Everybody is a curator.
[English] Recent social and technological developments have challenged the traditional models of participatory culture and have led cultural organizations to rethink their online strategies. Building on the success of previous experiences, we propose to upgrade an existing open source content management system with two new products: support for automatic republishing of content in social networks and the capability to integrate user generated content. With these two products, organizations are able to: nurture their own communities that are spread across several social networks, harvest the benefits of the proliferation of online user-generated content and engage with the general public on a deeper level. The present proposal takes advantage of the benefits of social networks while minimizing the risks and costs involved.
[Español] Los desarrollos socio-tecnológicos de los últimos años han provocado un cuestionamiento de los modelos tradicionales de cultura participativa y han llevado a multitud de organizaciones culturales a replantear sus estrategias de presencia en Internet. Construyendo sobre la base de éxitos anteriores, proponemos la actualización de un sistema de gestión de contenidos de código abierto, con la incorporación de 2 nuevos productos: apoyo para la publicación automática de contenidos en varias redes sociales y la capacidad de integrar contenidos generados por usuarios. La utilización de estas dos herramientas permite a organizaciones: nutrir a una comunidad que en la actualidad se encuentra dispersa por varias redes sociales, y beneficiarse de la proliferación de contenidos generados por usuarios, comprometiéndose así con el gran público a un nivel más profundo. Esta propuesta aprovecha al máximo los beneficios de las redes sociales, minimizando los riesgos y el costo.
The advent of the so called web 2.0 has awakened a broad interest in participatory culture. The general public is no longer seen as a passive consumer but rather as active individuals that are willing to freely contribute and interact in online communities. In order to rethink the existing participation models, we propose a departure point where 'everyone is a curator.' What if professionals and the general public have access to the museum or gallery 'virtual' collection? What if anyone is allowed to propose new online exhibitions? What if anyone can propose new acquisitions? Once institutions open their doors to deeper levels of public participation these questions will become obsolete and new scenarios, that are unthinkable now, will emerge.
Our approach to online platforms focuses on public relationships in general and on participation in particular. In order to achieve such goals, we propose to extend an existing open source content management system (CMS) with two new products:
- support for automatic republishing of content in social networks;
- user generated content/collections based on online archives.
CMSs allow non-technical people to create and maintain information using only a web browser. Plone, the CMS we propose to extend, is a powerful and flexible system that is easy to install, use and extend. Its reputation is known worldwide:
"Plone is among the top 2% of all open source projects worldwide, with 200 core developers and more than 300 solution providers in 57 countries. The project has been actively developed since 2001, is available in more than 40 languages, and has the best security track record of any major CMS. It is owned by the Plone Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and is available for all major operating systems." 
Plone has been successfully deployed in the context of cultural organizations. We have conceptualized and programmed the online platform of V2_, the Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. The online platform is a living archive of last 25 years of V2_'s activities and it "has doubled its audience attention every two months." 
Automatic content republishing
Websites and online platforms can no longer be seen as isolated islands, in fact they are networks that share information with other networks. Therefore a solid online strategy must go beyond the mere choice of available software solutions and include the relationships to other organizations and to the existing plethora of online social networks.
Several cultural organizations have been researching and experimenting with the possibilities that existing social networks offer. The current approaches range from simple news announcements to the extreme of making available their collections on social networks. The Library of Congress is one of the many institutions  that have made available more than 8 thousand images available on Flickr. Several other organizations have turned to Facebook in order to develop an active online community. The official Louvre museum Facebook page has more than 65 thousand fans, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum page has 40 thousand fans and Reina Sofía page has 19 thousand fans. Unfortunately, not all organizations have the know-how and the resources in order to sustain an online presence in the present myriad of online social networks.
We propose to develop a product that automatically republishes existing content to a pre-defined set of social networks. For example, a given organization announces an event or a new artwork on their website. The system will detect the newly added information and immediately republishes it to the most adequate online social networks. The republished information is accompanied with a url linking back to the organization website.
The product achieves several distinct goals:
- nurtures its own community that is spread across several social networks;
- increases the audience attention of its own online platform via the back links;
- reduces costs in terms of personnel while alleviating organizations from 'social networking' fatigue.
