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Below The Surface

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Adventures in Kiosk Land

It's mud season here in Vermont, which means Earth Weeks and Mudfest here at ECHO. It means something else as well. On April 11th (the Saturday before our two-week festival began), Kiosk Season begins. What's that? It's the time of year lasting from early April to late August when the daily admission to ECHO is high enough that Kiosk usage is almost guaranteed.

The interesting thing is that, before the Kiosk really takes off, we need to reach a certain "critical mass" of people in the building. Before that point, videos are rare. After that point, we get 15 to 50 per day. That range seems to depend more on WHO is in the building, and not HOW MANY. Once we're above the critical point, we will get videos, and adding more people to the building doesn't cause there to be any more videos.

In preparation for this busy season, we've been making some new and exciting changes. Here's a rundown:
First - All videos recorded and kept now go to YouTube. - Previously, you could choose whether you wanted to send you video or not. If you chose not to, your story was destined to live out a boring life on the Kiosk, and then get deleted after enough new videos had been created. Too many awesome videos were being lost to this. Now, videos will live long, happy lives, reaching out to a worldwide audience on YouTube, where we and others can comment and respond.

Second - The "checkout" procedure has been cleaned up. The number of questions being asked has been reduced. If an adult is not present videos are no longer being kept. Everyone who records a video is required to supply an e-mail address where we can contact them.

Third - The E-mail sent to visitors has been improve. Previously, e-mails sent to visitors who recorded stories on the Kiosk simply contained a link to their personal photo and audio. Now, they not only include that, but they also mention our YouTube channel and Website, and encourage people to check them out, look for their video, and comment on others. I think this is an imporant thing to help drive people toward Stewardship beyond their visit.

Fourth - We've cleaned up the YouTube titles and descriptions. The original version of the YouTube Upload Script would set a video's answer (For example: Summer) as the title, and the question (What favorite memory do you have of Lake Champlain) as the description. This got especially bad when the answer was "Something else." Now, we use the Question for the title, and in the description, we quickly describe the project, give the question, give the visitor's answer, and then provide a link to our website for people to learn more.

We've already seen some changes happening, and hopefully, at some point in the future, I'll be able to do a post with some interesting statistics and analysis.

~ Travis Cook, Information Technology Coordinator

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