Singapore Toy Collections Online

Posted: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 by Shaun in Labels:
6



Through this blog, I hope to illustrate a suggestion for my organisation's consideration.



This post aims to provide solutions to two objectives.

1) Archiving our organisation’s exhibitions online
2) Encouraging private collectors to showcase their items online

If companies like Yahoo, eBay and the New York Times are using a blog content management system (CMS) to run their websites, perhaps we can consider this option too.

The social media/web 2.0 features that organisations increasingly recognise the need to implement in their websites are in-built into such systems, which include RSS, widgets and comments to name a few.

As far as I am aware, the organisation has not had major bad experiences in dealing with online comments from the public thus far and moderation of such feedback will not be a major issue, largely due to the nature of our scope.

These systems also come with What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WSIWYG) content editors, which are intuitive and do not result in a steep learning curve for the people who operate them.

For operators who are apprehensive about using such systems, I foresee the need to explain the logic of hosting photos and videos in a separate website (given the potential volume, archival and promotional purposes), then linking these photos to relevant webpages in the organisation's network. To complement the rich content that our organisation already has, introducing the concept of opportunistic or intuitive linking to the operators would serve to enhance the user experience on site.

The best thing is that such CMS do not cost a lot to implement. While there are some issues that need to be addressed with regards to the technical infrastructure available, they are due more to policy than the lack of expertise.

With regards to design, there is a wealth of free designs available online, provided by kind designers who only ask for an accreditation and a link back to their own site. Should there be requirements for specific or intricate designs, the usual costs for such services will apply. Copywriting, content migration, data entry and hosting services should also be costed separately. The main savings here is from the CMS used, as open-source software is free.

How would this work then?

1) Archiving our organisation’s exhibitions online

Let's explore the scenario of a museum archiving an exhibition on a micro-site. The ideal situation would see the content in the form of exhibition brief, synopsis and notes made in preparation for the exhibition uploaded to the micro-site. While people visit museums for the stories behind the artefacts, they would also be interested in the story of how the exhibition came to be, in particular the thought process behind it, and the challenges faced by the curators.

Granted, time in a luxury and this can only happen in an ideal scenario. However, there is an alternative solution to this. Our organisation produces exhibition-related books which gives valuable insights to the exhibitions. Snippets of interesting information can be published online, and serve as teasers to the book, which negates potential cannibalisation of book sales.

The ease of use of the content management system also means that information can be published swiftly. For example, print coverage once scanned, can be posted on the microsite in the form of a jpeg or attachment. The same applies for video coverage, which should preferably be hosted on high traffic sites to maximise exposure.

The existence of RSS removes the need for the press officer to scan the web for articles related to the exhibition. This can be done simply by obtaining the URLs for specific and relevant terms in search engines and plugging these URLs into a feed gadget/widget.

This effectively serves as an online news feed about what people are saying about the exhibition. Best of all, it’s dynamically updated. The downside is that the information comes from such feeds cannot be moderated, so both good and bad comments will appear. Whether this is to be implemented depends on the organisation's tolerance.

Ultimately, how successful the site is depends on the quality of the content. We know that we have this and it’s really how much effort we can and want to put into such projects.

To break the monotony of the wall of text, let's look at Catwoman.


2) Showcasing private collectors’ items online

As far as ten years back, the local toy collecting community have already been actively sharing their collections online on popular forums. This community meets up regularly for sales, trades and gatherings at toy collecting hubs, previously at Clarke Quay and now at China Square Central.

In the past three years, collectors have been photographing, discussing and posting their collections on their own websites, blogs and photoalbums. They have been effectively functioning as curators of their own collections and their blogs have been their long-running exhibitions. While the overall quality of 'curation' can be improved, their willingness to post, discuss and share their collections online augers well for the newer generation of collectors.

This site was put together in one day, using a blog content management system and aggregates Singaporean private toy collectors who showcase their collections online.



The site best illustrates my point that there are available solutions to meet this need, and economical ones at that. It must be recognised that the content was built up over time by individual collectors and that quality content needs much effort and time.

The key challenge then is identifying the opinion leaders in the respective collector communities then empowering them with knowledge and operational skills to operate such simple online tools.

Recommendation

I would strongly urge the organisation to consider adopting low-cost content management systems that can effectively meet the end-users needs, and also address the need to implement social media elements. Greater emphasis should be placed on creating quality content and effort should be expended on identifying and engaging opinion leaders to mobilise the private collector community.

About Me

Besides my official website which gets about 200,000 page views a month, I run a personal hobby blog and I get a modest average of 800 page views a day…



…and I am interested in search engine optimisation (SEO), particularly in getting the search terms ‘Shaun Wong’ and ‘toy collector blog’ ranked high up on Google's results.



Ok, after all the serious stuff, fellow collectors who’ve been listed on Singapore Toy Collections Online, do run through your listing and let me know about stuff I may have missed out on, or you would like to include in your entry.

To fellow toy collectors who’ve an online collection whom I’ve missed out, do send me your site’s url so that I can include it in this listing.

tags:
| | |

6 comments:

  1. hi shaun, thanks again for the plug bro :) much appreciated.

  1. I like your idea. In this day and age everyone goes to the web for information and research. With this kind of site, it will generate interest for upcoming exhibitions with insights,stories and comments from people with common interest.
    BTW love & appreciate what you have done by consolidating toys collectors blog in one place. Cool!

  1. Hi Shaun, thanks for including me into the network. Linked back to the site on my blog.

    Emailed you as well. Cheers.

  1. Shaun says:

    my guru, you're welcome, do spread the word if you can. :)

    Adrian, thanks for your comments, do hope my organisation considers my recommendations.

    The consolidation of fellow toy bloggers' sites really stemmed from my enjoyment of checking out and marvelling at fellow collectors items, in the belief that every collection has its unique story to tell.

  1. JuN says:

    Great Idea Shaun!!!
    This will definitely benefit the local toy community.
    I'll add my site in, when I err....once I find the time to actually start setting up one.

  1. Shaun says:

    jun, I will list your flickr album on the site. :)