Tag Archives: digital content
Artistic content and practice is going online en masse in May.
The Space has announced the 53 digital commissions that will go online between May and October this year. #thespacearts is a pop up platform that will provide interactive, engaging arts content online, on connected TV and on tablets and mobile to coincide with the Olympics and Cultural Olympiad. The Space is a £3.5m joint project between Arts Council England and BBC, and you can find out a little about all the commissions, which I’ll be really excited to see!
Its interesting that the competition, like NESTA’s £0.5m Digital R&D fund competition in England, was massively oversubscribed. 750 Expressions of Interest were submitted to ACE (490+ were submitted to NESTA), and in total, 61 ACE and NESTA projects in England have been given a chance to develop with £4m shared between them – 1179 have not.
So this is digital content by the chosen few, creating a fabulous showcase for England that will be available globally. But its not content by anyone/any cultural organisation in England for everyone. The sheer numbers of ideas presented to both these competitions proves to me that there is great hunger for digital development opportunities across the broad cultural sector, and that the cultural sector understands the opportunities for increasing reach, scale, impact and legacy that digitising content encourages.
read on >
Digital access to the arts and culture is extending, rather than replacing, the live experience of the arts, and the Internet is now playing a much broader role in arts engagement than simply acting as a marketing channel. A significant minority use it not only to consume and share artistic content, but also to create it; and over half use social networking sites regularly. These latest findings from a major survey of 2,000 adult Internet users appear to “confirm that engaging with the arts through digital media is now a mainstream activity”.
So reports Arts Professional, announcing the Arts Council England, Arts & Business & Museums Libraries and Archives council commissioned report by MTM “Digital-audiences-for-arts-and-culture-november2010.pdf”>Digital Audiences for Arts & Culture“.
Nielsen’s latest survey: most online content should be free, but some should be valued (case in point: NT Live!)
With the San Francisco Chronicle’s online offering today reporting on Nielsen’s new survey that 85% of internet users want online content to be free, cultural organisations could begin to panic about what the business model is for digitising their product…
However, as ever, I’m not panicing, and am quietly confident
Nic Covey, Nielsen’s director of cross platform insights, wrote in a blog post about the report, “Changing Models: A Global Perspective on Paying for Content Online.while there were no clear-cut categories of content that will successfully sell online, there was a “definite maybe,”
read on >
First off, did I get my predictions right for 2009?! Read them here.
I predicted the rise in interest around cloud computing and this has certainly happened, with good options around for personal computing. Read my other company, Envirodigital’s summary of cloud computing at end of 2009. We’re not quite there yet with applications and security for enterprise computing (for business), but that offer becoming stable and attractive as an option is a predication for 2010.
I also predicted the rise of 3D in the living room, with games being the focus of this. In fact, gaming has developed in a different way, with the realism of graphics and the sensory experience of controlling games through bodily movement being the development of 2009. Didn’t Wii almost have it all?… Sony have just announced that their Bravia range will be 3D this year.
read on >
The Economist this week report that the number of people going online has passed one billion for the first time, according to comScore, an online metrics company. Almost 180m internet users—over one in six of the world’s online population—live in China, more than any other country. Until a few months ago America had most web users, but with 163m people online, or over half of its total population, it has reached saturation point. More populous countries such as China, Brazil and India have many more potential users and will eventually overtake those western countries with already high penetration rates. ComScore counts only unique users above the age of 15 and excludes access in internet cafes and via mobile devices.
If America’s new president has his way, a total of $37 billion will be spent on the digitisation of health records ($20 billion), a smarter power grid ($11 billion) and high-speed internet connections ($6 billion).
It is not just America that is betting on technology to help revive its economy. Yesterday, the common global theme of “broadband for all” (broadband, the assumption goes, could boost economies in much the same way as railways and highways did in previous eras), was echoed by a British government report called “Digital Britain”. The report details 22 actions. The most relevant to the cultural sector – actions around content production, rights and distribution – are taken from the actions summary within the DCMS’s press release today:
In relation to the Economics of Digital Content:
ACTION 10 – DETAILED ANALYSIS
In the final report we will examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content in more detail, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues.
In relation to Rights and Distribution:
ACTION 11 – INITIAL ASSESSMENT
By the time the final Digital Britain Report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.
