May 152012

This evening I am at a talk by Henry Jenkins, notes will be tied up but here’s the raw form live from my iPad:

David Gauntlett is introducing us to Henry Jenkins, Professor at University of Southern California, prior to that he was at MIT and he is in the middle of a European tour around his new book Spreadable Media which he will be talking about today…

So I’m in this sange place where my book is in the publishing process and won’t be out for months. As a blogger I’m used to being able to post stuff up right away and I always fear my books will be out of date by the time they are published.
My last book, Convergence culture, came out about 6 years ago. Since then… Second Life arose, kind of declined again. Niche media and audiences, the long tail became more prominent. Social media has grown hugely, become prominent, YouTube and Hulu have appeared since, into Twitter. Web 2.0 was still being thought about by Tim O’Reilly and others. People ask me if by convergence culture I mean web 2.0 and I say no, we’ll come to that later.
Spreadable media is about looking at consumption. We wrote a white paper called “If it doesn’t spread it’s dead” [part one can be read here]. Joshua Green and sam grew and I transformer that white paper into the book that will be out in the autumn. We also talked to ex students, businesses, contacts. Much of this will be made available freely. And we hope the book is a provocations, the beginning of a discussion of where social media is taking us. And this Turks abOut that discussion. And my tour started early enough to coincide with occur wall street… People were there as zombies, as games as thrones characters.. The occupy sesame street protestors, super hero protestors. Protestors adopted and remixed popular culture, this stuff spread and snared across the web in the way occupy wanted to do.. It met the goal of provoking debate, discussing equality of opportunity. How it engaged a variety of populations and what they talked and thught about inequality in America.
This character is pepper spray cop. This could have been a small local image and stor bt the remixing of images we’re circulated, making t a memorable issue and widely distributed.
At the heart of Spreadable Media is about distribution, grass roots communities as the heart of how material spreads. Corporations routnelytme releases of media – doctor who or Sherlock taking moths to reach the us for instance. But, let’s bracket piracy off for a moment, and think about how else those media artefacts circulate. This book is about hybrid circulation- producers and others sharing and distributing.
I don’t use the word viral, it suggests a lack of agency. See Neal Stephenson‘s quote and theory on viral media in a nutshell. It lets those in control think that they have this killer virus and t.hat this stuff will just spread. Let’s of baggage removing agency here. We call it spreadable media… We don’t care if you think that sounds like peanut butter… We think it works as an alternative to stickiness and a deliberate contrast to “viral”. The generative aspects of circulation is what we are interested in. A social and cultural model of how information circulates on the internet.
Kony 2012 is a video created by a group called Invisible Children. We had been study them for about eight years. One of their videos went viral, was spread widely much more than they expected. They ask us to spread the message… But in 4 days it got 70 million views. The biggest US tv shows get 40 million viewers.  It reached more eyeballs more quickly than anything on US TV or in US theatres. They expected to get around half a million viewers. The result of that many views was tragedy, one of the filmmakers had a nervous breakdown. They had been making these for years and had a reasonable idea of spreadability but this film totally exceeded these.
SocialFlow looked at words in Tweets that spread the video… They targeted celebrities and you that here. We have cities like Dayton Ohio… Not the big cities for these things usually but where groups were active. A wordless of those tweets we see words like Love Life bt also multiple constituencies come in – schools and colleges vs church groups.
The whole critique of activism/slacktivism is watch a thirty minute video on the internet become a social activist. But in this case there were already students here who were already protesting, it didn’t emerge from nowhere.
Georgetown University looked at social activism. Those who frequently engaged in pro optional social activity are likely to take further action on behalf of their cause. There is some sort of political effects,the networks are shaping she media landscape bt by reporting This spreadable media they have a big impact and spreadable media is increasingly having an impact independently.
Depending on which numbers [of various stats shown on screen] believe we are seeing a pattern of engaged in promotion and acts of circulation of news and information. We get more and more of our news that way and we need to think about how that shapes our worlds.
Cory Doctorow says that part of the reason we have current copyright laws is that we are mammals, we reproduce only a few times… We need to think more like dandelions, spreading things widely, some will succeed, some will fail. An author or a media maker needs to think more like a dandelion and trust people to find media and circulate our work. Doctorow puts that into action in his own work… He thinks as an author that he is at much more risk of obscurity than bankruptcy. And he shares all of his books under Creative Commons licenses and has reached the best seller lists. People know who he is, they know his work, they are happy to pay for their copy.
E.P. Thompson talks about ongoing social and moral systems and he talks about the centrality of trust and the threat of instability and of changes in economic models. We see messages that “piracy kills music” but people say no, “sharing is caring”. We are at a time where we will see lots of to and fro. Sharing is the core factor in social media – how does that connect to traditional economic models and cultures, right now one side is frightened of free content, the other is frightened of free labour (Facebook using our data say).
My issue with free labour is that circulation is part of a gift economy. If you had a hot date and someone left you a £100 note you would feel pretty weird and bad about that! You cant just insert cash into this type of equation.
The framing of an action is crucial here, it changes the nature of the action and she social signifiers. I buy a bottle of wine, take it home and remove the label I’ve changed that commodity into a gift. And giving t to a friend if that friend told me off for paying to little he’d be a bit of an ass. There is social value here, gift value, it’s a complex set of meanings we attach a sharing action. We can connect this to other work on gift culture, we refer to Lewis Hyde in the book.
Sharing can lead to warm feelings, can justify the act of sharing. See this LOLCAT that will look like John Lennon to over forty year olds, Harry Potter to those below. This is cultural studies 101. People have their own cultural frames. You are not servicing the advertiser you are instead using the ad for your own conversations.
Joshua Green put a diagram together of the evolution of the LOLcats, someone has put together something great on this talk around lolcats etc.
Anime is a really an interesting example here. Mimi Ito talks about the growth of anime. The fan culture generates value and builds the market through the circulation of illegal copies through fans, piracy builds the market. Then companies step in and engage… This happens more and more.
Religion is also invested in sharing here.they have a mission to spread the word – if someone steals a bible is that theft or is that spreading gods work? Their models give us something interesting to hind about in terms f spreadable media
Independent artists and filmmakeers can connect to audiences without engaging with gatekeepers,through various crowd sourcing ventures. Shines like kickstarter which funds things through very interested communities. Lost zombies is a similar idea, a crowd participation project. DVD the third stage here is brave new films activist collection – they gather fans who commit to see a film as a way to get a theatre screening. This changes circulation, creates stronger bonds between audiences and creators. It works. Enter for some than others. Those making low budget, zombie, sic if films flourish, as these a
