CART Transcript for Best of the Web Award

Friday, April 4, 2014 4:30 p.m. – 5:12 p.m.


Held at:

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

202 East Pratt Street

Baltimore, MD

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. 

>> Bruce Wyman:   So, I think we’re going to go ahead and get started, as much as I enjoy watching so many of you talking pleasant conversations that exist there. We’ll have people amble in from the back.

Are we being recorded on Google Glass? All right. Are these people? Are we recording them? Ok. The camera’s facing me? That’s good. That’s great.

So apparently this is also livestreamed across the internet. We’ve finally reached the digital age. That’s compelling. So friends in other lands will enjoy this, not to name anybody in particular.

Is everybody having a good conference so far?



So this is Best of the Web. It is 2014. That part you all know. We have a number of categories for which we have found good mentioned websites that we have all reviewed. We’re recognizing a bunch of very good effort in the field and to give a moment of pause and give out lovely, lovely awards that if anybody’s had them before, we have a lighter material this year. So it’s not the 20‑pound award that it used to be. You won’t go over weight on your luggage. That’s good.

It’s relatively quick. This will not be a long, drawn-out as in the past. We will give a little preamble, what we do, how we do it, why we do it. That’s exciting. Then we’ll go through the individual categories and talk about the individual sites for a moment.

So, Best of the Web Awards 2014. There are a bunch of us that have been involved, in particular, the co‑chairs of the committee. There are a litany of other people that everybody can read — I don’t need to read them to you — from places all around the world. We have tried to be international despite the strong USA contingent. We need a few people to pretend we are internationally recognized and pay attention. We try to be inclusive.

With that, there is a process that we have. All the sites that are there, nominated by you, by the community, by our peers, those different sites get broken into different categories, categories we took through review to see if they made sense in the category or if they need to be moved around. Then we go through creating a panel of judges that are all volunteers. So should you have ever wanted to volunteer to be a judge, we could talk about that. It’s fun. It’s great fun. It’s a lot of ‑‑ at the last moment knowing the deadline is approaching, staying up and getting the sites reviewed is the typical process. One of the co‑chairs battering you until it’s done. It’s done humbly and with a lot of comments. Everything’s tested, reviewed, analyzed, drawn, and have some fairly good discussion around them. We tend to disagree with each other about what is good and what is not good. And we express those disagreements, some more vociferously than others. We debate that. Then we try and step back a little bit and evaluate the sites and context in relation to each other.

So it’s not that we’re trying to say a single thing is good, but you start to realize your metrics of what is good has changed. So we try to be relatively holistic. Then we go through final judging and the panel comes together the week of MW to decide who the winners are going to be.

So in short, what we’re trying to do is things that have caught our attention — obviously not every nominee will win. And what we want to do is celebrate innovation and change, people that are actually doing incredible effort and we feel they need to be inspired about it.

So, starting off is Digital Exhibition.

>> Kajsa: Let’s announce the winner of Digital Exhibition. It’s Collection Wall. The Collection Wall largest space in North America ‑‑


They uncover deeper associations while being able to create personalized tours with their iPads. It stimulates curiosity up close ‑‑

>> Bruce Wyman:   Somebody from Cleveland should accept the award. That’s an important part of this.

>> Kajsa: Access while simultaneously providing visualizations from further vantage point. The Collection Wall is integrated with the museum’s management system in its library presentation of over 3,800 artworks currently on display in the museum.

And some voices from the judges who reviewed this say: It’s beautifully done. Big, expansive, well designed. Good tangibility with a RFID enabled application. Overall, super smart project. It’s a game changer in how we use digital media to connect the visitor with the objects. It encourages interaction with the objects, not just a device. Integration with the iPad app that enables the visitor to walk through the museum is impressive.



>> Bruce Wyman:   Next up, Education. Who is doing Education? Jane? Was this you? Jane? Jane Alexander?

>> [Inaudible]

>> Bruce Wyman:   Ok. Anybody have my notes? This is well rehearsed in practice. They do this all the time.

So for the Education category, our winner is ‑‑ I’m sorry. Yeah, winner is Catalysts, Artists Creating with Sound Video and Time.


Sound, video and performance art experiences as well as digital time‑based artworks are rarely on display in most museums and teachers find them cumbersome to bring in the classroom in authentic ways. It’s been an important venue since 1960 and this is their latest offering.

Comments from the judges: Relatively interesting. At first it seemed really busy, and there was a level of complexity that wasn’t understood. Once they start using, realized I — face was intuitive and it was easy to find content on the site. Content was rich. There is plenty of detail every time they began to look for it. It was an easy trail to follow. It was fantastic content. It was a very accomplished execution of all the interactive elements that made this project a true standout. The content was thought provoking and unusual. It made the person interested in future courses because I think the way that it was presented in talk was incredibly timed.

