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The Mystery of the "1940s Time Traveller": The Changing Face of Online Brand Monitoring

David Harkness
Sheila Carey
Julie Marion
David Harkness
Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), Canada
Cite as:
Harkness, D., et al., The Mystery of the "1940s Time Traveller": The Changing Face of Online Brand Monitoring. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2011. Consulted March 31, 2011.
http://conference.archimuse.com/mw2011/papers/mystery_1940s_time_traveller

Abstract

This paper presents the mystery of the "1940s Time Traveller" as a case study in viral phenomena and their potential implications for and impact on museums and cultural institutions. An effective and holistic approach to brand monitoring requires that you be attuned to discussions that may be taking place outside your walls. While these conversations can be initiated via marketing campaigns, they can also occur spontaneously and move quickly. Proper monitoring should run alongside these conversations, and not follow in their wake. The study looks at museological concerns related to loss of control over intellectual property online. It also explores online museum marketing in an era where the phrase "I Can Has Cheezburger?" can launch million-dollar online companies, an aftershave ad campaign can crash YouTube, and a single photo can propel a small community museum to international stardom.

Keywords

brand monitoring, viral marketing, Virtual Museum of Canada, Social Web, copyright, conversational capital

Introduction

In spring 2010, the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC), a product of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), witnessed a viral Internet phenomenon. One seemingly innocuous photo from the Bralorne Museum in central British Columbia—the photo was featured in an online exhibit created with an investment from and in collaboration with the VMC—exploded online. From one post on Digg.com, the image radiated across the Web through personal blogs, popular news sources like Fark.com and Gizmodo.com, and across "traditional" social media networks. International media outlets were requesting information and interviews, and Web-savvy entrepreneurs were asking for high resolution versions of the photo, hoping to be the first to solve the mystery and capitalize on the image. CHIN's Business Development and Marketing team followed the story online for months, an exercise that became instrumental in helping the organization develop a more comprehensive and integrated brand monitoring strategy that reached beyond traditional channels and social media applications.

While CHIN watched VMC visitation statistics climb exponentially during the period of virality, the organization also recognized that sometimes what is put online can escape a museum's control. In this case, the deeper into the Web our intellectual property moved, the further it became its own brand, removed from both CHIN and the Bralorne Museum. This is particularly poignant in this era when the jury is still out on fair use and the posting of high resolution images online. Any museum would welcome this flood of "conversational capital" (Cesvet et al., 2008), but to monitor this wave and try to reconnect it to the institution's name can become an unexpected human resource cost, not to mention an exercise in frustration. Most importantly, the organizational models of larger institutions often prevent museums from keeping up with the conversations around them in the myriad channels that exist online today. Herein also lies an opportunity, providing museums and heritage institutions with unprecedented new avenues for marketing and promoting their institution and collections.

Background

The mystery was born out of a digitized photo made available online through the Community Memories Investment Program. As a CHIN product, the VMC represents a network of over 1,400 museums and heritage institutions across Canada, and invests in CHIN member institutions to create online resources that highlight Canada's history and heritage. Our Virtual Exhibits Investment Program helps medium to large institutions create online exhibitions, interactive resources and other educational tools. The Community Memories Investment Program offers investment on a smaller scale for community-based museums with fewer than five employees, and provides Web templates and hosting. The Bralorne Museum was one member institution that submitted a proposal for this investment. The proposal was selected by the VMC Secretariat, and the exhibit was launched in May 2005.

Much like the other 350 Community Memories exhibits the VMC hosts, the exhibit in question, Their Past Lives Here, presented the history of their community through images and written accounts. One particular photo, however, made this exhibition stand out in the crowd (figure 1). In 1941, an unwitting photographer took a snapshot on the occasion of the reopening of the South Forks Bridge in the nearby mining community of Gold Bridge, British Columbia, after it had been washed out during a flood the previous year. The photo in question shows a group of spectators, in the middle of which one young man looks unquestionably out of place, due in part to the sunglasses and jersey the "hipster" is wearing, and the contemporary-looking camera around his neck.

And plainly, too, they were a childlike and innocent lot; telling lies of the stateliest pattern with a most gentle and winning naivety, and ready and willing to listen to anybody else's lie, and believe it, too.

