technology


I’m thrilled to be going to Chicago, May 13-17 to the American Association of Museums this year to present on the panel “Multiple Choice Mobile Audio: Latest Research on Visitor Preferences”. What an honor to share our research beside people I deeply admire: Peter Samis (Associate Curator, Interpretation, SFMoMA), Johanna Jones (Managing Director, Randi Korn & Associates) and Leora Kornfeld (Principal, Ubiquity Interactive). What will we all be talking about? The panel description says:

Gain a comparative picture of the current state of mobile touring technologies, including iPods and mobile phones. Are audio tours a thing of the past? Have they been supplanted by mobile technologies such as podcasts, or simply reborn? What are the new opportunities for visitor participation born of these technologies? Ponder recent research on visitor satisfaction with various mobile experience formats, and address the staffing implications to produce and deliver each one.

I can’t wait to share what we’ve learned and hear the perspectives of my esteemed colleagues.

There is an exciting article in the New York Times today on tagging, folksonomy and on line art collections. One Picture, 1,000 Tags.

What happens when you let the public tag art?

We would never say a work is mostly red, or instills a sense of ennui, or features a dog playing poker,” agreed Bruce Wyman, director of new technologies for the Denver Art Museum. “Tagging gives us a set of eyes we don’t have.”

“Our keywording was insufficient in a lot of ways,” said Effie Kapsalis, senior digital producer of the site. “There’s no taxonomic system that could cover the subjects of all these photographs. And we want a lot of tags for each image. So that’s why we turned to the public.”

“The results were staggering,” said Susan Chun, general manager for collections information planning at the Met. “There’s a huge semantic gap between museums and the public.”

I’m thrilled with the work that is happening around the steve.museum project. For example, explore the Powerhouse Museum’s online collection and see the ability to add keywords to any image.

Now I’m dreaming of how wonderful the world would be if we could have Google Art. I mean if Google can take on the concept of creating the digital library…why not do the same for the visual arts. Okay…so it is huge. But close your eyes and imagine if it were a reality. Imagine it was searchable, taggable, and helped you discover new artists you never knew about. Imagine if you could share your travel plans with GoogleArt and it could let you know about delicious small galleries you could visit on your next business trip. What if you could create an online digital collection and have it stream to your flatpanel TV screen…filling your living room with images of priceless art.

Does this cheapen art…or deepen your personal relationship with it? Does it make you never need to step foot in another museum…or does it make art and musuems so much a part of your everyday life that you find yourself drawn more and more to the physical galleries…because nothing, nothing is more powerful than standing in front of the original work of art?

(sigh)

Glenda and Rob. Photo taken by Rob Weychert

Sigh. Words cannot possibly describe the experience of SXSWi. It is true, this year’s event left me speechless (but smiling all the way to my heart). If you can’t imagine me at a loss for words, just ask Pixeldiva who saw me rendered speechless multiple times.

What is so magical about SX? Well…imagine…a place where there are no barriers to dreams, where ideas flow like a waterfall…drenching you with a creative fire so intense and pure that it feels like nirvana.

Moments of pure bliss for me this year include:

Delightful Discoveries

  • Meeting the wonderful Sue Clarke and taking a fieldtrip to Whole Foods with Money Lady and Malarkey.
  • Twitter and Dodgeball weren’t just noise. I experienced both of these tools connecting people. Filling in the spaces when physical distance can create barriers. Transforming an overwhelming large crowd into a network of friends.
  • Getting to meet the other Glenda!