Thank you.


Innovative and Experimental.

>> Ed: For the Innovative and Experimental category, since they have slightly different criteria, I thought I would just talk a little bit about that. Innovative and Experimental, we were looking at sites or apps or platforms that make use of new digital publishing and presentation methodologies, technologies to provide innovative experiences based on content or services. So these are assessed less on the overall intent of project success and more on their innovative objects, originality, and potential for development for the field.

So the quality characteristics for this character included creative, new innovative uses of web and digital media, application of new web concepts, methodologies, and technological applications, introduction of new and emerging technologies and museum digital products, experimental creative uses of emerging technology, and uses of technology that offer new possibilities for further development.

And the winner in this category ‑‑ sorry. There’s an honorable mention. The Honorable Mention in this category is Gallery One from the Cleveland Museum of Art.


>> Bruce Wyman:   There’s no award for the Honorable Mention. You can sit back down.


Everybody, Jane Alexander.


>> Ed: And the winner in this category, there we go, the Dallas Museums of Arts, DMA Friends Program.


For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the last year, DMA Friends is an incredibly ambitious project. It’s an open source technical infrastructure and user experience designed to incentivize and track participation and engagement by visitors to the Dallas Museum Arts, using an innovative web‑based platform visitors participate through iPad‑based kiosks, texting from mobile devices and online, and as visitors connect with museum this creates personal profiles, earn badges, check different activities, and earn rewards for progress and participation.

So they built an entire small economy built on participation of visitors with the institution. The system touches on any number of different business systems and required a significant institutional process shift beyond just the core technologies. If you can imagine throwing out your membership program and paid admission and implementing this thing that touches every single aspect of the museum’s operation, you get an idea of how much they bit off.

The thing I find most exciting about the whole thing is the fact that they have built in from the outset constant monitoring and metrics captured to create an interesting, deep understanding of what their visitors actually do. If nothing else, that will probably transform all of our practice in the coming years.

So some of the comments from the judges: This is a fantastic project. It merges marketing, creating long‑term relationship with visitors and getting beyond the transaction visit model with an extreme approach to personalization by which every visitor can have a unique visit experience and tailored return experiences so when you come back, it knows that you’ve been; it gives you different things based on what you saw the last time, the things that we have been talking about in places like this and MCM for a number of years.

>> Bruce Wyman:   Did you pitch MCM?

>> Ed: Oh, sorry. Ok. Almost done.

There’s a good mix between authoritative and user‑generated content. The activities are not all exclusively digital. There are physical things marrying online and onsite and an interesting mix of different kinds of activities. This will probably get overused in this session, but one of the overall comments: it’s a game changer in the way by which the visitor is addressed personally, actively engaging in a variety of activities. I think it’s a commendable strategy.

So do we.

Thank you.


>> Bruce Wyman:   Long‑lived. Liz Neely.

>> Liz: The category for something that’s been around for a while, stands the test of time, has adapted over time.

And the winner is, the Horniman.

Anyone here from there? Yeah.


By 2010 the Museum and Gardens website had become had been in existence for the best part of a decade without any major amendments. The website had become out of date, confusing, did not reflect the organization’s personality well. In early 2010 the Museum and Gardens, a family‑friendly South London museum, began a concerted effort to reinvent and reinvigorate the digital offer.

The Horniman launched its new website in 2011 which has been architected, designed, and developed to keep thinking about collections data extraction by knowledge integration. Since then further activity has taken place each year to augment and grow the website with new features, functionality, ensuring that the website adapts to user behavior and is a reliable and consistent quality.

And what we liked about it, what the judges liked about it: The creative use of energy, fresh look and feel with the subtle navigation that helps a lot. The judges said it had high information without looking cluttered. Look forward to the response of mobile version. Great use of Tumblr and lots of interactiveness and sharing. Great job.


>> Bruce Wyman: Is anybody from Horniman here?

Ok. We’ll save that one.


>> Kate: It seems like we’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of interesting mobile applications for museums. It’s only been a few years that this has actually been a category. Some really thrilling contestants. And this year it was hard to choose where we were going to go.

The winner in this particular category for this year is ArtLens’ iPhone, iPad app.


Now we get picture.

The Artlens iPad, iPhone application is a unique personal guide loaded with video, audio text and still image content. It helps visitors to explore the artworks on display and encourages visitors to create their own tours. Visitors can check out an iPad preloaded upon entry to the museum or bring their own iPad, iPhone and use the free application both in the Gallery One and throughout the museum. In terms of the things that the visitors said about this particular app was it’s just chock full of depth in terms of audio, video, etc. When you’re using it on the iPhone itself, it can download almost 13,000 images within ‑‑ to a phone.