Mark Twain, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Seventy years after the photo was taken and five years after it was posted online amidst a collection of otherwise fairly typical historic photos of a central British Columbia town, the photo took on a life of its own. From one innocent post and a clever title on a social bookmarking site, the "Time traveler caught on camera from 1941?" image exploded online. Whether or not our hipster could travel in time, he certainly circumnavigated the globe at an incredible clip. From around the world, bloggers, media outlets and armchair analysts weighed in with their thoughts on the photo, covering a range of topics. Conspiracy theorists spun arguments for the existence of time travel. Photography enthusiasts disputed the photo's authenticity. Was the image "photoshopped"? Had this stylish twenty-first century gentleman found the hole in the space/time continuum? Or was he simply hip before his time?

Group of spectators at reopening of the South Forks Bridge near Gold Bridge, British Columbia, including a young man wearing modern-looking sunglasses and jersey who holds a camera that also could be of the present time.
Figure 1: Reopening of the South Forks Bridge in Gold Bridge, British Columbia (1941). Photo featured in "Their Past Lives Here", an online exhibition created by the Bralorne Museum.

Unravelling the Mystery

What's it like when you go through time?

Sarah Connor, Terminator (1984)

While it would be wonderful to be able to take credit for such a simple, explosive and far-reaching viral campaign, it was completely unorchestrated and unexpected. For CHIN, the mystery started with an email message to our Member Services team. The message did not fit the usual profile of image, information or copyright requests. An unspecified user sent a message on March 21, 2010, questioning the authenticity of the image, and demanding a high-resolution copy. Copyright of the image itself belongs to the lending institution, and due to its seasonal hours, the Bralorne Museum was unavailable. CHIN responded with this information, and the request was filed. Over the next three days, more than a dozen similar requests for the same image poured into our inbox.

The unusual number of requests warranted an investigation. A spike in Web traffic through WebTrends and Google Analytics was noted during this time period, but could have been attributable to a number of factors. The actual scope of the online discussion was uncovered through a simple Google search of keywords related to the institution, exhibition, and image, which turned up a raft of entries, from social bookmarking sites to personal and well-established blogs. Sites were quickly bookmarked and organized chronologically in an attempt to determine any discernable rhyme or reason to the photo's infectious spread.

The first step was determining the photo's source referrer and subsequent distribution pattern. This was not immediately apparent from posting dates, as many of the blog entries and comments occurred on or around the same day, or indicated only relative dates (e.g. "posted three days ago"). Our WebTrends and Google Analytics profiles were consulted for a review of sites referring to the image. Two major spikes from social news and bookmarking sites were visible from within a few days of the original flagging of the image. It had been reposted to the photo sharing website Imgur.com, and promptly "digged" on Digg.com. Hundreds of comments and thousands of "diggs" followed the tag on Digg.com within a matter of days. The photo was then picked up by social news site Reddit.com, with a similar frequency of comments from the online community. Note that there are more than 750 VMC online exhibits, over 400 of which are hosted on our servers. Due to activity during the week in question, the number of visits to VMC-hosted sites for the entire month of March was approximately 350% higher than regular monthly visitation (figure 2).

Following the social news and bookmarking explosion, the image continued to appear on a variety of sites. Most notably, well-known bloggers and online news sources such as Gizmodo.com followed the trail and picked through details of the photo, looking at everything from shadow angles and potential "photoshopping," to historical analyses of the character's out-of-place clothing.

There seems to be an implicit agreement in the Web community that the adoption of a scoop by traditional media signifies the end of the debate online. When a noteworthy Internet phenomenon breaks into the mainstream, it suddenly ceases to be Net-worthy. After every subtlety of the photo had been scrutinized on the Web, a new cycle began at CHIN, with telephone calls and email messages coming in from curious reporters from print, radio and television news outlets as far away as New Zealand.

For museums, at times operating with a "if it wasn't written down, it didn't happen" mindset, this relationship to traditional media signifies something different. Traditional media coverage somehow legitimizes the experience, and even with Internet-based campaigns and initiatives, the time-honoured black binder of press clippings often remains the authoritative testimony of a project's success. CHIN itself included the story in an article on social media for the Canadian museum magazine Muse (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2010), as if by being the first to put physical pen to paper on the subject we had provided a final word. Of note, the issue was released around the same time as a piece featuring the Time Traveller in France's Choc magazine (No. 11, June 2010), a publication once awarded the moniker "le magazine le plus trash de la presse française" (Guillot & Santi, 2006).

By the same token, the mystery for CHIN was solved when Russian television station NTV Moscow travelled to Bralorne to write a documentary piece about the town and their mysterious visitor from the future. By pulling the photo from a scrapbook and holding it for the world to see, the Russian reporter in effect became the detective finally putting a cold case to rest. The program aired on December 4, 2010, more than eight months after the photo was first tagged on Digg.com.

