New Zealand: National Digital Forum and 5th Culturemondo Roundtable

Heading off the 11,000+ miles to New Zealand to give the keynote for what looks set to be a fantastic National Digital Forum. Really looking forward to meeting the other speakers and to meeting some of the people who are behind New Zealand’s great digital offer.

The conference runs for two days and then I am chairing the 5th Culturemondo roundtable at which we will publish the latest Culturemondo report “5 years on – where are we headed?”, the recent international survey and ask “What are the trends, issues and future directions suggested by the survey?”

The roundtbable will also include a workshop by Seb Chan on web metrics and evalaution asking “How do we measure the economic and social value of cultural websites? This will raise issues of metrics, evaluation etc.

Thanks to TELDAP, NZLive.com and Te Ara for their continued support.

Overview of my keynote:
From Portal to Publisher: A case study of online cultural publishing
It was May 1999 when the 24 Hour Museum went live, one of the first generation of publicly funded cultural „portals‟.
Since then, the digital world has seen many big changes. The online world is radically different, the economic and political climate has fundamentally shifted and online user behaviour is unrecognisable from ten years ago.
Renamed „Culture24‟ in 2008 to reflect a developing remit and reach, the UK-based organisation behind 24 Hour Museum now publishes a family of sites targeted at different audiences. They are also developing a range of strategic data services that reach out beyond their own web pages to other platforms and publishers.

In this session, Director Jane Finnis will tell the story of their journey – the successes, failures and ongoing challenges. She will talk about the wider digital cultural climate in the UK and her thoughts on the challenges of working across different government departments and sectors. She will explain how Culture24 seek to connect users to online culture, how they support search and browse and how they are trying to build audience trust in their brand and share a behind-the-scenes look at their technical infrastructure and data sharing work.
Jane‟s presentation will reference the newly launched Culture24 site http://www.culture24.org.uk, their award winning children‟s zone http://www.show.me.uk and Caboodle – a playground for kids to share and explore collecting http://www.caboodle.org.uk

Take homes from two Culture24 workshops – Social Media, Web Metrics, Evaluation by Seb Chan

Just finished a full-on week with Seb Chan from Powerhouse, delivering this years ever popular and inspiring workshops – the first on Social Media and the second on Web Metrics and evaluation.

Under Seb’s guidance, Powerhouse Museum has been consistency leading internationally on how museums can use digital tools to further engage and reach audiences. This fact, combined with Seb’s own passion for the subject and his ability to dissect, confront and interpret his own digital, made this years workshops better that ever.

Take homes for me from both were:

Tuesday 3rd November – Social Media

1. Start with what are you trying to achieve and who is it for. Sounds obvious but its harder than you think.
2. You have to know who your audience are to reach them (the more segmentation the better).
3. Your content is your marketing. If your messages are not your actual stuff, your stories, your views, the stuff that makes you who you are, then its just noise.
4. Your social media channels need curating just like your exhibitions (all the time).
5. You need to monitor what is happening in our social media channels – what are people saying about you – and you need to respond to them.
6. Digital strategy needs to really be the responsibility of the whole museum team.
7. One museums misuse is another person’s valid interpretation.
8. Websites are not social spaces so don’t try and make your one. Take your stuff out into the existing social spaces where your target audience already are.

The day was held at CILIP in central London, great venue for courses and good catering with real hot food (very important). The mixture of people was really interesting, some museums, heritage, photography, arts – and individuals with responsibilities for marketing, curation, publishing, technical.

Living proof of the huge range of ways that organisations are dealing with digital strategy. There was a marked different from last years workshop and people seemed to be further developed in their thinking and understanding of the key issues. You can see this clearly in the fact that this year at least third of those attending were in the process of writing a digital strategy for their organisation, whereas last year, about the same number left the workshop having realised this was something that needed to do.

Wednesday 5th November – Web Metrics

This subject is a particular hobbyhorse of mine as I am so often amazed by how many digital projects have not even considered the basic questions of what are they trying to achieve and who is it for – without this how do you know what to evaluate to tell if it worked?

The big issue here I think is the fact that some projects are clearly commissioned because people think they have to ‘do’ something about digital – have a website, have a facebook page, put their collections online – whatever it might be.

Seb has done a great blog post on what he calls the “five rules of museum content” Worth a read and definitely worth interrogating your own work to see if you can answer the questions well or not.

Next meeting up Seb at the New Zealand National Digital Forum where we will do the Web Metrics workshop again as part of the 5th Culturemondo roundtable. Looking forward to seeing how the NZ museums/galleries/archives are coping with all this.

A further set of take homes from another participant – Bilkis Mosoddik at the Museum of London – can be found on her blog here.