Judges said they could have spent days on this app and that they especially appreciated the top 10 visitor features. One of the interesting pieces as we debated mobile over the years is that this particular element has a variety of access points. So you may be using it on your phone and have one experience, you may use it in the gallery. And with the ArtLens iPad experience, it can sense your location and offer stories as you move through the gallery.

Congratulations, ArtLens.

>> Bruce Wyman:   Next up, Research/Collections Online.

>> Corey: There’s an Honorable Mention. The Honorable Mention is the Online Catalog of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy.

The winner is Operation War Diary.


Anyone from ‑‑ no?

[Cheers and Applause]

Operation War Diary is a collaboration between the Imperial War Museum National Archives to classify the daily diaries of British Infantry units on Western Front 1914‑1918. The full archive comprises 1.5 million pages of daily properties detailing Army activities, carnalities and movements. The sheer size of the collection has made it impossible study in‑depth. This is a first attempt to examine the Western Front at this level of detail by crowdsourcing research into the daily lives of soldiers.

Overall, impressions from the judges: It was amazing. It offers a compelling, satisfying experience for citizen historian types. It’s deeply immersive, regularly updated. And what’s really amazing is it exposes a massive collection to an audience and then uses the audience to enrich the collection. So it’s like a full life cycle circle. It’s an amazing project. Everyone should check it out.

>> Bravo!


>> Bruce Wyman:  Next up, Rich Media.

>> Liz: Ok, this is a fun one. For Rich Media category, the winner is ‑‑ I need to say that this actually — we got help from our friends in Barcelona on how to pronounce this. It’s ‑‑ I’m going to mess it up. Taull.

It’s an immersive experience — They have the video on Best of the Web. I recommend it. This is something pretty different.

It is an immersive experience onsite, onsite, that brings visitors to the Romanesque Church St. Clement past to 1123 when the church was painted with the iconic figures of God and Saints. Those paintings were moved to the museum in Barcelona in 1920. And now with this project, they are virtually returned to the walls of the church thanks to a mapping structure of six high‑quality projectors over the real remains of the Romanesque paintings. The paintings of the museum are projected in the original place.

So on the wall, there’s a projection of them where they were and it becomes a truly augmented reality experience but without mobile device for all the visitors. So it’s projecting it on the walls. There’s music. It’s this really amazing experience on the video. But if anyone wants to send me, I think we all need to go. Right? We all must go.

The immersive Rich Media’s installation is an innovative way to not only tell the history of the church and its visualism but it serves to reflect on what has not survived over time. This performance is very well done using musical and dramatic visual effects to make the story compelling. We also appreciated the spotlight near the end, reminding the audience through the projected reproduction of the starkness that remains beneath.

I should say that at the end of it when it’s fully reconstructed, you’re sitting in the dark; you’re watching the music. You’ve seen it reconstructed in light and projector. They bring a spotlight comes in and shows what’s underneath it that is the kind of the more dull, what remains underneath it. So you really get this sense of ‑‑ you could get lost that it was there. And then you get reminded that it’s not there.

Watch the video. Really cool. Congratulations.


>> Bruce Wyman:   And the next category, Museum Professional. There’s nobody from Barcelona here to pick up the award? Anybody traveling to Barcelona soon?


Ok. Museum Professional.

>> Robin: Museum Professional is the category where obviously professional development for museum people happens. And the projects that we had were reviewed and the winner is MuseoPunks.


Unfortunate they are not here, but for those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a podcast for the progressive museum. Every month Jeffrey and Suse investigate the fascinating work and personalities in and around the museum sector. This has been going on since April 2013. And they’ve explored some of the most boundary‑pushing work and ideas. Episodes focuses on museums and the age of scale, emergent conservation approaches for digital and emerging media, organizational structure and strategy and innovative curation.

So some of the comments I’ll read to you: I cannot think of a better example of the kind of ground-up professional development the web makes possible. It provides compelling content for innovative viewers and thinkers in the field. In engaging and formal context the medium of the podcast is by no means innovative, for this content conversations amongst peers it’s the perfect fit. Awesome. I am happy Museopunks exists. They are a pleasure listen to.

If you don’t know where it is, it’s Dive in. It’s great.


>> Bruce Wyman:   Next up, Social Media.

>> Corey: Social Media. It is the Social Media category.


It’s media. More social. And the winner is the Horniman.


In this project called ‑‑ you know, I’m just going to talk about it. When we were talking about this project, social media, the integration of social media, what’s new and interesting about it, I went to the website and I thought, well, you know, it’s kind of not actually all that amazing. Then I discovered the Tumblr account. It’s beautiful. This is where if you’re going to check it out and you should, you should really view the Tumblr account. What we’re seeing as a screen shot is not doing it justice because it’s the page. When you see it in your feed, that’s how remarkable it is.

