The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Melbourne local, Scott Brewer, Art Processors — September 28, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Scott Brewer, Art Processors

This week, Jackie Antig interviews Scott Brewer, the CTO and Cofounder of Art Processors.

Name: Scott Brewer
Website: 
http://artprocessors.net
Twitter:
@ArtProcessors

Scott Brewer is the CTO and Cofounder of Art Processors, a company which designs and develops innovative mobile applications and content delivery systems for cultural institutions. The technology they’ve built has completely removed wall labels from the visitor experience. Imagine that!

Their first mobile museum guide app, The O, at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, runs on an iPod that is provided to every visitor. The O lists which artworks are near you as you walk throughout the museum, allowing you to decide which object to see next, generating a more exploratory museum experience. Each artwork in the app comes with an extensive bundling of rich content varying between curator commentary, personal emails and interviews with the artists and food-for-thought starters. We ultimately tailor what we learn and discover with what we find engaging and relevant with each work of art.

The O relies on data to feed content about the artworks and to identify where the visitor is within the building. It also generates a lot of information about individual visitor and collective audience behaviour. Scott Brewer talks to us about museum data, technology and of course, a little bit about art.

Museum data usually refers to a museum’s collection. How has Art Processors re-invented data in the museum context?

I believe we’ve made the data a museum has on offer available to the visitor in a way that hasn’t been previously achievable and that’s been our biggest re-invention.  When you go down to MONA (as an example), as a visitor you’re now able to access so much more content about works than is usually on offer in a more traditional setting.

It is strange, but by removing the wall label we’ve actually been able to increase the information available to visitors and make the aesthetic of the museum more focused on the works and less on the content. Win!

What excites you about the potential for this data? Are there things you’re cautious about too?

I think the most exciting thing about freeing this data is that it offers the visitor a more engaging and personal experience. The visitor is free to take in the works and then only seek out the information on those that they want to engage with; instead of being forced to read large wall texts that don’t hold interest, a museum can put that information onto a device for visitors and provide them with more works to view.

Are there plans to translate the personal data visitors kick up from their visit into shareable online content?

Funny you should mention it, we’re currently in the middle of working on improving user feedback within our platform!

The amount of research that takes place in ways to provide this functionality is staggering. Giving the visitor the chance to respond without bias and in a simple and intuitive way isn’t the easiest problem in the world to solve! Then there is the question of what to do with the content the visitor is creating and who owns it all.

So many questions to answer. We’re planning on putting new aspects of our software into beta later this year that will have some of these features, then we can start testing them on a small scale before rolling them out en masse. We are really excited about some of the possibilities that come with great user generated content though so hopefully we’ll get it done right.

Name an art movement or artist whose ideas about creation inspire your own take on building new products.

As anyone who knows me well knows I’m slightly obsessed with Dick Bruna. His use of colour and line just amazes me. His minimalist style is definitely an inspiration to me in most everything I do.

Although a lot of people probably write him off as simply being an author of childrens books, for me his ability to get it so right in such a succinct manner is something that more people should consider (especially in software development!).

Miffy: Dick Bruna’s infamous children’s book character

Learn More: Take a quick glance at the Art Processor’s video about The O for an overview. For a more leisurely stroll through the experience, jump over to Seb Chan’s account of using it first hand.

About our Ambassador // Jackie Antig is a product innovator who doubles as a wordsmith and visual designer. Insatiably curious, data junkie. Works in the trenches. Connect with her on Twitter @jantig.

Interview: London/Melbourne Local, Michelle Matthews — February 7, 2012

Interview: London/Melbourne Local, Michelle Matthews

Michelle Matthews

Name: Michelle Matthews

Website: www.deckofsecrets.com

Twitter handle/Instagram: @SecretsHQ

Works at: Deck of Secrets

Tell us the story behind Deck of Secrets…

Deck of Secrets is city guide brand that takes the format of a deck of cards. Each deck features a highly specialised topic such the latest Breakfast & Brunch guide for London.

What role has digital, especially mobile, played in publishing and city guides?

The first digital impact was the move to digital cameras. Professional photographers took longer to make the move so I bought a very expensive DSLR back in 2001 and gave it to the photographer to use. A $5k digital camera was easy to justify when it saved $7k of scanning plus film and processing. Then the advances with Adobe Acrobat which allowed for in-screen editing as opposed to printing out hundreds of pages every for every draft. After much flirting with mobile platforms I teamed up with Shaun Ervine in 2008 to release DRINK. Melbourne an iPhone app guide to Melbourne’s bars, one of the first 10,000 apps released. This was followed by a dining guide for Sydney which was featured on the “There’s an app for that” TV commercial. These days I’m looking more to behind the scenes cloud services to manage my increasingly nomadic and minimalist lifestyle. A recent favourite is https://www.receipt-bank.com

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?

  • Instagram is a real passion of mine. An elegant app, fun and easy to use with just the right amount of features. http://statigr.am and http://printstagr.am/ add the fun and functionality.
  • Lockitron is a hardware and software combo that allows home owners to grant access to their property remotely and allows the front door to be opened using a mobile app. Perfect for Airbnb hosts.
  • Memrise: I’m working on my Spanish with this interactive learning website in preparation for a few months in Madrid later this year.
  • Bitcasa: “Infinite storage on your desktop” OK, you got me, where do I sign. I love the promise of this new website still in beta mode.
  • The Sixty One: this site isn’t new but I listen to it for hours each day discovering great new music.

You’re a big Airbnb advocate and live a digital nomad lifestyle – what does this involve and what tips do you have for someone wanting to emulate your life?

Airbnb started as a great way to earn revenue while I was on holiday, then a month long booking allowed me to take another location independent trip but now as Airbnb has grown I’m more away than at home and my mortgage is covered. And when I travel, Airbnb is always my first choice for accommodation. It has truly changed my life.

What’s your favourite city in the world?

After countless visits I finally fell in love with London in 2011. In 2009 I would have said Buenos Aires. It was Tokyo in 1995. And it’s always Melbourne.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Preparing for the next change, staying positive and not giving up. Last year the equivalent of 50% of my retail outlets shut down, one of my distributors/sales teams is about to shut down and margins are shrinking. In business and I life I now aim for simplicity, efficiency and varied revenue streams.

What’s next for you and your business?

I’m expanding my range of UK titles currently there are two: bars, breakfast and brunch. But I’m heading to Bali next month so perhaps you’ll see a Bali guide come out of that.

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