Culture24 need a Research Manager

Do you have a background in research, love culture and the web and want to be part of an exciting new European project that Culture24 are leading? Is so, then here is the low down on a new exciting job based at our office in Brighton

Research Manager
Salary: £26k to £28k pro rata depending upon experience
Hours: part-time, 3 days or 22.5 hours per week, one year contract.

Culture24 is looking for a dynamic and experienced Research Manager to join our small, friendly team at our busy Brighton office. You will oversee a programme of research as part of a multi-partner international project promoting digital cultural content to tourists. You will also support an in-house project on tracking and measuring user engagement online and offline.

Culture24 is leading one of several work packages within the three-year ‘Europeana Awareness’ project. Our role is to establish new partnerships and distribution services to channel content from Europeana into existing, established mass-market tourism-facing services online.

The Research Manager role will encompass planning, project management, research, analysis and report production. You will be researching user needs across several project constituencies – tourists, public sector tourism bodies, commercial tourism publishers and non-commercial cultural data aggregators. You will also manage related research work being undertaken by partner organisations in Croatia, Ireland and Luxembourg.

In addition you will work with our senior management team to plan and implement an in-house project identifying, tracking and analysing a range of measures around user and partner engagement with Culture24’s products and services. There will also be opportunity to support the senior team in the delivery of multi-partner collaborative action research projects into user engagement with online cultural content.

Your skills and experience will include
– Excellent, proven research skills
– Excellent, proven project management skills
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
– The ability to work in a self-motivated, thorough way

More about Culture24 here

More about Europeana Awareness here

A full job description, person specification and application form is available for download here:

How to apply:
Download and fill in the application form and return it along with a covering letter telling us why you are the right person for this job to:

Sorry, no CV’s will be considered.

Deadline for receipt of application form and letter: 10am, Monday March 26th
Interviews will be held at Culture24 offices in Brighton on: Friday 30th March 2012 (subject to availability)

Portal pain and Wikipedia love

This post was orginally published on the mcg blog

Why is the European Commission still convinced that people want their online culture served up via a hideously named “one-stop-shop” portal?

Last Wednesday, instead of watching the new episode of Mad Men, I sat down to read the latest EU report (120 pages) and the first of its nine recommendations goes like this: “Develop, implement and promote an online access point and guide to ‘European culture’ for all cultural disciplines using a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach linking to the multitude of already existing offers, improving these where appropriate, enhanced by Web 2.0 and other functionalities …. “

Save us please! Isn’t it even an oxymoron to have one-stop-shop and web 2.0 in the same sentence?

Surely as user attention online gets ever more competitive, it is the services and sites which have a clear personality, voice, specialism, community of enthusiasts etc that will be the doorways people choose to explore their love of animation, design, archaeology, Folk Art or whatever?

It is a shame, as the report itself is actually pretty interesting and the wealth of stuff happening across almost all the European countries is staggering and most of it didn’t exist 5 years ago.

Let’s hope that others feel the same and through the application of some of the other more sensible recommendations like physical meetings and provision of training, we can get the message across that the web has moved on and so should the EU.

You can download the summary and recommendations here, or download the full report here (warning: it’s long!)

I also wanted to pick up on something on the MuseumNext ning recently that caught my eye “would funders ever accept that you’re spending their money on staff time editing Wikipedia rather than putting together a shiny new web presence which they can point at and be proud of? ”

For some time I’ve been playing with an idea to try and fundraise to do exactly this. Maybe it might be a great way to deal with the current Renaissance underspend?

I’m going to take the idea to the Wikimedia workshop at this years Museums and Web conference and am interested in talking to anyone else who would like to help me make it happen.

