Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication

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Remember your online audience – live stream your seminars

Just wanted to share a few tips based on my experiences from livestreaming a museum event for the first time:

  • Why live streaming? Well, simply you need to attend to your audience online.
  • Hire a professional. Make it part of the budget from the start. A good quality live stream is what your audience expects.
  • Think about the stage setting, prepare it for the presentations and make sure it looks good on air.
  •  Think about how to adress your online audience. Prepare for interaction f.ex. through Twitter.
  • Use a hashtag on Twitter to start a conversation and to monitor questions to the speakers.
  • Twitterfall or not, on a screen in the conference room? I don’t know, there are pros and cons. What do you think?
  • Plan for displaying the live stream. Preferably on a very visible place on your site. Perhaps establish a media channel, if you plan to live stream following events.
  • Plan for long-term availability of your videos. There are several services for online video, not all have live stream function, not all are for commercial use etc. Make sure you know in advance what to choose.
  • Blog about the live stream immediately before and afterward the event. Tweet about them. Advertise in all your channels to drive traffic. And be sure to track all visitor statistics (like with Google analytics on the blog and website). Great stats will make it easier to argue for live streaming in the future!

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Opening Plenary at MW2011

Opening Plenary at MW2011, by Kristen Purcell, Pew Research Center

Opening Plenary at MW2011, by Kristen Purcell, Pew Research Center

While attending the conference Museums and the Web, in Philadelphia, I try to take some time to reflect on the presentations.

My impressions are so far that I enjoy the conference just as much as previous years, and that it has taken us participants again one step further in the development of museums and the web.

I truly appriciated the Opening Plenary by Kristen Purcell, from the Pew Research Center in Washington DC. The title was Grounding Internet Information Trends, and was based on research in the project Pew Internet.

Kristen Purcell presented a few groundbreaking changes in the evolution of internet:

  • access to broadband
  • development of mobile devices
  • wireless internet
  • the evolution of social networking

Kristen Purcell also sees a growing use of geo-location services even if there are still only 17% of all adult internet users in the US who claim they use such services.

Another big step is the evolution of apps for mobile devices, according to the Pew Reaserach Center study. They are especially useful when they bypass search, answer questions, solve problems and help accomplish tasks. However, as Kristen Purcell pointed out, it’s difficult to ask these questions in the research study, since many people don’t even know if they own a smart phone or if it has apps installed.

Not knowing what an app is, or not having access to internet, is a sign of The digital divide, a topic that was constantly recurring in the Opening Plenary. At the same time information today is – as Kristen Purcell put it – portable, participatory and personalized. Both of these aspects of the internet and the way people recieve information, affect the way museums need to adress their audiences.

Kristen Purcell finished the Opening Plenary by giving some very good (and to some extent challenging) advice on how to keep up with the evolving internet and the changing demands of the audiences:

  1. Be a filter, a trusted expert (very much needed in the age of abundant information)
  2. Be a curator, a one-stop-shop and an aggregator
  3. Be a node in a network (your audience have audiences)
  4. Be a community builder, create new networks, share and respond
  5. Be a lifesaver, provide timely information
  6. Provide tour guides, use geo-location services to connect your content with real world locations

Perhaps the most challenging, as I see it, would be the one-stop-shop approach. I believe this will set museums off in a new direction. The audience expectations are already constantly changing, but this will demand for more creative and innovative strategies by museums. Being a one-stop-shop is also connected to being a lifesaver, that is – as I see it – being relevant to the audience to a much greater extent than we are today.

The advice for museums presented by Kristen Purcell is one of the things I will bring back home from MW2011. I am also looking forward to see how other will respond to the challenges in the year to come.

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A conference under cover? Or the biggest un-conference ever?

I am probably one of the last people in this world to share my experience from SSWC 2010, www.swedensocialwebcamp.se . But here we go:

Imagine 400 nerds camping in a field full of sheep, gathering in tents or on cliffs by the sea with laptops, iPhones and iPads everywhere (and a WiFi!).

