Cultural Heritage

A UKOLN Blog for the Cultural Heritage sector (now archived)

Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

Learning about Web 2.0 – the 23 Things plan

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17th December 2009

The November 2009 issue of CILIP’s journal Library + Information Update has two pieces on staff Web 2.0 development programmes, both well worth a read. The first piece by Jenny Evans and Lynn Barrett compares and contrasts the programmes developed at Imperial College London and the University of Huddersfield, while the second piece by Leo Appleton and Alex Spiers reports on the programme at Liverpool John Moores.

All programmes ran over an extended period of time, with individual ‘lessons’ on specific aspects of Web 2.0. An integral part of all the programmes was the requirement to try out various Web 2.0 tools and services. The reports also include useful information on what worked and what didn’t.

Imperial College London and the University of Huddersfield both used the 23 Things programme created by Helene Blowers as the basis for their staff training programmes. Blowers invited people to re-use her work by licensing it under Creative Commons and it’s since been adapted by more than 350 libraries across the world. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t be equally useful to museums and archives. So why not have a look and see whether it could work for you?

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Reaching Out to Readers in a Digital World

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27th November 2009

I was recently invited to participate in the “R-e-@ding: Reaching out to Readers in a Digital World” Conference which took place at the Rufus Centre, Flitwick, Bedfordshire. The conference, which was organised by ReadEast, the Eastern Region’s reader development network, attracted about 100 participants.

The day began with a keynote talk  by Phil Bradley. His talk on “Setting The Virtual Scene” provided the context for the day, with a tour of a variety of Social Web services (YouTube, Ning, LibraryThing, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Phil argued that libraries need to move away from the constraints of the instituional Web site and ensure that content was available in the Web sites (and devices) which the user community are using.

I had been invited to facilitate two (fully-subscribed) breakout sessions on “De-mystifying the Social Web“.  I explained some of the benefits which the Social Web can provide to public libraries, focussing particularly on the advantage of social services, which improve as the numbers of users grow, and the particular benefits of the ‘network as the platform’ in today’s economic climate – we can provide valuable services to our user communities without, in some cases, the need to procure software and to have the technical expertise needed to install software locally.

Of course there are barriers and these were address during the breakout sessions. There was agreement that the biggest obstacles preventing effective use of the Social Web in supporting Library activities are the organisational IT Services/Communications policies.  It was interesting to note that resourcing Social Web activities and gaining a better understanding of both its potential and how such services can be implemented, although relevant, were not felt to be as important as overcoming policy barriers. And hearing the stories of how participants make use of services during Twitter and Facebook whilst  working at home in order to circumvent the council’s firewall provided a wonderful example of how librarians will seek to support their users even in the face of institutional barriers!

It would be unreasonable to suggest that working from home in order to access and maintain Social Web sites which are blocked from work is a sensible solution! But what can be done? My suggestions were:  

Using Social Web services for peer support: Public librarians should build on their well-established traditions of openness and sharing. Various JISCMail lists aimed at the public library sector are popular (such as the well-established lib-pub-libs and the newer lis-web2lists). However it would be appropriate to gain experiences of use of Social Web services by using them to support collaborative activities with one’s peers as such experiences should prove beneficial when supporting services for engaging with the user community.

Openness and sharing: The Web 2.0 characteristic of openness and sharing is well-suited for the library sector.  So let’s encourage sharing of experiences and resources through use of Creative Commons licences.  Note that UKOLN’s briefing documents for the Cultural heritage Sector has a section on Legal Issues, which includes an Introduction to Creative Commons.

Syndication and RSS: In the breakout session I suggested that the one most important TLA was RSS (Really Simple Syndication). In a show of hands it seems that awareness of RSS is low within the sector – so UKOLN’s briefing documents on Syndication Technologies are likely to be of interest.  I suggested that PageFlakes would be a useful RSS reader for those with an interest in gaining an understanding of how an RSS reader works and the benefits such technologies can provide.

Working collectively: As was evident for the discussion sessions, there was clear interest in discussing opportunities which the Social Web can provide and the barriers to be faced.  As well as sharing experiences I suggested that it may be useful to work collectively in the development of solutions. Such an approach is likely to be particularly relevant at a time of an expected decrease in public sector funding. 

Acting strategically: As well as practitioners working collaboratively I also think it would be useful for policy makers and senior managers to act strategically. 

I will expand on these suggestions in future posts.  Note that the slides I used in my breakout sessions are available on Slideshare and are also embedded below. And I welcome comments, questions and suggestions from participants at the Readeast09 conference and the wider community.

Posted in Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Dull Library Web Sites

Posted by guestblogger on 1st November 2009

This guest blog post is written by Margaret Adolphus, a journalist specialising in librarianship, the knowledge industry and higher education, and currently researching an article on public library websites.

I’d come across Margaret’s request for information in CILIP Gazette in August 2009 and featured it in my post entitled Why are Library Web Sites so Dull?. When I contacted Margaret recently to find out just what sort of feedback she had had and whether she had come to any conclusions, I was pleased when she offered to write this guest blog post.

Contact Margaret at or on 01525 229487.


Earlier this year I put the following question to readers of CILIP Gazette (31 July – 13 August 2009 issue):

Why is it that public library websites are so often so dull compared with their American counterparts, and why do they make so little use of social media, inviting comment and participation from their publics?

I received several responses, mostly from librarians who were frustrated by interference from the local authority for whom they worked. The latter had a web blueprint which they wanted all their service departments to follow, regardless of whether they were promoting culture or collecting refuse. Even the content of library websites was sometimes re-written (by people who were also writing about re-cycling, rights of way and parks maintenance, and who were not professional librarians), whilst also being subject to the dictates of the branding police.

Other respondents, however, had managed to circumvent their local authority masters to produce highly creative web solutions: The Idea Store in Tower Hamlets, and Tales of One City in Edinburgh being two such examples.

Edinburgh City Library homepage:

Edinburgh Tales of One City

Edinburgh Tales of One City

And, on the other side of the Atlantic, public libraries have much more engaging and interactive sites, with creative use of images, rich media and social media – resulting in a site which was both appealing and engaging.

Darien Libraries (USA) homepage:

darien library homepage

darien library homepage

An avid reader, I’m often on our library website, but to order books recommended elsewhere. I would not browse in the way that I browse Amazon for recommendations. And yesterday, when I wanted to know the percentage of those living below the poverty line in Namibia, I consulted the Internet, not the reference librarian (although I’ve subsequently discovered their excellent collection of subscription works).

