Archive for the ‘MIMOA: the story’ Category


MIMOA: the story #20

Author: Naomi, Posted: August 4th, 2012

Content Selection and Quality.

Managing content by creating Mi guides
The Mi guide offers visitors a simple selection tool. It adds external projects to a guide, prints a booklet or downloads as a PDF. Since the launch of the first version of the Mi guide it has proved to be a very popular tool and has created a rise in visitor numbers. This feature could develop into something bigger, creating a sub-community around the development of the Mi guides. It can achieve a higher level than just contributing, because people are able to compile a list based not on what they have submitted, but on what they think is important to experience.

Creative use of Mi Guides
We noticed a new creative use of the Mi guides: people collecting content based on other, special preferences, not related to geographic location. They are compiling reference guides, with projects all made out of the same material or categorized in the same discipline (for example all housing). Some architecture firms even started publishing their own portfolio and urge their clients to download it from their personal profile page on MIMOA. This phenomenon prompts a new interesting question: How can on-line databases help architects to archive their work by promoting the exchange of information, and vice versa?

Turn community into content
Selecting projects for a Mi guide is actually also a form of “voting”. But voting isn’t the only mechanism for collecting feedback. We can run tests to see what buttons people click on and check our statistics to see which projects are viewed most, where visitors come from and where they go. Many users question whether MIMOA is really ‘Web 2.0’, with an editing panel behind all publications. Fortunately they forget the other features that turn community into content – “fortunately”, because whenever the visitor is unaware that he’s using these tools, they prove to work best. MIMOA is a convincing example of how to fuse these two strands, combining metadata and social networking.

The Web truly is a medium that can measure, monitor, track, and segment the marketplace with a rigor and intensity that force an editorial refocus. That’s great. That’s what responsiveness and innovation should be all about.

Text from “Lessons Learned: We Still Don’t Get the Web”, article published in Wired
04.29.97, Author: Michael Schrage

Photo by Daici Ano, of the Jurgen Lehl Boutique in Tokyo
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MIMOA: the story #19

Author: Naomi, Posted: November 16th, 2010

Content Selection and Quality.

How about the ‘old buildings’?
We’ve never stated on our website that we only want to publish actual, or new buildings. Somehow it just works this way, that people add what they feel, needs to be added. And most of the time, the contributions are not the projects that are covered in main stream tourism books/sites/guides, but the ones that are not (yet) in the all-to-familiar-tourist-guides. Buildings everybody knows about, are not that interesting. Of course, eventually they will be included, and we would never ‘dismiss’ the contributions, because it is a ‘too old building’. The community has got lots of tools to filter and rate the projects – let’s keep the assessments, the reviewing-factor with the public. But there is a sense of what is ‘modern’- it somehow starts with 1900. Oh, and yes, this might also be an answer: you need to fill in the name of the ‘designer’, and credit the individual, the author of the work – a concept that hasn’t been around that long.

Selecting content
Apart from the quality, it is much more interesting to see how the visitor chooses from the quantity of objects. How does he choose to select the projects he wants to see on his next two-day trip to Amsterdam? On selecting the content itself: this is where the crowd comes in. From the group of registered members, maybe only 10 % actively publishes projects. But the remaining 90% consumers are also contributing, unintentionally or not. They use all other ‘Web 2.0-features’ MIMOA has to offer. We can track the popularity of a project by all other movements the consuming public makes: the use of the comments-box; rating; adding information on your profile; making your favorites lists; mark where you’ve been; select and create a personal architecture guide; tell a friend – it all contributes to the database. All this data is then returned to the site, and you can easily find out which projects are worth visiting in a certain city.
No one is as smart as all of us.

Photo by Jens Lindhe, of the 8 house by BIG, Copenhagen.

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MIMOA: the story #18

Author: Naomi, Posted: July 23rd, 2010

Content Selection and Quality.

Interference of advertisement and editorial content
Similar to magazines, architects tend to make reality look better, but not more realistic. They are not to blame, eventually it’s their job. MIMOA does not have a guideline that states that (concealed) advertising and commercial sponsorship must not influence any editorial content, for architecture ís advertising. A 5-star hotel owner preferably has his newest venture designed by a certain architect for reasons of image and appearance, ambition and vision, status and prestige. Why would those buildings not be included in a guide? This issue again exemplifies the need for published authorship and disclosure of intentions and competing interests.

Relevance of the publications
Not only do the editorial quality or purpose of publication differ, also the relevance of the submitted projects strongly diverges. Simple and complex, well-known or obscure, pretentious and humoristic designs vary. It’s more symbiosis than rivalry. MIMOA does not reject a contribution based on it’s looks. The only criteria that it matches the required minimal information. This way we can offer a true exchange of people, designs and ideas. It’s up to the visitor to judge and form their opinion. Also, the discussion weather a project is Modern or not, is really not relevant. As long as the (individual) architect(ure office) who designed the building can be identified, and all other required information is complete, the project is ready for publication. Many buildings before 1850 are not build under the name of ‘one architect’, so that makes an easy distinction.