Or imagine 400 social media experts gathering for the event of the year.

Both descriptions have been used by media about the Swedish Social Web Camp, that took place last weekend. The truth lies perhaps somewhere in between. All participants share a passion for social media, and quite a few represented the very elite of digital communication in Sweden today.  And yes, we did camp in a field (though the sheep wandered off to the other side of the island – most likely avoiding the invasion).

The great difference from f.ex. Dream Hack, is that these ”nerds” actually spend most (not all!) of the time – during the event– offline. And the main topic is communication, not technology.

SSWC is an un-conference that was organized last weekend for the second time ever, first time was in 2009. The site was the island of Tjärö, just off the coast of Blekinge in southern Sweden. The (un-)conference fee of 900 sek covered the boat trip and all meals.

So, the format was un-conference, and the content decided entirely on site by the participants. Friday evening a grid was set up in the tent. Anybody could pick up a pen and paper and announce a session (20 or 40 minutes long), spontaneously or prepared. And it worked!

There were plenty of opportunities to meet experts like Brit Stakston, or Johan Ronnestam, or Björn Alberts. And there were just as many opportunities to encounter new and upcoming companies, entrepreneurs and projects.

The sessions announced ranged from entrepreneurship and business development to social media in politics, media, schools, the use of Creative Commons or services like Flickr or Facebook and last but not least the development of strategies.

Me and Matthieu Hartig,  gathered 34 people for a session on social media and cultural heritage. It was more of an attempt to see how many of the participants who would be interested in cultural heritage, than to give a presentation. Only one of the participants in our session was actually working at a museum. The rest were involved, engaged or just interested in one way or the other. (We made great connections and this calls for a tweetup in Stockholm soon!)

Some practicalities around #sswc 2010: A huge tent with benches and tables housed the meals and a few sessions. An old barn next door served as a room for sessions. The rest of the sessions took place outdoors, in the fields and on the cliffs. All meals except breakfast were served outdoors, and the participants were seated in the main tent or outside on wooden benches.

There was a WiFi serving almost the entire island. Yes, even the camping ground was covered. But as with every conference I have visited, the WiFi was coming and going. However, considering the circumstances, I am still very impressed.

As for documentation, the conference committée was filming the event, the main parts were covered by national TV and news paper journalists. Mattias Boström, at the publishing company Piratförlaget, decided to make a documentation of the event. He asked the participants to contribute to a book, the SSWC-book. The result: 180 people contributed to over 600 pages, with blogposts, old and new. The book was both edited and designed by Mattias Boström, and then delivered straight to the camp site. For those of you who speak Swedish (or is interested in the few posts in English!) here’s the link to download the entire book! (Thank you Mattias for a great job!): The SSWC Book (Pdf).

The concept of an un-conference is excellent in this case. It opens up for personal meetings, the individual participants matter, not companies or organizations.

Social media covers a broad spectrum of services and methods, and is used in all parts of society. Still there aren’t that many people deeply involved with development and implementation. So for now it really works. It’s a unique – once in a lifetime – chance to learn from the experts in a very informal situation. The camp site calls for relaxed meetings and just having fun (as for having fun, check also my last blogpost on playing with cultural heritage)!

Still I hope that next year the event will have slightly developed towards a conference. There will be many more than 400 people wanting to participate. One issue is how to make a selection. This year they made two realeases of tickets. Some people didn’t make it since the website couldn’t handle the onslaught.

Also, to attract the very best in the business, I believe a call for papers will be necessary. The committée would then need to set some goals for the whole event, preferably covering some central areas where social media plays a vital role in society. The grid with un-conference sessions will still be one of the most important aspects of the event, and it serves as a great example of how to use crowdsourcing with a holistic perspective!