I’m a natural library user – middle aged and book loving. But most of the rest of the population, especially those in a younger age group, are used to 24/7 opportunities for information and entertainment, and commercial websites which offer browsing and personalization. So it’s vital that public libraries enhance their virtual presence to appeal to this wider demographic, if they are not to lose them.

We are living in an age when the web is not just for information or commercial transaction: it’s a place for social exchange. Ordinary people can write and be published on the web without the expense of constructing a web site; they can meet one another, chat and have discussions. Information is no longer top down, delivered by an authority from above, but something that anyone can contribute to. Evidence for this is seen not just in blogs and social networking sites, but also in formal collections of information such as library catalogues. Some libraries, for example, are introducing local community information into their catalogues, hence both harnessing collective intelligence and providing a social service.

One of the complaints voiced to me after the Gazette piece was that people felt disempowered by what they perceived as ICT control over their website. One librarian commented: ‘a library website should belong to the library first, but it inevitably ends up being a mouthpiece for council services, rather than an important tool for developing the library offering’.

In an era when library managers – as are those of all council services for that matter – are having to cut costs and increase services, going virtual is an objective which will not only meet people where they are, but also save costs. The virtual library can enable self service, with people searching the catalogue and putting in their own requests, renewing their books etc. – thereby reducing the number of staff needed on the front desk. Reference works can be put online, so that library subscribers can browse accredited works without having to ask the reference librarian.

So, it makes good sense for library managers to redirect their staff towards web services, which in these days of easy to use content management systems, do not require a lot of technical expertise. And, as the trend is for more council services to be outsourced, doesn’t it also make sense for the council to allow the library to do its own thing?

My research into why more libraries are not putting more effort into their virtual services is ongoing, and I would welcome comment on this piece as well as any experiences, good or bad, that you wish to share.

Contact Margaret at or on 01525 229487.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

An iPhone App for the Rijksmuseum

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28th October 2009

I am increasingly finding that Twitter provides a valuable alerting services, informing me of new services in a timely and succinct way. This morning, for example, a tweet from the museweb  Twitter account (provided by Museums and the Web) informed me that “Rijksmseum Rijkswidget now iPhone app…

Rijksmuseum app (information)Rjksmuseum app (painting)As I was using my iPod Touch to view the overnight tweets I was able to follow the link and install the application.

The free application “enables users to admire a different painting from the Rijksmuseum’s collection every day“.

The Rijksmuseum is clearly pleased with this application which allows users to “rotate or zoom in on the image“. In addition the app provides “links to the Rijksmuseum’s website for more information” and supports a widening participation and engagement with resources housed at the museum: “Thanks to the widget and the iPhone, the public can now enjoy the Rijksmuseum’s collection anywhere and at any time“.

I’m not the first person to be impressed with this work.  The widget page allows users to give their comments on the tool (which, I should add, can also be embedded in Web sites):

What a wonderful way to reach out and share something wonderful with the world. A brilliant, human use of technology“.

 Although there are also some dissenting opinions:

A useless way to use new technology, but none seems to care… A pure widget : ‘an often small electronic device with a/no practical use but often thought of as a novelty’“.

A wonderful way of reaching out and sharing cultural heritage resources or a useless piece of new technology of no practical value? What do you think?

Posted in Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

MLA Digital Agenda

Posted by Marieke Guy on 29th September 2009

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) have published a new set of Web pages highlighting their policy for the Digital agenda in libraries, archives and museums.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Sector has an important role to play in using digital technologies to deliver improved access, increased information and more opportunities for participation in its rich diversity of resources and services.

MLA is committed to helping museums, libraries and archives make full use of these opportunities, and to ensuring that the sector is at the heart of government digital policies.

Our role is to provide strategic leadership to the sector in relation to the digital agenda through:

  • Developing a vision for the sector’s use of digital technologies
  • Supporting and promoting the development of quality standards
  • Encouraging innovation to enable inclusion of all communities
  • Promoting understanding and skills development

MLA has commissioned digital services from a number of organisations to help to deliver:

  • More and better quality information on cultural opportunities to the public
  • A coherent portal for cultural resources for teachers and learners
  • Greater interaction with individuals and communities through use of Web 2.0 and social networking tools
  • High quality standards in the management and preservation of digital resources

UKOLN will be working with MLA on this digital agenda and an overview of the digital services commissioned is now available.

Further information on the social Web workshops we will be running is also now available. More information on venues and dates will follow.

Posted in Events, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Silos of the LAMS: A UKOLN Perspective

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15th September 2009

Later on today I’ll be giving a talk at the CILIP Executive Briefing on “Beyond the Silos of the LAMS” which will address the challenges of “Unlocking the benefits of collaboration between libraries, archives and museums”.

In my 5 minute contribution I will look back at the approaches taken to national digital library development work, starting with my involvement in the standards documents for the eLib, DNER/IE and NOF-digitise programmes. I’ll point out that the producer-focussed approaches which we promoted (in which funding bodies mandated use of certain standards and best practices) were challenged by the rise of Web 2.0 and the Social Web. And rather than digital services being a scarce commodity the role of the Social Web and services such as Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc. meant that users had a vast range of digital resources on offer.

The popularity of these services has challenged the traditional approaches the public sector has taken to the development of networked services. We are now seeing a call for lightweight development methodologies, based on simple and widely deployed standards such as RSS, as opposed to the development of more sophisticated standards and applications, especially if such approaches fail to be adopted in the wider market place or their use results in complex user interfaces.

We are also seeing renewed enthusiasm from the development community, with developers apparently now willing to give up their time (sometimes weekends) in order to attend ‘mashed library’ and ‘mashed museum’ events, barcamps, hackfests and related events.

But what are the implications of this changed environment for professionals in the libraries, archives and museums sectors? Over the past couple of years UKOLN has delivered a series of workshops for the community which provide an introduction to the Social Web and how various Social Web technologies and the Web 2.0 approaches of sharing and openness can be (and are being) used to enhance the services provided by cultural heritage organisations. These workshops also address the barriers to effective use of the Social Web, including the need to gain a better understanding of the technologies, the resource implications in setting up and sustaining such services, the concerns over issues such as sustainability, interoperability, accessibility, etc. and the organisational barriers, such as the firewall policies implemented by IT services departments.

These are issues which are faced across the libraries, archives and museums sectors. Addressing these issues should therefore benefit from collaboration across libraries, archives and museums. And how do we facilitate such collaborations? One approach is to make use of the Social Web technologies to facilitate discussions and sharing across the sectors as well as using these technologies to deliver services to the user communities?