Fitting the Viral Profile

Today, we know that time travel need not be confined to myths, science fiction, Hollywood movies, or even speculation by theoretical physicists.

Clifford Pickover, Time: A Traveler's Guide

The first question to ask was, why the sudden and overwhelming interest? At first glance, the man in the photo clearly looks out of place. It is easy enough to say that people are fascinated by the paranormal, mystery, the absurd and the obscene. Long before the advent of the Web, we were all-too-familiar with the stories of Bigfoot, alien encounters and the Loch Ness Monster. The concept of "Real or Fake?" is an almost guaranteed hit, and a recent example of this phenomenon was seen through the fabricated viral video campaign produced by the Ontario Science Centre (MacBride, 2010; Scott, 2010). The video was created to complement the opening of the "Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids" temporary exhibit, and since its release, it has received over 450,000 views (Crosbie, 2011). Much of the discussion occurred on both mainstream news and other sites, and it spread via social network sites like Twitter (Mattos, 2010).

Montreal-based experiential design and communications services firm Sid Lee outlines the important elements of "conversational capital" (Cesvet et al., 2008). These factors include:

Ritual:
Accompanied by initiation, and turns the everyday into the meaningful.
Exclusive Product Offering (EPO):
Customization and tailoring that make the visitor feel like a privileged one in six billion.
Myths:
Stunts, schemes and stories that add to an organization's cachet.
Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO):
An experience that defies our conventional sensory understanding.
Icons:
Transform symbols into identity, which in turn shapes experiences.
Tribalism:
The need or desire to be in a group with the like-minded.
Endorsement:
Drawing on the credibility of others.
Continuity:
Who you are = who you say you are = who people say you are.

Our "Time Traveller" was not a planned campaign, but we were interested in how these factors related to his popularity. At first glance, a Relevant Sensory Oddity is created in this age where "we are always conscious that the amazing things we see are fake, the result of special effects" (Cesvet et al., 2008: 19). Mashups of the photo included the incorporation of countless Icons, from the relatively accessible Doc Brown from the classic 1980s film Back to the Future, to esoteric references to the Crucifixion from a handful of lesser known science fiction novels. Popular and authoritative sites such as forgetomori.com provided the necessary Endorsement. Finally, a sense of Tribalism was seen through overlapping groups interested in Internet culture, photography, and science fiction on the Web, a place where "every freak has a friend" (Siemens, 2010).

Museological Concerns

I believe our adventure through time has taken a most serious turn.

Ted, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

To witness the incredible and unprompted spread of one of our photos was at first exciting. Whether the image was incorrectly credited as originating from the "official website for Canada's museums", or the "virtual Bralorne Pioneer Museum" was of little consequence; links back to our resources were welcomed and appreciated. We were also thoroughly amused by the weird and wide assortment of Photoshop mashups that our "hipster" had spawned. Unfortunately, as the image moved further into the Web, references to the original diffused into "some Canadian museum", and ultimately into obscurity.

Metadata integrity was also lost as the image itself also moved beyond the museum's control, and out of its historic context. Within a matter of days, our "1940s Time Traveller" had moved to the periphery of our own brand, and witnessed an almost mitotic split into a whole new organism, removed from its parent. We could not help but note the irony in that lesser known bloggers, with little regard for the actual provenance of the image, were accusing one another of intellectual property theft and plagiarism.

Within the greater museum community, fair use on the Internet is still a murky debate. Some insist on protecting their online and offline assets, using watermarks or encryption to safeguard copyrighted materials. Others shrug and maintain that trying to control use and reproduction of their online digital assets would be like herding cats. Both are equally valid perspectives, and can be evaluated on a per-collection or per-institution basis. In Canada, the views of our national public institutions may soon be heavily influenced by copyright legislation currently being tabled.

Fair use spans a complicated spectrum of considerations and is not a fence on which an institution needs to pick sides. With respect to the "1940s Time Traveller," CHIN contemplated the various implications and determined that the principal challenge would be to bring the brand back to that of the VMC and the Bralorne Museum by participating in the conversation, ensuring that the historic integrity of the photo and the Museum was retained. We also investigated international online museum community perspectives on key issues related to rights management, copyright and intellectual property, and user-generated content (UGC). It is worthwhile to examine the issues raised by the Bralorne image within the context of the wider museum community, and the changing expectations of online visitors.

