What Types of Users Will Find Culture Kent’s Open Data Source Helpful? Personas & Use Cases (part 1): Culturally Curious

Image Turner Contemporary launch event, 12th April 2011

Turner Contemporary launch event, 12th April 2011

As part of Culture Kent’s research, we asked Deeson to provide us with Personas & Use Cases for the types of users that will potentially use our Events open data source.  In turn, they identified six Personas and explained their corresponding Use Cases.  This series of blogs will highlight each one in detail according to their behaviour & motivations or responsibilities, goals, challenges, and interests.

In this first post, we will focus on the Persona identified as ‘Culturally Curious’.  This can be someone specific, for instance a student studying Arts History in the EU, but it can also be someone who is interested in culture & arts around Kent.

People who are ‘Culturally Curious’ might state:

“I just want to experience the culture. Finding events is difficult and time consuming.”

What are their behaviours and motivations?
• Uses Google to search for terms such as 1/events in Kent March 1st”
• Finds lesser known events on bulletin boards in local shops
• Wants to supplement digital learning with real experience

What are their goals?
• Find relevant events in reasonable travelling distance
• Broaden cultural experiences
• Find career opportunities
• Find cheap events- student budgets don’t stretch far!

What are some of the challenges they face?
• Finding events that fit price and location criteria
•Knowing where to look, often misses events because of lack of awareness
•Meeting like-minded people is not always easy
•Event information is not always accurate and up-to-date

What are they interested in regarding an open data source?
• A single source of truth for events in the local area
• Something that has accurate and timely information
• An easy way to register to cultural events
• A way of meeting new people with similar event interests

Does this sound like you or someone you know?  Leave a comment to discuss!

This post is made possible by the work done by Deeson in Canterbury, Kent.  We truly appreciate their hard work and collaboration with Culture Kent.

Learning from Similar Tourism Research (part 2): Accessibility

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary

In our last post, we discussed how audience interest in arts & tourism cultural events exists, but there lacks a method for connecting visitors with all potential events.  In this post, we will again refer to initiatives taken by the European Commission to appeal to tourists.  One of the recurring themes in their research was the importance of accessiblity.  Accessiblity here refers to both making it easier for tourists to find relevant tours and events as well as accommodating those tourists who come from different backgrounds or have various capabilities.  Someone may be travelling with a family member or friend who might need more assistance, particularly because of a disability.  As mentioned in the EU research:

‘According to the UN, an estimated 650 million people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately 2 billion people are directly affected by disability, representing almost a third of the world’s population.’

The process for travelling starts when a tourist is still at home, from packing a suitcase with all the necessary equipment, getting themselves and their baggage to the airport or stations, arriving to their destination, and getting to their accommodation.  From there, they need to think about how to get to an event or venue.  Therefore, important information should also be made available on websites concerning the venues or grounds where events are being held to assist with the travelling process.

Including information such as wheelchair accessibility, distance from car parks, food & water availability, and number of restrooms, along with event times, locations, and dates, to open source event data should be essential if we are to make events accessible in every sense of the word.  These factors can make planning a lot easier for tourists.  Many tourists are older people who have retired and have plenty of leisurely time.  This presents a large and important sector of tourists, especially as the population is aging.  They have essential, every day requirements that they must consider even when they travel.  Knowing where they can access water, especially for free,  how far the car park lot is, or if a location is wheelchair accessible, might be deciding factors in whether or not they will attend an event.

Everyone wants to feel included, and there is no reason for not ensuring that every person’s needs are being considered as important, especially since this type of information can easily be included in an open data source.  If organisations or event planners take the time to evaluate a venue or grounds for accessibility, it can translate into hundreds of potential visitors to an event – well-worth the effort!  Additionally, this work usually only has to be done once if an event takes place at the same location every year.  Since the data is open, it can also be reused by other organisations if they hold events are the same location.  These are only just a few possibilities for utilising open data related to accessibility information.  In the next post, we will be discussing how open data can be used for tourism collaboration.

Read the previous post: Learning from Similar Tourism Research (part 1): Audience Interest

Learning from Similar Tourism Research (part 1): Audience Interest

Image Visit Kent

As Culture Kent strives to provide an open method of making arts & cultural event data available online to increase Kent’s tourism profile, other European countries similarly understand the importance of tourism.  Many countries and cities, however, already have well-known reputations as a travel destination; therefore, their findings focus on how to maintain their reputations as a leader in global tourism.  Comparing whole countries and major cities to Kent, a small county in England, is widely different, as a country can use their diverse areas to attract new visitors, and touring companies include stops at major cities on many of their itineraries.  Additionally, the collaboration of several countries further helps to draw audiences who are willing to travel far to experience several cultures and countries’ histories.