And as Jocke Jardenberg (another excellent expert) repeated during the event, we need to work hard this year and come back to Tjärö next year to share our new experiences and contribute to further development. I.e. everyone is obliged to set goals for the year to come. And here’s the most exciting thing: As with Museums and the Web, there is a growing community. The community rising from the un-conference SSWC is actually capable of growing and thriving in between the events, keeping in touch, meeting regularly at f.ex. Stockholm Social Media Lunch Club and other places. So there is no reason not to set high goals for SSWC 2011. And then we’ll see SSWC perhaps evolve into a conference, but definitely extend itself in-between-conferences.

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Opening plenary

The opening plenary at MW2010 was presented by Brad Feld, Managing Director of Foundry group. It was a most inspiring presentation, focusing on how to boost creativity through moving outside the regular comfort zone to learn and get inspiration, and through putting creativity first and not let budget restraints suppress great ideas.

Plan ahead for new technologies
Brad Feld encouraged the MW2010 participants was to ”think in 20 year acts”. Take a long view when planning for technology. To many this might seem a little difficult, what do we know of new technologies even five years down the road? The point is that if we just sit and wait for a new technology to arrive innovation and creativity will slow down significantly. We all need to contribute to the development of new technologies, if only with ideas.

Don’t let budget constraints suppress creativity
Resources and budgets is another area to keep in mind when developing and mediating digital assets. Resource constraints exist. However, Brad Feld reminded us, many innovative companies have started off with no resources but a bunch of creative people, In projects its easy to feel constrained by limited resources, however low budget does not constrain creativity as long as you set up goals.

Get outside the comfort zone
Another important advice from Brad Feld was to get outside the personal comfort zone. To attend conferences like Musems and the Web is a great way to improve your knowledge, make new connections and to get inspired. Other ways of moving outside the comfort zone is to actually have an internship at another institution. be the artist in residence, or just a volunteer. Expose yourself to new stuff.

Break some glass
To move further ahead in our work at cultural heritage institutions we also need to more actively make choices. Don’t be afraid to throw away stuff that doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to break glass. If something doesn’t work, even though it’s been granted a fair budget, it will always be more expensive to maintain it. Throw away and start over.

Know your customer
Last but not least, Brad Feld reminded us: Be your own customer. As he asked the audience what do we call our visitors, several people answered guests. With a quick response he then put us back on track again: Do you actually make your guests pay? Customer or client is therefore a more apropriate term. And so we also must achieve a full understanding of what makes the customer actually buy. If we haven’t got a clue, we’ll be likely to loose them in the long run.

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Observation I

ipad at MW2010So the iPad was hot news for the MW2010. Surprisingly only a handful of participants, out of more than 600, had one.  Many companies in the Exhibition hall had one, and two were even raffled to the joy of all participants (not that I did win any of them, but anyway).

But having had a close encounter with an iPad I must say I am very eager to get hold of one myself. It is handy in size, a little heavy but the screen is just excellent for displaying books, or interfaces mediating cultural heritage. The possibilities are endless.

As only a few participants had an iPad that was also an indication that it is still quite difficult to get hold of it in the US. The 3G version is not out yet. Rumours were that the Apple stores in Denver had sold out. It will be very interesting the see how the iPad makes its way to the next year’s conference, MW2011 in Philadelphia.

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Summarizing MW2010

The international conference Museums and the Web 2010 just finished and it is time to start summarizing the experience. Three important aspects of the conference makes it the no 1 in the world on cultural heritage and internet/digital publication:

1. Organization: The conference is extremely well organized and carried out smoothly

2. Speakers and content: The most up to date and ground breaking projects are presented by professional and competent speakers and usability labs, workshops etc. complement regular sessions.

3. Community: The conference has a growing community that, thanks to social media, is allowed to grow and flourish during the year to come.

Participants come from all over the world, though since the conference takes place in North America it is slightly anglified. It lasts five days, including conference tours and workshops. So starting with the opening plenary in my next post, I will try to cover the parts of the conference that I enjoyed the most.