ACTION 12 – INITIAL ASSESSMENT
Before the final Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of copyright (within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce, copyright, data protection and
privacy) to facilitate and co-ordinate an industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work.
ACTION 13 – LEGISLATION / REGULATORY REFORM Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from
rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail.
The Guardian have put together a handy page of all the Digital Britain coverage.
Yesterday’s Scottish paper The Herald announced the first ‘reveal’ on 4iP’s first major project in Scotland, with independent interactive designers ISO. Central Station is a place to share your art and find new talent, be mentored by some of the art world’s best names and be entertained by and engaged in the making of a web fiction. The action starts this April.
Edd McCracken’s Central Station concentrates mostly on the web fiction, to be filmed in and around Glasgow School of Art, one of many partners in the project.
But far from being “telly on the web”, something 4iP’s not interested in, the web fiction elements will in themselves reflect the art, artists and techniques being talked about by communities of artists aggregated in and around Central Station; they will be “of the medium”.
When I saw Stuart Cosgrove previewing the piece a few months ago in Glasgow, it was part interactive teen drama (think art-world’s Kate Modern); part social network (think ArtReview online); part competition; part new art prize (think online Turner Prize); and part signposting service. Amateur artists aspiring and those already making moves in art schools around the country will find a place where they can share their artwork, with the chance to win regular prizes that, really, money cannot buy. The final award will be a major cash art prize, possibly the world’s biggest for social media creativity.
b.TWEEN have just announced the winner of their 2008 Mapping Creativity Competition, which aimed to find an interactive project that utilised Manchester’s collective creativity. ARC SPACE, a creative and ethical exchange powered by localised online social networking now has £25,000 to further develop.
And so to my 2009 predictions!
I think we’ll be seeing a lot more discussion and uptake of cloud computing - a common topic on technology sites. The cloud metaphor is appealing, though what it exactly means in most people’s minds is still somewhat unsettled. In a technological sense, cloud computing refers to a service-view of computing, where technical details are largely hidden from end users. Which means, it is driven by financial considerations, as companies can extend their infrastructure without heavy investments in personnel or technology.
I’m more interested in the impact of cloud computing. How will my communication and information processing habits change when I don’t need to confine myself to a particular computer? What types of software do I need when I don’t want to be tied to a particular laptop? I’ve decided to embrace the cloud and will try this year to move to device neutral computing…where I have access to what I need as long as I have an internet connection.
I also think there’ll be a move towards more 3D technologies in the living room. 3D virtual reality worlds like Second Life can already be experienced on 2D screens, but what about full put-your-special-glasses-on kinaesthetic experience of 3D? A number of 3D product announcements are expected at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the biggest electronics trade fair of the year, with video game devices expected to be among the first to find their way into the hands of consumers. However, with Hollywood yet to agree a common standard for 3D, it could be a while before favourite films and games go 3D. Watch this space – with your 3D goggles on!
I’m in Manchester at AmbITion’s Digital Content re:connected event. We’re trying to make it as live and globally available as we can! So…
Marcus Romer from Pilot Theatre is currently presenting, and his talk and all the links to the resources mentioned is available here. Marcus is explaining his online strategy, which is about enagaging audiences and presenting work in new ways so that more people can see what Pilot Theatre do. They’re using Mobius as a streaming mechanism to create a live TV channel from their website – its a different way for Pilot to “tour” and distribute content. Last night Pilot Theatre won the TMA award for Best Young Peoples’ Show with their show Looking for JJ, which as I’ve described in an earlier blog post, was created collaboratively with MySpace users. Pilot Theatre also use Second Life for online collaboration and for working out staging and lighting for shows – its cheaper (and greener) than rehearsing in a theatre space – and of course use Bebo and Facebook. People involved in their writers’ group use wikis to collaborate. Young people in particular join Pilot’s SMS group. Pilot Theatre collaboratively (in 2 days!) made a video as a promo for Arts Council England’s Get Into Theatre initiative – see it on that website as well as on YouTube and Blip.tv. As a core team of four, they are really crowd sourcing ideas and content creators – a 15 year old made their MySpace page, an actor runs the latest show’s Facebook group.