Have established fan base. Those fr minority communities, African American audiences, Asian american audiences, LGBT audiences, they are u deserved and kee. To see media abut the, but those missed out are innovative esoteric filmmakeers.
Now going back to web 2.0. This is a business model. Participatory couture is different but they are two sides of the same coin here. Web 2.0 companies have friction and tension with their communities and users. We want participatory culture, we shouldn’t try and adopt the web 2.0 label. Web 2.0 began in 2005 but social networks many many years before this, before the web. We had kids making a form of zines protesting slavery etc. because its hard to set type they used abbreviations… Including LOL, the practice and logic does connec up. The a auteur radio fan communities. The early sic if communities. Undergrad news in the nineteen sixties, new media in the nineties. Allow these are stugges to control and shape the nature of our culture of our consumption. This relates to commercial companies by tus a struggle.
Brecht critiques radio for being one directional and advocates participatory culture. Youll note that I talk about More participatory culture Rather tha participatory culture. We have people who are nt taking part, there are more people who need to participate.
Hans Magnus enzenberger in 1970 talks about copnstituants of ratification culture. My mentor john fiske’s last book understanding popular culture says that new tools create new challenges, it doesnt guarantee any so  outcome, good r bad. Participatory culture is worth fighting for but we have to mansTain a distinction from web 2.0
Looking at political use of a participatory culture. Here we have palemtian protestors… They regulary do protests, film them and sharing… Fr instance they painted the selves blue a la avatar and filmed his. Yo can view this critically or positively. This group harnessed popular culture for triggering debate and I choose to see it this way, but you could see this as a negative
Trend. Although there are long histories of dressing as other cultures in protest so that does
Superman comes ut: “I am superman – and I am undocumented”. There was huge debate about this, complaint about changing supermans values. But his story is of passing, f secretidentity… superman is a great playful way of evoking protest.
This is the Harry potter alliance… They look at what is evil in our time, how do we change the world. This is a decentralised network of crisis on all sorts ftopics. Ad they are now moving on fromharry potter, they launched a campaign around the launch of the hunger games. Asking fr do Atkins o Sco hunger. They received a cease and desist  letter from studios, they published it online and the press coverage per press release meant the film company backed down, lions gate films approached them and asked what they could do…
So with that I shall stop…
DG: we think of ourselves as thoughtful critiques of these things. There is a new book by Natalie fe town and colleagues called misunderstanding the internet which does just that.. They skewer twitter as being only consumed by middle class’s… But so are academic books and endpapers… So… What are responses to critiques who see you as a technological determinists
HJ: wel. I was at MIT for 20 years, I know technological determinism wheni see it. You have to startwth social and cultural contex John has a quite that everyone in the middle ages had a larynx but tall were allowed o speak. I want to think abut education, resources, cultural empowerment. In the us about 95% of youth have technology access but far fewer feel able to use this in meaningful way. I am pro learning here.
DG: we had a debate on your Blau about how much of this is remix and fan culture, not original creation
HJ: one of your colleagues was criticising the lack of original creatin work compared to most peoples activities. But spreadingu can be a creative act. The most rapidly growing spreadable content is amateur mati
Email.the spreading is meaningful, nt justnriginal content creation. The idea of voting with your feetisnt meaningful if you don’t pick what’s on the table but increasingly we are curating from a vast array of media of all types. People are watching the world through the eyes o people who now they can participate, who know the can when they nt to. We need to get rid of structural barriers to participation. To provide support for those who are not yet waiting to participate.
Q1) can I go bac to the idea f viral vs spreadable. You said that you don’t l,e viral as it lacks agency. But is agency not ore subtle tha that. Can it nt be Interrogated more.
a1) absolute,y but starting with the idea that there is no value of agency, a model like viral is the wrong way to go. Richard Dawkins idea of a meme is a productive term – I’ve been persuaded by communities like 4chan. We must stifle the idea of increased democracy.
Q2) I’ve seen stats that professional content on YouTube has vastly I creased and bloggers are being encouraged
A2)  talked about the withering of mass media but it’s not going to happen… It will not be the only media. In the us YouTube has made more Asian stars by far than traditional media. You nan read that several ways but I don’t this circulation will dispose distribution but will sit side by side. We need both very often, but the bottom holding the top to account.
Q3) I wanted to g back to the Facebook quote on sharks brands. I was wondering about the tre d for sort of social commerce – commercial I ce gives to share things.
A3) this is a thing people are calling AstroTurf, a fake grassroots system. But it’s interesting top me that rands that have the money to advertise are desperate to pretend we have bottom up power… I think this is a transitory a trend… In many cases this stuff is exposed, but it really shows the shift in power. Grassroots is powerful enough to meant to fake it.
Q4) I have a question about methodology in exploring ways in which participation takes place?
A4) this book isn’t about theory and methodology, it has a Gow to trigger discussion. I tend to discuss methodology a bit separately. I use social media mapping and visualisation here as Kony 2012 this works well and backup our own research work. But we are currently doing 50 interviews with community participants, pretty much ethnographic approach. Book just out on net organs is about a pretty large eth Gorky dog web communities. These are the kind of toos that I find helpful. Yo really want to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. Looking at meaning and social implication s aof acts of sharing.
DG: with pepperspray cop we have a creative clash of great seriousness with silly funny playful materials…
HJ: i think pepperspray cop is the community equipment of the editorial cartoon, a way to make something satirical and me oracle, sometimes you laugh at black humour, sometimes informed by actual issue. Jason ? Has the notion of drillable to complement spreadable media as an idea.the Palestinian a avatar protestors had loads of information on their website to drill into. One of the issues for invisible children was that they had taken down a lou  of content on the website ready for the new campaign so there was very little to contextualise the video. That need for drillable context is something I tell activist groups to think about.
Q5) how do hosed these changes and leanings culture?
A5) well I have another book coming out called reading and participative culture and have worked with the. Arthur foundation for years and have a white paper I’ve writte. Further open participatory learning. E are designing a digital toolkit for teachers to share successful learning motors via social media. W are dong a lot on that space right now. Making learning relevant to Lear era, bringing what is outside othe schoo, into the classrooms to allow p
Collaborative learning. In my country schools tend to block participatory media and that kaes it impossible for students t engage in those sorts of environments. This is usually justified as protection for children, but I what wa does blocking access he them. Sure.y better to support and improve digital literacy. My colleagues says most young people lackan Nile me for. Blocking social media leaves stude ts more ilnerabe than before not less. S we bring participatory Media into the classroom we connect students to the world around them.
So… Some chapters will be coming to the website in November as the book comes out.
 May 15, 2012  Posted by at 8:38 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life No Responses »
May 152012