Rights Management

Museums have generally been careful to control the digital rights of reproductions of their objects to restrict potential reuse. With respect to art museums, reasons range from commercial licensing opportunities to a wish to control the proper educational and creative use of images. There is also the notion that the value of the original work is diminished in some way by familiarity (Hamma, 2005). A survey of "innovative" cultural institutions in 2008 (Eschenfelder & Caswell, 2010) asked about motivations for creating controlled collections. The highest motivators were potential misuse and misrepresentation, proper object description and repository identification, legal factors, and donor or owner requirements. In a more recent limited survey conducted for a research paper on digital rights management for museums (Green, 2010), one quarter of Canadian respondents reported that projects stalled because of safety and integrity concerns regarding intellectual property in an online environment. Half the respondents described their institutions as "somewhat" risk-averse, for fear of material being misappropriated, or because rights ownership for the material was not clear.

Several types of asset protection are available with respect to digital images. They can be broadly divided into systems using either watermarking or data encryption techniques (Green, 2010). Watermarking embeds information across the image, after which connected technologies are used to track the images and monitor their use. Encryption is another technology used to protect online content; subsequent decryption of the content requires access to a decoding application. The goal in either case is to prevent images from being saved, copied and reused. Although the Bralorne Museum image was a low-resolution Web image, its viral spread showed how an image can be repurposed and deprived of its historic context.

Multiple Authors

With the rise of the Social Web, authorship is no longer controlled by traditional institutions. The shifting publication landscape has had a major impact both within museums and in a wider context. Publishers, especially news media, have had to deal with some of the same changing expectations. Once the traditional purveyor of news, publishers have had to deal with changing roles, as news is increasingly broken, written about, and commented on by the general public. News publishers have responded to this by accepting citizens' comments on blogs, photographs, and videos of newsworthy events. Citizens may be at the scene when a newsworthy event takes place, and accepting their video contributions allows news organizations such as CNN to access as-it-happens news content. The similarity in the changing roles that both museums and traditional media have had to face to a certain extent has been increasingly noted, with the traditional "voice" being given, in some degree, to the audiences (Chan, 2010; Colland, 2010).

An aspect of this that falls into the discussion of viral content is one explored by Henry Jenkins. He cautions against using the term "viral," which connotes passive carriers of viral media, and suggests "spreadability," where consumers play an active role in spreading content (Jenkins, 2009). He argues that value originates as much through transformation as direct replication. Jenkins opposes this to the older models of stickiness which emphasize centralized control over distribution and attempts to maintain "purity" of message, a model more comfortable for many museums. At the very least, the innumerable "photoshopped" iterations of our Time Traveller that surfaced attested to the idea that humour provides a valuable element to discussion.

Museum Participation

While some museums are reluctant to lose any authoritative control, others have embraced this new authorship with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Leaders in the field, such as the Powerhouse Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, have been joined by an increasing number of museums experimenting with social media, encouraging and facilitating the voice of "many". A recent Art Newspaper article quotes Rob Stein, CIO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, as saying, "Museums in the future will still be reliable sources of information, and a curator will continue to be the authority on a particular work of art, but we won't control the information channels" (Szántó, 2010).

In 2009, an episode of the HBO series True Blood featured a female statue in a scene; the statue was a copy of a statue in the Brooklyn Museum's collection. The museum was alerted to this fact by a comment sent in via their online collection (Cody, 2009a). The museum acted proactively, not only blogging about the fact that the statue was on True Blood, but also following up with the Twitter community to help them get in touch with HBO via Twitter (Cody, 2009b). Museum staff held a conference call with the show's production designer, who answered their questions about how the "Bird Lady" ended up on the show. This is an excellent example of a museum proactively spreading the word about its collections to potentially new audiences, but also reclaiming its brand when the object became separated from its curatorial context. The fact that the image was publicly available was both how the image was found by the show, and how the viewer saw it and alerted the museum to its use on the show. The museum turned this unexpected use of its image into an educational opportunity, providing information about the original sculpture. The information about the "Bird Lady" was reported on sites ranging from True Blood fan sites to Egyptology sites, as the statue in question was part of the museum's Egyptian collections.

Redefining Brand Monitoring Strategy at CHIN

The best way to find out where you are from is find out where you are going and work backwards.

Doctor Who (1963)

With these institutional considerations in mind, CHIN was ready to devise and implement a strategy for dealing with our runaway brand. Our monitoring process began with an original assessment of the conversations that had already transpired regarding our visitor from the future. Going back to a hands-on approach, bookmarked sites were put into a spreadsheet with relevant metadata, including author, date, and keywords, which became imperative for tracking, given the variability in the names given to the photo. Even a simple Google search was muddied by the handful of file names and subject titles used, starting simply with British versus American spellings of the word "traveller". Creating a checklist of keywords and key phrases is an important first step in monitoring your brand and should include more peripheral information such as related events, competitors, or key individuals in your organization (Lasica, 2011).

