The paradox is that developing a clear, authentic voice doesn’t isolate the institution but infinitely expands its relevance in the life of the city and citizen. It is so clear what the organic supermarket Whole Foods stands for, so they don’t need to worry about just selling food. They sell clothing, books, classes, skin care, yoga supplies, which all relate to the core of who they are. Museums... have had difficulty becoming more integral to people’s life because they lost sight of their core, which should be different for each museum. A museum concerned with integrating art into the life of young people might find it appropriate to open a dance club. A museum that believes that it is most suited to be a temple of art can be a truly meditative oasis in the heart of a bustling city. A museum that is committed to childhood education might find it relevant to open a charter school. Museums in suburban locations need to determine how they can integrate themselves into the leisure patterns of their own constituency. Museums shouldn’t change by looking elsewhere; they should change by looking more carefully at themselves. That’s too difficult a task to pass off to visitors.
The Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said that the newspaper needed to embrace an "open" digital philosophy in which it embraced contributions from beyond the ranks of its own journalists, and posed the question whether the titles could spend 80% of their focus and attention on digital.
The changes are intended to be incremental, and follow several months of work on mock-ups and reader research. A more radical plan to cut back on daily news content in favour of a product that largely featured long-form and investigative pieces was examined but ultimately dropped.
Well-meaning collections-based museum projects can lie stagnant in a social media platform like Facebook or Tumblr. Why? Often, because not enough attention has been paid to what is likely to compel a response. The source content does not inspire the interaction that defines the platform. Take an image of a Roman urn. It bears cultural significance. The story behind the ashes inside the urn is... fascinating and tragic. The intricacy of the craftsmanship on show appeals to some. But for most people on Tumblr or Facebook (especially those with no previous affiliation to your organisation), does this image immediately resonate or intrigue? Does it inspire the level of response the museum was hoping for?
What purpose does a museum serve for that generation? When you possess a half-dozen different devices that can answer any question you could possibly imagine at just about any time, what function does a museum serve? What role does it play in their lives? Is it a place of quiet reflection? Is it a place to experience first hand those things you read about on a screen? Is it a place to gather with... others and share those experiences? Is the museum an important piece of the fabric of that generation’s lives? Or is it just a big building filled with the physical manifestations of cultural trivia? I don’t personally believe that museums are, or should be, trivial collections of accumulated cultural trinkets. But what I believe isn’t that relevant in the grand scheme of things. What will today’s teens think when they’re old enough to support or not support museums? What value will a collection have to them when the same information can be gathered instantly and for free from just about any place on the planet? I believe that museums will have to be places of experience. Museums will be places where people can go to experience something first-hand that they can’t get through an incredibly detailed and complete description that is always accessible. Museums need to become centers for shared experiences and not just collections of objects. What kind of experience should museums offer? I don’t know. I have ideas, but I really don’t know what museums are going to do ten years from now. Answering that question is going to require a lot of trial and error. We’re going to have to experiment, and we’re going to have to do it very quickly and with lots of iterations. We’re going to need to be much more agile and adaptive than most of us currently are. But before we can do that successfully, we need to build a stable platform on which to create those experiments. We need a set of services that will enable us to redirect our resources quickly and efficiently in whatever direction they are needed today or tomorrow.
Anyone worth their salt working in digital will know what they should be doing in terms of content quality and user experience but whether they’re able to implement that against their organisation’s culture, technology and current offering is a different thing altogether.
What looks from an adult perspective like radical technological change is just the background radiation of a young person’s life.
Broken windows. Every ‘fun’ post users see is an open invitation for them to participate in the fun by adding their own fun question or answer. The stuff spreads like kudzu! Pretty soon the entire site is overrun with nothing but that kind of fun. And even if you grandfather a few in, you’ll enjoy neverending requests asking why their fun question or answer has to be removed, while this one over... here is allowed to remain. Opportunity cost. Every minute spent participating in an entertaining ‘fun’ post is time that someone could have spent asking or answering a substantive question, something practical that solves an actual problem for hundreds or thousands of people. Entertainment, within reason, is by no means a bad thing — but I experience almost physical pain when I think about a brilliant topic expert spending 10 minutes on one of our sites deciding which hilarious cartoon is their favorite.
Whilst the technology companies demo their living rooms of the future, they live in a dreamlike world where everything you buy is a Samsung, or a Sony, whereas the reality is a Funai next to a Huawei next to a Panasonic next to a Vizio. And it’ll probably take 10 years for them to work together to fix this mess, let alone pipedreams of creating common standards.
For instance, ‘interactivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal tweezers, but the reason we suddenly need such a word is that during this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre,... music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.
Online, though, that bundle is torn apart, every day, by users who forward each other individual URLs, without regard to front pages or named sections or intended navigation. This unbundling leads to the odd math of web readership — if you rank readers by pages viewed in a month, the largest group by far, between a third and half of them, will visit only a single page. A smaller group will read... two pages in a month, a still smaller group will read three, and so on, up to the most active reader, in a group by herself, who will read dozens of pages a day, hundreds in a month.
The music-centred responses might just be lagging behind the past decade’s enormous sensory shift. Punk and rave kids were bored and made something to answer their boredom. Maybe no one is bored right now. Maybe we’re excessively unbored.