Redefining Boundaries at the Museum: Crowdsourced Exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

Redefining Boundaries at the Museum: Crowdsourced Exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

Since December 19, 2014 the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History has featured an exhibit of works relating to the ocean, with painting and sculptures by established artists alongside works by local residents. The exhibit includes a wide variety of art, ranging from professional artists’ works to two year-olds’ drawings. Everybody’s Ocean is a partially crowd-sourced and partially curated exhibition presenting everyone’s personal relationship with the sea. 

What's the Big Idea? 5 Key Takeaways from the Museums and the Web Conference

In this post, I thought I’d try to “connect the dots” regarding some of the threads that seemed to come up frequently over the course of M&W2011.

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.

    Mobile Audience Participation with Jonah Bokaer and the Ferst Center

    Audience interaction has become a pretty major trend this year and arts organizations around the country are experimenting with different ways to engage their audiences. But how does one go about making their experience a participatory one? Artist Jonah Bokaer and the Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech decided to approach the issue using mobile technology. Jonah Bokaer is an award-winning choreographer and media artist participating in the Ferst Center's first ever year-long dance residency program, ARTech. Jonah worked closely with students from the Georgia Tech Music Technology Program to develop MassMobile, a smartphone app that acts as an interactive platform for audience members to participate by affecting the stage in different ways. On April 2nd, MassMobile will premier with Jonah's new work FILTER at the Ferst Center.

    I had to opportunity to speak with Jonah as well as Stephen Garrett, one of the graduate students on the MassMobile development team, and dancer Adam Weinert, who can be seen in the sneak peek video at the end of this post.

    XY Coordinate

    Where did the idea to include the audience in the performance, through a mobile app, come from?

    Jonah - Well, in 2004 I made a work called RSVP, which planted 12 cellular devices in the audience. We used those devices and their ringtones to create the music for the piece. And that was engineered from offstage by the composer. But, when doing some initial research down here and planning this production called FILTER, I wanted to put forward the idea or the proposal that there could be interaction or intervention even, with the show.  And maybe Stephen can take it from here, but we spoke with Jason Freeman and the Ferst Center and this relationship started.

    Stephen – Yeah, and I think Jason’s idea, who is my advising professor on my master’s project, was to create a system that allowed for a rapid deployment of audience interaction devices through peoples’ mobile phones. So the idea came from Jason through some previous mobile development work and with several other projects, to create an iPhone and android application that will allow any type of input that the phones will allow. Whether that be an accelerometer, motion data, text messaging, touch data, drawing…anything that the phone will accept, to try and incorporate that into the performances in some way.

    What are some of the direct ways that the audience is affecting the performance through MassMobile? Does it affect the lighting or are there sound elements that change?

    Jonah - Well, one thing I just want to clarify is that this production will premier in it’s full form here in Atlanta on April 2nd. So we’ve had a six or seven day production period in Avignon France and we premiered the choreography, but MassMobile and these technological components have not yet been unveiled and actually this week we are holding a workshop with invited public to interact with it further.

    So in terms of how the audience affects the performance? We’ve identified four ways for potential interaction. In particular I wrote in one section of the performance which is very much open-ended and is a 9 minute section which can basically be reconfigured a bit.  Specifically the lighting is influenced. We worked closely with Aaron Copp, who is my lighting designer, to integrate that into the performance.

    Stephen – And certainly MassMobile itself, the way that the app can interact with a piece, is not set in stone. It’s a creative conversation that is always happening. But specifically for this piece, for one of the sections that involves interaction during the pre-show, the audience is quite literally plugged into the lighting board through their app.

    The actual technical details of the connection is that the mobile app is connected through a client server relationship to one of our servers here at Georgia Tech. Then there is a laptop that sits in the lighting booth that constantly pulls for information. Based on what items people have selected in the app, the laptop is connected directly to the lighting board and will instantly turn lights on and off. You can change color palettes and things like that pretty much instantly.

    Did you build MassMobile specifically for this performance or is this a platform that could be used for other performances/performers?

    Jonah – I would almost say that it is still in progress. But, you know, Aaron Copp and I have known each other since 1999 and have been building work together for a long time and often in our creative discussions we would say, “Is there some way to interface or interact?” As opposed to working with just video or with sound, lighting is so integral to these performances that MassMobile seems like a natural fit. I think that for light and choreography I am working in very particular ways. For larger applications of MassMobile I know there are many options.