Thought for the week: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry S. Truman

Take homes from the National Digital Forum (NDF2009) in New Zealand

It was long way to New Zealand from Brighton, three planes, 28 hours and a lot of movies, but it was worth it. The people are friendly, the landscape breathtaking and the coffee is fantastic. Add to this the National Digital Forum itself and you have a recipe for a really fun, thought provoking and stimulating week.

above: Penny Carnaby (National Library) and John Garraway (NDF Chair)

Thanks to the British Council, I was sponsored to come over and invited to do a keynote on the afternoon of the NDF’s first day. The conference venue was in the truly wonderful Te Papa museum and I was one of three international speakers, the others being Daniel Incandela (Director of New Media, Indianapolis Museum of Art) and Nina Simon (Museum 2.0 blog).

above: Te Papa wall outside conference “Embrace the past. Prepare now to shape the future”

Daniel opened with a very witty account of the transformation he has overseen of the IMA’s online presence and production. In particular the great use of personalities, narratives and stories told using low cost video but with high production values). He comes from a background like myself of video production and I totally related to his insistence on voice, opinion, humour trumping over the technology.

Nina (a woman after my own heart) talked about audience, mostly from the point of view of the physical exhibition but the issues translate to the online world very easily. The spoke of the importance of framing the ‘right’ question as a way to draw people in to an idea. She also got the whole conference on its feet, sharing skills and seeking advise in the one-to-one, with the reward for a a successful skill swap of banging a huge gong hanging on the stage. See the visual evidence of my successful sharing here!

above: me and my big slides!

For my slot, I told the story of Culture24 over the last ten years, what we set out to do, what we actually did, what worked, what didn’t and what next. I also looked back on the duplication, lack of strategy, leadership and sustainability in UK digital cultural online. Ending with what I see as possibly the start of some real change in 2009 thanks to the following:

MLA digital principles published
Arts Council state digital opportunity as a key priority
National Museum directors speak out to say future for museums lies with Internet
MA conference, first year they have had a strand on ‘digital change’

You can see the slides of my talk, which are in two parts here: Part One / Part Two.

It seems from the Twitter back channel and the face to face chat that the stories were appreciated, which coming from such a highly skilled and digital literate group of people was a real compliment.

Also enjoyed hearing about the excellent stuff they are doing at the DigitalNZ (part of the National Digital Library). Their work with API’s, data aggregation and date sharing is really innovative for the cultrual sector and I for one an watching their space with interest.

Same applies to the stuff that Liam Wyatt from Wikimedia Australia is talking about concerning how to engage the GLAM sector more effectivly with Wikimedia. His recent blog posts on the low hanging fruit in this area are really interesting.

above: Liam Wyatt (Wittylama) and Phillipa Tocker

Finally, this has got to be the best badge ever ….

Thanks to the British Council, Te Ara, NZlive and the NDF committee for their support and for making the trip both possible and worth it.

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, 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, their award winning children‟s zone and Caboodle – a playground for kids to share and explore collecting

Two new Culture24 training events by Seb Chan

Following the sold-out success of last years event, Culture24 are pleased to welcome Seb Chan back to the UK for two dynamic sessions:

“Strategic social media for the cultural sector”

“Web analytics and measuring online success in a rapidly changing online landscape”


Strategic social media for the cultural sector
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 from 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
At: CILIP, 7 Ridgmount Street, London
Cost: £150 (inc lunch)

How does your museum engage with its audiences? Do you use social media to reach and engage with new audiences?
Understanding social media marketing is essential for museums in the 21st century. This workshop will show you how you can listen to and engage with audiences online, and consider some of the challenges involved in running effective campaigns.

What will you get from the day?
• Practical ideas about ways to make your digital collections more accessible
• An understanding of the changing nature of online publishing
• Evidence to argue for investment in online services within your organisation
• Ideas and strategies for building sustainable online audiences

For full details and how to book click here:

Web analytics and measuring online success in a rapidly changing online landscape
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 from 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM
At: Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Cost: £75

Explore the emerging landscape of metrics and measurement in the world of the social Web. The workshop will begin with an examination of the traditional measurement tools available on the Web, explaining their pros and cons, before looking specifically at the new suite of tools needed to discover ‘actionable insights’ for your social media projects.