User generated content/collections
Wiki sites, such as wikipedia, have demonstrated that content generated by users tends to be accurate and up to date. On the other hand, user-generated content has proved to be a valuable form to document events. For instance, in the case of ARCO Madrid, a fast search on flickr reveals more than a thousand images . An equivalent search on youtube leads to several hundred videos . We propose to develop a product that takes advantage of user-generated content in two different forms: firstly, the product enables online users to organize the archive material in new collections; secondly, the product collects user-generated content that is dispersed across online social networks and presents it in the organization's online platform. Visitors of the ARCO online platform, are allowed to create their own collections or exhibitions featuring artworks presented at ARCO. Besides that, pictures and videos uploaded to social networks could be collected on ARCO's online platform in order to document the event.
The product achieves several distinct goals:
- takes advantage of the proliferation of user-generated content;
- engages professionals and the general public in an active interaction with the organization;
- creates tools to understand how the general public engages with art and culture in general.
The decision to exchange information with social networks is not to be taken lightly. Each organization should analyze its specific case and balance whether the advantages justify the consequences inherent to the decision. From the previous examples, it is clear that social networks can be explored in order to expand the organizations' network and to reach a public that would only be accessible through expensive PR strategies. On the downside, organizations should not solely base their most valuable assets on proprietary platforms, like Flickr and Facebook. Furthermore, not all the organizations have the know-how and the resources necessary to develop and maintain an active online presence in several social networks. Our proposal takes advantage of the benefits of social networks while minimizing the risks and costs involved.
The full proposal can be found online. It includes a short presentation, detailed information regarding the project timeline as well as background information on the team members, some references and awards. An extended proposal is also available as a pdf document.
 For an extensive list of approximately 2 thousand organizations that use Plone, please refer to http://plone.net/sites.
 Sources: CVE and Ohloh. http://plone.org
 Alex Adriaansens, dir., V2_ Institute for Unstable Media
 For an extensive list of participating institutions refer to http://www.flickr.com/commons/institutions/
01-Mar: Consolidate concept and complete roadmap;
01-May: Alpha-release: automatic republishing;
15-May: Document and clean up code;
01-Jun: Mid-term report;
15-Jun: Beta-release: user generated collections;
01-Jul: Beta-release: automatic republishing;
15-Jul: Document and clean up code;
01-Aug: User test and debugging;
+ Rui Guerra (Software Architect and Project Manager);
Rui Guerra has been writing software with a critical view on communities for several years. He holds an MSc in Computer Science and a MFA in New Media. Besides teaching, working and collaborating with several institutes in the Netherlands like Virtueel Platform, Piet Zwart Institute and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, he conceived and developed V2_'s new online strategy. His views on online archiving have been presented on several conferences such as Digital Strategies for Heritage and Take away museum.
David Jonas Castanheira
Graduated in Computer Science Engineering from Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto in Portugal. In the past 5 years he has been involved in projects ranging from web applications to electronic art works. He is interested in the symbiotic relationship between the 'rule driven' technology world and the 'rule defiant' art world.
To be announced.
Alex Adriaansens, dir., V2_ Institute for Unstable Media
“Rui combines his high level skills in programming and conceptual thinking for developing complex online environments. He's an inspiring person that conceptualized and programmed the V2_ website that has doubled its audience attention every two months.If you ever consider setting up online environments for your project or organization that are more than just a website, consider to contact Rui Guerra.” January 11, 2010
Louvre museum, photo by fmpgoh.
Prototype: video demonstration
Short selection of previous projects
Title: The third eye
Date: 2010 (under construction)
Media: Plone CMS
Client: Cybercity Rhur
URL: TbaDescription: The third eye is a project sponsored by eArts and V2_ to be presented during the World EXPO in Shanghai in 2010. INTK software developed an online platform available in four languages (Chinese, English, German and Dutch) used by hundreds of workshop participants. More than 20 workshops are archived in the final platform.
Title: V2_ online strategy
Client: V2_: Institue for the unstable media
Description: V2_ is an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology in Rotterdam. We have developed an online strategy for V2_ that included not only an online platform but also a complete new approach to the institute online presence. V2_'s publications were made available online via Google Books, a wikipedia page was created, news and events are now announced on online social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Video footage has been made available on youtube. Since the launch of the new online strategy until the beginning of 2010, V2_'s online audience attention has doubled bi-monthly.
Media: mediawiki (php)
Client: Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
Title: unDEAF: Dutch Electronic Art Festival
Media: moinmoin wiki (python)
Client: Electronic art community
Description: unDEAF is a satellite event of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival. The festival is self-organized and uncurated where everyone is invited to present their own work. Following the concept of the festival INTK Software developed a website where everybody could edit every single page without the need for a login or a password. The final result was a web platform in permanent mutation used not only to promote the event but also as a virtual stage to present art works.