    Stephen – So MassMobile itself is the platform and the app, and is still in pretty active development. Working with Jonah and his FILTER has been a great way to beta-test the app and see it grow to more of its current capacity. My professor Jason Freeman already had the plan to use the application in a live music notation work with saxophone where the audience could directly affect the notes that the performer is seeing onscreen. So there are other uses for MassMobile in the arts imaginable.

    Could you speak to the importance, for you, of having participation from the audience?

    Jonah – Well, I should say that my degree is not in choreography, it is in media and visual arts. For my thesis I focused on the myth of interactivity and focused on a lot of mid to late video work in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My sense was that there is a certain parallel between what we could call this myth with interactivity with video, but also with performance.  Just because it’s time based, it’s not necessarily interactive. This is one area of focus of mine in terms of creating performances.

    I guess the impulse to say that an audience could interact, is still pretty much in progress. So far, at least in this stage in the piece, we’ve only had pre-show interaction. It’s kind of an open question.

    I think some major conventions of theater are called into question, for example having the phones on during the show, the light of a cellular device on in the theatre. Some artists would consider this distracting, but in this case we are actually inviting it.  There are certainly questions of attention and attention span. We’re sort of walking into this project and saying that it is assumed that this will be unusually structured.

    So why create such an unconventional performance? Well really, the participation is a part of why we wanted to open this out. Because instead of really disrupting or undermining a performance, we wanted people to be able to engage and help the author.

    Stephen – The way we’ve enabled that interaction is a very direct and literal effect the audience can have with the lighting of different parts of the stage. [The pre-show] is an opportunity for people to come in and the curtain is open and they can see the initial set and it gives them a chance to explore. Our hope is that creates a deeper and more meaningful bong throughout the rest of the performance. That [the audience] has really explored the set and can experience it on a different level.

    In addition to the interaction between the viewer and the stage, do you think that this program will cause the audience to interact with each other?

    Jonah Bokaer (left) and Stephen Garrett (right) do a run-through of MassMobile

    Jonah – The way that we piloted MassMobile was to have six mobile devices distributed internally to members of the creative team, producers and close colleagues over the course of a few days. I did note, on a couple of occasions, the social interactions that would occur person to person. Maybe Stephen would like to address any interactivity within the platform itself.

    Stephen – We did see people that were using the app that were sitting next to each other sort of communicating in person and coordinating their efforts, but at this moment that’s not something we’re doing. [Interactivity within the platform] is something we are looking at in the future of MassMobile. More specifically looking at how do we enable or make sure that people have their own voice in their interactions with the performance.

    From a performer’s perspective, what is it like working with something like MassMobile?

    Adam – From a performer’s perspective, I think what excites me most about this kind of initiative is that as a performer we’re always looking for new ways to engage the audience and make each articulation of the performance event unique and special and fresh. I think that MassMobile can be a unique way to do that.

    The other thing I really appreciate is how we’re using this mobile technology and multimedia to make more personal the performance. Which I think is rare and hard to accomplish.

    If you live in the Atlanta area I highly recommend heading over to the Ferst Center for the premiere of FILTER on April 2nd. You can find more information about performance times and tickets at the Ferst Center's main website here. Until then, he is a sneak peak of dancer Adam Weinert and MassMobile.

    MassMobile App Sneak Peak from Ferst Center on Vimeo.

    Museum crowd-curation and the way we live now

    Split Second

    Should more museums follow the Brooklyn Museum’s lead?

    Recently, I helped curate Split-Second: Indian Paintings, a show for the Brooklyn Museum.  To do so, I simply visited their website and participated in an online activity.  It took me about ten minutes, and it involved briefly looking at images, clicking on those paintings that I found most intriguing and rating other paintings on a sliding scale.

    My participation in this process got me thinking not only about Indian art, but also about how my own perceptions of art in general might be shaped, and how my aesthetic tastes might compare to the sensibilities of the general public.  Even more interesting to me was that this experiment in crowd-curation felt like the inevitable extension of the movement towards a more participatory culture.

    What is it?

    Museum crowd-curation enables the general public to become a part of the curatorial process by helping to determine, through an online platform, the artwork to be included in a physical exhibition displayed in a museum’s gallery.