Session Love

It would be impossible to tell you my favorite session…because everything was quite delicious. So…I’ll just mention a few that had me twittering “this is why I heart SXSW”:

  • Blogging Where Speech Isn’t Free – the work that global voices and Tor are doing to bring free speech via blogs to the people is momentous. I was inspired and humbled by the courage and resolve of these people.
  • Ajax Kung Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui – I was mesmerized by Neo Jeremy…he is indeed the Ajax Kung Fu Master. And Feather showed the way towards truly accessible Ajax. Heaven on earth.
  • WaSP Annual Meeting: Takin’ it to the Street – The WaSP is an amazing collection of passionate individuals who give their minds, hearts and souls to supporting efforts that help the web reach it’s full potential. Go WaSP!
  • The Influence of Art in Design – Yes…it is true. I was blown away by the other members of the panel. Even though we had met 5 times on skype and spent 2 hours together the day before playing in a museum…I still was moved and inspired by what my fellow panel members had to say. See our panel slides at theinfluenceofartindesign.com

IRL

What could possibly be the richest treasure of SX for me is turning virtual relationships into tangible ones. Spending quality time with Steph Troeth, Ralph Brandi and Kimberly Blessing (just to name a few) was priceless. The experience reminds me of how I describe art and technology. For me…the physical work of art is primary. Nothing is more sacred than the actual art object. When I add technology into the museum space my goal is to enhance your interaction with the object…but never to detract or get in your way. And indeed…I think of all my close friends as priceless works of art.

Best SXSW Ever

I echo what Craig Cook says about SXSWi2007. It was the best SXSW I’ve ever experienced. More meaningful connections. Deeper conversations. And over and over again I was struck by the fact that every person mattered. You would think that in the midst of this geek heaven…surrounded by thousands of brilliant minds…that you wouldn’t miss a friend or two who couldn’t be there this year. On the contrary…I personally felt a Hicks-sized hole in the event that not even FlatHicks could fill. And while we did our very best to virtually include everyone…it was good to know that no matter how amazing SX actual is…the event is truly about the people. So, to Hicks, Jessica, Kelly, John, Brothercake, Meri, Elly and everyone else who longed to be here…you were missed.

I’m in a quandry. I’m producing podcasts for my favorite museum and I want to make them very accessible. I’ve taken the time to add the transcript for each podcast to the lyrics metadata of each mp3…only to discover that the most current iPods deny me the joy of seeing the transcript/lyrics.

A cheesy solution is to dump the transcript into the rss feed for the podcast in the description. It doesn’t feel symantically proper…but it does allow even ancient iPods (like my iPod mini) to access the transcript.

So, at the moment, I’ve doubled up. I want to leave the transcript in the lyrics because that is semantically correct. But I have to put the transcripts in the description if I want anyone to actually see them on their iPod.

What do you think? Should I keep it doubled up? Or should I just put the transcript in the description?

And of course, I’ll be talkin’ to Apple asking them about their plans to solve this problem in the future.

Update: Workshop in Austin is sold out.

I wanted to let y’all know about a wonderful 3 day Digital Storytelling Workshop that is being hosted at UT, March 19-21st. This is the first ever Center for Digital Storytelling open workshop in Texas! Joe Lambert will lead this experience. Joe is the founder of the Digital Storytelling movement and author of Digital Storytelling-Capturing Lives, Creating Community. I had the good fortune to attend Joe’s sessions within the last year with some folks from the Blanton Museum. Joe’s workshop inspired us to create the Geometry of Hope Interactive Exhibit using the techniques we learned in this workshop + Pachyderm (the open source multimedia authoring tool).

If you have a story to tell…what are you waiting for?

Digital Storytelling Workshop – March 19-21, 2007

In 1993, Joe Lambert and his collaborators developed a unique workshop environment that assists people in creating video stories from their family photos and home video. It is based on a philosophy of emphasizing fundamental elements of good storymaking combined with a demystification of multimedia technology and tools.

We have helped over 10,000 people to mine powerful and effective tales from the pictures of their lives, or the lives of their loved ones. The stories have covered every conceivable topic: tales of survival and achievement; corporate brand stories, travel adventures; love stories, health and healing; oral histories about cultures, historic periods, and work experiences; and memorials to loved ones.

The class is a great introduction for the multimedia novice or the professional to working with digital imaging and digital video softwares.
The workshops include hands-on instruction to Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Express and script/storyboard development. The CDS teaching staff will give each student specific assistance on their projects, including design, scripting, and other issues regarding the specific use of their digital story.

