Arts and Technology Round-up: Museums and the Web Edition

Happy Friday everyone! For this arts and technology round-up we decided to try and hone in on a few of the awesome projects that we saw at the Museums and the Web conference last week. Up first are our picks of some of the best and most innovative projects. After that, the winners of the Best of the Web 2011 awards from the conference.

Technology In The Arts Picks

Zooniverse - This group marries together the researching needs of the scientific/historical communities and the power of crowdsourcing. By creating a series of interactive web portals, Zooniverse creates communities of "Citizen Scientists".

PhilaHistory - Philly based GIS firm Azavea worked with the City of Philadelphia to create a platform for linking historical photos of the city to their real world locations using geo-location and augmented reality.

One To One with the Artist: Ai Weiwei - A simple idea with a great effect, this project from the Tate allowed museum visitors to record and upload a video in the gallery and have a video dialogue with the artist Ai Weiwei.

The WALL - The Museum of Copenhagen's giant multi-touch multimedia screen installed in one of the central squares of Copenhagen.

ARTfinder - A new recommendation engine for artwork, this site works very much like, taking your current interests and using them to introduce you to new works.

The Collective - Sounding a little bit like a bad 50's sci-fi flick, The Collective is the Denver Art Museum's interactive website/online programming space and a new way of connecting and bringing in the Denver community.

MoMA Learn - An extremely in-depth arts education web portal, the Museum of Modern Art's education department went all out on this one.

ARtours - The Stedelijk Museum's innovative augmented reality program.

The Best of the Web 2011

Education & Best Overall: The ACMI Generator

Mobile: The AB EX NY iPad app

Innovative: Nationnaal Historisch Museum / Museum of National History

Museum Professional & People's Choice: Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy Wiki


Research/Online Collection: Portable Antiquities Scheme

Audio/Visual/Podcast: Access All Areas podcast

Project by a Small Institution: ASI: Archaeology Scene Investigations in North County Louth

Museums and the Web 2011 - Thomas's Recap

logoThe 2011 edition of the international Museums and the Web conference wrapped up this past Saturday and was a 4-day whirlwind of presentations and workshops. Presentations covered many of the exciting new technology projects currently in place and coming up from museums around the world. Topics at the conference ran the gamut from mobile technology to augmented reality to ways of creating interactive communities of constituents online. All of the papers from the conference can be found online at the Museums and the Web’s conference website. Here are just a few of the themes and tidbits that stood out to me from the 4-day conference:


Crowdsourcing - Now in 6 delicious flavors!

I attended an unconference session, roundtable talks with topics proposed by conference attendees, that aimed to crowdsource the idea of crowdsourcing. The overall feel I got from the discussion was that many museums are taking crowdsourcing very seriously these days. The talk brought up a lot of cool new projects, ranging from including constituents in collections and archives work to new ways to display crowdsourced material.

Johan Oomen, Head of Research of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, presented his ideas on how crowdsourcing can now be defined in 6 distinct ways:

  • Correction & Transcription
  • Contextualization (Adding to wikis, telling stories)
  • Complementing the Collection
  • Classification, Tagging
  • Co-Curation
  • Crowdfunding
  • Out of the Museum, into the streets - taking advantage of geo-location

    Geo-location was a popular theme, using GPS and mapping to take information and media from the museum and attach it to a location. Many presentations touched on how this idea could really help visitors build a strong connection to the history and importance of objects and sites of a community.

    Some notable projects included PhilaPlace and the Rock Art Mobile Project.


    Access, access, and more access

    There was a lot of discussion around how to not only get more content on the web, but also make that content easily accessible. The types of content being made available on the web, for free, ranged from things like online collections to projects like online teaching portals. There was a general call to standardize access to this content and data and to use more open systems to encourage data sharing among organizations.


    Intuitive design - What's the point of building it if no one can figure out how to use it?

    The conference featured a variety of opportunities for museum professionals to gain feedback on their projects, one of the most popular being the Mobile Crit Room. A reoccurring theme of these critiques was the emphasis placed on the user experience, how easy was it for someone to use your mobile app/website? The Rock Art Mobile Project led the charge, along with a few others, in insisting that any project's user experience needs to be designed in a way that is both intuitive and immediately easy to use. Building around this concept will ensure that users of all ages and skill levels can take part in a project, not just the tech-savvy ones.

    Check out the range of mobile projects from the conference’s Mobile Parade.


    So now you want to build an mobile program? Better be up on some of the new business models.

    One of the most informative presentations I attended was the “Getting on (not under) the Mobile 2.0 bus”. This talk featured case studies by MoMA, SFMOMA, Balboa Park and the Smithsonian on the new business models that now exist for developing a mobile program.

    Some of the subjects from the presentation included: Digital retail (app/download sales), Donations (e.g. by text message), Sponsorship and ad-supported content, Monetizing data from mobile social media and Using mobile to support membership and other revenue channels. The full paper is available here.


    The Rise of the Mobile Internet

    Kristen Purcell, from the Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project, gave the opening plenary of the conference. Kristen presented on some of the changes in technology from 2000 to 2011. Some pretty surprising stats were thrown up during the presentation. Among them:

    • 1 in 3 adults do not have broadband Internet access.
    • 69% of Internet users watch online video content, 14% of Internet users upload/create video content.
    • 85% of adults will own a cell phone by 2011, making 2011 really the Year of the Mobile. (Purcell stated respondents had difficulty being able to distinguish between what was and was not a smartphone, so that statistic was not available)
    • Mobile usage varied among different ethnic groups, Latinos and African Americans were shown to be in the highest percentage of users actively engaging with mobile content.
    • 11% of mobile users use their phones to make charitable donations. (These numbers may be skewed by mobile donation drives for large natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquakes in Japan)
    • 35% of adult mobile users have apps on their phones, but only 24% use them.
    • The 90:9:1 rule for understanding the level of engagement on social media. It states that 90% of social media users are lurkers, just observing content and never really interacting or contributing. 9% are regular contributors, the ones who often like, retweet or comment on online content. 1% are the super users - always online, always engaged.

    These were just a few highlights, for me, of the conference. Coming up, Molly will do her recap on what she found interesting at Museums & the Web 2011. Definitely go to the Museums & the Web conference site to check out all of the presented papers from the conference.