Today I am at the Designing for community-powered digital transformations workshop at Tate Britain, London. I am live blogging but there is no wifi so this could be a bit glitchy as I’m working with a 3G dongle.

David Gauntlett

I’m running this network, an AHRC funded digital transformations network that we are running. This is the third out of four events we are running. Associated with today we have a talk by Henry Jenkins this evening.

Wifi – sorry, there is none and that is a bit embaressing. Sorry about that. Will be coming to Tate Britain soon though.

This morning it’s a bit more cultural sector, this afternoon is more university related. Jen Bailey will not unfortunately be able to speak today due to family illness so we’ve rejigged the schedule a bit.

Speakers include:

John Stack, Head of Tate Online – a brief history of online participation on Tate Online

The Tate Britain, Modern and St Ives holds the nations collection of British, modern and contermporary art. The key part of our mission statenet is that our role is to increase the public’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of British art rom the 16th century to the present day…

Historically that’s mainly been through exhibitions but increasingly thats online. Those exhibitions tend to be rather monolithic with one voice and a role as broadcaster. But we are moving to something much more open, representing many voices and engaging ar more in dialogue. We want the museum to be a place for dialogue and debate with many voices both within and outside the museum.

All of our 70,000 art works are digitised. The site gets about 1.1 – 1.9 million a month (depending on big blockbuster exhibitions, holidays etc). This makes it the UKs number two arts website. The number one is the Arts pages of the Guardian newspaper website. And we have won 3 Webby awads, 2 baftas, 3 museums and the web: best of the web, 1 BIMA etc.

So the website is really on a journey from Brocure to Channel to Platform. The site launched around 1998. Around 2003/4 ish we were becoming that idea of Channel – really thinking of thoe online visitors as an audience and the gallery being our big space but online being a discrete channel with original content like films, papers, etc. And our website redesign moved us to being a space where things happen, where audiences and engaged and involved in our activities.

If we look at that first website the navigation is basic, and very much about the physical space, the copyright notices, online samples to physical content, even a site guide. Looking at 2006 you start seeing channel content emerging – collection at the tipm, research is appearing online and our scholarly journal, online courses and interactive learning resources, young tate – special site for young people also Tate kids area, you can start to see all these resources begin to emerge. But these are still items we produce for you to consume. Moving onto the beginning of 2012 we can see the rejig before we launched it – it’s an updated version of the 2006 model.

In general in Tate we are starting to hear a lot of use of “engagement”, “participation” and “interactive”. But who does that? One of the challenges is that everyone does… from Marketing, communications, learning, curatorial, research, huiman resources, national programmes… etc. It’s not just posters and advertising anymore. It’s social media now, things that are viral, things that are engaging to people and encourages sharing with peers. And how do we get key messages about Tate out into the world. The learning department are moving from captions on walls and talks in the gallery towards active activities that facilitate learning. Curators, especially younger/newer curators are really interested in blogging, in social media, and in use of these tools by artists as well as for communications. Our research team are interested in research projects being blogged, being open throughout. The Human resources team want more ongoing dialogue, ways to find those people who may want to work here, to have those people engaged and aware of opportinities. And our national programmes, work with partner organisations are very much about social media about community engagement etc. So all of these people are starting to look like each other a lot more and use these key terms. So on the one hand we have to facilitate that and do that coherantly.

So our currect website is better than the old one… One of the key things to point out is that the lead thing on the home page (btw only about 7% of visits start/go there but everyone obsesses about home pages) is not our current exhibits but is about a core piece from our permanent collection and an interpretative text authored in a personal way and with comments enabled.

So what I’m going to do is romp you through the last 4 or 5 years of interactive projects at the Tate and we’ll maybe send David the links and get them up on the blog.

Tate Britain ran an exhibition of modern photography called How We Are Now – we are not known for our photography collections, something people associated much  more with the V&A. There was a desire to put that message across of the Tate as a place to engage with photography. We were asked for a web mechanic for uploading and sharing images. We decided not to build but contacted Flickr. We let people upload around 4 pictures each and had thousands in. And we showed these on screens in a sort of virtual gallery that contributed to the narrative of the show. It was a big success.

We then, after an exhibition at Tate Modern looking at street photography, did something similar and then had artists curate 100 photographs which we then used the print on demand service blub to create a sort of “alternative catalogue” (though not allowed to call it that) and sent that out to the 100 people that had contributed.

