Art Meets Tech

Making Impactful Digital Maps: Is Mapme the Tool for You?

We often think of maps as simple tools that help guide us to where we are going, but what if you could develop a highly-engaging map that tells a story about who your organization is, the work it does, and the impact it has?  Mapme is a map-building platform that encourages users to do just that.

Let's Talk About Tumblr

Tumblr has not been discussed here in over a year, which I believe to be an egregious error. Since it’s undergone some significant changes since our last post, let’s revisit this microblogging platform (which is one of my personal faves). Our original post covered the basics of Tumblr, so if you haven’t checked it out, maybe that’s a good way to get up to speed.

This article is part one of a three part series about Tumblr for arts organizations. The second part can be found here, and the third part will be posted April 27, 2012.

Tumblr was launched in 2007 and is very popular amoung Millennials. Half of users are under the age of 25, and about 20% are in the 25-34 range. The average user spends over two hours on the site per visit and as of 9:00 EST this very morning Tumblr had 19.7 billion posts from 49 million blogs.

Tumblr has some features that are new or a bit different since our last post, including:

The new posting Dashboard - Image via Tumblr.com

Revamped Messaging System A slew of spam messages last year caused the website to reconsider how users message one another. The main communication issue still remains (inability to have a real discussion), users can only post short replies to posts with questions or if the users have the “reply” option enabled. Messages are limited to a certain number of characters and cannot contain links.

Fan Mail The new messaging system does contain a “Fan Mail” feature, which is exactly what it sounds like. Users can customize the appearance of short messages to their favorite blogs who have this function enabled.

Tumblr Fan Mail - Image via Tumblr.com

Share on Tumblr Like Pinterest, Tumblr has a bookmark button that allows users to grab content from anywhere on the web and share it on their Tumblr.

Mass Edit Tumblr has a mass post edit feature! Now you can easily select posts, delete them, and alter their tags.

There are still some challenges when it comes to Tumblr:

Bye bye Directory The Directory was an aggregation of Tumblr’s top blogs, organized by category. With its disappearance, Tumblr has become even more of a clique – it's hard to find Tumblr blogs unless you already know where to find them. Tumblr still recommends blogs that would be relevant to your interests on your Dashboard, but since you have to have a Tumblr and follow enough blogs for them to know what you like and make a recommendation… It’s a little bit Catch-22.

Success Metrics There’s still the challenge of measuring the impact of your posts. Tumblr has made it easy for you to install Google Analytics to your blog, but offers no internal solutions. (It is still awesome to have a post blow up and go viral though).

Overall, Tumblr is still an interesting blogging platform, with a lot of opportunities for arts organizations to connect with a young demographic. The first week of April will feature the second part of this series: a Mini-Nar on creating your own Tumblr. We’ll also talk about some best practices, including how to fully utilize a GPOY, interacting with your community, and the importance of GIFs. Get hype! Go enjoy your weekend! Don’t burn yourself with that new iPad!

The Royal Opera's The Show Must Go On, Reviewed

The Royal Opera has ventured into app development.  The Show Must Go On

has the player assuming the role of a stage manager at a variety of different productions.  The degree to which the player succeeds or fails at a series of mini games effects the show itself at the end of the scenario.  This game was play tested on a IPad 1 for this review. Fun:  (4 out of 5 stars) The game plays well.  The characters are charmingly rendered and are well suited to the genre of performing arts that they represent.  The music of the show in question plays on cheerfully in the background and was a highlight.  There was a good sense of immediacy in the constituent games within each production and as such the overall sense of timing was well designed.  The strategies involved in game play were pretty linear and as such may be better suited for a younger audience.

Playability:  (4.5 out of 5 stars) The game is quick to learn and master.  The constituent games are well suited to the touch interface.  Each module within a show has enough different about it to keep most people engaged for hours.

Depth:  (2.5 out of 5 stars)  The app and the four shows yielded about six and a half hours of game play.  The player has to unlock each show in order and can play individual modules in the score attack mode.   For an adult player the replay factor is limited after the four show scenarios replay is probably quite a bit better for a younger audience.

Value: (4.5 out of 5 stars) For the price of $.99 this feels like a bargain.

Overall: (4 out of 5 stars) There are a lot of good things going for The Show Must Go On.  This app is a fun and easy introduction to four famous shows.  The music that plays with the game is lovely, even when played through iPad speakers.  I highly recommend checking this app out for killing time during holiday travel, it worked well for me.

Product Review: Choral Management Software

Since the ChorusAmerica conference is coming up this week, I have been looking into the growing field of choral management software. I began with the question of why choruses would invest in discipline-specific software instead of a more general tool.  In conversations with creators of three relatively new tools (Choral Management Package, Groupanizer, and Museminder), it became apparent that choruses have some very specific needs that more general management software isn't addressing well -- needs such as managing repertoire, tracking attendance, sharing calendars, and maintaining a performance history.