The European Commission has already developed several projects to increase the EU’s cultural tourism by overlapping similar touring themes hosted by different countries.  The types of audiences who might book these tours are already familiar with what these countries have to offer and are looking for tourist attractions that fit their specific interests.  For example, tours might include wine tours that focus on visiting different vineyards or following historical trails such as the Holy Grail or Roman footsteps.  But what about those tourists who what to visit the road less travelled, so to speak?  In these cases, visitors want to experience places that are just as culturally meaningful, but maybe they don’t know where to start their search.  Travel agents usually highlight popular travel destinations and it can be tough to search online without knowing what to look for.

Additionally, it is also easy to find major cultural events, both in person and online.  Similar to how major cities having high travel destination rankings, popular artists, musicians, theatres, and shows also can have prominence as must-see events.  Yet there exists less high-profile arts & cultural events held by various organisations that can also resonate with audiences, but are more difficult to access by tourists or anyone who just is not sure where to look.

This is where  Culture Kent’s research can help.  It is clear that audience interest is not the issue, it is the dissemination and accessibility of information that needs to be improved.  The nature of the Internet means that any potential event is open to a global audience; if all event data is streamlined into one accessible website, it enables users to easily find events that match their interests.  Organisations big and small can have access to the same global audience.

Open Data Has Many Forms (part 3): 3D Models

Image Turner Contemporary, installation view

Turner Contemporary, installation view

As previously discussed in part 1, digitised museum artefacts in the form of 3D models of museum artefacts can be  considered ‘open data’ when they are made available online through museum websites and downloadable apps.  Many world-renowned museums already make this possible, but smaller museums can similarly benefit from digitising their collections and presenting their interactive, 3D artefacts online.  In fact, when it comes to increasing smaller museums’ profiles, this type of open data is their best bet for allowing a global audience to become familiar with their purpose and access their collections.

While the process of creating 3D models of museum artefacts may seem daunting, advances in technology have paved the way for more attainable methods that do not require expensive equipment, extensive technical backgrounds, or months of labour.  Recently, the company Autodesk, known for their suite of 3D design software, developed 123D Catch, which allows users to create accurate 3D models from photographs .  Since it’s beta version, they have made great strides in updating their software to accommodate those with no prior background in 3D modelling, making it even easier to create 3D models quickly and accurately.  Just two short years ago when I was using 123D Catch to create 3D models of cultural heritage artefacts, I remember it took several attempts of capturing an artefact before arriving to a suitable 3D model.  It also required taking photos and testing the results in several environments, including indoors and outdoors.  However, in the past couple of months, a colleague used the same software to create 3D models of her sculptures.  She was able to create acceptable 3D models after only two tries, both indoors.  This is just an example of how software is constantly being modified to give the user an optimal experience.

Therefore, museum personnel can be confident that current staff can be utilised to assist with creating 3D models of their artefacts for use on websites and downloadable apps.  This is just one way museums can make their collections open and interactive to a global audience.

Read the previous post: Open Data Has Many Forms (part 1): Ownership of Data

Read the previous post: Open Data Has Many Forms (part 2): Positive Effects

Open Data Has Many Forms (part 2): Positive Effects

Image Turner Contemporary

In the last post, I discussed how making cultural event data can lead to a sense of ownership, which is similar to how making 3D models of cultural heritage artefacts available online can lead to a feeling ownership.  While cultural events and cultural heritage artefacts are completely different from one another, they both can result in experiencing enjoyment and  emotions.  These are strong responses that have been linked to return museum visits and monetary donations, and they demonstrate that  a museum’s exhibitions and collections are successful.  Similarly, organisations need to know that their open data are being used effectively.

In digital terms, positive responses can result in return website visits, positive online reviews, online sponsorships, and increased attendance to similar events via website searches.  The organisations that hold the events will similarly respond by making future events’ data available online and even offering more events.  Open cultural event data allows information to be shared on many websites, yet each website curates relevant cultural event data for their own audience, perhaps only choosing to include a few events from the listings on different websites.  As a result, the owners of a website feel a sense of ownership over their evolving list as they try to cater to their readers.  They know who their audience is and the types of cultural events they would enjoy, and audiences will respond by revisiting the same websites to hear about events.

Another effect of allowing website owners to curate their cultural event data from the vast event listings online is that the audience feels valued.  A lot of time and effort goes into making data open and designing or editing a website to include open data; without this work, the audience would have to manually search many websites to find the event information they are seeking.  Important event information can also be overlooked when one does not know where to seek pertinent information.  Knowing that organisations value their audience enough to make it easier for them to track down potential cultural events also results in the audience valuing the organisations.  Open data and their positive effects are a two-way street that everyone can benefit from.

There already have been some success stories related to open data and the arts.  Specifically, Creative Commons ‘enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools’ and has a wide range of galleries and museums that have benefited from their efforts.  However, successful use of open cultural event data is just as important and needs more attention.

Read the previous post: Open Data Has Many Forms (part 1): Ownership of Data