In recent months we have already seen an increased take-up of Twitter, to illustrate one Social Web technology, across the library sector. Twitter, indeed, was the focus of the recent #CILIP 2 debate, which took place at the CILIP Headquarters. The interest on the discussions of the role of Web 2.0 for the library and information communities resulted in the “#cilip2″ tag ‘trending (and being more widely discussed on the dat than ‘swine flu’). And we have just seen a directory of 100 British Librarians on Twitter which has been established, which makes it easier for newcomers to find their peers and participate in the discussions.

My vision for how we can “unlock the benefits of collaboration between libraries, archives and museums” is to encourage the spirit of openness and sharing which professionals in the sector should have and to use a variety of Social Web services to encourage greater debate and discussions on the vision for our services in the networked environment we now work in.

Posted in Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

100 British Librarians on Twitter

Posted by Marieke Guy on 14th September 2009

Phil Bradley has used TweepML, an extensible, open standard format that
allows you to manage and share groups of Twitter users, to create a list of 100 British Librarians on Twitter. TweepML allows you to select the people you want to follow, be it all of them of just a few.

In his blog post he explains that coming up with just 100 librarians has been tricky and he’s asking for feedback on the process.

He’d also like to:

Create more specific lists such as UK School Librarians, UK Academic Librarians etc, get people to manage them and leave the existing list for people who don’t fall into any of those categories. This could work, but it’s going to take time, and people prepared to volunteer to do this.

Can you help him with his mission?

Posted in Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Why are Library Websites so Dull?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7th August 2009

Now that’s not my question but one posed by Margaret Adolphus in a recent issue of the CILIP Gazette (31 July – 13 August 2009 issue). Margaret writes:

I am a journalist specialising in librarianship, the knowledge industry and higher education, and I am researching an article on the following theme: why is it that public library websites are so often so dull compared with their American counterparts, and why do they make so little use of social media, inviting comment and participation from their publics?

There are some notable exceptions, for example:
The Idea Store

But generally speaking few libraries do much to entice the user into the world of imagination, entertainment, information and ideas to which books and other resources are the key. They are merely service points for opening hours, online renewals, etc.

I want to look at good practice in the article and also at why public libraries do not do more in this area. My suspicion is that many are restricted in what they can do by having to conform to the ethos or design of the local authority website they are part of.

I would love to hear your views (I am happy to omit names if that is preferred). You can contact me on or on 01525 229487.
Margaret Adolphus

So, why not just take a few minutes to look at your library website – is it dull and uninviting? Are you frustrated – you want to do more but are restricted? Are there any more innovative sites out there apart from those Margaret mentions? Or do you have plans underway – but you haven’t launched the new look site yet? Then get in touch with Margaret and let her know what you think about this.

Posted in Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Challenges in Using the Social Web to Maximise Access to your Resources

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4th August 2009

Last month I gave a series of presentations on “Using the Social Web to Maximise Access to your Resources“. These were delivered in a series of workshops organised by the Strategic Content Alliance and held in Belfast, Edinburgh, London and Cardiff. In addition a slightly tweaked version of the session was held at the IWMW 2009, following the unavailability of one of the planned sessions.

The structure of the sessions was (a) an illustration how the Social Web can complement Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to maximise access to resources, services and ideas; (b) examples of approach to use of metrics to understand the success (or not) or the approaches taken and (c) discussions of the challenges to be faced in making use of the Social Web for these purposes.

The slides used at the IWMW 2009 session are included below (and are also available on Slideshare).

In the final workshop held at Cardiff on 31 July 2009 I invited participants to raise any specific concerns they had regarding use of the Social Web. These issues were recorded and are included below. I did (foolishly!) agree to provide ‘solutions’ to any issues which participants raised. I’ll try to do this in a forthcoming post. In the meantime can anyone help by providing solutions to these issues?

Table 1

  • How do you find relevant resources?
  • What are the quick wins?
  • How does one develop an organisational strategy?
  • How does one rein in the enthusiasts?
  • How do you get motivation higher up the food chain?

Table 2

  • Who owns the content and how does one go about monitoring  it?
  • How do you learn how to use social media?
  • How do you automate workflow processes to keep, for example,  course materials up-to-date on third party Web sites?

Table 3

  • How appropriate is it to move in to student’s social media (it might make them move out)?
  • What about the investment in existing systems (e.g. VLEs, CMSs, etc.)?

Table 4

  • Is their a problem just trying to be cool and trendy, or can we fulfill particular purposes?
  • Can you assume that all students are able to communicate i.e. social inclusion?
  • Should you seek permission in the first place… or just do it?

Table 5

  • How do you monitor what’s up there and make sure it is answered in reasonable time
  • How do you convince decision makers for staff to do this work and get resources?

Table 6

  • What tone should be used for embracing Social Web?
  • How do you control and monitor use of the Social Web?
  • How do you identify authentic Web sites, compared to those that appear similar?

Posted in Addressing Barriers, Social Web, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

A Risks and Opportunities Framework for the Culture Grid

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22nd July 2009

Nick Poole, CEO of Collections Trust, was an invited speaker at the recent JISC Digital Collections conference. Nick’s talk, entitled Digital Britain or Digital Landfill: The Challenges to Heritage and HEIs, provided a vision for the online cultural environment and how the approaches being taken by Collections Trust, which are described in a blog post on the Culture Grid, relate to the interests of the higher and further education sectors.

Nick’s talk, which seemed to be warmly received, has been summarised by Tom Roper and Carrie Dunn on the JISC digitisation blog. In addition Nick has published his slides on Slideshare and they are embedded below.

I was particularly interested to see the slide (slide 22) in which Nick how cultural content, held in the ‘Cultural Grid’ can be accessed via a wide range of services, ranging from niche services for the the researcher and professional, sector-specific services through to the mass market services provided by well-known Web 2.0 companies.

The vision Nick described reflects one which I shared, in which there is a mixed economy, with resources being curated in a secure environment and a range of access services being used to maximise access to the content.

At the Museums and the Web 2009 conference I presented a paper on “Time To Stop Doing and Start Thinking: A Framework For Exploiting Web 2.0 Service” in which I described a framework for use by policy makers, managers and developers in addressing the risks of using Cloud Services. The paper explained how the framework needs to be applied to in-house development work and use of managed Cloud service (where they may be contractual agreements) as well as the various Web 2.0 services in which there may not be formal contractual agreements.