Vitto Rocco, director of Faintheart, spoke earlier this morning about collaboratively creating the world’s first user generated movie – written about in detail in my blog earlier this year, here.
We’ve just been looking at New York live online – you can also watch the video we’re recording now live at Digital Content re:connected. Also, we’ve got a flickr group and you can add photos to the pool – let us know what you’re up to in the outside world!
This is an interesting piece of work – We Feel Fine – all the blogs in the world are tracked by this beautiful visual representational mash-up – it looks at text, words and now integrates Flickr and Google Maps. Also, check out Wordle: and create your own beautiful visual representation of a project or organisations from the words you’ve written to describe it.
Check out the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Flash driven Boston Pops.TV mini-site.
Its thanks to almost ubiquitous broadband that content like this can be quickly uploaded by and streamed to the end user. The content is easily navigable simply by scanning your mouse around the page – menus seamlessly pop-up and disappear, dragging markers on timelines helps you find content directly. The sound and visual quality is good – not great like the HD content I mentioned yesterday – adequate for viewing on a normal sized computer screen with average speakers. BSO have made the decision to record and host online their more popular repertoire of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a good move for a first leap into the world of .tv. The interviews with the conductor and musicians are generally informative, and add to the already substantive content that the podcasts on the classical BSO repertoire provide.
The Philadelphia Orchestra are also maximizing the opportunities of broadband, but have gone one step further. They’re experimenting with Internet2: the currently-under-development enhancing of Internet 1 (the internet as we know it now, which currently runs applications like the world wide web). Their Global Concert Series – Live and Interactive is being focussed on Higher Education Institutions – allowing campuses to bring live Philadelphia Orchestra concerts to their classrooms and performance halls through Internet2. The programme has appeal for students, educators, administrators, and the community in local area, including:
- entertaining, informative introductions, performance close-ups through the use of seven robotic HD cameras, interviews with musicians and conductors, and interactive discussions
- interactive components at every concert and potential collaboration between remote sites and Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
- audience participation in live interviews with Orchestra musicians and guest artists during the multicast
- opportunities to connect with campuses around the world in “Continue the Discussion” forums with musicians, conductors, and/or guest artists online following the performance
So the added benefit here is the opportunity to be able to receive and interact back with the live performance via the internet.
This autumn Glyndebourne became the first UK opera house to present world-class opera in ODEON cinemas throughout the country. This exciting new initiative extended their work beyond the opera house. “For the price of a cinema ticket and a bucket of popcorn, audiences can now enjoy the world’s best opera on their doorsteps.”Emma Pomfret, The Times.Giulio Cesare is going to be screened at selected ODEON cinemas on Thursday 29th November, 6.30pm. The unabridged opera will be shown in high definition (HD) with Dolby Digital sound. The recording was made in co-production with Opus Arte, who were recently acquired by the Royal Opera House. It seems that it is the quality of the recording that makes the difference for the audience. HD finally provides a recording quality that is suitable for big screen cinematic and DVD presentation, and does not require that the audience sacrifice quality of visual aesthetic or sound. Stephen Smith, audience member at the cinema for Tristan und Isolde, said, “The experience was simply fantastic… I soon forgot that I was listening to a recorded orchestra and singers, and seeing the big screen and the wonderful production and filming was as great an experience as in Glyndebourne itself.” Classic FM Magazine, voted Glyndebourne’s Giulio Cesare as a 2006 DVD of the Month commenting on “a seamless leap from stage to screen – A vivid production that makes gorgeous viewing”.The Metropolitan Opera in New York (‘The Met”) have also “gone HD”. Their 2007-08 season, called simply The Metropolitan Opera HD Live, follows the success of last year’s inaugural season of live broadcasts in cinemas, attended internationally by 325,000 audience members. the numbers indicate great success in terms of audience development, as well as financially. Even at cinema ticket prices, the box office takings will easily cover cost of the multi-camera recording and editing, possibly even the initial staging of the show (which obviously happens anyway for the in-venue audience). “The Met’s experiment of merging film with live performance has created a new art form,” said the Los Angeles Times, pointing out that it has been the reimagining of how work on stage can be successfully recorded for viewing via the screen that has helped to make the experience an exciting one.The Met’s new media strategy continues to be well implemented by their website too – it currently hosts rich media blogs of rehearsals; interviews with artists – including prying questions about what’s on their iPods; and “Ask Figaro” (the barber of Seville served as a resourceful go-to guy for both Rossini and Mozart. Now he’s doing the same for the Met’s website. Confused about the difference between Baroque and bel canto? Ask Figaro. Have a serious question about the use of leitmotifs to illuminate characters’ interior lives in Wagner’s Ring cycle? Ask Figaro.) If you prefer to use social networking sites for your updates and interactions, The Met’s MySpace pages welcome you with the perfect social network chatty tone (“OMG! You’re in The Met’s extended network!”).This must be a first: on Monday, September 25, opera will literally stop traffic in New York.One piece of spectacular audience development happened on September 25th, the Met Opera’s season opener, a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly by filmmaker Anthony Minghella was simulcast live onto the giant outdoor screen at One Times Square. Broadway was closed to vehicles from 42nd to 45th Streets to provide space for 650 cushioned seating places plus standing room. The simulcast, was free and open to the public; no tickets are required.Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, told The New York Times that the September 25 Butterfly “marks the first live performance to be simulcast in Times Square.”The Met will also simulcast the opening-night Butterfly onto a screen in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tickets, which are free, will be required for the plaza; they will be available at the house’s box office on the day before the event.The Metropolitan Opera’s media-savvy new general manager, Peter Gelb, had an additional plan for getting major press coverage of the opening night (and, by extension, the house’s activities in general): there was an Academy Awards-style red carpet leading through the plaza, and celebrities on the way into the performance were stopped and interviewed by TV and radio journalist Daljit Dhaliwal, with the questions and answers broadcast onto the outdoor screens. Supposedly, some celebrities such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anjelica Huston, Sean Connery, Iman and David Bowie, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins were given cushions for Times Square, not the best seats in the house!The New York Times reported with the picture below: “Bicyclists and passers-by stopped, seemingly mesmerized by the giant images of “Madama Butterfly” glaring through the night sky over Times Square. About 1,000 people sat on chairs behind metal barricades and red velvet ropes on Broadway. Neon advertisements for beer and the Internet competed with a tenor and a soprano singing out their passion.”
My friend Bill Thompson says that we now live in a world shaped and defined by digital technology, in which access to the network is pervasive, and which influences policies and practices that directly affect us all. We recognise this as the knowledge economy. Thompson thinks that this means Marx was right. “The economic base has shifted to a new form of capitalism, where the free flow of capital and information over public digital networks opens up new forms of employment, exploitation and ownership. As Marx’s theory of history tells us, as well as the economic, the social, political, religious and cultural superstructure will shift too. We can no longer assume that whilst technology might advance, cultural provision will remain more or less as it has been. Marx tells us that the cultural superstructure will shift too”.
Within the cultural superstructure, we are experiencing an epochal, technology-induced change in practices – in artistic expression and production as well as in audience participation and expectations. What has changed is the culture surrounding arts. Arts audiences prior to the 20th century were much more active, critical, engaged, and vocal. The 20th century witnessed a sacralisation of the arts: audiences were effectively muted and expected to act with restraint and decorum, and interpretation was left to experts and critics. The result is an ever-widening interest gap between passive forms of ‘high culture’ and more active types of culture that are either inherently participatory or are connected to opportunities that invite participation before and after the arts event.
Speaking at the Communicating the Museum conference this year, Cultural Director of Centre Pompidou, Bernard Stiegler, said that we are seeing “a renaissance of the amateur”. The general public, with their interest in participating, are seeking a return to a culture that involves them and they help to shape. Inevitably, this impacts the very nature of the cultural organisations we have built up over the 20th century, and demands a significant change in our business and operational models.
Outside the cultural sector, companies are changing their business models. They are embracing the input of the amateur. Guardian Newspapers Ltd. was a company whose business was to sell advertising to people and companies, who in turn wanted to sell their stuff to The Guardian’s readers; and then sell papers filled with news, content and ads to the public. Guardian Newspapers Ltd. has become Guardian News and Media: a digital media company, with a massive interactive website that really involves its users; that’s made available via any digital device; that is free at the point of sale to customers; and that also produces a newspaper. The Guardian newspaper’s daily circulation figures currently average 360,000. Online, they have 15m unique users – worldwide, with just under half of those from the US. In a short space of time, they really have gone from Guardian Newspapers Ltd. to Guardian Unlimited.
