This is creepy treehouse

August 27, 2008 § 4 Comments

A friend on Facebook has had the words ‘This is creepy treehouse’ written on her profile picture for many months now and I’ve always wondered what the f is she’s on about. The other eve over a F2F drink she finally revealed the meaning of her reference and when I got home I immediately googled the term and found the ed-tech blogosphere had been busy with creepy treehouses for months. The clearest definition is on Flexknowlogy – “Defining Creepy Treehouse” which includes:

n. A place, physical or virtual (e.g. online), built by adults with the intention of luring in kids.

n. Any institutionally-created, operated, or controlled environment in which participants are lured in either by mimicking pre-existing open or naturally formed environments, or by force, through a system of punishments or rewards.

what struck me immediately was that the repulsion described and commonly attributed to the kids for adult built or infiltrated social networks and LMS’s can also be applied to the all-age communities suspicion of inauthentic attempts by institutions to jump into the social networks. How many times have you run across a cultural institutions presence on Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. that no-one is maintaining in the way that’s authentic to the community space you’re on. It’s like the light’s are on in these spaces but no-one’s home , both frustrating and a little creepy for the interested community members and totally useless, even harmful for the institution.

The general consensus, and I agree, is that the creepy treehouse is best pulled down by paying healthy respect to the social spaces of others and the way they wish to use them, no matter what the age. Web 2.0 technology has opened up all sorts of incredible learning possibilities but the social structures we’re interacting with are more mall than classroom. You can’t force people to hang out with you in their social space or join you in yours, personal choice is everything here. To use social networks to reach students/audiences there should be an effort to build trust and you can only really do that by being authentic and finding out what that means and how it can be achieved. After all that you may still be creepy but that’s whole other story.


Facebook, a list of positives and negatives

December 2, 2007 § 13 Comments

So all of the sudden everyone is on Facebook – the numbers for users of my generation, the Xers, have gone crazy in recent months. I’ve begun to use it personally and professionally and am pretty much addicted now, and because I’m living in New York it’s been a great way to keep in touch with friends and family in Oz. That’s the genius of it I guess, every new FB member brings another bunch with them, it just grows and grows. I am not 100% enamored though, I have a growing list of personal positive and negatives which I want to share and keep track of myself. I’ll be adding to this list over the coming months, so if anyone reads this feel free to add some, here’s a couple to begin with:

-Friend spam

  1. I don’t want to play zombies, vampires, pacman etc. etc. – it’s not that I don’t like you I’m just too old and don’t have enough time
  2. I don’t want to send notification to all of my friends about every application
  3. I don’t want to buy your artwork in an online auction
  4. I don’t want to ‘send this on to all your friends and see what happens’

-Advertising that you can’t remove on  the News Feed.

-I like that I can share what I’m reading and listening to with friends using apps like Music! and Visual Bookshelf but wish the marketing intend wasn’t so aggressive.

-Cool apps like ‘ArtShare‘* that fill your profile page with stuff that might actually interest you and your friends

-Privacy – Unlike MySpace you get to choose who looks at your profile and sends you those zombie invites. I see that you can hide your profile information on MySpace these days.

-It’s fun to waste/kill/fill time interacting with friends by playing the odd ‘identify the famous actor as a child’ quiz.

-Great to play with your profile and change your picture and update your status to let people know where you’re at.

*I am currently working at the Brooklyn Museum with the team that developed this app so I’m totally biased but nevertheless it’s a personal fave.

Museum and Educational Social Network (MESN)

August 21, 2007 § 1 Comment

Lauren, one of the curators for australianscreen online gave me the heads up about this article at artshub entitled ‘Facebook for museums’. It’s about MESN a new museum specific social networking site started by Kurt Stuchell. There seems to be a focus on ‘authenticity’ of material on the site and the provision of a ‘safe’ learning experience for students.

 We needed a more defined and structured platform that would embody the educational objectives of our member museums and present a clear value proposition to art lovers, educational institutions, parents, students, and life-long learners. The purpose is explicit: this is an environment for learning about cultural treasures.

I will keep my eye on this, but my initial reaction is that it is not as immediately as fun as interacting with museums on flickr or facebook – I’ll be interested to see how they motivate the above-listed stakeholders to hang out with them.

Tag talk

June 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

If I’m honest my tagging habits could  best be described as haphazard, on Flickr I sometimes tag my pics if I have the time and the head space, but sometimes it doesn’t even occur to me to do so. Social bookmarking sites are brilliant but so far I haven’t really become usefully dedicated to any – more often than not I lazily use my browser to bookmark, not really in the community spirit of things but it’s force of habit I guess. I do however use social bookmarking sites for research purposes, taking advantage of the resources created by those who are putting in the time to build and maintain great lists. For this blog my original choice of wording for tags was more for personal organisation of information than anything else. Almost a year on things have evolved, more posts have been added and I’d like to search my content using wider criteria, also it’s clear that others are occassionally reading ‘making conversation’ and I feel obliged to provide a clearer map of what’s within the blog.

I see how incredibly useful tagging is, especially folksonomic tagging in revealing objects that may have previously been hidden to visitors by more formal curatorial language. However the more I learn about how we tag the more I realise how many objects are hidden all over again by what might be called poor tagging practice. Words being misspelt, strangly grouped, split by plural or singular usage, synonyms, the list goes on. The wonderful payoff of not controlling how objects are tagged by individuals is the serendipitous element of each search, you can land in places you never knew existed and be inspired to find out more about stuff you didn’t even know interested you. Also, if you find another who tags like you then chances are you’ve made a valuable connection to that may broaden your horizons even further.  As much as I would like folksonomies to be more reliable it’s obvious that if we try to control the way we tag then some of the magic may disappear and we’ll head right back into the more authoritarian classification methods that negate the creative opportunities free tagging has given us. 

Artist’s blog

April 30, 2007 § 2 Comments


This month I’ve been helping Sydney artist  AñA Wojak  set up a blog to document her photo-synthesis project. She is the first official Royal Sydney Botanical Gardens artist in residence and will work in the gardens from March 2007 until March 2008. Much of the work AñA create’s during this residency will be ephemera and will perish (or get nicked) quickly. Blogging is the perfect way to for us as viewers to follow the project and keep track of what’s on display within the gardens. Blogging also provides a cheap and easy way to keep a record of the 12 months for AñA’s own portfolio and the Botanical Gardens own archive.

Memories of London

January 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

Another thought provoking Museum of London  effort,  is  a great idea, basically you can attach text, a photo, video and sound files to a google map of London to create a mosaic of London memories. The site sorts the content by themes such as “Love&Loss”, “Joy&Struggle”, “Fate&Coincidence” and you can add your own themes – how about “Broke&Australian”. The google map keeps crashing for me so I haven’t had a good look at the memories or added any of my own but hope to soon.

Brooklyn Museum Community

January 20, 2007 § Leave a comment

Have you noticed that the Brooklyn Museum has a Community section on their website? The first page says “The Brooklyn Museum believes in community. As we blog to keep you up-to-date, we’d love to hear from you too. Tell us about your visit by commenting on our posts.” The Community section identifies ways in which visitors can contribute to a conversation with BM, eg. photographs, videos, blogs. This Museum’s social (as opposed to scientific) approach to finding out how visitors interpret their space is so refreshing. Other museums, let’s say Tate online  and the Powerhouse Museum, have community building initiatives, ie. use of social software, they may even be developing their presence on flickr and Their sites do not have a clearly marked community section for visitor contributions and clear directions to their content out on the network,  is it time for them to do so?

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