The accompanying image illustrates how the framework, which has been described in more detail on this blog, can be applied to the development approach which Nick has described.

One of the risks which has been identified in various Web 2.0 workshops which UKOLN has delivered to the cultural heritage sector has been the need for practitioners and policy makers in the cultural heritage sector to have a better understanding of the Social Web environment, in order to ensure that the opportunities it can provide are realised and the risks understood and strategies developed to minimise such risks.

The UKOLN work plan, which has been agreed in discussions with MLA, will continue to provide advice and best practices for the sector in order to build capacity in cultural heritage organisations. We will use this blog to keep the sector informed of our activities. We also welcome your comments and views.

Posted in Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

What’s in Your URL?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18th June 2009

This train of thought started with helping to redesign the printed publicity leaflet for CILIP’s Cataloguing and Indexing Group (CIG). The design was looking good: it had brief wording of essential facts and a couple of images, plus a clear typeface that was left justified for accessibility.

Then someone noticed that the column width meant that a long URL was cut mid-word as it went on to a second line. We needed to split the URL at a better point, since reducing the font size to fit it all on one line made the text too small. So where should we split the URL?

First stop Wikipedia. Articles on URL and URI gave useful information on what they are and how they are constructed but nothing on print layout when quoting them.

An Internet search found references to citation rules such as the Chicago Manual of Style Online but I could only find information on what you need to include and in which order.

However, the same search led me to a post about best practice for URLs on the blog. There’s some useful information here and it’s well worth a look (and inspired the title for this post), though still not addressing the print display issue.

We didn’t find a definitive answer but having looked at lots of other examples, the group agreed to that it seems best to split at the division points – indicated by the forward slash as in:

Has anyone else come across a definitive answer on this somewhere?

Posted in Web 2.0 | Comments Off

AIM 2009 Conference: “Benefits of the Social Web”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11th June 2009

I was pleased to have been invited to speak at the annual conference organised by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM). The AIM 2009 conference was held at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port with the theme of “Volunteering in the Independent Museum“.

My talk, entitled “Benefits of the Social Web: How Can It Help My Museum?”, fitted in nicely with this theme in exploring ways in which social networking services could be exploiting by museums, in particular small museums with limited resources and technical expertise.

My  slides, which are available on Slideshare and embedded below, provided a number of examples on how the Social Web is being used by a number of cultural heritage organisations.

My talk concluded by mentioning some of the challenges which need to be addressed in order to make effective use of the Social Web. In the afternoon I facilitated two hour-long workshop sessions which provided an opportunity to discuss these challenges in more detail.

One particular challenge which was raised in both sessions was how does one choose which service to engage with, as there are so many options available. :I suggested that one important technology to explore was RSS (Really Simple Syndication) as this would enable content on a small Web site to be made available (syndicated) elsewhere, either on other Web sites or on mobile devices. And a good way of gaining a better understanding of RSS (which many participants appeared to be unaware of) was to make use of a simple RSS reader such as Netvibes or PageFlakes.

Use this, I suggested, to view relevant RSS feeds which might include resources from similar museums which are already providing RSS feeds, resources from funding organisation, blog posts form the msueums sector and even areas of personal interest (the BBC news site provides a range of RSS feeds). And once you have appreciated the benefit of dynamic content coming to your rather than having to visit Web sites to see if anything new is available you should then be motivated to create RSS feeds for your own institution. And if you’re still unclear as to how Netvibes can be used, have a look at the Netvibes page which brings together dynamic content about UKOLN’s cultural heritage resources, which is also illustrated below.

But how would you go about creating RSS feeds? One approach is to make use of Socuial Web applications such as blogs and resources sharing services (e.g. Flickr) as these will normally provide RSS feeds or other syndication mechanisms as standard.

Further information is provided on UKOLN’s Cultural heritage IntroBytes briefing documents, which include documents covering syndication technologies, blogging, micro-blogging and social networks.

Finally I should add that a video of my talk is available on the Blip.TV video sharing service and embedded below. The file is also available from the UKOLN Web site.

Posted in Events, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Amplified CILIPS09 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1st June 2009

The annual CILIP Scotland conference takes place at the Peebles Hotel Hydro this week from Monday 1st – Wednesday 3 June. I am speaking at the conference where I’ll give a talk on “From eLib to NOF-digi and Beyond“.

As described in a post entitled “CILIPS Annual Conference Amplification” on the SLAINTE blog this will be an ‘amplified’ event which will exploit the WiFi network at the venue to encourage live-blogging to support discussions between conference participants and also to allow those not physically present to engage in the discussions. The conference organisers have announced the tag for the event in advance – it is ‘#cilips09‘.

This event amplification follows similar experimentation at the CILIP Cymru conference which I described recently and also provided my Reflections on Use of Twitter at the #CILIP-CYMRU09 Conference. And, of course, it follows on from the successes of the CILIP2 open meeting which provided a lively online forum for CILIP members to discuss the role of the Social Web for the CILIP community.

I have to admit that I am really pleased that CILIP members and CILIP Cymu and CILIP Scotland are embracing a Web 2.0 culture in this way, demonstrating a willingness to engage with these new technologies and learn from their successes – and also the things which may not go to plan.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Talk at the CILIP Wales Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25th May 2009

Last week I attended the CILIP Wales, Welsh Libraries, Archives and Museums Conference 2009 which was held at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells. A recording of a rehearsal of my talk, which was entitled “Virtual Space for All: The Opportunities and Challenges Provided By The Social Web has been made available on Slideshare (and is embedded below). At the conference itself I took a video recording of my talk, which is available on Blip.TV.

I suggested that the ease of creating and sharing videos may be particularly relevant to Welsh cultural heritage organisations, in light of the difficulties in travelling around Wales. I have made a start by ensuring that my talk can be viewed by people who might not have been able to travel to the conference. I hope this proves useful – and your feedback would be welcomed.

Posted in Events, Web 2.0 | 6 Comments »

Explaining the Risks and Opportunities Framework

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st May 2009

In my recent blog post on my Talk at the MCG Spring Meeting 2009 I gave a brief summary of the talk on “Engaging With The Social Web: A Risks and Opportunities Framework” which I gave at the MCG Spring Meeting 2009 and included a video recording of the talk.

As promised in that post, I am today explaining in more detail what I mean by a risks and opportunities Framework.

