Wowzer! If you were one of the 3344 visitors who cast 410,089 evaluations for Click!, you know what a commitment it really was. I can’t say this enough: Thank You!
This was a very dedicated group of people who gave a lot of time to the process. On average photographs were viewed 22 seconds prior to submitting an evaluation and that’s an eternity in web-time. If you calculate the average time on a photo with the 389 images, we are talking a gargantuan effort and this is especially true when you consider that our evaluation tool was almost universally disliked.
We didn’t set out to make life difficult, but we were concerned that the evaluation be as fair as we could possibly make it and that meant minimizing influence. There were some encouraging comments here and there about the tool, but for the most part, people seemed to dislike it and they were going to make sure I knew it. “Frustrating,” “tedious,” “tiring,” and “time-consuming” were just some of the words that came into my inbox. There was my personal favorite: “can you fix the website so i can VOTE !!!??! ! it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to navigate thru your website and see all the pictures quickly and easily. can you fix that ASAP! !?” …and you know it’s really bad when you get a call from you father at 10 p.m. and the conversation goes something like this:
So, let’s recap. The evaluation tool was designed to be fair. Images were randomized, attribution was withheld, comments (all 3098 that were left during the evaluation period) were withheld, linking was prevented and our algorithm ensured that all images would be seen an equal amount of times (approx 1054 times per image). Sure, we could have provided clickable thumbnails and ways to skip around, but that would have easily skewed results toward images that looked good in thumbnail format and there would have been no way to assure that each image would get equal time. In addition, an interface like that would have made it really easy for people to go vote for a particular work and skew the results — something we were specifically trying to avoid.
While most feedback indicated frustration, I will share one very interesting comment that I think really indicates some success with our methodology: “I have fresh empathy for curators who have to decide what’s in or out. It must be a grueling process“. When we first started working on Click! almost every curator who had been a part of an open call or a juried process had much the same story to tell, that it is often a tiring and tedious process. The feedback from the crowd was a decent indicator that the process really was reflecting some of the realities of a juried process.
Thank you for hanging in there. This really was an amazing effort and your dedication and support will shape this exhibition. In the coming weeks we will be discussing more issues and release more data as we go along, so stay tuned and let me know your thoughts in the comments area.
Shelley Bernstein is the former Vice Director of Digital Engagement & Technology at the Brooklyn Museum where she spearheaded digital projects with public participation at their center. In the most recent example—ASK Brooklyn Museum—visitors ask questions using their mobile devices and experts answer in real time. She organized three award-winning projects—Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, Split Second: Indian Paintings, GO: a community-curated open studio project—which enabled the public to participate in the exhibition process.
Shelley was named one of the 40 Under 40 in Crain's New York Business and her work on the Museum's digital strategy has been featured in the New York Times.
In 2016, Shelley joined the staff at the Barnes Foundation as the Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer.