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Beyond Dioramas


The traditional natural history museum is powerful and familiar, but it is also strange. It is weighty, ponderous, pieced together from relics of lost worlds. It evolved in the 19th century, displaying the geological cataclysms that molded the earth’s surface, the creatures that clambered into habitats and the indigenous cultures that were once considered closer to nature. No other museum genre has changed so glacially.

Image courtesy of vagueonthehow via Flickr



By Edward Rothstein as seen in The New York Times

High Culture Goes Hands-On


The quest for an experience has taken over giant portions of our lives. Everywhere, we are assaulted by endless opportunities and activities. We text and get texts wherever we are, even behind the wheel. We constantly post what we’re doing and where we are, letting friends know how active we are. And when we go on vacation, we spend our time shopping, eating and seeking adventure. Even in Europe’s old cities of culture, some people might stop in at the Louvre or the Uffizi, but often just to snap a few pictures on their cellphones to prove they were there. Trying to keep pace, cultural institutions are changing, too, offering more of the kinds of participatory experiences available almost everywhere else.

Image courtesy of Rebar Art & Design Studio via Flickr

By Judith H. Dobrzynsky as seen in The New York Times Sunday Review

Yes, Money Can Make You Happy


Suppose that you find yourself with an unexpected windfall of $25,000. You are neither rich nor poor. You are deciding among three options for using the money:

1) Buy a new car
2) Renovate your home
3) Have a dream vacation with your family

You might be inclined to dismiss 3, on the ground that however wonderful, any vacation is likely to be pretty short, and a short vacation cannot possibly compete with a new car or a renovated home. If that is what you are thinking, think again.

By Cass R. Sunstein as seen in New Republic

ROI for Social Media Marketing


The business world has moved out of the boardroom and onto the web, making social media marketing critical to effective strategy. Brands at every stage of business development are trying to grow a social presence. There are plenty of ways to build a community and measure your impact. Metrics such as likes, followers and mentions should ring a bell. But how can you determine whether your bottom line actually benefits from your social media marketing?

Image courtesy of Richard_of_England via Flickr

By Ross Newton as seen in measurely



700 million people use the Facebook News Feed every day but many don’t understand how it decides what appears, so Facebook announced today it will start publishing blog updates on how the feed algorithm is changing similar to how Google does. Facebook’s first post will be about “Story Bumping”, which pushes stories you haven’t seen above ones you have.

Image courtesy of billadler via Flickr

By Josh Constine as seen in Tech Crunch

How to Build a Successful Contest


Grant applications are difficult for the uninitiated, and leave a lot of people with good ideas--but without grant application skill sets--from getting the money they need to move forward. Over 99% of all grant-making foundations in the U.S. still rely on the typical application process. Not the Knight Foundation. The organization has held (or funded) nearly a dozen grantmaking contests since 2007, giving over $75 million to 400 winners--schools, business, nonprofits, and individuals. The first contest, and one of the most well-known, is the Knight News Challenge, which funds "breakthrough ideas in news and information."

Image courtesy of Visit Hillsborough via Flickr

By Ariel Schwartz as seen in Fast Company

Q&A with Google’s Avinash Kaushik


Social media presents an opportunity for brands to connect with their most loyal customers, but the opportunity can be intimidating. This new form of “conversational marketing” is engaging consumers on a deeper, emotional level and introducing a new set of success metrics along with it that can help brands measure the value inherent in these conversations.

We recently sat down to speak with Avinash to discuss how brands must interact in authentic ways with their customers, either outside or within loyalty programs, if they want to meaningfully impact the bottom line.

By COLLOQUY as seen in Quartz

Trying to Make Galleries Relevant, One JPEG at a Time


Send Me the JPEG at Winkleman Gallery is not a show about art, but about the art world. Its title derives from a new phenomenon wherein collectors forgo viewing art firsthand and instead buy works based on digital photographs alone. Those who still love encountering new art in person worry to what extent the online market will eat up art sales and, consequently, whether brick-and-mortar galleries can survive. In March, art world talking head Jerry Saltz movingly voiced his concern about their demise: “The beloved linchpin of my viewing life is playing a diminished role in the life of art.”

By Laura C. Mallonee as seen in Hyperallergic

Broadway Woos Audiences with New Ticketing Options


For his latest superheroic feat, Spider-Man has endowed Broadway theatergoers with the extraordinary ability to reserve tickets and pay for them later. It might not sound like much. But the mobile ticket reservation system for musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” marks a change from the Rialto’s traditional pay-now model, and it’s part of larger thread of Broadway’s ongoing experimentation in ticket accessibility at a time when top ticket prices continue to rise and annual attendance seems to have leveled off around the 12 million mark.

By Gordon Cox as seen in Variety

Disruptions and Social Media Images


“This is a watershed time where we are moving away from photography as a way of recording and storing a past moment,” said Robin Kelsey, a professor of photography at Harvard, and we are “turning photography into a communication medium.” Not surprisingly, the largest social networking companies are spending billions of dollars to be the place where consumers latch onto these visual nods. They know the stakes.

By Nick Bilton as seen in The New York Times

News Organizations Step on Stage


At a time of uncertainty for their business, news organizations are increasingly experimenting with fresh ways to engage audiences – and for some, that means stepping onto the stage.  Public radio shows such as “This American Life” and “Radiolab” have begun collaborating with musicians, dancers and comedians to produce live stage shows. Writers are participating in storytelling nights such as Pop-Up Magazine in San Francisco and The Moth in New York City. And The Chicago Tribune has established a partnership with The Second City improv troupe.

By Xandra Clark as seen in Poynter

Marketing Portland’s Music to the Masses


Sara Matarazzo, Chris Funk, and a budding local cluster of music connoisseurs are making Portland a capital for a new music industry, one ad at a time. “Part of it is the Portland appeal and brand,” Wines says, explaining that it was much easier than he’d expected to land a Bud Light Super Bowl campaign. “You go to New York or elsewhere and say ‘Portland music,’ and everybody listens.”

By Aaron Scott as seen in Portland Monthly

Does Art Help the Economy?


An unexpected upshot in the wake of Britain's latest spending review was the fate of the culture budget -- it avoided a pummeling. This time, advocates for arts funding breathed a collective sigh of relief, with the budget reduction described as a "best-case scenario" -- they had been bracing for much larger cuts.

What explains this unexpected generosity -- if you can call it that -- on behalf of the cash-strapped British government? It seems that the supporters of the arts were able to stave off the axe by presenting their case to Britain's chancellor, George Osborne, in economic terms.

Image Courtesy of Tax Credits via Flickr

By Kyle Thetford as seen in The Atlantic

The Distraction of Data


Along with sales, marketers primarily gauge their performance by measuring awareness and brand attributes ratings in surveys. And this seems to make sense. That’s how the mind works--by recognizing and responding to associative patterns. But here’s the rub. People are often aware of the ad messages; what they are unaware of is how they are influenced by the messages. The attributes that drive decisions are often unstated because they are unconscious, or what cognitive scientists call non-declarative or implicit memory.

By Douglas Van Praet as seen in Fast Company

How to Build a Better Marketing Budget


As is its nature, summer will all too quickly turn into fall--and with it, budgeting season. So before the calendar pages start running their merry way toward the holidays and their attendant spreadsheets, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder your approach to marketing investment.

Far too often, the way a marketing budget is defined is based solely on a dusty formula or rote thinking.  That’s not just unfortunate, it’s a missed opportunity to truly contemplate innovative methods of creating and energizing customers, testing hypotheses and building brand equity.

Image Courtesy of NMC Second Life via Flickr

By Curt Hanke as seen in Inc.