We also did a project with Threadless. We had an exhibition called Pop Life at Tate Modernn. We asked young people to design a T shirt inpired by the exhibition. We used Threadless as the platform for that and then a curator selected the winner and the t-shirt was sold in the exhibition shop.

We had an exhibition on the Vorticists and we did a project with Creative Review. We asked designer to give their take on the Voriticist magazine Blast. We did that with Tumblr. Again the curators selected a numbe rof images fo ra limited edition posters and gave them away at one off events. Again we used an existing site and community of that site and our own community… and a physical manifestation back into the world.

A few years ago there was this turbine exhibit – a post apocolyptic world in 2058. We asked the public to submit a short story inspired by the theme or the exhibit. We posted these on a sort of blog. With image projects we’d get thousands but here we had 99 contributions. Again we had curators pick 6 of these and you could download these as an audio book narrated by Christopher Eccleston.

Ai Wei Wei created a piece for the turbine hall at Tate Modern and he’s very active on social media. Under the stairs in the gallery we had an interactive space where Ai Wei Wei would pose a question and you could respond and engage with them or ask him a question – and he would send video responses (we sent him a laptop and webcam). When the health and safety concerns about walking on the exhibit arose that became the key topic. And then three quarters of the way through he was arrested. In total we had about 25000 video recordings and a website where you can view these, look for responses etc.

This is our Tate Kids website – our award winning site for children. Children can create a profile on there, they can upload images of their work and display it. It has, for obvious reasons, got only limited community/social media functionality but it means we display and engage with others art ere.

Tate Collectives is a site targeted at young people for challenges, image competitions etc. to engage with these audiences


Turbinegeneration is a mainly closed space for school communities working together – much of what happens with this space is behind the scenes.


Hello Cube – part of the yarrow Tohama exhibition. There are boxes you can put your hand inside it if you are there. But if not there in person you can tweet it, give it instructions. It responds to your instructions and takes a photograph and tweets it back. It’s a kind of artwork interactive thing in the gallery.


We are increasingly active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Much of this had been led by the web team. We actually have @tate only because of the enthusiasm of one of our staff members early on which is great. We get feedback and reviews via social media, we ask people to do this. On Twitter we started, one friday, the hashtag “#artweekend”. We contacted galleries we were working with on touring programmes and asked them to recommend things to do… and lots of others joined in as well.


A more fun thing we do is “#artfilmtitle” – puns on film titles with artist names.


Returning to our main website we have rebuilt it from scratch to really enable interaction, comments, etc. We now have weekly debates on a Thursday – may or may not be directly relate to Tate. And we push those out through social media. Increasingly we are also trying to use things like blogging to get those who hold the knowledge to share it. I can update the website but people really want to hear from the curators, they really know the subjects. We try to get them to write about commissions, new acquisitions, etc. The marketing department like it and we like it as it helps us take the website to that platform place.


The Great British Art Debate – this is a project with 6 other museums and is about touring material and it aggregates activity on a blog, YouTube, Flickr etc. It’s a hub to those various spaces and discussions.


BMW Tate Live: Performance Room – This is a space online dedicated to performances. An artist comes in and it is livestreamed through YouTube and commentary is received back. Some artists are nervous about this, some are actively enthused.


Art Maps is a project about taking art out into the world. It’s shifted to being more about user generated content, phones etc…


So, what have we learned?

  • Keep it simple – you need to be able to communicate in a single tweet
  • Go to where the audiences are – this is why we use social media
  • Give a good incentive – at various points in the Flickr project we’ve had comments that say that “this is a cynical way to get more content” – we don’t need more content but we do want to engage
  • Set a timeframe – this is really important, increasingly in the web department. One of the ambitions we have is to get far more engagement around the Tate archive and how we’ll scale up to do that is one of the challenges for us
  • Allow time for community engagement and moderation
  • Have fun!


And some questions

  • Are you impacting on the brand? Yes, and you need to be fine with that. Our brand proposition used to be “look again, think again” it’s now “look again, think again, join in”.
  • When we have all that contributed content online where does the authority of the museum sit now? What if you get contradictory comments? These challenges are coming to us…
  • Who in the organisation is undertaking this work? Web team? The whole organisation?
  • How can activity initiated from multiple departments be joined up and transformed into a coherant user experience?



Q1) How do you evaluate these campaigns? Is there a way to measure the return on investment?

A1) Good question. Historically it was measured in visits, dwell time – these were the metrics. These still count but engagement and interaction is much harder, much more qualitative. 500 comments saying “yes cool” vs 3 scholarly comments aren’t really best measured by number. We’ve taken the stance that we will do these things. We are not really asked to justify this work. But there was an Action Research project by Culture 24 called “Lets Get Real” looked at measuring engagement around these kinds of activity – a kind of suite of metrics that need interpretation as well as qualitative surveys.


Q2) Curators selecting the short list of items vs public curation?

A2) One of our projects on Flickr, there was a discussion on the boards saying that these pictures selected by the curators were “boring” pictures. And there was a whole thread of people sharing their own favourites. It wasn’t a philosophical thing but we saw this as a project not a contest so there isn’t a sense that one is more valued rather than less valued.

Q3) I am interested in your collaboration space here and how you encourage that….

A3) One of the things we have talked about but haven’t properly done is about more group activities and the possibilities of online group activities. And functionality needed for people to form their own groups.

Q3) And the issue of how long you keep that up…

A3) Of course one of the key issues for us in our space is around copyright


Jake Berger, Programme Manager at The Space, BBC – The Space: A Creative Adventure

This is a new joint project from the BBC and the Arts Council and I have a quote here that nicely sums up what it’s about. Art on TV.Documentary can be like a guided tour rather than an experience of that art so this is an attempt to address that.

