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.

Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 3): Optimising Open Cultural Events Data

The previous post described different methods for organising related data and creating a website to make the open data accessible to others.

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary

The potential benefits of standardising cultural event data and making it available online for anyone to access and implement are immense. First, local audiences become aware of the cultural events that are happening nearby, which can encourage them to support local events as well as invite friends and family to visit them. Second, a more global audience can find events that they might not have heard about without someone publicly sharing the event information. For instance, organisations can implement cultural event open data into apps, making it easy for travellers abroad to find cultural events in any country they visit.

An example of an app that allows users to find cultural events is Culture Finder App. With this app, users can:

  • Explore the City through its museum collections, cultural events and venues with this free app
  • Can follow ready made tours or plan your own
  • Can add locations of places, signs indicating where notable people lived or spent time, etc.

Another app is Time Razor App. Its three main features are:

  • smartEVENTS – Shows what’s happening around you
  • travelTIME – Takes into account traffic and alerts you when you need to leave to get to an event
  • easySHARE – Publish events to Facebook, email, SMS, or Twitter

This app also can be integrated with your smartphone’s calendar, making it easy to receive reminders of upcoming events.

An app that focuses on all events happening in one location is Plymouth Artory App. This is being billed as the ‘Ultimate guide to Plymouth’s art and culture’. In addition to featuring a calendar of events, this app offers visitors incentives for leaving feedback about what they thought about the show, the exhibition, the film or the attraction. Feedback can be left as ‘moods’; users can submit their feelings and emotions about the art and culture they’ve just viewed.

These are just a few ideas about how open cultural event data can be implemented in an engaging and effective way. The more data available, the more valuable an app can be. It all starts with organisations’ collaborative efforts to standardise event data and make it available online.  Do you know of any interesting cultural events apps or have an idea of your own?  Please share your ideas in the comments!

Read the previous post: Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 1): Background for Creating an Open Data Source for Kent Cultural Events

Read the previous post: Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 2): Building an Open Source Website

Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 2): Building an Open Source Website

The previous post explained why a streamlined structure for organising cultural event data is necessary for creating an open data source and what currently is offered in terms of a method for this type of event schema.

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary (photo: Benjamin Beker)

Once a standardised method of tracking cultural event data online is decided upon, it can be utilised by any organisation that aims to add others’ event data to their website or downloadable app. All this related data has to be stored somewhere, and most websites store data in databases. There are several options available; some you might already have access to if you have Microsoft’s Office Suite, which includes Excel and Access, and some are free, like MySQL, an open source database. In addition, if you do not already have a website, there are several user-friendly methods of creating your own website either from scratch or using site-provided templates. Excellent sites that allow users to create their own websites are WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, Google Sites, and Jekyll.

Additionally, there exists online software that focuses on facilitating open data websites, such as CKAN and DKAN. Both CKAN and DKAN are mostly utilised in government-related websites, not events or culture-related data. Currently, the UK government uses CKAN alongside Jekyll, which is primarily a blogging platform, just like WordPress and Blogger, and the US government uses CKAN alongside WordPress. CKAN is built using the Python programming language, while DKAN uses the PHP programming language. DKAN is preferred by those who already use PHP or Drupal since users do not have to learn a new system or programming language. DKAN has many of the same functionalities as CKAN, and it’s seen as a complimentary offering to CKAN.

Whichever platform is chosen to build an open data website, the standardised vocabulary discussed in the previous post needs to be utilised in the website’s HTML to document all cultural event information. Most websites allow users a choice of editing the HTML either as text  or through a more user-friendly interface. The text version is necessary for embedding the metadata for the cultural event data. While this may seem intimidating for those who do not have a programming background, it really is a simple task.  All that is required is the addition of tags around the pertinent information.  The difficult task is deciding upon a standardised vocabulary!

Have you thought about creating a website listing cultural events data or adding cultural events data to your current website?  What types of problems have you encountered?  Please leave your comments below!

In the next post, we’ll take a look at some of the apps that are possible when you have access to cultural event data that is also open data.

Read the previous post: Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 1): Background for Creating an Open Data Source for Kent Cultural Events

Bridging the Gap Between Data & Audiences (part 1): Background for Creating an Open Data Source for Kent Cultural Events

One of the main goals of Culture Kent is to provide a streamlined method for cultural events to be listed online. This will provide many opportunities for broadening the potential audience, publicising cultural events, and including smaller organisations. However, there are many steps required before this becomes a realisations.