What will you get from the day?
· Insights into current issues around online measurement
· Practical understanding of how to use and not to use existing measurement tools
· Ideas and strategies for developing more complex and effective results

For full details and how to book click here:

About the presenter:
Sebastian Chan leads the Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies department at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. His teams include the museum’s web unit, audio visual and photography, rights & permission and the photo library, the research library and Thinkspace, the Powerhouse’s digital media teaching laboratories. He is a researcher in several Australian Research Council Linkage projects researching social media, museums, and technology; and speaks internationally about the use of cutting edge technology in the cultural sector. He is on the international programme committees of Museums and the Web (USA), Digital Strategies for Heritage (Eu), the Horizon.Au New Media Consortium, and is an International Steering Committee member of Culturemondo, an international group of representatives of cultural portal strategists. Seb is also a member of the Australian Government’s Government 2.0 Taskforce examining ways of improving citizen engagement with government and opening access to public sector information

Report from 4th Culturemondo International Roundtable meeting in Taiwan

The theme which framed the conference was ‘how the old feeds the new’ – how cultural heritage, artefacts, collections, objects can shape and nurture meaning in our ever changing online world.

There were 37 participants from 21 countries who split pretty equally into three groups:
– those (like me) running what were in the past called cultural portals
– people from the asia/pacific region who are involved in online cultural projects of various different kinds (some portals, some networks, some new stuff)
– theorists, artists, researches and developers from varies strands of the commercial, academic and creative sectors.


It was my first meeting as the new Chair and also the first time that we have had the resources to document the proceeding (thanks to our Taiwanise host TELDAP) as well as serious plan to disseminat them over the coming months.

These events are always best for their sociable nature and the inspiration you find in new people with other practices. The group were all wonderfully creative people, who are at the top of their fields and I felt a real honour at being their chair and coordinator for three days.


What is a cultural portal? It used to be a simple set of links, a kind of directory within which to find information. This model is dead. Search engines have replaced this functionally in ways that are quicker, more sophisticated and free to the public purse. Portals (if the word is to remain) now need to be doorways into an online architecture that is a curated space – much as a real doorway leads you into a building with different rooms, levels and interiors. They need to be published and at their best should allow their data to be filterd by others for republication.

The first generation of cultural portals have now either evolved or died. Those that have survived and grown are faced with the new challenge of how to have their own voice. How to build an architecture that draws people in and lay down ‘desire lines’ to new places.

Portal used to just be just the messenger, with culture itself – the art, the object as the message. The new generation of portals we are now seeing are, at their best, are both messenger and the message.

Portals need publishing and publishing is about curation, opinion, vision, style and content. The more we can publish, curate and integrate content for our audiences, the more meaning we can give it and the more value we add as the publishers.

This means not just knowing and defining our own voice as publishers (the role of the editor or journalist) but also finding ways to integrate both institutional culture (from our museums, archives galleries etc) with people’s own views of culture. This is a real challenge to do well and one I know the mumbers of the Culturemondo netwrok are rising to.

Some of those at the meeting were running a new generation of projects that seem to bypass the institutional view altogether. Things like Global Voices or Dirk Picture Library in Bangladesh are both examples of projects that fundamentally combine the message and the meaning inseparably in their architecture, methodology and delivery.


It was clear to me personally that the new Culture24 site that we have just spent two years building is already in need of another rebuild before we have even launched it. I am driven, inspired and depressed by this fact. I know that the new site is going to be loved and will generate a level of interest in UK culture not previously seen online but I also know that the best is let to come.

Roll on the next Culturemondo roundtable.


You can see full info on the participants, agenda and video clips of the roundtable on the Culturemondo website.

Europeana website overwhelmed?

The 20th November saw that launch of the Europeana portal and its almost immediate technical crash. I was struck by the excitement with which this was hailed as an overwhelming success, evidently demonstrating the high user demand for such a service.

You can read the official notice here.

Upon closer examination, it seems that they had more that 3,000 simultaneous users, which was what brought the system down.

3,000 … not 10,000 not 100,000 but 3,000.

This does not seem to be a very high number (the 24HM site regularly gets more than 7,000 in any one day of which there must 3,000 at any one time on a regular basis?).

I am shocked that a system of this scale, with substantial investment, had such low targets for its audiences – I also wonder what will have happened to those that tried to visit the site in the first flurry of PR coverage, will they return?

Hmmm …