The advocacy work, such as that described Mike Ellis and myself in a paper on “Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers” at the MW2007 conference, has now been widely accepted. The opportunities which can be provided by the Social Web are now widely acknowledged, as we heard in a number of presentations form staff from the Bath Cultural Heritage Service Department.

As I explained in a paper on “Time To Stop Doing and Start Thinking: A Framework For Exploiting Web 2.0 Service” presented at this year’s MW2009 conference We know need to address a range of concerns including those which have been raised at various workshops organised by UKOLN and delivered through MLA Regional Agencies and Renaissance Hubs. Such concerns include a lack of understanding (of what the Social Web is about); concerns over legal issues, technical challenges (such as interoperability, reliability issues), business challenges (such as sustainability) and related resourcing issues.

It may be useful to consider the Gartner Hype curve in the context of exploitation of Social Web services.  The early adopters have, in many cases, been successful in promoting new technologies, such as, initially the borad concept of Web 2.0 and, more recently, specific examples such as Twitter.  But we now need to attempt to reshape the Gartner curve, by managing expectations and deploying a variety of approaches in order to avoid the ‘trough of despair’ and achieve sustainability and effective services.

We firstly need to ensure that we have a realistic view of the various emerging Social Web services. Simply suggesting that a setting up, for example a Ning social networking environment will provide a sustainable community isn’t the case, and there are enough examples of empty social networking environments which can be used to demonstrate this. However we also need to remember that it’s not just a question of the numbers of active users which defines success: there will be examples of social networks with small numbers of users (such as, perhaps, a committee) who feel that the environment satisfies their needs by providing a cost-effective solution. We must remember that there is a context to any success criteria.

We do need to consider the various legal issues. But we need to remember that as the law may not reflect technical possibilities, it may sometimes it may be possible to exploit technologies in ways in which ‘reasonable measures’ clauses in legislation may permit. The Disability Discrimination Act and its application to the IT environment, for example, provides an interesting case study. Does the video recording of my talk at the MCG Spring Meeting fall foul of disability legislation, as there is no trasncipt available? Or could I argue that the video recording enhances access for people who could not attend the meeting (and we have evidence that that is the case)? And doesn’t this blog post provide an equivalent (indeed richer) experience than is provided on the video? Indeed could it not be argued that a failure to provide videos of the other speakers contravenes disability legislation? After all, it is now very easy to record talks (as I demonstrated) and make them available online.

We also need to address the issues of sustainability and interoperability. Two years ago, I frew parallels between Web 2.0 services such as Google and Yahoo! and the banks. ‘Banks might become bankrupt‘ I argued ‘But they  normally don’t, so let’s not worry too much‘.  These days I say ‘Banks do become bankrupt, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use banks and keep out money under our mattress. Rather we take a risk management approach and ensure we don’t have more than the £30,000 limit (I think) which is guareanteed by the government‘. We need to develop similar risk assessment and risk management approachs to our use of Social Web services.

In this post I will not expand on the approaches to addressing the interoperability anbd sustsinability issues in any details, or related issues regarding gaining a better understanding of the Social Web and addressing the organisational and cultural barriers we are likely to encounter, especially in public sector organisations – I’ll simply mention the various UKOLN workshops we’ve delivered over the past few years and the briefing documents which seek to address such issues.

A variety of deployment strategies have been discussed at various workshops (e.g. identifying the low-hanging fruit; supporting the enthusiasts, etc.) For now, however I wish to address three key aspects of the framework I have been working on: a risks and opportunities assessment and management approach; exploitation of Critical Friends and friendly critics and a culture of openness.

As described in the JISC infoNet Risk Management infoKitIn education, as in any other environment, you can’t decide not to take risks: that simply isn’t an option in today’s world. All of us take risks and it’s a question of which risks we take“. Our organisations will need to take risks, and we need to acknowledge the difficulties of changing a culture which, in many public sector organisations, is risk averse. We also need to apply a risk assessment approach to in-house development work as well as exploitation of third-party services. We should remember the experience of the UK eUniversity when £62 million pounds of public money was invested in the development of a national e-University. In 2004, however, we learnt that HEFCE had pulled the plug on the E-University. We need to ensure that we avoid repeating such mistakes in other areas, especially as people are predicting significant changes in the management of, and associated levels of funding, after the next election.

An approach I have been exploring recently is use of Critical Friends. I first came across this in a JISC context in order to ensure that reality checks are in place in areas of innovation. It seems that Critical Friends: (a) have a mission to make projects succeed; (b) balance informal approach with critical eye; (c) maintain confidentiality, frankness, sensitivity & independence and (d) may have a funded role. In the absence of Critical Friends innovative developments may benefit from ‘friendly critics’ who have no formal responsibilities but are still willing to discuss and engage and will appreciate sensitivities, constraints, etc. Ensuring that such mechanisms are in place will help to identify possible unexpected risks and dangers and minimise attacks at a later date from unfriendly critics & hostile opponents.

The risks and opportunities framework was first developed as A Framework For Making Use of Facebook. An updated version was described in a post on the UK Web Focus blog and the accompanying diagram is shown here.

In brief it is proposed that decisions on use of Social Web services should be informed by documentation on:

  • The intended purpose of the service
  • The perceived benefits for various stakeholders
  • The missed opportunities for the various stakeholders of not using the service
  • The costs of using the service for the various stakeholders.

It should be acknowledged that such documentation is likely to reflect an organisational and organisational and personal biases and other subjective factors.

In order to maximise the benefits of this approach, external input should be encouraged, whether through the formal use of Critical Friends or by inviting friendly critics to give feedback on proposed plans.

In public sectors organisations in particular we would expect this approach to be taken in a culture of openness and sharing.  The sharing of experiences (both good and, as Mia Ridge has recently described, bad) happens already on various mailing lists and at events and conferences. But we should be doing more of this and at an earlier stage in development work.

We  may, indeed, find ourselves in the situation in which FOI requests will be made in order to provide public access to information on networked services, as has been seen with the FOI request for information on the total number of objects in the Natural History Museum’s collection. In this example the National History Museum was able to report “a total holding of 75.6 million items for the entire Museum“.

We know from the recent stories about MPs expense claims that there can be real dangers in attempting to hide information from the public. And once legislation or pressure from the media and the public forces public bodies to provide such data we now find that the whistle-blowers aren’t just newspapers (often with an axe to grind) but the development community who now can use various technologies to visualise how public sector funding is being used (or misused, as can be seen from Tony Hirst’s various mashups of MPs expense claims).