    The Brooklyn Museum pioneered crowd-curation three years ago with its photography exhibition Click! . First launched through an open call for artists to submit photos related to the theme of “The Changing Faces of Brooklyn”, the artwork was then made available online for anyone to curate.   Perhaps most interestingly, the Brooklyn Museum staff took a transparent and scientific approach to the experiment, publicly sharing data and thoughtful analysis every step of the way.  Check out Brad's Technology in the Arts podcast with Shelley Bernstein from 2008 to learn more about Click!

    Selection of photographs from Click! by the Brooklyn Museum
    Selection of photographs from Click! by the Brooklyn Museum

    Now, Bernstein and the folks at the Brooklyn Museum are offering a new spin on crowd-curation by injecting theories of connoisseurship to Split-Second: Indian Paintings. Based on ideas from the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Split-Second seeks to explore how our first impressions might affect our perceptions of art as well as the production of a museum exhibition.  In the end, we’re left with an engaging viewer/curator experience that subtly mixes the professional with the amateur.

    Why is crowd-curation so intriguing?

    Increasingly, we are becoming a culture of curators, especially in the virtual world.  We spend our time organizing media according to preference, grouping our memories into online photo and video databanks, and “liking” and commenting on things that other people share.  What this means is that arts audiences are coming to the gallery with a newly emboldened sense of organizing and presenting content.  Arts organizations therefore need to play an active role by creating opportunities for meaningful engagement.

    Screen shot of Split-Second's crowd-curation process by the Brooklyn Museum
    Screen shot of Split-Second's crowd-curation process by the Brooklyn Museum

    Organizations that are at the forefront of online audience engagement are presenting ideas that go beyond simply offering information about programming.  Instead, they are experimenting with different ways that audiences can become co-creators of content, which can then lead to a sense of ownership in the institution.  But crowd-curation should not be simply a matter of presenting art works and having a voting contest in the sense of American Idol.  Rather, arts managers need to envision a place of meaningful dialogue between their organization and their audience.

    Crowd-curation is exciting because it is a clear illustration of the changing dynamics of the audience/museum relationship.  It takes creative online participation and literally translates the collective online vision into physical space.  Along the way, it can stimulate creative thinking by:

    • Getting the participant/curator to think about her own internal perceptions of art, and perhaps inspire her to dig even deeper through self-reflection. What struck me most in my experience as a curator of Split-Second was how successful the exercise was in getting me to think about not only the art in the show but also my own understanding of visual culture.
    • Creating discussion, based upon the collective decisions of the audience, about big-picture questions, like: How is artistic value determined? Is general consensus achievable in determining artist merit?

    By putting the internal and collective processes together, crowd-curation has the potential to achieve multiple levels of meaningful contemplation.  Of course, arts managers may feel like they are taking a significant risk.  They may fear that the artistic content chosen by the masses will not constitute a “quality” exhibition in the traditional sense.  And, perhaps worse, if crowd-curation IS able to produce a quality exhibition, then what is the point of having all of these professionals around?  However, as sites like Wikipedia or perhaps the “comments” section of any website have shown, opening up the production of content to crowds is precisely the time when professional, articulate viewpoints are needed most.

    This is not to argue that crowd-curation methods should or will replace traditional curatorial models.  In fact, it doesn’t make sense for all art museums to try it (based on a number of factors such as the nature of the audience, resources available, the nature of the exhibit, etc.)  Even so, crowd-curation is an innovative approach to breaking down the barriers between art museum and audience, and it’s a fascinating reflection of the way we live now.

    Opera by You: How to crowdsource a production

    By this point we’ve all heard about crowdsourcing. It's a way to outsource a project and let a large group of people create it online. (See video at the end of the post for a fuller explanation, complete with animated fish.) We’ve heard about crowdsourcing logo designs, requests for proposals (RFP's) or even determining which paintings to show in an exhibition. But how about an full-length opera? Well, one company is crazy enough to try it.