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary (photo: Manu Palomeque)

First, all potential cultural organisations need to use the same terms to describe variables such as their customer, event type, date, time, duration, and location. When listed on a website using HTML, the code all websites are written in, these terms will have property tags. Common HTML tags are, used to indicate the start of html code, and , which indicates an image. As you can see, HTML tags let webcrawlers (they are on the internet and an read websites) know what types of elements are used in a website.

Even more specific tags can be used, and these are called metadata. Like HTML tags, they need to be consistent to make it easy for webcrawlers to identify similar tags. So when an event is listed online, additional tags can be included in the HTML. These types of tags would enable organisations to easily find cultural event data on websites and include the events to their own websites’ calendar of events and potentially build apps to engage audiences and develop a datapool of cultural event information that is accessible to the public (open data). Although great things are possible, there still needs to be a standardised method of attributing cultural events data online.

Currently, schema.org already provides some vocabulary for Event Data, cultural events might require more specific or additional terms. Culture Kent is working with Deeson and a Steering Group chaird by Visit Kent to try to figure out how to best create a standardised vocabulary for cultural event data.

Have you run into similar problems of creating a schema for your events data?  Do you know of any other schema that might be useful?  Please leave your comments below!

The next post will examine various technologies that are being considered and how they work towards the our goals.

Tracking Down Cultural Data in Kent (part 1)

Culture Kent wanted to find out what cultural data is already available to people. We know that there is an enormous amount of information freely available on the web, from events listings to individual cultural organisations’ websites. What are the barriers preventing all that information being brought together in one place? We commissioned Culture24 to give us an overview of the situation and the next three posts are a summary of some of their findings.

So what is Cultural Data? We are thinking of information related to the following categories:

  • Comedy
  • Dance
  • Festivals
  • Film and Animation
  • Museums & Exhibitions
  • Cultural heritage sites
  • Live Music
  • Poetry & spoken word
  • Theatre & performance
  • Visual Art
  • Talks (if related to one of these other categories)

Hopefully, anything else you might think of will be a sub-category of one of these main groups. For tourism purposes, we might want to include other venues like nightclubs, bars, pubs and restaurants – but for the moment we are sticking to the categories above (unless one of those events is taking place in a nightclub, bar, pub or restaurant… confused? you will be!)

Now we’ve defined our categories, we can look at what kind of information is out there. There are really two sorts – functional information and cultural content. Generally, cultural ‘content’ is created information that is owned by, or attributed to, its creator. This includes digitised collections, editorial, user reviews or comments, photos, videos, and podcasts. Whilst this content is often used alongside venue and events listings data to make things more interesting for the audience, we are excluding any purely content-driven sources of information from our work.

At the moment, we need to keep things as simple as possible so we are focusing on the information about what is happening, when and where. We think there is core information we need to collect for every event.

  • Up to date opening hours/event timings and entrance rates
  • Accurate geo-locations
  • Name and a basic description of the venue or event
  • Venue or event website url
  • Breadth of coverage of relevant domain

Research shows that people like to easily find information about well-known places first – this gives reassurance that quality information is available. But people also want to find out about new, interesting and slightly different options.

Having got the basic information of a good range of venues and activities, it is then important to provide interesting and useful information. Listings might, therefore, include:

  • A relevant/interesting/appealing image, cleared for use, at the required size and resolution
  • Subject tags to facilitate discovery, personalisation and sharing
  • Target audience information
  • Detailed, audience-appropriate, descriptive copy
  • Direct route to booking service (if relevant)
  • ‘Special offer’ or discount information
  • Additional venue information (if relevant), such as:
    • Venue facilities (e.g. disabled access, parking, cafes, gardens)
    • Venue services (e.g. education or identification services, wedding or conference hire)
    • Exhibitions (e.g. permanent and temporary)
    • Collections (e.g. overviews of collections, key exhibits, key artists)
    • Resources (e.g. loan boxes, bookable learning sessions, books, podcasts, websites, leaflets, games, and teachers’ packs)
    • Associated events/venues
    • Associated content – video/audio/text

So, this is the kind of information we are looking to collect. In the next post, we’ll look at what is available already (online and in print) and how that information is currently gathered.

The full report is here for downloading

CKP Culture24 Data Mapping Research FINAL