Our gaols are to build digital capacity in the arts, to support digital creativity and experimentation, to connecti arts organitions and others together, to create a lasting legacy. We had a challenge as we began this project 9 months ago and built it in 6 months… but what were we going to build? We wanted something to offer navigatiuon that provides easy access to the content both when the system is relatively emopty and as it expands to offer manu hundreds of items. We wanted it to be simple but collect lots of data that could enable more complex navigation. We wanted to keep the design simple – we wanted the content to be more exciting than the box!

We chose one brilliant UX designer and one brilliant graphic designer and asked them to “do all the things you’ve alwauys wanted to do but we;re never allowed by your clients” – so we had Vibeke Hansen and Caroline Smith working on this. We wanted to create a system that brings artists to audience and brings art to all sorts of screens and devices – managed and maintained at minimal ongoing cost. We wanted this to have information about the meduaa entered directly by organisations themselves into a custom web tenmplate – so they have the control directly.

So we have This is globally available, free, big names and emerging companies, visual arts, music, theatre, dance, festivals, poery and literature. There is and will be new material throughout the service. It’s lightly curated and moderated. And we have live output from major arts events. And there is video on demand, audio, images, text, games, etc.

The current site changes 7 times a day and that content is growing and growing. And you can access the site on your phone, on your web TV, tablets, smartphones, etc. and an app for Freeview HD 117. And we have various projects such as the John Peel room which you can go online and explore. And the Listening Machine – a realtime stream of 5oo twitter accounts build by Goldsmiths University with the sound created based on sentiment, subject, etc. The samples were played by members of the British Symphonia. This will be available until October so producing a 5 and a half month long piece of music…

We are also putting up High Definition filmings of the Globe to Globe season of 37 plays in 37 days. We have content from the Tate, from the BFI. We have a Beginnings series on the first films of various directors for instance. We have Will Self thinking about reinventing the literary essay. We have some Tate Shorts to view.

We have 2 developers, one systems engineer and 2 designers but at various times we have said no to others at the BBC because of how we want The Space to work.

We will be available across four digital media playforms – computers, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. We will also be on the community channel. We are also using social media tracking and promotion technologies and personalisation and recommendation features to refine the homepage to your interests without you having to register.

So the technology principles here are that the Space builds nad extends the capabilities of the internet – not just the web. It is build around iopen technologies and designed to work seamlessly on as many devices and browser as possible (HTML5, javascript, CSS). There is no app, only web apps – the thing with apps is you need a new one for every phone. We have a website with app like functionality which is harder to do up front but easier to maintain. We take the data, it goes into our content management system – a hacked version of WordPress – and we put content into a transcoding process to make video work for multiople devices. And we are using pay as you go cloud services for storage, hosting and delivery. We don’t use existing BBC technology or infrastructure.

At the end of the experiment we wat to hand to ACE. Open source the technology to create a “broadcaster in a box” that can be used and build upon by a wider world. And that code will be shared under Share-Alike so any improvements are shared with the world.

In theory so long as the CMS is extensible we shouldn’t have too uch trouble storing all of the required metadate and content. It’s portable across different cloud providers, it’s sharable.

We went live 2 weeks ago. We have a small back office system. And we think we’re working quite well with the contributor organisations and we have had some nice comments and good numbers of views (over 300k views in 2 weeks).

There are grant funded commussions that are at the heart of TheSpace. We had 743 expressions of interest in these grants. 116 invited to apply. And some increadible things were suggested. 53 got grant funded commission s and a handful of direct commission. These include 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 different languages, Stocukhausens Helicopter Quartet, Revirth of BBC Radiophonic Wrokshiop, D gaming environment, 2 lost Hitchcock films from BFI… all are listed on the website.

So, evaluation? Well constant evaluation is integral and essential to this project. We are using a BBC and Arts Council frameworks to assess Quality, Reach ad Value for Money.



Q1) It’s a very nice project and you seem to be doing all the right things… But it’s still a broadcast model around a data keeper

A1) Editorially the Arts Council are in control. The production and delivery method is fairly broadcast-like but they send it to us via Dropbox.

Q1) Yes but the creative input and interchange with the audience?

A1) Yes, that’s a very good point. We haven’t got social embedded onto the site. The reason is that for reasons up to this point is that the BBC is very cautious about personal data and has very strong position on content moderation. We couldn’t have built the infrastructure using cloud services and maintained that integrity. And we couldn’t afford to moderate the social. So each item can be posted out to social spaces but comments come back through the individual arts organisations and if they want to push back to us they can. It’s purely pragmatic reasons. Everyone knows that this is a missing element but that’s where we find this.

Q2) YOu are bringing artists to audiences but what are audiences bringing to artists. And what audiences do you want to reach out to?

A2) The social bit is currently missing but it’s only 2 weeks. We have until November. But there is all sorts of content there. We do not mean to ape television. We want it bigger, more open, more dialogue. We are only 2 weeks in. But we don’t want to mimic Sky Arts of BBC Four. We want to open out in every way. Television is very expensive editorially. Art in its many forms isn’t neccassarily something 2 million people want to watch. That’s the creative opportunity here – to reach out to those who are going to be interested.

Comment  from David Gauntlett – we did invite The Space partly because this is a sort of midway between a totally open model and a broadcast model. It’s doing something different.

Q3) You rushed over the evaluation slide, could you say a bit more

A3) There will be a conference in November and the evaluation will be taking place around that. And I know the Arts Council is keen to share as much of this experience as possible.

And now… the breakout groups…

So, we have reunited for reporting back.

The User Participation discussion decided to compare theSpace vs the Tate. We felt theSpace is quite like iPlayer or Flipboard. Not really a user participation model. And then we talked about the potential for the Tate. We also talked about the British Library crowdsourcing soundsscapes from the UK – similar model to some of the Tate’s projects.

And we talked about  RunCoCo – a model for participative curation. And about co-curation potential, resistance. We heard about the National Maritime Museum Flickr Commons space. And finally we looked at crowdsourced content that gains a bigger audience – a project in Manchester was discussed. And we wondered is participation online enough or does there need to be something more that shows there is a bigger audience for that work.