Image: Mondrian South Beach hotel, in Miami Beach.
Interior design by Marcel Wanders
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MIMOA: the story #17

Author: Naomi, Posted: March 25th, 2010

Content Selection and Quality.

Less editorial skilled contributors
Apart from the editorial quality of content coming from architecture magazines (advertisement) and -offices themselves (promotion), the majority of projects is contributed by less editorial skilled ‘architecture lovers’. But if you search through the publications on MIMOA, you really have to look hard to find the expected non-comprehensive Euringlish scribbling or terribly bad lighted snapshots. In fact, some photos by amateur photographers are so good, we get requests from architecture firms and publishers to contact the authors. One of the reasons for the high quality of the content, apart from the ones mentioned, is the feedback we get from our visitors. Some of them are true groupies and avidly report errors and place additional comments.

Who knows best?
To get back to those contributions by ‘professional’ parties: Some of our members have been communicating that they find “misleading, generalizing topics in the commentary, that show that the buildings have been described and analysed through a magazine’s review”. And that “the idea then of letting locals from each city to add reviews about their buildings is quite an advancement from paper magazines” (Quote source: Archinect Forum “European modern architecture database”, Author: Medit, Posted: 25 September 2007). The fact that the reviews are reports of volunteers somehow represents a more compelling recommendation than the opinion of an expert whose job it is to review architecture. It shows the different points of view on user generated content, all depending on who the contributing ‘user’ is, and who is the audience you are addressing.

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top photo: Dos Pailllos restaurant in Berlin, designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec


MIMOA: the story #16

Author: Naomi, Posted: March 9th, 2010

Content selection and quality.

Selection starts at the door
The interactive on-line upload form is really easy to use, but the amount of fields may intimidate the first time contributor. This is a good thing. If contributing were easy, editing would be hard.

User generated content
Of course there are a lot of remarks to be made about the quality of the content of user-generated websites. Today’s fierce discussions on the reliability of information of these “open” platforms provoke reactions that go from legitimate scepticism to labelling them “dangerous places” that are best to be avoided. The fact is that today’s user-generated content has great utility.
“The tools of production, from blogging to video sharing, are fully democratized, and the engine for growth is the spare cycles, talent, and capacity of regular folks, who are, in aggregate, creating a distributed labor force of unprecedented scale. It’s providing the energy that drives a new sort of company, one that understands that talent exists outside Hollywood, that credentials matter less than passion, and that each of us has knowledge that’s valuable to someone, somewhere”. Text from “People Power”, article published in Wired July 2006, Author: Chris Anderson.

Without the input of its users, it would have been very hard, if not impossible for MIMOA to be able to compile and collect the information, necessary for building such a database.

Photo of the
Philoogy Library in Berlin, by Christian Beirle Gonzalez, Munich.

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MIMOA: the story #15

Author: Naomi, Posted: January 30th, 2010

casa mercedes, in A Coruña, Spain

Content management.

Choose your medium, set your content
Just like the amount of photos is set to a maximum, we also have a limit on text. It forces you to write down only the essentials. In 1000 characters, including spaces, every one can convey a message, and if not, you can link the publication to any other web page leading to more information. Providing architectural content on a medium such as ours, forced us to rethink the character and size (or length for that matter) of information. We want to see large size real-life photos we’re not writing books on-line. Also, drawings are pretty difficult to publish. How many times do you run into an architects’ website and find scaled, low resolution, blurred illustrations with indefinable details – probably texts? Apart from the visual restrictions, drawings are juridical gremlins. We’re not including these into our website, but will always link a project to the architects’ site, where you can probably find them. “The first is that the Web is not a medium of data, information, knowledge, wisdom, or content – it is a medium for linking data, information, knowledge, wisdom, and content. Just as writing a newspaper column isn’t like writing a novel”. From “Lessons Learned: We Still Don’t Get the Web” article published in Wired 04.29.1997, Author: Michael Schrage.

Take your content with you
“I envisioned myself wandering around a city with a hand-held device such as a pda or an iPhone viewing a map that tells me where I am, and what beautiful architecture exists around the corner”. Quoted from an email send to MIMOA by Ryan Taube.

One major advantage of having only digital content is its mobility. The use of wireless Internet will only continue to grow and we see a great opportunity for visitors to be able to reach MIMOA with their mobile phones, or other mobile devices (tomtom?). Travelling is becoming easier, cheaper and the number of city trips (in Europe) is growing. There will be a major change in the use of travel-guides and other city sources. Travellers don’t want to spend hours searching for information, buying heavy travel books, nor do they want to walk around conscious with their small guide book in their hands. As a global traveller you want inside niche information on the spot.

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MIMOA: the story #14

Author: Naomi, Posted: January 5th, 2010

Nordic Countries Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, photo by seier + seier

Content management.

