Week 17

To kick the week off I completed the mandatory Recruitment and Selection workshop. The day itself was an enjoyable mix of scenarios and role playing to help us know about recruitment ‘The Bristol City Council Way’. However the pre-workshop homework was an exercise in frustration. The previous week I set aside an afternoon to read the policy and related guidance but the intranet was down. I took the work home for the weekend and low and behold I needed the intranet as practically ever reference was buried in the intranet which isn’t available from home. Why use the web if you force staff to be on-site you may have heard me cry. The only solution was to head to the office for much of Sunday which didn’t make me popular at home. I would pick apart the workbook but the trainers say we are the ‘last’ cohort of the current process. I will say that throwing a bunch of barely related questions together without hyperlinks or consideration for the user in a Word document doesn’t cut the mustard in 2013. My e-learning inner-self had to button it!

Tuesday was largely catching up with the team and me introducing Trello for the whole team to see what major activities we are all working on, myself included. Although we are a nominally a traditional Council team, we are all remote from each other so we need to operate with a proper remote team mindset and use tools to help us achieve our mission (grand eh). This is why I’m looking forward to the new book from 37signals remote office not required out this coming Tuesday.

Wednesday had me wearing my digital fund-raising hat and looking at a magic 8-ball to see what the future of crowd funding might look like. Once I was able to slip this hat I quickly donned my ‘future of digital in a museum’ hat and wrote a 1 page ‘Digital as a Platform’ piece for the senior management team. It included remote working, wearing technology and the museum as publisher. Once it has been used for its intended purpose i’ll throw it up on the blog. As an aside I suggest listening to And the Crowdfund Goes Wild with Yancey Strickler (Episode 42) to hear from one of the kickstarter co-founders.

On Thursday I squeezed in a tour of the Bristol Records Office and got to see a book that has been given to the service. It is a lively diary of a four month trip and we will be running a social media campaign to tell the story which is pretty exciting.

After the tour I got to sink my teeth into some plate spinning around all of our existing online properties, unearthing some projects that require reviewing.

On Friday I enjoyed a lunchtime talk I wrote about the other day and met with a Council directorate that I hope to work with in 2014 as they do some pretty interesting stuff around infrastructure, Green Cities and innovation. Unfortunately the day had to end with a problem pre-dating me joining that I hope can be resolved very soon.

Alex Rankin, who works at the museum service wrote a little bit about the talking cranes project we are breathing new life back into over on his blog which is worth a read.

REACT Lunchtime Talk: Elements of Interactive Storytelling

During his lunchtime talk Daniel Burwen explained that careful consideration of the four elements plus the four spaces equals coherence for storytelling using technology. Here are my notes for the talk Elements of Interactive Storytelling.

  • The four elements are User experience,  Story, Technology and Aesthetics
  • The four spaces are Hearth, Reading nook, Anywhere and Workbook
  • The spectrum of Narrative mechanics between Games (interactive and mechanic depth) and Films (passive and emotional complexity)
  • Doing (games) vs feeling (films)
  • 1978 laser disc
  • 1983 dragons lair – depth was press button to not die
  • 1985 Mario brothers run, jump’ stopm’ kick shoot
  • 1991 another world – cut scenes appear
  • 1993 virtual fighter – 3d games emerge, camera language and large data
  • Mechanical depth and emotional complexity
  • Uncanny valley for virtual characters
  • Last of us game – unified aesthetic between film and game. The game is built for mechanical depth and is highly abstract
  • Attention economies for TV, laptop, tablet and mobile vary but the longer the attention the higher the value.
  • TV is $10- $60, mobile is free to $5
  • Focusing on tablets gives a good trade-off
  • Game called winosill might be helpful for displays e.g. at blaise Castle Museum 🙂
  • Mouse and keyboard vs touch
  • Interactive narrative is a goal as you can get mechanical depth and emotion
  • New PS4 and Xbox enable body movement and may be tipping point beyond control pads
  • Oculus rift headset – the less abstraction in interface the more emotional connection we can have and this type of device may be the new era post control pad
  • So where is this going? from first moving image film to Citizen Kane was a breakout experience for its time and it has been 41 years since pong
  • Wii came put in 2006 and since then we have great things across all the devices eg the oculus rift’ and Xbox kinnect, maybe we are about to bring them together

Since making my notes I have stumbled across the talk as a slidedeck on Prezi which you should check out.


Week 16

This week was pretty ‘social’ and therefore flat out with meetings and social media!

I kicked off the week with an introduction for one of our casual staff about museums on the web and the opportunities for the service. I used this as a way to see what level of support I could roll-out to a large group of people who are curious about the web but are very much digital visitors or who rarely use the web. The lesson I took away from this session was to make NO assumptions about how others view the web and to listen to each member of staff THEN I can slowly provide the right responses, hopefully at scale but i am fully prepared to go one to one if I need. A seed of an idea also arose around producing guidance under a creative commons licence that perhaps other museums could re-purpose (sounds like Jisc for the museums!).

Next I had to grapple with a project that would have me pulling out my hair if I had any….

Tuesday was a visit to the Safety team for my part 1 Health and Safety for Managers training. I feel confident about our process but there isn’t any room to be complacent and I have several minor things to iron out.

