Thursday 6 December 2012

UKMW12 takeaways

Another UK Museums on the Web conference (organised by the Museums Computer Group) has happened, and since I was much less involved in the organisation this year, I can say, without bias, that it was brilliant! You can view full programme or view slides from all presentations should you so desire. These notes are just a fairly brief summary of some of the main things that I took away from the conference.  Apologies for any mistakes or misrepresentations, do let me know if you're a speaker and you think I need to change what I've written here.

Make data-based decisions

This was a key message that came out of several different papers, i.e. use your Google Analytics data to inform what you’re going to do next – what’s popular? What’s happening at the moment? When do people look at your material?
·         The V&A plan their website subject pages around what people are searching for

·         The Guardian now carry out ‘day-parting’ (a word they’ve made up) – looking at the patterns of website use throughout the day. They’ve spotted particularly interesting patterns of mobile use (see below).

Integrating digital into all areas of the Museum


·         The V&A have separated out content processes into:

§  ‘business as usual’ - can go live without approval from digital media department

§  projects for the Digital Content Programme needing Content Commissioning Group approval,

§  projects affecting or changing V&A technology needing Digital FuturePlan approval (see slides for flow chart of how this all works)

·         Rather than write a strategy which would soon go out of date, the V&A created a framework of guidelines for content (see slides for examples of kinds of guidelines).  

·         Visibility of the new processes and decision-making is key to organisation change – small things like making minutes of decision-making meetings avaialble on the intranet can be very important

·       Evolution of Tate’s website and web strategy over the past few years has been as follows:

§  Initially a brochure (self-explanatory)

§  Moved to being a channel - commissioning content specifically for the web for the first time rather than re-purposing content from the galleries and building up an editorial team (e.g. Tate Kids)

§  It's now a platform - multiples blogs, holding debates online, building community, participation projects and social media

§  Tate’s 2010-12 strategy was about:

·         The need for a transformation project

·         The need for an audience-centred approach

·         An outline of areas that needed to be addressed

§  Digital Strategy 2013-15 (currently being produced) is about how digital is a dimension of everything – every other department now has digital in their strategies

·       Digital audiences do not exist as a neat package, there is no one-size-fits-all silver-bullet solution to providing for their needs.

·       Nick Poole: ‘A digital culture will get you through a time without a digital strategy much more than a digital strategy will get you through a time without a digital culture’

·       Katy Beale: Emphasise people and process over products – this can lead to longer-term strategic change

·       Katy Beale: There is little flex for innovation when a strategy focuses on a fixed amount of time


·      The V&A have changed the make-up of their FuturePlan team to include more digital people. They’ve also set up a Trustees’ Technology Strategy Committee. It’s role is as follows:

o   Ensure best practice in digital

o   Agree, review and steer projects with an overarching digital programme

o   Check design integrity of digital output


·         The growth in mobile last year was 170% (according to Let’s Get Real project research)

·       Tom Grinsted: Mobiles are arguably the most physically contiguous part of us these days – it’s becoming the predominant way of accessing the web

·       Patterns of mobile use (as spotted by the Guardian):

o   When we wake up

o   When getting coffee / filling time on the commute – this means that people are consuming MORE content than they used to because of mobile

o   Between 9 and 11 at night

o   People sitting at home, with a laptop next to them, still reach for a mobile – their motive on a mobile is usually searching

Collections online and data sharing

·      Paul Rowe (keynote): Share what you have and consider licenses which allow for re-use

·      Paul Rowe (keynote): Copyright is a very complex issue, if necessary it’s worth sharing collections data without an image

·      Collections Trust have been playing ‘top trumps’ with different ways of sharing collections.  Presentation slides have more info.

·       Collections Trust are looking at lots of different ways of sharing data, and are also gathering lots of anonymous information from Picture Libraries about the realities of how much revenue comes from image licensing.

User-engagement and digital research and development

Claire Ross and Jane Audas did a talk on the realities of digital R&D (research & development) with the IWM Social Interpretation project as an example. 

Key messages about R&D projects:

·      R&D projects often seen as a rapid, new and effective way of developing new material in museums. The reality, is very, very different.

·      Museums find R&D difficult because they’re not agile institutions

·      Evaluation is a continuous process

·      Funding for digital innovation is great, but expecting it to happen in a year is unrealistic – change takes time

·      Make sure you’ve got it before starting an R&D project – e.g. make sure digital images of objects are available

·      Advocacy for a project internally and externally is key to R&D projects

·      Always plan in a marketing budget

·      Think carefully whether R&D is what you really want to do

Key messages about user engagement:

·         QR codes don’t work

·         Deeper engagements happen online than in-gallery

·         Weird and emotive material gets the best comments

·         Provocative questions that bring the visitors in is also key to getting good engagement with people

·         post-moderation (i.e. not moderating before comments go live) works – just because people can abuse something that’s freely available to edit, doesn’t mean that they will.

·        Radical trust is important – people will write inane comments but they won’t write abusive comments
Can't wait for UKMW13 now!



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