Google as encyclopedia?

On the BBC this morning: Google debuts knowledge project:

Google has kicked off a project to create an authoritative store of information about any and every topic.

The search giant has already started inviting people to write about the subject on which they are known to be an expert.

The system will centre around authored articles created with a tool Google has dubbed “knol” – the word denotes a unit of knowledge – that will make webpages with a distinctive livery to identify them as authoritative.

The knol pages will get search rankings to reflect their usefulness. Knols will also come with tools that readers can use to rate the information, add comments, suggest edits or additional content.

Nicholas Carr said the knol project was … an attempt by Google to knock ad-free Wikipedia entries on similar subjects down the rankings.

So much could be said about this. Is it a peer review system for the web? How are ‘experts’ discovered and chosen? What factors would influence whether an ‘expert’ agrees to participate? Would practices of academic inclusion and exclusion apply? Will it use semantic web technologies or methodologies? Will commercial factors affect the users’ trust in search results? How will it affect traditional content providers like encyclopaedias, and new content sources like Wikipedia? Are they duplicating existing knowledge systems just to provide a new revenue stream?

Browse with maps on Flickr

Flickr have introduce a new ‘places‘ feature, which makes geo-tagged photos easier to find by navigating through a map, browsing or searching. There’s an end-user focussed screencast explaining how it works. There are more technical links under the ‘Are you nerdy?’ heading.

Features like this and Google maps seem to be creating a much more ‘map savvy’ generation of online users – I think this could be really beneficial because they’re educating our users about mapping technologies and interfaces as well as making it possible for ordinary people to create geo-referenced content.

Flickr have also introduced stats for Pro accounts, which will make evaluating the use of our content a lot easier.

Could Facebook bring new audiences to your sites?

Dan Pett has written an interesting overview of Facebook and the Heritage sector on the PAS blog, and says:

We’re now starting to see Facebook appearing more regularly in our Google Analytics referrer pages, and people seem to be sticking around for around 7 pages per visit. It’s a new door to people entering our site, and maybe one that could be fruitful;

‘The BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles’

An old post (February this year), but one worth noting: The BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles.

(I’ve been in Japan and was busy in that ‘pre-holiday’ way beforehand, so haven’t updated recently. Naughty me.)

Brooklyn Museum announce ArtShare on Facebook

From the post announcing it, ArtShare on Facebook!:

What can you do with ArtShare? Well, you can select works from the Brooklyn Museum collection to display on your profile. But then, because social networking is about connecting and seeing what others contribute to the social fabric, anyone can also use ArtShare to upload their own work and share it with others. You can use ArtShare to select a wide variety of work, then each time your profile is loaded a different work will be displayed at random from your selections.

They contacted contemporary artists who still held copyright over their works and asked if they would give their permission for this use. They’ve even offered their application functionality to other museums:

If you work at another institution and want to share your museum’s collection this way, we can set you up with your own tab in ArtShare. When we set this up for you, your institution’s logo will be displayed alongside the works that you upload, so they are easily identifiable as being a part of your collection.

So congratulations to Mike Dillon and Shelley Bernstein at the Brooklyn Museum, and thank you for letting us know so that we all get to learn from your experience.

(Actually I’ve just noticed one problem – given the recent fuss about Facebook, advertising, applications and privacy, I wanted to read the application Terms of Service, but you have to add the application to read them, so you have to agree to them before you’ve read them. It’s not a criticism of their application as I’m sure this isn’t specific to ArtShare but I guess it does show that concerns over Facebook’s privacy model are going to affect how cultural institutions engage with it.)

A golden age before copyright was king?

Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow in the Guardian on the pop art exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery:

Does this show – paid for with public money, with some works that are themselves owned by public institutions – seek to inspire us to become 21st century pop artists, armed with cameraphones, websites and mixers, or is it supposed to inform us that our chance has passed and we’d best settle for a life as information serfs who can’t even make free use of what our eyes see and our ears hear?

Perhaps, just perhaps, this is actually a Dadaist show masquerading as a pop art show. Perhaps the point is to titillate us with the delicious irony of celebrating copyright infringement while simultaneously taking the view that even the “No Photography” sign is a form of property not to be reproduced without the permission that can never be had.

Warhol is turning in his grave

New ways of experiencing museums

This article presents a lovely perspective on the ways different audiences now engage with museums. It’s also interesting to wonder how these changing perspectives affect the online experience of a museum, exhibition or single object.

The idea of a museum visit as a kind of promenade theatre event is a comparatively new one for me. I am typical of my generation, I suspect, in still expecting a trip to a gallery to be improving – with the emphasis on it as a place where one will be educated, and above all, somewhere one will be infused with morally uplifting sentiments.

Younger gallery-goers, by contrast, go in search of a more immediate experience – looking for something emotionally challenging, against which to measure the tide of information that floods us, in our engulfing sea of online information.

Or, in the case of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall or the V&A’s Friday Late, they simply go to hang out with similarly inclined others, for the shared sense of occasion.

Last weekend’s outing to Tate Modern succeeded in convincing me that the excitement of the encounter is an important part of today’s visit to the museum.

According to the French intellectual Andre Malraux – Minister for Culture under General de Gaulle for 10 years from 1959 – whereas once the visitor went to a museum to be provided with answers, now, the responsibility lies with us, the visitors.

The museum experience exists most richly in our own imaginations, created out of a collection of images we each carry with us, gleaned from books, magazines, photographs and film. We bring remembered visual material with us into a museum space which has thereby become imaginary. The installation or exhibition merely acts as a catalyst, prompting us to ask our own questions which we look to the artist to answer.

From the BBC, Making contact

Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design

Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design is a great resource for thinking about how to incorporate accessibility testing in user-centered design processes. It’s available as a website and a book, that covers:

  • The basics of including accessibility in design projects
    • Shortcuts for involving people with disabilities in your project
    • Tips for comfortable interaction with people with disabilities
  • Details on accessibility in each phase of the user-centered design process (UCD)
    • Examples of including accessibility in user group profiles, personas, and scenarios
    • Guidance on evaluating for accessibility through heuristic evaluation, design walkthroughs, and screening techniques
    • Thorough coverage of planning, preparing for, conducting, analyzing, and reporting effective usability tests with participants with disabilities
    • Questions to include in your recruiting screener
    • Checklist for usability testing with participants with disabilities

Content licences in the UK’s cultural heritage sector

An event to be held by Creative Commons Salon London on November 20 will feature a discussion on ‘open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector’:

This time round we’ll be joined by Jordan Hatcher, a lawyer and legal consultant specialising in intellectual property and technology law, who will present and discuss his work on a new report entitled “Snapshot study on the use of open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector”. This study primarily examines the use of the Creative Archive (CA) and Creative Commons (CC) licences among UK museums, libraries, galleries, and archives. The key objective has been to get a snapshot of current licensing practices in this area in 2007, and Jordan will report on his findings.

Via A Consuming Experience.