On Wednesday I met with several others to finalise our Museum Social Media principles which should give staff the guidance and confidence to begin helping us use our social media and importantly know who to turn to. A blind spot for us is the weekend but several weekend staff have agreed to cover the fort which i feel is worth a ‘fist pump’. I met Stef Goodchild  for lunch as I wanted to hear how his mind-blowing work on music stages could perhaps be used for temp exhibitions. Think lasers, sound, smoke, LEDs and projection. If you want innovation, experimentation for engagement and R&D Dear funders let me and Stef cook up something!

In the evening M Shed hosted a debate called ’50 years since the bus boycott – what has changed?’ which was enjoyable and packed. The event was live broadcast to a local radio station too so a recording will appear very soon. I played roving mic ha.

On Thursday I spoke with Apple about the finer detail of purchase vs leasing of iPads which I need to expand out into a post on its own. Needless to say I am being very cautious as I don’t want one of those famous cupboards full of obsolete devices in 2- years. Khio Vinh wrote about this in Build not to Last.
I met with two different potential partners for 2014-15 projects around digital engagement.

In the afternoon I headed over to Sift Digital for the regular ‘South West social media meetup’ and really enjoyed hearing Jukesie ranting about the social media landscape. Slides and details are over on his weekly post.

Friday morning I had the pleasure of hearing a visiting resident to the museum talk about how we can help Chinese visitors enjoy the museum. Lots of food for thought around international tourism to the region.

Then I spent the rest of the day at the Watershed REACT heritage sandbox which was an opportunity to network and learn from others in the digital sector beyond the local authority. There was some interest in collaboration and partnership which i see as fundamental to getting things done whilst including Bristol people.

Looking back it was a packed week ending in the bonus Sunday afternoon preparing for my recruitment training in the office!

I think I may have even found a little bit of time to pop home.

Week 15

On Monday I spent the day in Birmingham for Museum Camp 2013. The event was billed as an ‘unconference’ which essentially means we collectively (100 or so) had 15mins at the beginning of the day to suggest topics to talk about for each of the six 45min slots across five rooms. My hope for the day was to bend the ear of just one person about my draft 8 digital principles. Instead I pitched it as a session and the pleasure of explaining each principle to 15 people and listening to their experiences. I think I was coherent and some of the feedback will be helpful in refining some of my examples. Much of the day was just listening to others but with the helpful caveat that you are allowed to interject at any point which made for a fun day. Topics we touched on included “Why online collections are crap, our biggest digital fundraising mistakes, gesture-based gaming and much more”.
For the rest of the week I rolled my sleeves up for a bunch of interesting stuff. I met with a researcher about trying to collaborate with the University of the West of England. Met the Apple Business team with a view to see what is involved in leasing iPads, explored digital signage (shouldn’t be this hard to find a TV stand should it!). Experimented with Shopify as an online shop, which then unravels data protection issues and careful reading of terms and conditions. I got a quick and dirty demo from a local developer of his work on augmented reality with somebody from the learning team. I am keeping an eye on as many technologies as possible as I really need to think how we can integrate digital into exhibitions and learning work.
I ended the week with a session with my boss about plans and personal development for the next six months. I like to think of the next phase of work as spinning 1001 tiny plates. Lots of things that need juggling across varying time-spans which i’m really looking forward to.

Week 14

30th Sept – 4th Ot

An important part of this week was taking the time to listen to the team. By this I mean I sat in their environment for half a day and in between disturbing them just got to ‘listen’ to what requests came in and see a tiny bit of the detail within their roles. I think there is a lot to be gained from better understanding the fine detail within any job role – i was even jokingly offered an official polo shirt to blend in. What became clearer is what tasks I should maybe take off their plate and what other things I could delegate. One of my tasks is to clear the way for the team to work and to better allow them to contribute to the future activity across the service.

A key activity throughout the week was to join planning sessions on exhibition and service delivery for 2014-16. Much of this I can’t speak on other than to say i’m glad I can be in the mix. Related to this is my need to be thinking more about what ‘digital transformation’ might mean to us. Doing what we do now physically and merely shifting it online is only one side of the dice. I really liked reading ‘Digital innovation in the arts must be about the art‘ and will be revisiting this with the programming team. One tangible outcome was confirmation that although I can’t affect some of the exhibitions that are very well developed for the first quarter of 2014 we NEED to start tinkering around the edges. By this I mean from a technology point of view that we need to start experimenting with RFID, Raspberry Pi, sensors, data and more so that we can build up to contributing meaningfully for later in 2014.

I drafted in Stephen Gray to demo virtual reality using the Oculus Rift headset and as a result we need have 1 project idea to pursue.

I have been tasked with looking at digital signage in the foyer of the City Museum, which basically means a large TV on a stand. However said TV stand is the head-scratching part. The stand must be movable yet safe for the public who may knock/run into the TV. Somebody pointed me to the set-up at the nearby Colston hall and I think this is the kind of setup we need (photo of the tv).

What else… oh, I met a group of local partners about a project we have agreed to bid on which will really be interesting digitally if we are successful. More on that should it come off.

A final highlight was a telephone call with Kevin Bacon from Brighton Museum. We are comparable museums and so was a welcome discussion about keeping each other in the loop about our plans and working together. As my role is the only one of its kind in the service, working with similar posts elsewhere will be essential to bounce ideas and learn from others. For example I shared my draft ‘digital principles’ for feedback.

If others would like to chat then do get in touch as i’m very approachable.