The benefits of being open about development work shoiuld be self-evident. And It is worth mentioning Nick Moyes’ recent post on this blog on “When Peregrines Come To Town” in which he described some unexpected problems in deploying a very popular service:

So great were our webstats submitted under the now-superceded system of “Best Value Performance Indicators” reported by local authorities, that the Audit Commission even questioned their veracity. After much high level debate they declared our figures unsuitable for reflecting website usages by museums. Had it been a stuffed peregrine, fine. But this was a live bird – so how could it be seen as valid for a museum to report on that, they argued. A fair point, perhaps. After all, “Best Value” was designed to allow for fair comparison to be drawn between similar types of service across different local authorities, so maybe exclusion was sensible. But when it was suggested locally that this decision might put the viability of the whole project into question, then alarm bells did begin to ring. I feared this could be a case of the statistics-gathering tail wagging the audience-focussed dog. But common sense prevailed and we’ve since been fully supported in our work, especially so after being able to demonstrate that we draw many thousands more visitors into our main websites each summer

And rather than regarding such FOI requests as a threat, the museum sector in particular should regard this as an ideal opportunity to build on a well-established tradition of openness and use figures (such as the Natural History Museum’s “total holding of 75.6 million items for the entire Museum” as an opportunity to promote one’s own contributions to the digital environment. And if more museums were making their data available in an open and reusable way the entire sector would be well-pusitioned to exploit the opportunies provided by the ubiquity of Web 2.0 and the Social Web.

Posted in Addressing Barriers, Social Web, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Talk at the MCG Spring Meeting 2009

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20th May 2009

Yesterday I attended the MCG Spring Meeting 2009 which was held at the Guildhall, Bath. I had been invited to give a talk on “Engaging With The Social Web: A Risks and Opportunities Framework“, which was intended to provide a response to the first set of talks in the morning which described a variety of developments taking place in the Bath Cultural Services department. As I didn’t know in any details what those developments might entail this provided quite a challenge, especially as my talk was given immediately before the lunch break! In my talk I described the risks and opportunities framework which I had outlined in a paper I presented at the recent Museums and the Web 2009 conference. I was pleased that immediately before my talk I heard about plans to make use of Twitter and Facebook to promote Bath’s rich cultural heritage, including the Roman Baths and the Victoria Art Gallery. This particular example was one I had described previously, arguing the need to consider the intended purpose of the services (Twitter as an organisational one-way marketing channel or a two-way communications channel for peer-to-peer support and learning, for example), the perceived risks and benefits, the missed opportunities of failing to use the services and the associated costs.

Due to the lack of time I wasn’t able to describe this approach in any detail. I will remedy this in a forthcoming post in this blog. For now, however, I am providing access to a video of my talk (which is available in .avi format) via the Vimeo service.

I should also add that I have also uploaded this video to my Facebook account – and shortly after doing this I received a message from Caroline Moore saying “Thanks for posting this Brian I was unable to attend yesterday as I was at an engaging users event at the London Metropolitan Archives“. As I suggested to Ross Parry during the talk, shouldn’t we be making greater use of video to record talks at events such as the MCG Spring meeting?

Posted in Events, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

When Peregrines Come To Town

Posted by guestblogger on 18th May 2009

Our last guest blog post highlighted a case study presented at a UKOLN workshop for Renaissance West Midlands. This month we feature a guest blog post by Nick Moyes, Senior Keeper of Natural Sciences at Derby Museum and Art Gallery which expands on a case study Nick presented at a UKOLN workshop on Exploiting the Potential of Web 2.0 and the Social Web which was organised on behalf of Renaissance East Midlands.

When the world’s fastest creature sets up home in the heart of your city, people take notice. And so it was that when a pair of peregrine falcons (see Wikipedia) started making futile attempts to nest on the narrow stone ledges of Derby Cathedral’s ancient tower, something had to be done.

I was honoured to be invited to write a guest piece for this blog. I only recently discovered UK Web Focus and was, to be frank, a little intimidated by its academic content. Nevertheless I find it to be an extremely useful source of information and ideas in this new world that some call “Web 2.0”. I don’t call it that; I call it getting the job done. So here’s my tale of what we did when peregrines came to town, and how we used web technologies in a project that grew beyond our wildest expectations …

Nest Platform

What we did when the birds arrived was simply to abseil down and install a wooden platform for them to nest on (see YouTube video). Well, perhaps “simply” is not the right word. This was back in the spring of 2006 and the birds took to it almost immediately and were soon incubating eggs. Word got around through the usual means: newspaper, local radio, wildlife e-groups. And as the three chicks were being raised during June of that first year, so thousands of people came out to watch them during lunch hours or at evenings and weekends. With telescopes provided at Watchpoints run by our local Wildlife Trust. It became quite a social gathering each lunchtime to stand and “talk peregrines” with complete strangers, swapping tales of what we’d seen or what might happen next. Some of that talk inevitably turned to installing web cameras and whether our partnership of Derby Cathedral, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derby City Council’s Museum Service could actually do it.

Web cameras

By the start of 2007 we had a plan. We would buy and install the cameras, cabling and video server ourselves, leaving our Council’s IT support company to do just the essential network configuration. This would send (FTP) images to a third party hosting organisation, because our own networks had neither the bandwidth capacity nor the security policies for us to do this ourselves. We would also try running a blog to report back on progress as we abseiled, crawled, sweated and swore our way through the whole process, eventually (we hoped) reporting solely on the progress of our peregrines as we watched them through our nice new cameras. We had of course written a business case and gained the necessary permissions. We argued that we would create new audiences and promote what had already become a small eco-tourist attraction, perhaps generating 30,000 or more web hits in our first year. How naïve we were.


I knew nothing of blogs back then, and nor did our local authority. There were certainly no policies on them at the time, but a suggestions from one of our e-business staff led me at first to open a MySpace account. But this didn’t look good, so Google’s Blogger was tried instead. It was perfect: simple to use, had clean lines, easy photo upload and blog archive and a comments facility, with all the admin controls I thought might be needed, plus the ability to include some of our corporate colours into the blog’s template. Later on, Google introduced video uploads and scheduled blog-posting too. It couldn’t have been much better, so now the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project had a means of communicating topical information from all three of the partners 24 hours a day, as well as via a more traditional introductory “peregrine project homepage” on our council’s own web site. Very soon we gathered followers. When local TV broke news of eggs being laid and new web cameras going live they peaked at 1,000 a day. From that moment they haven’t stopped coming.