The tools in this article have a wide variety of features, capabilities, and pricing structures. Each has the potential to save you time, ease communication, and prevent duplicate work. I encourage you to try the demos and videos to see if a program is a good fit for your chorus.

And, as always, let us know about your own experiences. Are you using a choral management program?  Do you have a favorite piece of software that isn't listed here?

Choral Management Package (CMP)

In 2004, Filemaker7 invited the public to enter their innovative software solutions into a contest. In response, Ray Fahrner reworked a system he had built for his own choir into a package that could be useful to a wide range of choruses. He didn't win the contest, but his changes and the feedback he got from testers and reviewers led to the release of the Choral Management Package (CMP) in 2005.

CMP has a mix of choral-specific features -- such as a music library and event history -- along with capabilities to track financial transactions and to manage contacts. While the tool is designed to help any director, Fahrner noted that it is most helpful to the busiest directors and to directors who manage multiple choruses.

Fahrner emphasized that CMP is a true "package" -- a self-contained, downloadable program that you install on your desktop. During a transition to a new computer, the entire database can be burned onto a CD and installed on the new machine.

The Choral Management Package is available to download for a one-time fee, which includes 30 minutes of tech support or customization. A free demo is available via the CMP website.

Groupanizer

Groupanizer, the newest of these three, hit the market in early 2009. Tom Metzger created the software with communication foremost in his mind. He describes Groupanizer as a "private social network for choruses." Leaders can update calendars and send emails, and chorus members can update their learning progress and access shared files such as member handbooks or policies.

Metzger explained that the more members a chorus has, the more the group will benefit from automation. Smaller groups can benefit as well, but they often have fewer resources for technology -- a primary driver behind Groupanizer's tiered pricing based on group size.

Metzger is working on an update that allows members with certain "roles" to connect to tailored job descriptions and timelines. He also has plans to release versions in German, Finnish, and Swedish in the near future.

Groupanizer's monthly fee depends on the size of your chorus. A 30-day trial is available online.

Museminder

Margaret Cribbs originally created Museminder as a dance studio management program. In 2007, seeing the technology needs her own chorus faced, she began tailoring the system to handle choral management as well.

In reworking the program for choruses, one of Cribbs' main projects was to create a music library. This library allows you to search for pieces using information such as composer, arrangement, language, or number of copies. Other features of the original studio management software are of particular benefit to choruses as well -- including personalized calendars, integrated email, attendance tracking, and an array of reports. The event management component allows touring choirs to manage their tour rehearsals, performances, and promotional events all in one place.

Cribbs explained that mid- to large-sized choruses would benefit most from her software, as would choruses that need to track a substantial number of financial transactions.

Cribbs is working on an update that links the music library to the event component, which will give users historical information such as when a piece was last performed.

Information about Museminder's monthly fee is available on the FAQ page. The online users guide contains videos and screenshots of the program.

Product Review: Online Submission Tools for Music, Video, Visual Art, and Writing

Now that websites and email addresses are as ubiquitous as mailing addresses and phone numbers, organizations that accept submissions have a new way of receiving work from artists.  Many find that receiving submissions via email can be overwhelming, and coordinating review of pieces among judges or editors can result in a lot of cluttered in-boxes and overlooked submissions.  Getting a panel together to review portfolios for a competition may be costly, and relying on the numerous moving parts and unforeseen expenses adds a level of complication that could be unnecessary. Fortunately, there are a number of products that have been developed over the past few years that are designed specifically for everything from publishers to film festivals.  These online tools enable organizations to receive submissions and have a review process that cuts out the need for endless emails or envelopes of slides or manuscripts.

All of the products below have a central place online where submissions are uploaded by applicants and stored for review, annotation, comments, and more by administrators or jurors. They each excel in different mediums, and have a variety of costs associated with them.

Submishmash

Developed by a writer, this free program was intended to enable small journals and publications to accept and review submissions in a more streamlined and organized manner.  Slightly customizable to link from and match your website, this submission tool offers unexpected flexibility and enables publishers to accept payment (submission fees, etc.) electronically with the submission.  Developers of submishmash have extended the scope of downloads to include photos, music, and additional types of media.  Submishmash streamlines the review process, allowing editors to communicate with one another, make notes on what stage of the process they are in, and enable the authors of work to check in on their submissions to see what stage of the review process they're in.  Files are downloaded to editor's computer for review.  Quick list of notable features:

  • Handles word documents (automatically converts to PDF when reviewers download), images, and audio files
  • Ability to email form and personal letters to author and editors with one click
  • Ability to fund contests and publications by charging submission fees without setting up a PayPal account
  • Streamline the editing process and eliminating the messiness and confusion of email submission acceptance by putting all work in one place for review
  • Allows authors to submit word documents which are automatically converted into PDF for review
  • Publisher can run multiple competitions and calls for submissions simultaneously
  • Free to use (if you do end up charging for submissions, a small percentage of that is taken by developers)

Submishmash developers are working on more customizable and advanced versions that will be available for purchase, but plans to keep the current version free.

