Archive for April, 2006

Sweet Lord! The Austin American Statesman has created an interactive virtual 360 tour of the Blanton Museum Galleries. I am thrilled beyond words! Can’t make it to the Blanton for the 24-hour extremely grand opening? Oooooooo….yes you can! Well, at least virtually! Come on and join me in the Blanton Interactive Map.

The Blanton Museum is the place where art comes alive. I’m blogging live from the Blanton at 2:40 in the mornin’!!!! (yes, I had a red bull) Never have I seen so many people playing, dancing and drinking in art.

This is the way art was meant to be enjoyed. With the abandon of a child. Are we dreaming? Perhaps? But sometimes dreams do come true!

(Now I’m off to enjoy milk and cookies, the Austin Craft Mafia Fashion Show and Random Acts of Brilliance with a huge helping of creative culture! In the meantime…you can check out my Blanton pictures on flickr, Michael Barnes bloggin’ from the Blanton or the new Blanton Web Site.

Icarus Sculpture by Charles Umlauf

A personal response to before the fall: a sound journey by Natacha Poggio

A moment of peace in the midst of chaos, I step into the garden and relax into the moment. This garden is familiar to me, I’ve been here many times, but each time reveals a new treasure, a new discovery.

I’m drawn towards the sculpture of Icarus, as though my heart knows the way.

I approach the boy, whose waxy wings have failed him…I draw close and listen to the wind in the trees and the sound of poetry. My senses are soaking in the sounds and the sights as I experience the fall.

For a moment, I feel like a bird, watching Icarus plummet through the air beside me.

I think, “Poor Icarus, why did you have to fly so high? Your wings would have held you well, had you listened to the wise words of your father.”

I spend more time with Icarus than I’ve ever spent before. The sound journey has woven a story web around us and I enjoy exploring my new bonds with this piece.

Days later, I can still close my eyes and return to this time in the garden. The story of Icarus flits in and out of my consciousness until I see the message meant for me.

In this world of data overload, it is refreshing to find a site that gives you focused and useful information. Let me introduce you to, Bite Size Standards, one of my new favorites for concise web development tutorials.

Bite Size Standards, affectionately called BSS, is written by designers and developers who are passionate about the web standards project. Topics include Accessibility, CSS, DOM, JavaScript, Search Engine Optimization and XHTML.

So, the next time you get a craving for some succinct standards, head on over to BSS and have a bite.

My good friend Andrea tapped me with this meme. So, curl up with your favorite cup of cocoa or tea and I tell you where I was…

One year ago I was finding my blog voice. At SXSWi 2005, I saw the power of social computing in action through blogs, flickr, delicious, etc. On 3/17/2005 I made my first post to and wondered if I had what it takes to really be a blogger. My boss suggested that I just had a passing infatuation with blogs…to which I now say, with over a year’s worth of experience… my love of blogs is real.

Five years ago
I had re-envisioned my career and my life…sketching out on paper how I wanted to live my life. And thanks to the wonderful support of my friends, family and spiritual director, I was able to turn my vision into reality. I helped my parents move to a wonderful new home nearby, I reduced my work hours to part-time so I could spend more quality time with my boys, and I found a job that let me explore my potential and really make a difference.

Ten years ago
I had finally become a mother, after years of broken dreams and heartache. My arms were finally full and my life was bursting at the seams. Wife, Mother, HRIS Manager, Daughter, Friend, Me….so many hats….and in stepped Mary Steinhardt, my instructor for “Seven Habits for Highly Effective People”. I still carry the cards in my portfolio from the lessons I learned that week.

Funny, how so many people groan when they get a meme. Guess I’m just different. I enjoy the chance to get to know my virtual and physical friends better while taking a moment for personal reflection (or just downright silliness).

So, let me pick 3 of my very dearest friends to pass this baton to:

A question arose on the way to dinner last night. What was the value of “getting naked” yesterday by stripping off our CSS to celebrate Annual CSS Naked Day?

One of my friends said (perhaps jokingly),

“So over 750 people had nothing better to do today than strip off their CSS. I don’t have time for these memes.”

In response, I said,

This isn’t a meme. This is about Web Standards.

He quipped back,

Yeah, but only the geeks that already know web standards would understand Annual CSS Naked Day.

And while this was a very casual conversation on the way to dinner between friends who often rib each other and push each other’s ideas inside out for exploration sake, the question kept running through my mind, and my heart says…CSS Naked Day is not just some silly ubergeek inside joke. I think it is an awesome way to extend the concept of CSS Zen Garden to all of our sites (whether your site’s design is worthy of the Zen master or not).

It is a delightful way of catching the world’s attention and saying, “Hey, professional web design has changed for good. There is extreme value in separating content from presentation. And semantic markup liberates your data!”

I wonder how many people were inspired yesterday to improve their sites. Did it instigate a redesign, motivate improved semantic markup, shock some poor non-geek into the realization that the web has extremely valuable web standards, inspire a manager to ask his web developer to reveal their own site stripped of css…

So, that is what I think. How ’bout you?

Time to party with your css off! It is the Annual CSS Naked Day! Web standards lovers everywhere have stripped their css off today to flaunt their <body>.

And while I was a little bit late to the party…I couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw my css aside for the rest o’ the day.

Hmmmmm….would someone pass the sunscreen please?

Museums and the Web is one of my favorite conferences because it combines three of my passions: art, creative thinking and technology. What makes this conference especially rich is the requirement for all presenters to write a 5000 word research paper prior to the conference. The ability for me to read a paper before the presentation gives me the opportunity to ask meaningful questions and dig deep into the issues.

Here are some highlights of my learning moments this year at Museums and the Web 2006.