    The Savonlinna Festival in Finland has been developing an opera through the collaboration platform wreckamovie since 2010. The Opera by You initiative has been developed in five phases, some of which overlap. First, the crowd collaborated on a plot and name for the opera in July 2010. They decided on the title Free Will and the following plot, as described by Paivi Salmi, Project Manager of Opera by You:

    God has had enough of all the misery that people are suffering from and calls a meeting with the angels. They decide to send a few dead geniuses back to Earth to make things better. They are supposed to make a huge difference in science and art and create world peace. The geniuses are Joan of Arc, Oscar Wilde and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

    Second, writers began work on the libretto (or script) to the opera. The process is halfway completed and is set to be done in May. Third, the composers in the group began setting the words to music in September. Fourth, the project coordinators launched the visualization plan. Salmi described the process.

    Visualization means to us creating the concept of “environment” on the stage: the era of the opera, stage sets, wardrobe, lightning etc. We have decided together with the community that the story of Free Will will take place in our modern time and now we proceed on deciding how the different scenes look like visually.

    Visualizations of Hell from Opera by You
    Visualizations of Hell in the year 2012 from Opera by You

    The libretto, composing and visualization plans are set to be ready at the end of May 2011. In the last phase, the whole concept will be moved to the hands of the Savonlinna Opera Festival for production, and that is where the crowdsourcing will end when it comes to the live opera production. The opera will be produced during Savonlinna’s 2012 summer festival season. The crowdsourcing will continue in that the existing community within the wreckamovie platform will work with the current plot, creating an animated movie version of the live opera. To see the opera creation in action, visit

    Paivi Salmi manages the web community creation process as well as the marketing and community partnership initiatives. I caught up with Salmi and asked her about the collaborative process of crowdsourcing the opera.

    How did this idea originally come about? The Savonlinna Opera Festival has been frontrunner in developing opera genre in Finland. We have had several projects for instance for creating operas for kids. This spring we will again launch this kind of project where kids create opera as part of their normal school work. The Savonlinna Opera Festival has had several Finnish world premieres with quite unusual productions. We are actively searching new ways of reaching new audiences for the opera and also new ways of creating the opera. So in the spirit of “Web 2.0,” we decided to try the collaborative product development or crowdsourcing in the web also in the field of the opera.

    How did you choose wreckamovie as the platform to create the opera? The wreckamovie platform provides the basic tools for collaborative discussion and working. It is also well-known in the Europe at least and already has lots of members interested in collaborative working on the web. We also plan to create an animated movie about the plot of our opera and for that second phase of the project, wreckamovie will the best available tool.

    With so many people collaborating on one project, how do you select the best ideas? How do you deal with differing opinions on the direction the project should take? We have five operatives in the team who are experienced opera creation professionals (a script writer, a stage director, a composer, a production specialist and a visualization expert) who will guide the creative process in the web. Their task is to select best ideas, give the "developing” tasks for the community.

    Opera by You Community Members by Country
    Opera by You Community Members by Country.

    Who are the people collaborating on the project? Do you know the make-up as far as country, age, and profession? Do most have an artistic background and collaborate on areas of the project they specialize in? When it comes to age, they are average 35 years old, mostly motivated by composing and visualizing. We don't collect any information about their profession or education, so we do not know if they already are professionals in the field of opera or classical music.

    How do you plan to distribute the opera once it is produced at the festival in 2012? Will the footage be available online, recorded or streaming? The opera will be performed 3 times during summer 2012 in the Savonlinna Opera Festival. If some opera house is interested in the project, we will naturally export the production. We plan to make footage available and also animated movie which will be distributed online. The project was launched at the Opera America annual meeting in L.A. last June.

    How are you addressing intellectual property issues for the contributors to the project? Every member has to sign user agreement and accept Wreckamovies terms of use where the member gives all rights to the project. So there will be no intellectual property issues.

    What has been the response from the online community and the opera community at large? The community has been growing steadily, but only certain members are active in all "production lines". It goes so that some are writers, some others composers and some only interested in the visualization part. But mainly people are very excited and willing to work "for free". We also want make it easy to just anyone without any classical music or opera experience to participate to the collaborative work. We have reached a very good visibility to our project in the internet. For instance in the launch phase of the project there were lots of articles in online media for instance in Latin America, India and Europe. The larger opera community has been very interested and curious. We have been asked to present the project in several conferences and seminars. People are also very interested in the process itself--how has it been ”structured” etc. within opera community but also in the larger community of art, theatre and even social media.