The Designing a Multiplatform Community for Online Participation group [the one I was in] really fell into two areas. The idea of the branded community, the organisation reaching out into different types of  community and platforms. And the self-regulated community with perhaps more risks, artist led projects, fan projects etc. We had quite a lot of examples of how this had happened in practice.

The Governance group talked about theSpace model, that this is like a stage. And we talked about the audience exploring, discovering things and constructing community. Shift to focus on process rather than product. We also identified a tension between ownership and copyright. How do you give things – content, discussions etc. back to the community? How do you define that community? There is a lot of fear of what is and is not allowed. Risk taking is a particular issue for bigger organisations. International, legal and copyright frameworks are all important here. I think we scratched the service here perhaps. We did talk about trust, moderation, how you manage user contributions, quality, etc.

And a break for lunch… and we’re back…

Martin Rieser, Professor of Digital Creativity, De Montfort University – Mobile Communal Creativity

Spatialised technologies. We now have this amazing ability to map information to the physical world. It’s about social interaction with a specific place and connects to memory and rehearsal.  And we are starting to see these as augmented technologies. This idea that life if augmented. And a quick plug here for The Mobile Audience which is a book looking at the changes since the mid 90s.

First of all we need to talk about the subjectivity of mapping and why we need to beware of spatial data. We can look at colonial bias. Or we can look at population mapping or time mapping (why Stranrare is not a great place to be in terms of time). And scaling Google Maps shows us how inexact they are. And we are also inexact creatures – if you look at a map of the senses/sensitivity of the human nervous system for instance.

We have done a varierty of projects here. The Riverreins project gathered local history and we used Layar to do this and also used QR codes for all locations. And we posted stickers of QR codes on the buildings to which we had connected stories – provided as voice overs and videos. And we wanted to get the community to upload their own materials to add to this.

We also did a project, Codes of Disobediance, in Athens where we looked at street graffitti,. We went out into the community and asked a number of questions to people there. We again used stickers related to place. And you could walk down the street and get popular voices talking about living in the crisis etc. It is online (though all in Greek of course). And a lovely example here was a poster made by kids that we were able to put a QR code. We also put a sticker up at the space where a young man was killed by the police and which has become a kind of shrine.

Greenview. This project is about green energy. It’s difficult as it’s a concept, it’s not a visible thing… We did a Widget project for your computer showing energy use. But we wanted to do something more interesting. We created a cartoon ecosystem – visualising CO2 on a street, we had an energy changing week. We know this doesn’t change behaviour but that infrastructure is useful. And we were then inspired by Tamagotchi. We created a little animated city where you can take ownership of energy use. We are trying to roll this out to Leicester schools now.

This project and others can be found at: – Pervasive media site

Crowdsourced cycling routes of Leicester. You could record your routes, your thoughts on the best ones, and we are now completing a second phase on this project where other content can be contributed. And very much using the Sustans model of creative cycle routes. We also worked with commissioned images projected onto large buildings in the city.

Roman Leicester – this is a cross-disciplinary project where objects can be connected to a map interface/AR and then those objects can be interrogated. And a second phase will allow local history groups to add their own thoughts and comments. We have created virtual buildings and characters to interact with. And the kind of interfaces we are looking at are iPhone map and augmented reality type materials.

And I really wanted to talk about the potential for mobile and locative media and the possibilities for using local knowledge and specificity. The relationship to location is absolutely essential to that process particularly for mobile media.


Q1) I’ve been working on a project in Manchester also looking at mobile. Thinking about changing the relationship with the city and the institution.

A1) That’s very much the idea of what I’ve been talking about. The original RiverReins project was done with Manchester but it was too early and it was hard to find funding. People have trouble imagining how these things will work. But the idea of the city as a series of layers to explore is really key. I’m really looking forward to Augmented Reality at the Tate.

Q2) Do you see a big difference in how people use these tools? QR vs Layer say.

A2) With layar you can look around, you can relate these to the landscape. When we started using this layar was a very new idea. I think QR codes work well for specifics – easier to directly grab information as you needed it.

Q3) Did you check 3G access on these specific streets?

A3) We did for these yes.

Q4) How did you evaluate these?

A4) We used PhD students for this and we used exit reviews and also user behaviours. A mixture of qualitative and quantative. And we also wanted to know how emotionally engaged people were with this material.

Q5) What impressions do you have of virtual participants?

A5) We are getting some work done to improve the upload for some of these projects to encourage more participation.

Q6) Does this link to Digital Leicester?

A6) Yes, there are links.

Claire Ross, UCL – Putting the Visitor First

So, don’t we do this already? There can be a real built it and they will come kind of attitude. I am going to talk about User Centrered Design – we are really big on this at UCL. It’s about finding out what people really want. Using evaluation and data to really inform decisions. Why do this? To give the user ownership of this.

Principle 1: Put the user first – support their needs, goals and values. We do know about institutional needs goals and values but how do those relate

Principle 2: Keep it simple. Do one thing simple and well

Principle 3: Be consistent

Principle 4: test with users from the beginning and again and again…

Principle 5: test again

This goes with another concept: Agile. There are four core values around Agile all of which focus on the user, on usability, on user feedback and on planning improvement. And there are further 12 principles here. So…

I’ve been working with the Imperial War Museums – most is in London but there are five museums and an online presence here – and I have been using User Centred Design and Agile processes with social media to augment the collection. We have a gallery booth, an online space and mobile access to create some viral spread of content, visitor interpretations of the collections, discussions etc. That’s the minimal number of spaces we need to be in for this to work.

Team work is central here – there needs to be buy in from the team for this to work, and from absolutely everyone. his is a hard task. We have a project board – from DG of IWM down, we have the project team creating this social idea, we have an advisory panel and a number of researchers. We have work streams, we have developers, desiners, testers. And crucially we have visitors – they are part of this project in a core way.