Editing before publishing
The basic project entries are reviewed before publishing, checked on required minimal information and checked for errors. As soon as a new project is submitted, MIMOA reviews and (sometimes) edits the data, adds information where possible, and puts it on-line. We keep the right to change the texts a bit, but will always respect the personal contributions. We also check copyrights of all data that others contribute. You might think that this is quite a lot of work, why not use a more wiki-like system? Many “wiki-like” sites have major problems on keeping the information consistent, correct and complete. That is why we need an “editing panel”, a gentle expert guidance to maintain order. And it pays off: Eventually it’s only once a year that we’re really surprised to see what people try to upload.

Copyrights on content
We respect the intellectual property of others, and we expect our users to do the same. MIMOA does not claim copyright on the photos or texts, which always remains with the author. If we believe that someone is publishing content without the rights to distribute it, we simply don’t publish it. We ask the contributor if he or she has a photo that they’ve taken themselves. Members are very understanding about this. The photos do not have to be of a professional standard, the object just needs to be recognizable. People need to register before contributing content, thus we can always get in touch with them if we, or any external party have any questions, or image requests.

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MIMOA: the story #13

Author: Naomi, Posted: January 3rd, 2010

Content management.

Consistent entries
All the design strategy, user research and interaction design in the world isn’t going to get our users to the information they need without a sound architecture to guide them. When we started, other interactive (user generated) databases had major difficulties showing their information in a clear, comparable and comprehensive way, and at the same time maintaining a high quality of content. We designed our pages in such a way that all the information is structured in exactly the same manner. Input by third parties creates an extra variable and requires a clear structured content management system. Consistent data entry is crucial.

Adding or improving?
Furthermore, subsequently added information (data that is added to the database after publication) is either separated from the original entry in new fields (for example the comments), or it is an update of the original data. We have a hard limit on text input. To a hardcore data-collector this may sound senseless, but MIMOA is not for enlarging the collection and offering more data, we would prefer to improve the quality of the information, boiling it down to its essentials. This is a fundamental element of our content management system: focussed on condensing data and spending less time on managing additions, supplements and appendixes. Lean and easier to edit the data, change or improve the structure, but above all: the right records are easier to find. Oh, and yes; it keeps our storage costs down. Less is more.

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MIMOA: the story #12

Author: Naomi, Posted: December 22nd, 2009


Credit the author
Registered members, who have the opportunity to edit their own profiles, make the contributions. He or she can link to a website, add a picture and text to explain their interests, backgrounds and profession. They can choose which information is made public, and whether they want to publicly publish their names. Authorship of the content is a strong factor in assessing the quality of the content.

By deliberately and prominently including the small sentence “contributed by” to each and every publication, MIMOA gives its authors ownership and pride. It gives them a platform where they can proclaim their authority. Especially professional reviewers and journalists gratefully adopt this attribution and are actively using their personal editable profile to advertise themselves. In time, currently unknown or “very young” contributors may grow to become expert reviewers themselves. Ideas to further nourish this concept are currently being developed.

An illustration
The original Wikipedia design made its content ego-less and time-less. Instead of attributing the documents to a certain person, they removed much of the visual representation of ownership. They decided it wasn’t important who wrote the content or when it was written. Some say this decision fostered a shared sense of community and was a key ingredient in the success of Wikipedia. However, this vision is now heavily disputed, not the least by it’s own founders, resulting in a true battlefield.

Recently founded Citizendium (where “the general public and experts collaborate, using their real names”) and Veropedia enforce an expert review or approval mechanism to maintain order, intended to counter Wikipedia’s grown amateurism, anonymity and anarchy.

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MIMOA: the story #11

Author: Naomi, Posted: September 8th, 2009

Didden Village Rotterdam


Ease of searching, browsing, finding
Thanks to the immediacy and ease of it’s searching, MIMOA effortlessly opens up its databases. Designers get inspiration; students find a valid support to their education; moreover, the agile and effective structure of query paths also addresses a much wider, interdisciplinary public made up of lovers of contemporary architecture, travellers, people mindful of the evolution of the constructed heritage and, in general, in the development of cities.

Lost without a map
In all the sites we analysed we never saw the possibility to show the information’s location with a map. We can truly say the map is mimoa’s best part. It’s always there, on every page providing a clear overview, orientation and suggesting new destinations for navigation.

It took some time to make it fully functional and interactive: adjusting it’s zoom levels with clusters and corresponding markers; focussing on the selected project; showing personal favourites and projects you’ve visited; intelligent zoom when showing search results; the choice to show or hide other nearby projects; and the possibility to enlarge the map on your screen. We ran several usability tests that showed the user wasn’t aware of all these capabilities, and simply used it intuitively.

“As you browse through the buildings featured in MIMOA you can add them to your favourites or you can add them to the list of buildings you have seen.Once you start tagging your favourites and the buildings you have visited these become options on the map. You can therefore create a map that only includes your favourites or a map that just includes the buildings you have visited. This is a feature I haven’t seen before in other Google Maps projects and is a great way to personalise the browsing
experience”. Text from weblog Google Maps Mania “MIMOA”, Author: Keir Clarke, Posted: March 2008.

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