tagging game, specifically designed for use in the gallery.

Other links

Some apps and services


A barnstorming Gary Vaynerchuk keynote at Inc5000.

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