Other companies are also exhibiting this trend for encouraging more interactivity with their consumers. The term ‘crowdsourcing’ was coined last year to describe jobs that were traditionally done by one person but which are now being outsourced to the public through the form of an open call. Dell’s Idea Storm website currently shows nearly 8000 new user-generated ideas for product development, with over half a million votes and over 45,000 comments. A basic analysis of Idea Storm will enable Dell to establish which ideas they should develop to guarantee successful sales and customer satisfaction. The idea of opening up an organisation to others’ ideas, particularly their consumers, is evidently working for these businesses.
It’s more of a challenge, however, to see how such interactivity could work for the arts sector – our business models still mainly support a framework that is patrician, hierarchical and closed. But there are those organisations in the arts sector that are beginning to change their business models to enable more user participation.
Tate, through its new department Tate Media, has been developing its online and in-venue project, Tate TracksTate. Contemporary and popular musicians have been invited to create exclusive music inspired by certain art works (the artists were suggested by and then voted for by Tate’s MySpace friends). For one month the tracks will be exclusively available next to the work in the Tate Modern gallery and thereafter released for download. The MySpace element of the project has led to a high value collaboration: during August, MySpace gave Tate Tracks a free homepage banner advertisement – media space that would have otherwise cost about £150,000. Because of the participative and interactive nature of the Tate Tracks project, MySpace believes that the Tate brand aligns well with theirs, and that the project is something MySpace users will be interested in.
Working with Flickr (the online photo sharing website) over the last tree months, Tate has further developed its current How We Are exhibition, adding an online How We Are Now element to it, made up entirely of general public participants’ photography. Currently, Tate’s Flickr site has received photos from more than 5,000 photographers, nearly one hundred of whom went on to hold internal discussions amongst themselves about photography.
Tate’s attitude towards cultural provision has certainly changed. It seems Tate senses that cultural provision in the 21st century has become a misnomer. Culture is no longer something that can be ‘provided’ by arts organisations or policy-makers or funders. It is now something more accurately defined by what we generate together with society and characterised by the many different interests and multiple backgrounds of the people in that society. This demands interactivity. Collectively the Tate’s four venues attract 5.5m visitors each year with Tate online adding significantly to this figure and providing an additional ‘venue’.
The evidence of Tate’s interactivity is provided by people who expect participative cultural opportunities and who are voting with their mice. Tate’s website visitor numbers, have massively increased over the last few years. 2005 saw 8m unique visitors and 2006 saw 11m unique visitors. In 2007, figures are increasing every month. May 2007 saw 1.5m unique visitors. Projected total unique visitor figures for 2007 are 18m. The average site visit time is 19 minutes, proving that people are enjoying a depth of experience with the content on the site. Tate have seen significent investment in its website, from sponsors such as BT and others, but has spent almost nothing developing its marketing during this time (in their own words, “we’ve done nothing clever!”). They have used free and readily available tools, such as MySpace, Flickr and iTunes for other online projects. Perhaps the increase in traffic could be put down to more available broadband and 3G mobile phones, or the Internet’s availability via more devices like online games consoles and TV. Actually, the increase is because people are linking to Tate’s content from their own. Interestingly, 80% of traffic to their website does not come through their homepage. (People are not arriving by typing “tate.org.uk” into their internet browsers, or “Tate” into a Google search.) Traffic arrives from other links – from other online Tate projects, or from other websites, or from others’ links to the Tate website in their own blogs, MySpace pages, Flickr photos, etc.
Is Tate’s business model fit for the emerging demands of the public caused by changes in the superstructure? Will Gompertz, Director of Tate Media, thinks so. Referring to the wider digital environment, he recently said, “We’ve all lost control of our content”. This is an explicit acknowledgment of the problems and possibilities that the digital world presents to all who seek to exploit its potential, and shows that Tate strategically accept becoming more open, allowing input from their audiences to enable 21st century success.
Thanks to Will Gompertz at Tate Media for his help with this feature.
This Essential IT article originally appeared in Arts Professional and in Hanah Rudman’s blog 11th October 2007.