Future Trends:

Ten Years On:  Hopes, Fears, Preditions and Gambles for UK Museums On-line – Jemima Rellie, Tate.

Jemima’s presentation took us back through significant web developments in UK Museums over the past ten years.  Achievements made possible through grant funding projects have included the Tate’s digitizing of their entire collection of over 65,000 works (see Tate Online Collection ). 

I was most impressed with the National Gallery’s Create Your Own series of cards, calendars and prints and how it integrated with the online gallery.  Only problem I ran into was finding works of art that I would be allowed to use to make a print/postcard/calendar.  With the small enhancement of teaching the gallery to only show the “make your own” link for images that are approved for this process…this “Create Your Own” feature will be irresistible.  (See National Gallery’s Create Your Own )

Looking towards the future, we should all think digital in everything we do.  "Content created within the organization should be destined for on-line distrubtion as well as put to other intended use.  Museums are now in the business of collecting not just objects, but also digitizing content."

We also need to create intuitive and inspiring discovery tools that help our users find what they are looking for, or discover gems they would have missed.  And the time has come to incorporate Web 2.0 principles in our sites.  The web is no longer a one-way medium.  We must create engaging interactive sites that incorporate RSS (like the 24 Hour Museum ), tagging (like steve.musuem and Cleveland Museum of Art (see ‘help others find me” ) and user provided content (like SFMOMA’s artcast invitational)


Artcasting at SFMOMA: First Year Lessons, Future Challenges for Museum Podcasters – Peter Samis and Stephanie Pau

This presentation and paper by SFMOMA is what this conference is all about.  It is a chronicle of their experience and lessons learned, and a recipe for any of us to review and adapt to our own needs, as we explore podcasting in our own museums. 

I’m very excited about SFMOMA’s artcast invitational where they encourage the general public to submit their own carefully composed podcasts where “Winning entries will be selected by a jury comprised of SFMOMA staffers and a guest artist. Ingenuity, veracity, and an original point of view are all taken into consideration. Selected podcasts will be featured in monthly SFMOMA Artcast installments beginning summer 2006.”

And if you really want to feel the power of podcasts created by someone outside the museum community…download SFMOMA’s Artcast from Feb 2006 and listen to JT Leroy.  Fast forward to 6 minutes and 25 seconds and listen for at least 3 minutes …and let the power of JT’s storytelling tear down the baracades to the museum and help you find a way in.  Simply amazing!

I was especially grateful for the 5th myths of podcasting:

  1. Myth – Visitors will be able to bring in their iPods and sych them to a docking station.
  2. Myth – Podcasts behave the same way as audio tours and can supplant them at a fraction of the cost.
  3. Myth  – Many museums have launched their podcast programs by repurposing content they already own.
  4. Myth  – Since iPods play MP3 files, they are compatible with each other and all MPS players, regardless of generation.
  5. Myth  – We no longer need to hire an audio tour production company because podcasts lower the bar so we can produce our own.

For the scoop on why these are myths…head to their research paper at Artcasting at SFMOMA: First Year Lessons, Future Challenges for Museum Podcasters – Peter Samis and Stephanie Pau


Blogs were big this year at Museums and the Web.  UBC Botanical Garden’s Botany Photo of the Day is an excellent example of  content written in a personal voice (as opposed to an institional voice) with the opportunity for user contribution.  To allow users to submit photos for consideration, a Flickr Group as been established at.   The site is clearly achiveiving its goals of

  1. Promoting UBC Botanical Garden
  2. Creating completing content constantly
  3. Meaningful user contributions
  4. Enriching and Educating the public on Botany

And the big winner of the Best of the Web was the Science Buzz Blog by Bryan Kennedy. His creative use of blogs to engage students in science is really working!

Oooooo….how I want to start an art work of the week blog (as soon as I find a spare minute).

Tagging  An ongoing experiment in social tagging, folksonomy, and museums

By far, the most exciting presentation of the conference for me was the a collaborative research project by The Cleveland Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Rubin Museum of Art and SFMOMA.

 This project is all about improving findability of museum objects through user contributions.  For anyone who has experienced the amazing phenomenon of flickr tagging, the value of allowing users to tag art they way they see it is an obvious next step.  The trick is designing an experience that is intrinsically motivating to users, creating an appropriate interface, ensuring moderation when needed and building the bridge between folksonomy and taxonomy. 

How do you bridge folksonomy and taxonomy?  Why, a thesaurus, of course!  I was surprised by the simplicity of the answer.  Using tools like wordnet, we can create a semantic web based on a relational thesaurus.  And while I still believe we will always need brilliant human minds reviewing the emerging patterns and connections between folksonomy and taxonomy…wordnet is a fabulous starting point

Check out the cataloguing prototype.  The Cleveland Museum of Art has already integrated this concept into their Cleveland Museum Online Gallery (see ‘help others find me”). 

The steve project is just the kind of collaborative brainpower that makes Museums and the Web such a stimulating conference.  Really bright people taking museums to the next level. 

Best of the Web

I just have to share two inspiring examples from the best of Museums and the Web

My Goals:

At the end of a really good conference, I always leave with a list of things to do, so here is my list from MW2006:

  1. Think digital – Remember to preserve the story about the art.
  2. Tagging/User Contribution – Enrich our online image gallery with tagging using the model.
  3. Blogging/User Contribution – Create a blogging opportunity that inspires YOU to spend more time looking, thinking, talking and blogging about art!
  4. Read The Art of Innovation and Thoughtless Acts? : Observations on Intuitive Design Thanks for inspiring me to read these Kevin!

Underlying Theme to my MW2006 Goals – Making the museum, my museum!