Regardless of Google’s don’t be evil ethos, they are successfully slaughtering serendipity. For a while now, on most searches I do the only surprising results are ads. Most others in the top-x are recommended or shared or +1d by people in my social circles. The announcement of Search plus Your World hints the web will only be getting smaller as time goes on.
It made me think of a forgotten social network I probably spent more time with than Google+ and Facebook combined: StumbleUpon.
StumbleUpon is the cabinet of curiosities of the web. StumbleUpon is the unGoogle, a curated collection of stuff you didn’t even know you were looking for. I stumbled around in the arts section and sawmoregreatstuff than in a week on Twitter.
With a population of 20 million StumbleUpon doesn’t have the body of most other social networks. However, unlike most other social networks, the users of StumbleUpon are open to chance encounters, welcome serendipity, and value quality regardless of its origin.
StumbleUpon is around since 2001, but I think its potential for museums is severely overlooked when we talk about social media. Ranked 126th worldwide on Alexa, the website is directing huge amounts of visitors to great content on the web. Plus, according to Wikipedia they added millions of users in the past year, which strengthens my believe that there’s a growing interest in content from beyond once’s social circles. Read the rest of this entry »
The Decemberists, last Monday in Paradiso, were pretty clear about it: If we didn’t scream at our loudest like we were being eaten alive by a whale, their last song would fail. After a full hour of brilliantly performed music, a theatrical show full of interaction and a decent number of laughs, we were more than happy to. Of course, everybody screamed, the song was a success.
An article in the New York Times advocates kids’ rule of schools. Students aged 15-17 designed their own curriculum, took on individual challenges and were responsible for a self-designed group project. “In such a setting, school capitalizes on (…) the intensity and engagement that teenagers usually reserve for sports, protest or friendship.” Not surprisingly, the kids learned, the project was a success.
Reverse engineer these successes and you’ll see participation and engagement were high because the original ownership (of music, a curriculum) was shared. People usually on the receiving end were made responsible for success or failure. They were given ownership.
When we started the new website project, we realised that over the last couple of years many museums, archives and other institutions have digitised their collections. At the same time many created communities around projects and expositions. The result of all these efforts is a rich, but dispersed online presence of culture, history and heritage. If you know where to look, you can find almost anything online. Most people, however, don’t look further than Wikipedia and the top-3 results in Google (often the same).
We wanted to make it easier for people to discover history and heritage online by connecting different collections and communities. Sort of like Europeana builds an enormous database of European collections, but then focused at the normal Internet user, who doesn’t even know Europeana exists. This idea, the INNL network, allows people to enter anywhere in the network and experience the rich online collections, rather than having to search for them.