    Here's a more detailed answer to the question "What is crowdsourcing?"

    Social Media Spotlight: The Guggenheim and YouTube Play

    Welcome to the third installment of the Social Media Spotlight, our monthly feature focusing on arts organizations’ social media strategies.

    This month’s spotlight is the Guggenheim Museum’s strategy with YouTube Play, the recently debuted biennial celebrating creative talent in the realm of online video. The response leading up to Youtube play was massive, with over 23,000 video submissions and over 46,000 subscribers to the YouTube Play channel. The channel, to date, has been viewed over 23 million times. 25 videos were selected by an esteemed jury and celebrated on October 21st with an event at the Guggenheim in New York that was live streamed worldwide.

    I recently had a chance to chat with Associate Curator Hanne Mugaas about YouTube Play:

    Where did the idea originate for the Guggenheim to team up with a social media site like YouTube?

    The Guggenheim had already collaborated with Google on Design It: A Shelter Competition, where on the occasion of the exhibitions Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward and Learning By Doing, the Guggenheim and Google SketchUp invited amateur and professional designers from around the world to submit a 3-D shelter for any location in the world using Google SketchUp and Google Earth. Ideas for new collaborations originated from this project, and a celebration of online video became the next step.

    Instead of using their existing YouTube channel, the Guggenheim decided to create an entirely new channel for YouTube Play. What drove that decision? Did it have a positive effect on your original channel?

    Since the project is a collaboration between YouTube and the Guggenheim, we wanted a channel for Play content exclusively. The fact that it is a biennial (the project will continue every second year) is another reason why we wanted a separate platform. The project has certainly had a positive effect on the Guggenheim YouTube channel, and it has made it possible for us to reach new audiences.

    Since its creation last May, the YouTube Play channel has gained over 46,000 subscribers. How did the Guggenheim cultivate such a large number of fans?

    The project is unique in its global scope, which has generated extensive interest. We got 23,358 submissions, which is unheard of in a traditional art context. The pairing of YouTube and Guggenheim made people curious about the outcome. Most importantly, the shortlist and the top 25 videos have a diverse range of high quality works; videos that make you want to spend time on and revisit the channel.

    In addition to YouTube, the Guggenheim also has a major presence on other social networks and social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, & Flickr. What roles did these other sites play in your social media strategy with YouTube Play? Did the fact that YouTube Play culminated with a specific event affect your overall social media strategy?

    The social media sites were important in getting the word out, and to drive submissions. We also started a blog, The Take, which contextualizes the project through writing by art, film, and Internet experts. We did frequent YouTube Play updates on Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed about the progression of the project. These were certainly important tools for the event, especially to make people aware of the live stream, and the external projections on the Guggenheim building in New York.

    Speaking of events, the Guggenheim took full advantage of YouTube's new streaming service to live stream the YouTube Play event from the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  How was your experience with streaming video?

    The live stream was a very important element given the global scope of the biennial; this way, anyone anywhere could watch the event live. It was a successful experience for us, and the feedback has been very good.

    What advice would you give to other, smaller arts organizations that want to experiment with live streaming their own events?

    Streaming video is a great way to make your content available to a global audience, either it’s an event, a panel or a talk. To watch a live stream is special, and as a cultural producer, it is a great asset to know that people around the globe are watching.

    Thanks again to Hanne Mugaas and the Guggenheim Museum. Visit the YouTube Play channel to check out the 25 selected videos from the exhibition and view selected clips from the live streamed event.

    Is your organization doing exciting work in social media? Leave us a comment and let us know. We may feature you in an upcoming spotlight!

    Four free online tools you should know about

    Roving arts management reporter, reporting for duty! I’m taking a brief break from my summer gig at Wolf Trap Opera Company to resume my TitA duties and re-cap the delights of the Opera America Conference this week in Los Angeles. Conferences are great places to exchange ideas. I always come away with a list of things to check out. Here are a few great free tools on my list:

    •—Simple online file sharing. Can be used instead of a share drive, OR as a way to upload your season brochure for easy patron download.
    • social PR platform—Make fuss-free digital press releases with easy links to multimedia. No coding, no WYSIWYG editor screwing up what would otherwise be a reasonable task.
    • Does a slogan like “serious analytics for social relationships” take the fun out of Twitter? No way! Track your impact through hard data, not just anecdotal evidence.
    • polls that audience members can answer via SMS text messages, Twitter, or the web. Some great advanced features for a little extra money, too!

