Below is a detailed description of the the free online service which enables students to showcase their artistic work. The main goal of the project is to provide students with the option to showcase their work to their peers, and to anyone they choose. This is done by allowing students to upload files and create online portfolios with media ranging from audio to video and from image to text. Additional features described below will facilitate interdisciplinary dialog and encourage collaboration.
- For submitting users:
The site allows student artists to upload any art work that can be digitally displayed, which encompasses the following media. For an audio display of art work, this would include music, sound art and any voice recordings, e.g. poetry, book or play readings. Video would include films, documentations of plays, performances etc, animation and video art. Still images would include illustration, photography, drawing, painting, graphic design, comics, graphic novels, sculpture etc. Interactive media would include net art, hypertext, Flash animations, Java applets, software, Web sites (as archive and/or URL). Texts would include poems, plays, short stories, lyrics, novels etc. There will be a possible limitation as to the storage size of video and audio work that is provided for each user. Users' work is organized in a way that each piece of work uploaded by a user will have its own page that is linked from the user's portfolio page, e.g there will be thumbnails of images or video on the page.
- When users upload their work, they will be given the option to publicize or privatize their work, such that if they choose the public option, it means that their uploaded work is open to public viewing, whereas the private option means that their work is only open to people of the users' choice and they can send out invitations to show their work.
A portfolio page will be created for a submitting user when that user registers for the site. This page will be the destination of all content that is uploaded to the site by that user. The content of the page will be able to be organized in different ways at the artist's preference. Possible ways it could be organized include by date, by medium, or by theme. Since each work is its own page, the portfolio is essentially a collection of links and thumbnails that bring users to the pages for the works of that artist. In addition to housing comments posted about the artist's work, the portfolio page will also allow the artists to provide text to accompany their work. This could be used by the artist for many functions including providing some context for a piece.
Closely related to the portfolio page is the artist's profile page which will be used to provide information about the artist. Upon registering, the artist will be asked to fill out certain fields pertaining to themself. Initially students will be required to have a university E-mail adress to register, but they will be able to craft another handle for the site. While certain fields will be required, the artist will be able to choose whether to fill out certain other fields. In general the required fields will pertain to the user's identity and are to aid in the community policiing of the site. The optional fields will pertain more towards descriptions of the user. The profile is meant to be a space for the artist to express themselves and to establish an identity on the site.
Customization features of privacy set by all users take priority over any search results requested by any other user. This bears on the comfort level of students submitting art work, and who they choose will have access to their files. In other words, privatized work will not be displayed in searches unless the student displaying the work has either made it public to all users, the default audience, or an audience of their choosing.
The default audience is other users who are connected to students displaying their work. This is done via the social network feature. Users will also have the option to "block" specific users regardless of association on the social network.
Audience of their choosing:
The audience of their choosing includes users within the network (connected or not) and other entities specifically invited by the student. Other entities is taken to mean non network users which can have access to the student's files after having been invited by the student. *"Other entities" would not have access to conduct searches.
The student displaying the work has ultimate control over who has access to their work - This (ultimate control) does not apply to us as administrators of this project.
Taking into account the private customization features defined above, the following search and view features will be available to all users. The site will provide searches that range from general key word searches to more in depth and customizable searches.
Key word searches:
Users will have the option whereby when searching for a key word, for example, "nature", any public work featuring the word "nature" would be displayed as part of their search results. Here also any "private" works which they have been granted access to would show up. Conversely, any work they are not granted access to, due to privatization, or being blocked, would not be displayed.
In addition to searching simply by key words, users will have the option of more specific searches, whereby they can search within categories or subfields (also giving priority to customization features noted above). For example users can search "nature" but only with the intent of receiving results within the categories of say "video," "audio", or "image." The same rules noted above [which I've beat you over the head with at this point] apply to search results here.
In terms of ratings and commenting, submitting users have to option of allowing ratings and comments on an item-by-item basis, and whether they will allow ratings and comments by the general viewing public or restricted to other submitting users only. If the user choose to allow ratings, their work would be included into categories such as ' most viewed' and 'top rated', so that when other users will be able to view their work when they click on such a category. The ratings would appear as a link of the number of ratings under each piece of work that would lead to all the categories that the work was rated on and statistics for number of users viewing the piece. If the user choose to allow comments, a link of the number of comments would appear under each piece of work next the ratings and users could click on the link to view the individual comments. This system allows users to exchange feedback and receive credit for the work they produced.
- email to a friend; discussion forum; personal messages
The idea that this site become an artist community is dependent on the presence of certain social networking functions. Submitting artists have profiles and identities, but viewing users can also participate in the networking. In addition to commenting on works when allowed, users can E-mail links to works to whoever they choose and message artists directly about those artist's works. The idea behind this is to provide a less public source of feedback to the artist, which may encourage more feedback.There will also be a general discussion forum for the sites where topics of general interest can be discussed. In keeping with the community policiing aspects of the site, users will have to log in to post on the forum. Registered users will all have identities, whether they be submitting or viewing users, so users will be able to make "friends" with eachother. This feature will work in concert with the privacy features allowing artists the option of limiting the viewing of or commenting on their work to their "friends."
The site will also host periodic events whether they be contests or expos the principle goal of which will be to attract the submissions of a specific kind. Curate shows will focus more on reorganized content that is already on the site, but may also include new work. The festivals will be organized and administered by the controlling body of the site and could be organized on a repeating or random basis.
The site will have a periodic organization of the submitted work into curated shows, where work would be chosen by a specific guest curator of the time or work would be chosen based on a particular theme of the show. Users is given the opportunity to create their own curated show in a smaller scale as well, that is, within their own work, they can organize their work accordingly into a gallery and notify other users that they have put up their own show.