Breeding Success

In that first year we had over 270,000 hits to our combined webcam pages and blog followed by 430,000 in 2008.As well as innumerable video clips and interviews in local TV, radio and newspapers, we’ve appeared in BBC’s Springwatch and regional TV’s component of Alan Titchmarsh’s BBC series on “The Nature of Britain”. In 2008 we were even approached by an independent company wanting to produce a commercial DVD about the project. This helps raises much-needed funds. With four eggs now hatched, and with fledging due around 6th June 2009, we might even be on course for 2/3 million visits during 2009. Our blog alone can peaks at over 9,000 visits a week from people wanting to catch up on all the current news and photos, with our Clustr maps archive showing a strong European and North American readership, as might be expected.

So great were our webstats submitted under the now-superceded system of “Best Value Performance Indicators” reported by local authorities, that the Audit Commission even questioned their veracity. After much high level debate they declared our figures unsuitable for reflecting website usages by museums. Had it been a stuffed peregrine, fine. But this was a live bird – so how could it be seen as valid for a museum to report on that, they argued. A fair point, perhaps. After all, “Best Value” was designed to allow for fair comparison to be drawn between similar types of service across different local authorities, so maybe exclusion was sensible. But when it was suggested locally that this decision might put the viability of the whole project into question, then alarm bells did begin to ring. I feared this could be a case of the statistics-gathering tail wagging the audience-focussed dog. But common sense prevailed and we’ve since been fully supported in our work, especially so after being able to demonstrate that we draw many thousands more visitors into our main websites each summer and that our project contributes towards some of our authority’s Corporate Priorities, too (see report, PDF format).

With evidence emerging of visitors coming to Derby specifically because of its peregrines, from as far afield as Hong Kong and Toronto, we see this partnership project really is becoming an unexpected success story. Perhaps two viewers’ comments reflect its value best of all:

Just want to say a huge thank you for this fascinating and gripping project. We did . . . actually come to Derby, but as I am ill and not able to get out much especially not able to see much wildlife, this really has been a lifeline to me. Thanks xxx Penny

I am learning so much about peregrins through reading the blogs. Even got my grandchildren interested. One of the youngest ones has gone away today with the web address – bless him. Going to keep looking today to see if I may catch the 3rd egg [being laid]. Hope so, as someone else mentioned, this is better than TV. Joy

It has probably been the peregrine blog, with its liberal scattering of close-up nest photos and video clips that makes our project so different from most other wildlife webcams around the world.

We didn’t set out to do it, but we’ve somehow created a global community of wildlife enthusiasts who see something special in what’s happening in Derby, and many now follow it closely. With the project partners writing frequent and regular contributions throughout the breeding season and beyond, that engagement has been a two-way process and is now almost self-sustaining. Webcam viewers leave short comments to report what’s been seen on the three cameras; but many ask questions and others respond to them. It can even be self-policing, with readers asking others to refrain from commenting on non-peregrine related topics (the Obama elections in 2008, for example). The project partners do respond to comments, but we try to maintain a modicum of anonymity whilst at the same time writing in a personable and informative style. – this is a peregrine project and a partnership, not a personality trip for those who set it up, though sometimes it’s hard not to get carried away with the vibrancy and enthusiasm generated.

The number of readers, plus the fact that we write on behalf of a partnership, means that we’re acutely aware of the need to write responsibly. With so much of this project run from home and in our own time it could be all too easy, late on a Saturday night after a glass of wine, to make some inappropriate or ill-thought out remark on a blog. It’s a sobering thought to realise how many people watch and care about what we say; or what the consequences of inappropriate remarks could be.

Is There a Risk?

Compared to killing ourselves whilst abseiling, the risks of being the first to use social networks in our partner organisations may seem rather small. But they do exist.

The use of web tools like Blogger, YouTube, Flickr and especially newcomers like Twitter can leave one exposed to an employer having concerns about what one is doing if they’ve not been fully authorised, or if policies on the use of social networking sites are still in a state of evolution. They certainly get the job done in a way that traditional in-house resources can’t and it could be argued that the not inconsiderable benefits can outweigh most potential concerns. Of course, the survivability of these do-it-yourself services can also be called into question when created by staff using personal accounts. Having now given copies of relevant user names and passwords for these Web services to our central Web team, I feel this makes what we do far more robust, and not more threatened.

One of the risks of not get involved in social networking sites is that others may well try to do it for you. Cyber-squatting on social networks might be seen as a compliment, but when it happens you’ll have no control over content. In one fortnight in March we found that two Facebook accounts and one Twitter account had been created in the name of our Peregrine Project, and some looked reasonably official. Currently unable to counter with approved accounts of our own, we simply accept there’s little we can do for the time being and hope these pages will be maintained and managed in a way that doesn’t harm the image of our project. Time will tell.

With our own blog comments left unmoderated, but with “word verification” required for anonymous contributors, virtually all spammers are excluded from our blog. Our only problem has been when strongly worded comments are left by those who race or display pigeons. Not surprisingly they hate peregrines with a passion, and we do have sympathy for their frustrations when birds are taken. So far we’ve allowed such comments to remain, only deleting a few really unpleasant remarks from both sides of the argument, but we’re not afraid to close a discussion thread once the matter has been aired enough. With 50 to 100 comments for many new posts, it can seem more like a discussion forum than a blog at times.

We recently – and rather carefully – launched a Flickr group pool, allowing viewers (who we ask to agree to abide by our Rules) to upload and share webcam screenshots which we can rapidly embed into our blog, avoiding the need for us to capture and upload them ourselves. In our first week we had 250 pictures posted by over 50 new members, and we ask everyone to take responsibility for removing any inappropriate comments left by others against their pictures.

We are putting so many high quality videos on YouTube for embedding in the blog, that I’ve started to worry that we’re flooding the site with simply too many clips of similar content. So Blogger’s own video uploader is used to keep the less interesting clips within the blog’s pages. The down-side of YouTube and Blogger is that most schools are barred from visiting the sites and so a valuable educational resource is not available to them. We’re now looking at developing other, more accessible educational resources, including museum-based school classes.

The Future

We did not set out to “fly under the corporate radar” at Derby. Indeed, the Peregrine Project started using web technologies before the issues began to be addressed at a corporate level. Schemes like ours can demonstrate the value of social networking tools in building and engaging with totally new audiences (and maybe even contributing to a city’s image at home and abroad). But when you realise that, as an employee, you are standing in the firing line for breaching any number of constantly evolving IT policies, it can be a worrying time. Even this guest article has been seen by senior staff in my authority and, to be honest, I welcome that. At a time when policies on blogging and other social media are still under discussion it is important to work with the system, and to explain to everyone what we are trying to do. Improved customer service can only be the eventual outcome, even if the wheels of local government do tend to move at a slower pace than those of smaller, independent organisations.

