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The summer is drawing to a close already, with back-to-school just around the corner. So it seems like a good time for an update on the fourth year of our summer intern program.

Year 4 was a bit more sane than year 3, in which we had nearly 30 interns working on enhancing the Art Authority database. With time to look back over year 3 and plan, our intern manager (who came to us thanks to her year 2 work), was able to figure out how to best build upon the year 3 work in year 4.

Whereas years 2 and 3 were mainly about bulk additions to the database, year 4 was mainly about enhancements and fine tuning. In particular we focused on over 100 artists whose collections we felt were not quite up to the quality of the rest of the Art Authority museum. For these artists, we first made sure their major works were included in their collection where possible. We then went through and updated the “metadata” associated with their collection’s works. This metadata included not only real-world museum details like date, size, and medium, but also items unique to virtual museums, like links to articles about the works and videos

As an example, the Art Authority database includes 487 works by the American impressionist Frederick Childe Hassam. Before the summer, entries for only 5 of those works included links to articles about the work. Now there are 98 such links. Before the summer less than one-third of the entries included the medium used; now all but 10 do. Less than 100 entries originally included the size of the works (particular meaningful through our Art Real Size feature); now all but 33 do. And again less than one-third included the location of the actual work itself, versus all but 10 now (making finding and viewing the physical work much easier, especially with the help of our Art Alert app).

Exploring Hassam's Flags

Three ways of exploring Hassam’s Flags.

The end result of year 4 will thus be a deeper, more meaningful collection, with some important new works, but also lots of important new information about and new ways to explore many of the works.

Quite a set of accomplishments. As always, however, we hope and believe that the most significant result of the program is the additional learning, experience, and exposure gained by the interns themselves, both in the traditional art field and in the various new technologies that are becoming ever more important to that field as it “goes digital.” One of the most gratifying parts of the summer intern program has been hearing back from past interns who tell us how useful it has proven in their ongoing careers.

We have always felt that one of the key goals of Art Authority is making a difference at the intersection of the technology and art worlds. We are very proud of the fact that this difference is made not only directly through our apps, but also through other related efforts such as our community site and the summer intern program. 

Here’s looking forward to year 5!

Art Authority’s president, Alan Oppenheimer, and his wife Priscilla just got back from a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. Combining business with pleasure, they presented the company’s wares at the Pitch 2013 startup show at AT&T Park, met with the foremost authority on Jan Brueghel the Elder at Berkeley, met with representatives of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco about the National Docent Symposium they’re hosting next month (more on that later), and saw the Diebenkorn and “Impressionists on the Water” exhibits at the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor respectively.

They also had a real life dinner with two of the participants in this year’s Summer Intern Program. We pride ourselves in the worldwide reach of our apps and our programs. The Art Authority database includes works from nearly a thousand museums and other art sites, our Art Authority apps bring that art to users around the world, our Art Alert app helps bring users around the world to that art. And our intern program this year included interns from as far east as the United Kingdom and as far west as New Zealand. We feel great about the difference we’re making worldwide. But every so often it’s really nice to just be able to sit down with people in real life and have dinner!

Dinner with interns in Berkeley

Now that most of them have started, we wanted to give a quick update on the current set of interns in year 3 of the Art Authority Summer Intern Program. We have over twenty art and art history majors helping us increase the quality and the quantity of entries in the Art Authority database. There are multiple representatives from Barnard, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Vassar, as well as students from Columbia, Emory, Fordham, University of San Francisco, University of Michigan, San Francisco State and Stony Brook. We also have a representative from the University of Glamorgan, Wales and one from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. All the interns are working remotely from their homes, schools and other locations, making the program even more unique.

This year’s intern program is being managed by an alumna from last year’s program. She’s helping this year’s “class” become familiar with key digital collaboration tools like Google apps, Google groups and Skype, as well as of course the Art Authority database. The interns are specializing in specific artists within the database, becoming expert in those artists, ensuring that those artists’ key works are represented, finding articles about the artists’ works, and checking, correcting, and supplementing other pieces of metadata in the database. They’re also becoming familiar with and adding to our community site.

The program is a great learning experience for all concerned. The interns learn important tools and collaboration techniques and get to understand their artists in depth. We here at Art Authority learn about “issues” with our database and community, and also what it takes to manage a diverse group of college kids working across 14 time zones. We’re also getting new and interesting points of view on various aspects of the art world. It’s going to be a fun summer!

Art and society have been linked for as long as there have been art and society. Art has been a part of society, and society has been a part of art.

Art Authority is a great example. As Apple iDevices have become a part of society, so has Art Authority. We love it when people come up to us at shows and say how much they’ve enjoyed or learned from the app. But we also want society to become a part of Art Authority.

As announced this week, we’re going to help you hang great art on your wall, making classic art available to classic society in a classic way. But we also want to help make classic art available to new society in new ways.

Apple has recently integrated new social networking features into iOS 6, and we’ve added these to Art Authority for iPad. You can now easily post works you love to your Twitter or Facebook account. Just tap a button while looking at any work in the app, and tweet or post that work, complete with your thoughts and comments.

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And we’re going further. We’re introducing our own, art-specific social network site: community.artauthority.net. Not only does our community site give you Web-based access to the same 55,000+ works of art as the app, but it lets you comment on and rate those works (and their artists and locations) in various ways. You can even keep track of which works you’ve seen “in real life.”

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Speaking of “real life,” the site is signing up a number of “real” art authorities to provide expert commentary. We’ve also integrated Prints on Demand into the site, so if you see a work you really love, you can get a customized framed print for your wall. And this blog is now part of the site too!

Of course we plan to add lots of additional features in the future, such as forums and art news. But we think what’s here today is a great start, and we’re looking forward to seeing what society thinks of the whole thing. So please do check out community.artauthority.net and let us know!