CueRate*

*CueRate is a product of the Center for Arts Management and Technology, home of this blog.

CueRate is an extremely flexible and powerful tool for arts organizations of all types.  Designed especially for organizations "where artists or students apply for scholarships, fellowships, awards or grants," CueRate enables submissions of images, video, audio, or text, and can handle multiple file uploads at one time.  Embeddable in your website, it allows artists to submit a resume and artistic statement in addition to their artwork.  Files can be reviewed within the application itself, preventing panelists from having to download items onto their computers.  Designed to assist large juried competitions with accepting and reviewing submissions from around the world, CueRate has a variety of capabilities that can be implemented both remotely and onsite.CueRate as used by Aaron Siskind Foundation

  • Designed to accept written, video, audio, and image files
  • Submissions do not need to be downloaded onto your computer, but can be reviewed in the browser
  • Artist statements, resume, and responses to particular questions can be answered and included with submissions
  • Customizable to match your website
  • Tech support
  • Variable expense based on your organization's needs
  • Panelists can review from remote locations or adjucation can be moderated in one location with panelists scoring individually but experiencing work at once
  • Customize your rating system
  • Score entries in a manner that can be converted into excel, pdf, and online files

Entrythingy

Offering a free trial, entrythingy is geared toward galleries and festivals that accept only submissions of images.  Structured similarly to CueRate, Entrythingy has many of the same features, and the cost to an organization depends entirely on the volume of submissions received.  The website for Entrythingy offers many videos to step interested organizations through the process of using the product.Entrythingy juror view

  • Handles image files
  • Entries can be judged online or by jurors downloading work to their computers
  • Accepted entries can be shown in an online gallery using embeddable code
  • Entrythingy pricing is based on the volume of submissions received, entrant emails sent, length of time artwork is stored on the site, and gallery sales made using the gallery widget
  • Organization can hold and accept entries for multiple competitions simultaneously
  • Good do-it-yourself information online with videos and screen shots to help organizations learn functionality

Slideroom

Like CueRate, Slideroom has proven ideal for organizations and institutions that accept submissions of portfolios of visual work.  Used most widely by colleges and universities, reviewers can make comments on images and share these comments with others who are viewing the submissions.  From a juror's standpoint, the online layout is snazzy and sharp, and access can be customized across users.  Slideroom also allows administrators to generate reports in Excel and PDF.Slideroom Juror View

  • Handles image files
  • Online help and support
  • Attractive layout and design
  • Pricing plan based on plan level and can be a monthly or annual fee
  • Applicants see a very clean and simple layout
  • Applicants can upload text files to include statement and resume
  • Standardized rating system where jurors can rate pieces and portfolios

Now available: Virtual Gallery Software Review!

Virtual Gallery ReviewTechnology in the Arts just released a publication reviewing virtual gallery software for artists and arts organizations interested in creating 3D virtual exhibitions. Access the PDF publication here. The publication reviews three online gallery systems: Virtual Gallerie,  Image Armada, and Scenecaster / 3D Scene.  Which one is best for your organization? Check out the publication to find out which virtual gallery software meets your needs.

This research was initiated by the CUE Art Foundation, which sought to find an existing software system that will allow artists to create and display virtual exhibitions easily.

Yelp about Yelp

We've all heard the cliche, "Everyone's a critic," but Yelp puts that into practice. Yelp is a Web site whose content is driven by real people giving their own reviews on what's available in their cities: restaurants, stores, hotels, and (here's where it gets interesting) arts and entertainment. Anyone can sign up to be a Yelper.  Then, on with the griping or the applauding or the mehing. With lots of traffic headed Yelp's way (almost 4 million people visited Yelp in April 2007, according to their site), suddenly the collective opinions of the average Joes out there become quite powerful.

Has your organization been Yelped?

I first heard about Yelp while I was at the 2007 NAMP conference in beautiful Miami. The speaker mentioned that he had heard of some businesses who, after receiving negative Yelps, had posted signs declaring "No Yelpers Allowed!"

What a terrible thing to do! It would have been so much better to hang a sign, "Yelpers welcome. Please let us know if we can help you in any way during your visit. Enjoy!"

In fact, Yelp itself offers a guide for business owners that provides great advice on how to handle your organization's image on Yelp. Their list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" is educational and extremely helpful. There is also information about other services that are available to enhance your listing and visibility, but these probably cost a little bit of lolly and don't really seem necessary to effectively promote your company.

So, check it out, see if you've been Yelped, and maybe get involved. Heck, maybe even hang a "Yelpers Welcome" sign or have a "Yelpers Night." And keep an eye open. This type of community reviewing is going to become more and more popular since it aggregates honest (we hope) and open communication from a variety of viewpoints rather than a those of a lone critic.

http://www.yelp.com/