    [And I won’t assume you don’t know about If you’re not offering people who check in (or your “mayors”) something cool, look into it.]

    And I must mention one that is not free (but cheap): is ideal for setting up campaigns, coupons, and sweepstakes. Great way to capture data on your patrons.

    Also, this is pretty sexy:

    Look for conference interviews by yours truly coming up on future Technology in the Arts podcasts!

    Thanks to Ceci Dadisman and Palm Beach Opera for many of these sites!

    The Future of Arts Journalism is Here... Maybe

    Worried about your local arts critics being cut? How about the impending demise of your local paper? Don’t worry; the future is here! Last week the USC Annenberg School for Communication announced five projects that will present at The National Summit on Arts Journalism. The School put out an open call for projects that represent the future of arts journalism. The five winning projects will be announced at the conference on October 2 and another five made the cut to present:

    • Sophie: A new authoring tool for multimedia developed by the Institute for Multimedia Literacy that suggests new possibilities for presenting critical response.
    • The Indianapolis Museum of Art: With its Art Babble and Dashboard, the IMA is an example of a cultural institution extending its reach into areas that have traditionally been the province of journalism.
    • An example of an aggregator attempting to gather up everything about an art form (in this case classical music) and making it accessible in one place.
    • NPR Music: An example of a traditional big media company that is reinventing itself across platforms. NPR Music blurs the lines between journalism, curation, presenting and producing.
    • Gazette Communications, Cedar Rapids Iowa: An example of a local media company trying to reinvent the idea of what it considers news and how it might be gathered and presented to a local community.

    I, for one, find it incredibly encouraging that journalists are finding new paths to write about the arts in the face of the layoffs and budget cuts. As the newspaper industry struggles, the first cost-cutting measures always seem to involve pulling more things from the wire and less local reporting.  Many of us in the arts industry have felt the burn from the epidemic of local arts critic firings from major papers, or conversion to a part-time or freelance status. In turn, people find it less satisfying to read the paper as these local writers are cut and circulation decreases further as more people choose to go online to read wire reporting rather than pay for it in paper form. In an effort to save themselves, it seems as though the papers are cutting the very thing that makes them a viable business model.

    So how does this decrease in arts journalism affect your local arts organizations? Arts orgs lose out in two major ways: 1) One of their advertising mainstays becomes less effective as less potential performance /exhibit-goers see the orgs' ad in print and 2) as more critics are cut from newspaper payrolls, coverage of arts events is decreased. Since reviews and articles are typically a great revenue generator, arts orgs find themselves hurting for objective reporting and distribution that their own blog doesn’t quite cover. But through the Summit, the search is on for the new model of profitability in this brave new paperless, everything-free-and-now world.

    However, the Summit is tellingly vague on what that could mean. Especially interesting was the note about viable business models on the USC site:

    "We had noted on the submission form that we were interested in viable business models. Admittedly, the definition of what constitutes a business model these days is unclear. Strictly speaking, an operation that relies on donated labor and sweat equity has yet to find a sustainable business model. A project that relies solely on philanthropic contributions also has no business model in a strict sense. What we're looking for, therefore, is not so much a commercial business plan but some indications of long-term operational viability."

    I’d like to echo that question above-- what is a viable business model anymore? The situation with newspapers has gotten so desperate, some are saying non-profit status is the way to go.  But companies like Facebook are relying more on “ownership” of the social media market to determine their company’s value, rather than real revenue.  So what hope does that leave these start-ups? Can they hope to go national, or international? It seems like a near-impossible task to take “ownership” of the information of thousands of arts organizations. Unlike many other forms of journalism, arts journalism seems confined to being primarily local, because of the limitations of a performance or an exhibit. To report on a play, the writer has to be at a theatre at a specific time. There’s not really a good way to get around that. Because of this, many of the projects are confined to a specific city or state. The national sites face the additional problem of collecting these local voices into one comprehensive site (InstantEncore seems to do an impressive job with this).

    No matter which sector of the arts you work in, this is definitely an area to keep an eye on. On October 2, you can stream a satellite summit live and participate via text or Twitter if you contact or register here.