Within the libraries and museums sector the value of being able to use developing web technologies is clear for most of us to see. It’s probably also the least threatening platform from which they could be introduced by local authorities because cultural services attract such positive press and public support. It is unlikely we would be used as a soapbox for disgruntled local taxpayers to air a grievance; they would find better ways.

But I do wonder if there is an even greater role for UKOLN here, not only in continuing to collate and promote examples of good practice within our sector, but also to put more emphasis on supporting and providing the necessary evidence and background information to the key policy-makers within local authorities. They will not be intimately familiar with what we do, so perhaps we should help them understand it better. It is they who will decide what is permissible; it is up to us to demonstrate what is possible.

As for the peregrine falcon, well, it is a remarkable species that has risen from the brink of extinction in just 60 years. This has been a success story indeed. And for me, the rise of technology that lets us share this creature’s life and intimate moments with a world-wide audience has been almost as awe-inspiring.

Nick Moyes, Senior Keeper of Natural Sciences at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, England and a 24hr-a-day wildlife enthusiast.

Posted in Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

APIs and the Cultural Heritage Sector

Posted by Marieke Guy on 8th May 2009


API stands for ‘application programming interface’ and is the interface that a computer system, library or application provides in order to allow requests for service to be made of it by other computer programs, and/or to allow data to be exchanged between them. A Web API is the Web version of this interface. It comprises of documented code and is effectively a way to plug one Web site or Web service into another.

Recently many Web sites have exposed APIs and made them available to external developers. The term Open API is often used to describe the technologies that allow this interaction.


There are many potential benefits of provision of APIs. The key one is that others will reuse your data and possibly create mash-ups with it. This in turn means your data will reach a much wider audience. As it would be tricky to find a cultural heritage institution that didn’t have reaching wider audiences listed on its wish list, providing APIs makes a lot of sense.

So What’s Happening in the Cultural Heritage Sector?

Recently there has been a lot of API activity in the museums sector with many big museums like the Science Museum (London, UK), the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney, Australia) and the Brooklyn Museum (New York, US) releasing their APIs.

Libraries have long been at the forefront when it comes to mashing up data. From John Udell’s library look up tool, to the days of the Talis Mashed up Library competition and on to the Mashed Library events, held last year on the 27th November 2008 at Birkbeck College, London and taking place later this year at the University of Huddersfield. (There is an article written by Paul Miller entitled What Happens When We Mash The Library? on earlier activities.) Many libraries have released APIs and a useful list of library-related APIs is available from the Mashed Library Web site.

How do we Start?

There is a now a lot of literature available on writing APIs, releasing APIs and supporting them. One useful place to start might be UKOLN’s recently released Introbyte document: An Introduction To APIs.

API developers and users may find the deliverables of the UKOLN Good APIs project useful. The Good APIs project has recently been carried out to look at what makes a good API. Although the project focussed on activity in the UK Higher Education arena many of the results and outcomes are transferable to the cultural heritage sector. One such outcome is the list of good practice techniques for API creation and consumption. The techniques are currently open for comments.

Posted in Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Instant Feedback Using Twitter – Innovative or Spooky?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6th May 2009


In March I facilitated a workshop on “Exploiting the Potential of Web 2.0 and the Social Web” on behalf of Renaissance East Midlands. In my opening talk I outlined some of the ways in which Web 2.0 could benefit cultural heritage organisations. This included a description of the way in which Twitter is being used to support communities of practice, initially development communities who may be more willing to investigate new technologies but increasingly those involved in service provision and support.

How The Science Museum Is Interacting With Its Visitors

At the workshop I speculated that in the future, as mobile devices which support location-based applications (such as the iPhone or the new HTC Magic Android device) become more widely used, we could see organisations such as museums responding to visitors which may have posted comments about their visit using technologies such as Twitter. Over lunch Nick Moyes, one of the speakers at the workshop, told me that this is already happening.

Anonymised visitor: Outside the science museum

Anonymised visitor: Just emptying jar of neuro transmitters.

Anonymised visitor: Soon to be devoured by imax spider, I gather

Anonymised visitor: Inspecting gas turbine engine

Anonymised visitor: The dan dare space ray gun was quite something. Fact!

A satisfied visitor to the Science Museum, we can surmise from these tweets. And the sciencemuseum responded:

sciencemuseum: @anonymised-visitor -hope you enjoy your day, if you’ve got any questions while you’re walking around the museum let us know!

And this dialogue was observed and commented upon:

Anonymised observer: @sciencemuseum Now that’s service!

Nick made the comment that “This thread did continue further, but what an impressive way to demonstrate to 2,698 followers what a responsive and caring organisation you are!

How “Standing Stones” Interacted With Me

Over the weekend something similar happened to me. On Saturday night after a meal in a countryside pub I visited the Stanton Drew Stone Circles. When I got home I tweeted:

Back from Stanton Drew Stone Circles. There’s a Great Circle, a NE & SW Circle – & some stones left over (bit like an IKEA self-assembly) 9:51 PM May 2nd from TwitterFon

The following day I received a response to my tweet which now appears to have been deleted. But a few days later I received this message, from the same account, I believe:

Hi @briankelly Having just been to Stanton Drew, you might find this a bit of a revelation: (after bit about Avebury) 4:08 PM May 4th from TweetDeck

A great example of a way in which cultural heritage organisations can be quick to see the potential of new technologies and use them in order to provide a richer experience for its visitors. Or an illustration of the dangers which we’ll see more of as what are perceived as personal communications start to be exploited by the commerical sector?  And the next time I tweet that I’m off to the pub, will I find myself receiving unwanted messages from lager companies?

What do you think?

Posted in Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Use of Wikis in the Cultural Heritage Sector

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10th April 2009

We are in the process of writing an IntroBytes briefing document on wikis and how they may be used in the cultural heritage sector. Apart from the obvious example of Wikipedia I am interested in examples of how wikis can be used within museums, libraries and archives. I have come across many examples of how social networking environments and social sharing services (such as Flickr) are being used, but not many examples of use of wikis. So if you have come across such examples which you feel would be worth mentioning in the document please let me know.

Posted in Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »