Recently Ben Cerveny from the Foundation for Public Code invited me to be part of a panel at the Media Architecture Biennale alongside Gabriella Gómez-Mont, Dan Hill, and Ger Baron to poke at the concept of ‘Public Digital Cultural Infrastructure’. If you’re curious about what that concept might mean then Ben’s paper is a good intro. In addressing what might be beginning to transform, he writes,

“public production of culture does not think in terms of ‘frameworks’, and ‘platforms’ and ‘sustainable code bases’; instead, almost all cultural production is done in the form of ‘instantiation’. The library and the opera…


Image courtesy ACMI 2021

Since we opened on February 11, the ACMI Lens has been used by visitors to collect just over half a million objects. Moving through the galleries visitors use the Lens to collect what they are interested in to take home and, if they are interested, look at later. The Lens is free, it doesn’t run out of batteries, it doesn’t interrupt your flow with all your social media notifications, and it doubles as a nice souvenir.

We knew people love collecting things. And we also knew that as a museum of screen culture — a culture that is all around…


The following is a rough amalgam of several different talks that I’ve done between October and December 2020 that have skirted around the challenges for digital staff and skills in museums.

These talks have tried to explore the idea that its very different now, to one decade a go, and to two decades ago. The complexity of systems, technologies, and their baked-in politics is even greater and more opaque; and the in-house skills, deep craft, and specialised staff resources have dwindled at the very same time they are most needed. …


This past weekend I was playing around with Nick Walton’s AI Dungeon 2, a lovely piece of programming that uses OpenAI’s 124M parameter GPT-2 model to generate infinite text adventures based on a large language training set. I thought it might be interesting to give it a contemporary art museum setting, a couple of current topics, and see what happened. Here’s the transcript.

[My inputted characters, purpose, and context]

You are a museum worker in a famous art museum in New York. You are trying to for a union in your workplace and bring justice to the workplace. You enter…


I didn’t actually call my talk Fire, Fire, Fire (after Nitzer Ebb’s 1987 club classic Join in The Chant) but after hearing a few of the other uncritical tech utopian talks earlier in the day I probably should have done so. If you listen to that tune — and I encourage you to do so — you will realize that the ‘chant’ continues with ‘muscle and hate’, and in the last few years that ‘muscle and hate’ has surfaced onto the mainstream internet.

Because I don’t ever ‘write’ talks but instead assemble slides which I then talk ‘around’, so what…


This is a lightly edited version of text that was originally written as part of Issue #17 of the Fresh & New newsletter, which I describe as my ‘thinking in progress about technology, design, heritage, music and sound — and where they all intersect. Precursors to fully formed ideas and projects. A notebook in progress. An experiment in fast writing’. You can sign up to receive future newsletters in your inbox over at buttondown.email/sebchan. They don’t (usually) appear on the open web. This is an exception.

At the Museums and the Web conference this year I got the sense that…


Recorded at Museums and the Web 2019, Boston. April 5, 2019. Adapted from original live captioning provided by CaptionFamily.

Photo: MuseWeb 2019

Seb Chan, Chief Experience Officer at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, interviews Damon Krukowski, musician in Damon & Naomi and formerly Galaxie 500, creator of Ways of Hearing (book and podcast) and The New Analog, and moderates a panel discussion about what is lost, and what is gained, as we move across media. How do digital translations and transmedia experiences challenge the borders and definitions of the media we use today, and what “meaningful signals” might we unwittingly sacrifice…


This is a lightly edited version of text that was originally written as part of Issue #13 of the Fresh & New newsletter, which I describe as my ‘thinking in progress about technology, design, heritage, music and sound — and where they all intersect. Precursors to fully formed ideas and projects. A notebook in progress. An experiment in fast writing’. You can sign up to receive future newsletters in your inbox over at buttondown.email/sebchan. They don’t (usually) appear on the open web. This is an exception.

Illustration by Katie Shelly, © 2019

When I was at high school I was the captain of a mid-tier cricket…


This is a very short story about the socio-technical complexities of what seems on the surface to be ‘simple’. As organisations deploy more and more technologies, these complexities deepen, ‘simple’ becomes slower and harder.

Before ACMIX was established and we moved in in early 2016, the majority of ACMI’s staff worked out of offices on Oliver Lane. Spread over three floors of a building, we were able to book meetings in meeting rooms whose names corresponded to the floors that they were on — 5A, 5B, 4A, 4B, 4C.

Old ACMI offices in Oliver Lave spread over three floors. [Image from Google StreetView]

When we moved into the single floor of ACMIX those names…


For a long time there has been a seeming consensus in the design of mobile websites and apps to use a ‘burger’ icon — usually three stacked lines — but could it be that these are confusing to some, or even most users?

Here at ACMI we launched a new website in 2016. As a part of making the site responsive the design firm we worked with used icons to indicate the menu and another to indcate the calendar which linked to the What’s On. These fitted elegantly at the bottom left and right of the mobile view, within easy…

Seb Chan

I’m currently the Chief Experience Officer at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. Previously Cooper Hewitt (NYC) & Powerhouse Museum (Syd).

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