Agile in design – we have milestones for all areas. We have clear delineated progress plan. and part of the idea here is to deliver frequently – we are delivering prototypes in iterative runs that allow us to try, test, feedback, change and move on. This gives you the freedom to make mistakes, understand and correct these. Many of these projects are online but face to face is a more efficient way to work. Questionnaires I hate, interviews and focus groups work much better for guaging what’s going on. Measure software – having knowledge of use earlier lets you tweak early. Keep it simple – you have to focus on and build for your users. Don’t waste your own or your visitors time. And you have to evolve your design… and test these all.

So if we have a look here you’ll see sketches on an iPad or piece of paper – people will give you a quick honest opinion. And we then took draft designs to users. Tried again, tried again… we had about 6 iterations and we now have a working model in gallery. There is still lots to do. This comes back to the idea of user tested design. Users need to be embedded at every point in the design. Social Interpretation is a one year project. It is easy to launch once and do feedback in that time but to be successful it’s much easier to consult the users earlier on, they can feedback before you have built a product.

If you want to do this you need to be Agile in your project management. Tight scheduling and limited funding can make this particularly challenging. By looking at the user and asking them questions you can work quicker and more efficiently. And you really have to welcome change. That’s really important and  you have to respond to change quickly. And you also need to reflect regularly. But you also need to maintain pace, keeping an eye on your objectives. Be steady without stalliing.

So how does this work in smaller museums? Well we’ve done something smaller at the Grant museum of Zoology. This project is called QRator. We are looking at how digital labels can create new models of public engagement. 10 iPads around the museum host provocative questions and users can respond and these codes are displayed next to objects – when browsing the museum you can take part in this, to browse this. We have also evaluated what people are saying and why they are saying it. We had 2700+ contributions (29k words) – these are live labels. We categorised all comments into categories of “comments about museum” = 42%, “comments on topic” = 41%, “noise” = 17%. This project used “radical trust”. Just because users can abuse you doesn’t mean they will. You have to trust people to open up in these ways.

Breaking down comments further you seen that a lot of comments were on a single exhibit: a jar of moles. The museum didn’t know that it was a prize exhibit in that way…

Looking at engagement we saw about 1 in 3 visitors contributing. When you ask a question


Q1) My question is about participation. What the participation you want is? What is the quality for this?

A1) We want people to contribute something – and to then explore that. My ultimate idea is that you can’t really design for a particular type of participation until you know what type of participation you might get.

Q2) Did you do some scoping on what visitors wanted in this work?

A2) With the Imperial War Museum visitors in routine visitor feedback groups were asking about discussions, about more active participation in some way. And when we then asked about how that would work we started to build up an idea.

Q3) There’s an ongoing debate about the hierachy of what the museum says versus what the public says?

A3) That’s one of the most difficult things, particularly at a big institution. And the idea of how/when you might archive those comments, when you add those to the content management systems. We haven’t addressed that yet. User comments sit in middleware right now. But that’s a real challenge.

Q4) Is there a way to vote comments up and down?

A4) There is a Like and a Dislike button and also a Social Moderation button. The comments are not moderated here. If a visitor reports a comment as unacceptable that will mean we intervene/remove. We hope Like and Dislike will really help. But we find that visitors really enjoy reading all of the comments – we are getting a lot and people are reading them all!

Q5) How far back do you go designing with the users… in this case isn’t it more sustainable to design with the users. So it’s user driven rather than user centred.

A5) I would love to do user driven design but museums aren’t brave enough yet..

Q5) I have seen user centred design in creative arts spaces and SMEs but much more about user driven design now. It might also be about how you incentivise the audience to come and design with you, not just that institutions don’t move forward to next design stage.

A5) I think it’s the next step really. But these things are so institutionalised that you need top level buy in for that. We are not quite there yet.

Q6) to do that you need to have super engaged and enthused users… and I would argue that those are no longer typical experts.

A6) I take your point. I try to ask every user about their experiences, not just those who agree with me. Not just niche groups. It’s a case of trying to get that balance. It is hard with digital platforms as they often attract the enthusiasts. Interestingly people at IWM didn’t like the idea of digital but when we said you can fit  more words there people were excited – they wanted to read more, to scroll more.

Sunil Manghani, York St John University – #AreWeContent?

I’ve been using this phrase – both the idea of “are we happy” but also the idea of “are we the content”. And I think about Alice in Wonderland… she is exploring but she’s always the centre of her experience. How do we feel comfortable? Are we extending out? Are we hyperlocal? The anxiety issues of Alice in Wonderland doesn’t quite ever go away for me. I’ll move on to conversation, comments etc. soon. But I wanted to start with data/culturomics

I recently attended one of the Hack for Culture events, this was in Liverpool. And I’m not sure whether we achieved anything there exactly. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Google Books project with 5 million books used to examine culture. Data is available, and a way to analyse culture. But can be disturbing. So if you look at a map of Tate Liverpool’s ticketing showing geography and social class. This is done with ScraperWiki – quick and easy but what about ethics and methods? There are a new group of researchers who may not be academic researchers or institutionally affiliated but are just interested in the data. What is the role of the data? Is it helpful? How?

And I also wanted to talk about Adonis Hawkeye’s 1940s essay on media, he said “the whole world is mae to pass through the filter of the culture industry”. It was very much of it’s time, the era of war information, propaganda etc. But that essay is still relevant today. We have become quite comfortable with the idea of the “culture industry”. I think I’m interested in the culture of the “social industry” and my main concern are the major platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc.

::: update :::

Here are the rest of my nets from the day, to be tidied up a bit:



So finally I want to talk about the screen and the ways we engage with screens. We have a big rhetoric about cooperation – thinking about?? Conversation/engagement from dialectic to dialogic.

