Culture Geek 2013 condensed: Bright ideas at the Barbican
MuseumNext’s little sister was back with a bang this year, with speakers from arts and culture organisations in America, Holland, Scotland and England. The focus on marketing and audience engagement saw topics range from advertising strategies for the 166 year old Smithsonian Institute, through to a year-long campaign for the world’s largest arts festival (it can only be the mighty Edinburgh Fringe Festival). And of course no conference would be complete without a little social media fetishisation. The Tower of London’s ‘Oldest Facebook Timeline in the World?‘ was simple, fun and very effective. What more could you ask for you?
We Know Where You Live
Louise Downe and I split opinions with our talk “We Know Where You Live”, a mixture of philosophical exploration and practical guidelines for making contextually aware experiences. While the title of the talk was popular, comments on the content ranged from “really interesting” to “poor”. Unsurprisingly for a topic as far-reaching as this, Louise and I wracked our brains for days to find the best way to discuss what we think is one of the most significant developments in audience engagement not just for the arts and culture sector but content creators at large.
Traditionally organisations can control the context within which visitors experience exhibits. Galleries and museums are physical places, each with their own highly nuanced environments designed to trigger emotional reactions, where stories can be told and discussions had in person. But as audiences discover content on the move many other factors coming into play – where are they? What are they doing? Who else is there? What is going around them? How do they feel?
This is the beginning
The technology for collecting contextual data has only existed for a few years (essentially smartphones and web APIs). We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to building a proper emotional understanding of what this data means. As this improves organisations will have more relevant, more personal conversations with their audience members.
For Tate, and us at Thought Den, “Magic Tate Ball” was only the start. We didn’t explicitly set out to create a contextually aware experience, but with 120,000 downloads, the result certainly struck a chord. I can’t wait to see what else comes out of the sector now there is such pressure to demonstrate value for money through relevant and meaningful engagement.
Our 10th Anniversary Edition! We hope you enjoy it, give us some tweet love with the #culturegeek and #twitposter tags.