The photography of the objects, the descriptions, they’re short, interesting, often end with questions. They cause reflection on the part of the person viewing it. When you have a long Tumblr feed, they stand out and make you want to learn about the collection. So it’s extremely successful. It’s really well designed for exactly what its purpose is.



>> Bruce Wyman:   The next up is Small Museum category.

>> Chad: We can’t all build Collection Walls. As we’re looking through these websites and offerings, we look for organizations that were small or represent small museums to try to pull out and recognize projects that have a lot of love in them or can actually overcome the lack of resources or even, you know, just how ‑‑ I’m just going to move on.

This was a tight one. I’m sorry. Losing it.

This was a ‑‑ actually had an audible mention. Nope. Sorry. Sorry.


An honorable mention. Didn’t do it. All right. Well, Victorian Collections.


This especially for me in the United States is that it actually delivers a collections for 200 small museums. It does it in a way that is clean, that is ‑‑ allows for serendipity, and it’s easy to find things that you want to find searchable. It comes with a map. You can choose which collection you want to go to just by looking at the map of Australia. It has an API. And it’s also responsive, which is really impressive for a small museum.

And then the winner is, Tang Museum.


What was nice about this one is it takes on a big issue. It looks at it from many different perspectives. It looks at wealth, income, race, from whether you’re rural or urban, male or female, what your education level. It upfront provides information, research, about these issues, graphs about these issues, and the testimonials.

First of all, testimonials from people who have experienced these divides and how they come to terms with: I am poor, I am middle class. What does it mean that I’m black? What does it mean that I’m getting an education but I have problems maintaining an education because my family’s poor? This is a collection of 20 artists who use their art to explore these ideas. It plays back and forth really well. It’s very handsome. You can see the images are almost all like this, beautiful. It, too, is responsive.


>> Bruce Wyman:   Next up is the People’s Choice Award.

>> Kate: I’m honored to present this award which I did not judge. All of you were the judges of this particular award. People’s Choice Award has been around since 2008. If I remember correctly, during that particular season there was quite a bit of lobbying of vote for my site passed out during the conference itself.

This year we had 58 wonderful nominees to choose from that you could go through and select as your particular Best of the Web from your point of view. It was very important to us as a committee to encourage this sort of voting mainly so that you could participate in the arguments that we all had. I don’t think any of you have lived until you’ve been able to argue with Mike Edson about what is the central nature of a podcast and the central nature of a museum in the late night until you are able to come to some sort of agreement or at least be worn down in terms of what it means to give an award within our field.

This particular year it was pretty clear‑cut. We have a beautiful site judged by you all and that is the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.


I think someone from Reynolda House is here this year. Yes?


Congratulations. Photo opportunity.

So we don’t know what was in all of your minds as you chose this as the most ‑‑ as the thing that you wanted to advocate for. But we could certainly tell as we go forward and looking at this that this was a site that had three separate collections digitized on their site with an enormous number of exhibition and lone history pieces, artist and maker bibliographies, high‑resolution digital images, enhanced curatorial descriptions, history, scans of historical documents, and it goes on. There is a wealth of information here.

This particular piece launched in September of 2013, “The New Digital” completes this cataloging project of their collections. If you didn’t vote, if you did not have an opportunity to look through this, we encourage you to do so now.


>> Bruce Wyman:   And the final category Best Overall is interesting. It’s the process that ends up being a relatively heated debate of the different sites we judged, anybody that won another category, even sites that necessarily didn’t win but have stood out have all been contenders for the Best Overall. This year it was surprisingly close. There was a single point of difference between the winner and runner‑up.

That said, the winner of this year’s Best of the Web is DMA Friends.


Ed already spoke eloquently with good words that made sense, spoke eloquently of DMA Friends already. There’s nothing I’m going to add other than to say not only to Rob but to the other winners, congratulations.


So, here’s one more thing. This is the last year of Best of the Web as we know it. After a lot of careful consideration and discussion about the judging process, the sites recognizing that the field is changing and where it used to be a decade ago we could easily identify a website, the categories we have now are relatively arbitrary. They don’t always make nice, clean fits for the things that are there or the things that are recommended. We want to change that. We don’t want to just say these are the best of certain categories. We want to change how we think about that.

So I’m not going into detail but we’re working to change and evolve what Best of the Web will be. And pretty much at this point we’re killing the baby. Best of the Web won’t exist in that form anymore but we’ll make it new, better, interesting, more interactive for next year. We’ll give you some updates in about a month or two about where things are headed. There will be advanced warning as we start a new judging process for next year. So it’s going to be entirely revamped. When I said if you want to be a judge, talk us. It will be different. Find me, and you can be part of the process.

Thank you.


Have a good evening.

[The award presentation ended at 5:12 p.m.]