He sees cooperating as hard and that it’s important that it is hard. Dialogics idea is not like a jigsaw puzzle. My argument is going to be that the kind of dialogues on screen end up being quite dialectic. I think it’s the reason why a number of these players are on the more distant end of the spectrum in terms of engaging with users.
The idea of the openendedness of dialogics should work with Facebook, an ongoing friendly space. Richard senate worked with Google Wave for a research project and was quite excited about t but he commented that this space ended up being quite dialectic. Someone commented about gender, no one chatted further, and at the end it became clear that that was really important. These social spaces can often lose key comments. I am deeply critical of the fold – you often don’t read beyond the last few comments and different voices can be lost.
How can we create spaces that are genuinely able to make this work. The gap between empathy and sympathy. How does empathy come through online. Social spaces are neat and organised but can we cognitively deal with this. Even the use of things like speech bubbles can be better than a boxes interface. How things feel matters. For me Facebook echoes so strongly the ideas of bruckheimer about automation, FreeTime etc.
Perhaps some of the things I’m interested in is about making conversation appear on screen more like a mind map so you can move In and out of interesting items. I felt the space looked quite refreshing. Touchscreens in galleries are quite clunky, how do you hide data behind something more pictorial and engaging, and get people thinking…
I am questing whether now the culture industry is made to pass through the filter of the whole world (web)… ?
And the idea of difference being made through these platforms
Q1) I have the impression that even in Facebook or the museum… It’s about your personal life experience… What is the common experience here?
A1) the cult of the individual is all around.. Your own point of view, your cultural identity is so crucial here. I that already a barrier to cooperation and collaboration. Here?
Q2) these sites are so driven by commercial interests…. They all look the same. The Tate stuff looks the same, pinterest is about personal collections of materials, I’d love to see a sort of pinterest for museums of personal taste… More than the comments of the qrator model.
A2) I am looking forward to working more with the tate. But my students have such high expectations. But o we need to dismantle the Templars here? David in your book you talk about individuals making their websites… Working from scratch is so creative.
A2 – comment) I think pinterest has interesting possibilities especially for collating video
A2- john s) there are standard ways to engage online, search boxes are expected to be in one place, logos in another… We dd a 3d mind map of one o our exhibis. The national film board of Canada ave made a series f nteractive films that should be checked out
Comment from David – please tweet links to any websites mentioned today.
One of the drivers for today’s event was the support of ravelry. Mini communities of interest
Rivalry and copyright, binding, having to register to look.
Responsibility of response. The opportunity to comment back to comments. Curate your own conversation there, people up stuff up bt do they always respond… You can turn a comment around, facilitate that conversation. More than one meaning to a piece, topic, etc.
Easier said than done. A nice comment you can only really respond with thank you.
How you value, archive etc. is a really important point. Again her you have Nieve comments that become valuable because of facilitation of those comments.
One of the themes that emerged… People that trained as curators. Offal trained people, get cross when others claim to be curators/creators.
I’m a big fan of together and what senate says we’ve lost the rhyzomatic approach and movin to hierarchical approach but social media brings that back. It is positioned in an oppositional politics.
The problem is turning that into a meaningful context, reflecting and making changes.
But senate says you make change where you are on her local basis.
This sense of when yo walking any space, the sense of looking at objects and tryin to have an experience. Visitors may come in with a set idea of what the experience you have. That sense of yourself rather tha your knowledge of the object, looking at yourself as well as the other. Conversation processes. Not knowing more about the object…
It’s about empathy, empathising with your audience, and towards yourself. Often you don’t see yourself in the picture.
I did some design research with the arts council, recording visitor conversations in front of objects. People did seem to engage in incredibly personal ways. And personal journeys. One who had commented only onthe weather in each painting. One whose wife had died a year earlier and came every day as a way to manage his grief. People craved expertise b they are very capable to have their own interpretations
Did you d anything with these recordings, looking at the art kiosks. We did a bunch f things, we recorded people using the kiosks, we sent people off with Audio recordings, and we did audio recordings of those who had used kiosks… We got some amazing data here. The recordings themselves were for the research, it would be lovel t share those sorts of experience cs though.
Where does contributions lead to? It seems to a waste to just gather data.
But survey we want greater engagement with the exhibits as an endpoint
The supposition there is that the engaged commenter is having a richer experience and that is very dangerous
We want certain things from our audiences bu we need to nt privilege one experience over another
I was in a gallery exhibition the other day and we were talking about the exhibition and someone came up and said that we should be whet as its a library. Loved all of this.
Sobering comment. We have a little bit of flaw in content and form of our discussion. Basic frame is about art. Those people who do engage with art… They don’t d things to be hateful etc. it tends to be warm and fuzzy feelings that are reflected in engagement. That is the exception. When we talk about citizen engagement etc. the last example should be art! Most inventive use in man countries are extreme political movements.
Audience.. I wanted to ask…. We differentiate between online spaces and offline spaces…. Different engagement, different spaces.
40% of Tate website visits are from overseas. We did analysis with 150+ user groups… I don’t think tha out activity is purely about driving visits to the physical gallery. Seeing art in person is better tha an image of t…there’s something called the arts council segmentation and we tried to apply that to online spaces but that was really difficult… This kind of analysis of digital visitors is in its infancy. When we say visitors, we mean browsers, we don
T know if there are many people viewing a specific screen.
I went to see a beautiful exhibit at Tate St Ives where it was a white room and you added your height. The Tate and others could do much ore to make online a creative space not just a discussion space
1) An ongoing question around conversation and what you do with that stuff. And starting c versatile – see Henry Jenkins spreadable media
2) Expect more from people
3) fourth and Fiona event is on learning and is at UCL and we have some interesting speakers there too.
4) if you want to guest blog, just say
5) if you don’t want to be on video, say now.
6) thank yous to all of our organisers, fur speakers.
 May 15, 2012  Posted by at 11:54 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life 2 Responses »