Students will complete a 3 minute piece which will be output to disk and mailed following the workshop.

Course Objectives

  1. To provide students with an introduction to the tools of desktop video in a production context.
  2. To introduce storytelling methodology (point of view, emotional content, dramatic action) into a dialogue about new media content
  3. Assist students in completing a project.
  4. Provide a Digital Storytelling Cookbook.

Monday-Wednesday, March 19-21, 2007
North Office Building A (NOA)
University of Texas
Austin, TX

Price: $ 495 USD Individual project

To register email workshop@storycenter.org or for more information visit StoryCenter Workshops.

The world needs to hear your story.

Have you heard about the latest research in technology that enables a person who is blind to see with their tongue? The device is called a brainport and it consists of cameras that send electrical impulses to the tongue. A person using the device can learn to interpret the impulses on their tongue as images.

You’ve got to see it (or is that lick it) to believe it. Technology May Give Blind a Touch of Sight.

How delicious is that?

Some works of art are instantly accessible. Take the slides at the Tate Modern (aka the Unilever Series: Carsten Höller). You don’t need to read a label or know the title of this exhibit to connect with it. You can just experience it.

If you care to go deeper, you can consider the artists thoughts:

Carsten Höller: A slide is a sculpture that you can travel inside. However, it would be a mistake to think that you have to use the slide to make sense of it. Looking at the work from the outside is a different but equally valid experience, just as one might contemplate The Endless Column (1938) by Constantin Brancusi. From an architectural and practical perspective, the slides are one of the building’s means of transporting people, equivalent to the escalators, elevators or stairs. Slides deliver people quickly, safely and elegantly to their destinations, they’re inexpensive to construct and energy-efficient. They’re also a device for experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness. It was described in the fifties by the French writer Roger Caillois as ‘a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’.

I believe Carsten’s slide is a challenge to all museums to invite your visitors inside the art…to create opportunities for people to be transformed by their experience. And I’m thrilled to see so many museums already taking up this challenge. Look at what the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) is doing today in their Kiefer exhibit. The brilliant minds at SFMoMA know that “your interest in a work of art drops precipitously the further you move away from it, physically.” They have added learning lounges embedded in the exhibits that meet the visitors where they are…in the galleries, providing a focused gallery experience with multiple points of access.

As museums slide head first in to this creative adventure of building exhibits that are simply irresistible, I see the fabulous effects of collaboration around Pachyderm. Pachyderm is an open source authoring environment for creators of web-based and multimedia learning experiences. Some of my favorite examples:

  • SFMoMA sharing their knowledge and tools for creating online learning modules via the open source project Pachyderm
  • New Media Consortium bringing museums and higher education together to collaborate on digital media
  • The Edward and Betty Marcus Digital Education Project putting Pachyderm in the hands of so many Texas museums

Last week, at the Pachyderm Conference in Austin, I was inspired by the work that is occurring at the Seattle Art Museum (where they are preparing for an exciting reopenning), The Walters’ Integrating the Arts: Mummies, Manuscripts & Madonnas, SFMoMA and many others. Two high points for me:

  • brainstorming in the bar with Tim Svenonius and Anne Manning about how to create meaningful online learning experiences
  • hearing Peter Samis say “Video is useless without a transcript. My cardinal rule – get video transcribed immediately.

    What thrilled me most about this statement was Peter was not approaching transcription as a requirement for accessibility, he was explaining how critical a transcript was in the process of editing and pinpointing the most powerful clips from the original video. After the final edits, the addition of synchronized closed captioning is a simple step for SFMoMA. Oh, how I dearly love it when semantics and accessibility work hand-in-hand.

So, I encourage you to join me as I explore the new worlds within museums by:

I’d love to hear about your discoveries!

Have you ever had a tagging competition? Check out the Google Image Labeler. I swear, it feels like a game.

How does it work?
You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner’s label, you’ll earn some points and move on to the next image until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you’ve seen and the websites where those images were found. And we’ll show you the points you’ve earned throughout the session.

Now…don’t you want to see if you can beat my score?

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