As ever, each deep dive by Craig is packed full with useful information and love. The membership works is no different.
We trust our workforce (yes including volunteers who are super critical) to fly the flag for us day in and day out. To represent our brand in the flesh and to tell the stories of our organisation. Oh and no small feat to ensure the safety of both the public and our collections. Every interaction with our customers at our venues, on the phone or by email is an opportunity to delight. Our museums alone welcome over a million people a year.
Yet nearly every organisation still insists on holding tightly to social media with a select few as guardians. Worried about tone of voice or that something bad may happen. We are happy to let folks loose in the physical environment (and again keep us all safe) and tell amazing stories to people, protect rare and priceless objects but not tweet ?! Who better to tell stories online than the very workforce who do this for us on a daily basis.
Please set your social media free. Provide simple guidelines [see our social media principles] and training then bring the rest of the workforce online. Social media wants to be free. It will pay you back with the stories people will tell that they already know captivate your audience.
I was just publishing my annual blog post for my reading list and my wife asked “How many people actually read your blog?”. I responded with “I dunno let’s see”. Except I can’t actually show her as it turns out my analytics stopped recording a long time ago. My bad. I decided ages ago not to bother looking at the analytics as I didn’t want to be fixated on growing per se. I write very niche posts here and at the Culture team labs blog for people like me. And there must only be a few hundred people like me across the planet. I know that the right people stumble across here as I regularly get email to ask me questions, jump on a skype call with folks across the world or to invite me to speak at a conference.
The aim for me is to share my experiences for people like me and it appears to work. That is good enough for me.
Until you ship a product or feature its just a trello card with a wish. Shipping “things” is the aim of the game.
According to the trello card of the request dashboards have been brewing since 17 June 2016. This month the team have finally been able to launch an initial performance dashboard at https://performance.bristolmuseums.org.uk/ We aim to publicly share our performance data so that anybody can see how we’re doing. We want to share our successes and show where there is an opportunity to do better. So far for 2017-18 we’re tracking 14% up from last year with a target of 1 million or more visits across our 5 museums and our Archive.
Since I started at Bristol Culture about 4.5 years ago using the web to display our exhibitions has been a recurring dream. Thanks to Mike, Fay, Mark and Lacey this dream has come true at https://exhibitions.bristolmuseums.org.uk/#/ the point of this project was to highlight some of the key aspects of past, current and forthcoming exhibitions. We regularly get asked about past projects so this seemed a good starting point to figure out how we can tell stories in long form format. With an average reading time of 2 minutes its important to be clear and concise. During its inception originally we were comparing this style of website as being like a weekend supplement of a magazine rather than a full autobiography.
Internally we’ve started to attempt to improve how we visualise some of our most used data. An obvious element is “What’s on” which isn’t always easy to understand from huge spreadsheets or our standard web section https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/ so we’ve introduced a timeline feature to hopefully make it easier for people to look at on any device. Internally the timeline also includes things like room booking, install and de-rig periods and can map our KPI data over it. Nobody likes or uses data spreadsheets so i’m hopeful this is the beginning of a journey to make our data more usable for all. Hello https://d1g1t.al/#/timelinef
This work has been made possible in the large part by our own digital team who do a fantastic job under the hood of the museum and out in the galleries. Onwards.
My old pals at Jisc Legal have produced a 6 min video explaining what Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues need to be considered when doing 3D digitisation. The video is embedded below and they have produced a transcript on their page.
Danah Boyd is a name you probably come across if you scratch the surface of how people use the web. Danah has just released a book called Its complicated: The social lives of Networked Teens which of course i’ll read. Interestingly she has released a free PDF version at the same time and explains why in What’s Behind the Free PDF of “It’s Complicated” (no, no, not malware…).
As I have an interest in how folks make modern day books and how the web affects this ecosystem, this is like gold dust! Also i’ll admit that I was planning on waiting to buy this book as I have such a backlog and i’m a slow reader. But reading the blog post I can see why buying now helps Danah, so i’ll be heading over to grab a copy as soon as i’m done typing this.
Finally, its worth noting the cost of the ebook kindle version is slightly more expensive than the print version if you buy it from the Guardian. I can only guess that cost and value are at play here… which to buy…
There are many types of paper and paper-size to choose from when printing a paper book. The same myriad of choices applies to digital books except instead of texture and paper-weight, we’re concerned with what device and software the reader may choose to read your book.
If I had all the time in the world and I was producing a fairly simple digital book which didn’t require format specific features I suggest ensuring my digital book was produced in all of these formats:
- epub – an open format which means it will hopefully be around for years to come. An epub file will open in many ebook reader software and hardware such as an iPad or Android device. You can choose epub 2 or epub 3 depending on your target audience – stick with epub 2 for the widest support.
- Amazon kindle format (mobi and kf8) – because amazon rules the market it makes sense to ensure it works on both the kindle software and the kindle device
- Adobe PDF – Almost every device on the planet will open a PDF file so its a safe bet and is also open (see point 1). Further-more PDF is built to handle print, which could be a useful feature for some readers
- Apple ibook (IBA) – if I wanted to sell via the apple marketplace then i’d want to use their format.
Tip: if I was to distribute any of my own books I’d plump for giving ALL of the above to the reader in one bundle. This way they get the choice of their preferred format. I guess an issue for a small number of readers is they’ll receive a zipped bundle and have no clue what to do next. I didn’t say it was fool-proof.
Why is there more than one format I hear you cry? The market for selling ebooks is fierce and each major provider wants you to lock-in to their ecosystem, hence a fragmented market and a high number of file formats.
The key to producing our book fairly painlessly for each format is to plan early and use a workflow that doesn’t rely on any one particular format. The nerds of this world call this being ‘device agnostic’. Essentially write the book using whatever your preferred writing tool is and then have a workflow that makes it straight forward to produce for the context and constraints you have.
If I wanted to sell my digital book and I happened to know that all my potential customers used Amazon then I would likely produce this format first. If I wanted the book to open in say five years time I’d go for epub and PDF.
A final word on file format features
At the time of writing in early 2014, the format with the most advanced features that are implemented by a reading device is the apple ibooks format. It has some pretty impressive features for adding interactivity that may be essential for the success of our book. In which case your workflow for ibooks will split off and tackle those issues. Just be careful that you don’t go so far down that road that you can’t make a good experience for the other hobbled formats. By this i mean that readers and/or software for displaying epub, kindle and PDF don’t yet support any of the advanced feature support you’d like. Things change with each new reader software release though so the future could brighten up any day. If you need to use a feature e.g. video support, check if its supported in your primary testing kit.