In addition to standard Web searches based on the range of keywords that the image had generated, online software tools were used to help comb the Social Web. Technorati.com was the obvious choice for sifting through the blogosphere. The Twitterverse was easily scoured using Twitter's comprehensive search function. Hashtags were discerned, but "#timetravel" is an exceptionally popular topic. Posts on Facebook were found through a simple analysis of referring sites in Google Analytics. Socialmention.com and Addictomatic.com were also consulted, though numerous other monitoring sites are available online. (For other suggestions of monitoring tools, please see Mike Kujawski's Slideshare.net presentation on Social Media Monitoring.) It should be noted that many of these searchable databases are not Social Web "Wayback Machines". For example, Twitter provides users with the option of searching posts by date range, but data is not archived indefinitely.

This environmental scan was coupled with a more intensive look at the available metrics. With respect to traditional metrics monitoring, CHIN has access to both WebTrends and Google Analytics. Unfortunately, the image itself had been repurposed on various websites and the lion's share of quantitative data was inaccessible. This challenge is echoed by many in the field of Social Web metrics: that "In a social web world, we don't have a single tool that can help us measure success" (Kaushik, 2010: 247. Italics in original.), though the field of social analytics is rapidly evolving (Breakenridge, 2008: 138). This question becomes even more complex when considering the increasing prevalence of offline data and mobile use (Kaushik, 2010: 248-250). The exercise did, however, provide us with indications as to where the image was appearing, how it was being used, and how it was linking back to the VMC brand. As was to be expected, the more established and popular the site, the more likely it was to provide the correct credit information and a link back to the source.

The next step was to monitor the continuing conversation. Although the initial wave had passed, the ripples that followed were persistent enough to warrant ongoing observation. Google Alerts for keywords were initiated for Web searches, and a BackType account was created for alerts from social media sources. Again, "time travel" (and related derivatives) is a perennial and popular topic, and the utility of these alerts decreased slowly over time. As Kaushik (2010: 243) asks, in a world of user-generated content, when is a page "done"? Is it completed when launched? Or after X number of comments to the page? The question becomes even more complicated when dealing with user-generated content on third-party sites. When can you close a page to monitoring, or call a phenomenon such as this "completed"? While links, comments, and inquiries continued to surface for months through our alerts, the question of when to finally close the file was raised.

Our next challenge was to get into the conversation, colonize, and create. The key objective of this exercise was to ensure that the Bralorne Museum and VMC brands were reattached to the image, and that the proper sources were credited. With the understanding that we were a little late for the party, we targeted active conversations and submitted comments. We also posted an article through our own WordPress-based News section of the VMC website, and promoted it through our social media channels. Independent of our initiatives, the Bralorne Museum also reclaimed the image through its own Facebook account. Hoping to capitalize on the authority of the printed page, both the VMC and the Bralorne Museum wrote articles intended for publication in newspapers and magazines. For all online posts and publications, we considered and applied principles of an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

Challenges

The exercise of tracking and being involved in the ever-radiating story was not without its challenges. Foremost, as is seen in many Web 2.0 and social media projects, was the question of available human resources. The team tasked with following the story was relatively small and was pitted against a legion of Internauts with their onslaught of discussions and comments. Even with a staff dedicated to the project throughout the day, the Internet never sleeps. As is commonly the case with these types of projects located near the periphery of job descriptions, the work often falls into the domain of a champion who is willing to pursue it.

CHIN operates through the Department of Canadian Heritage, which poses challenges similar to those faced by other governmental agencies and larger museums and heritage institutions. Among them was the question of Government of Canada protocols for communicating with the public online in a Social Web world. These standards are still being formalized. The fact that CHIN is an agency of the Government of Canada also raises the question of bilingualism, as our online and offline communications are expected to be available in both English and French. For every newsletter item, article, and social media element that was to be published, the delay for editing and translation hindered our ability to keep to-the-minute with the story. The Government of Canada also adheres to a stringent set of accessibility guidelines, the implications of which have not yet been fully explored for the Social Web.

There is also the issue of authority of voice. Our ability to participate freely and use a similar tone to that of the community was in question, as we represent a federal agency. The best-case scenario when communicating online is to be able to adopt a "playful campaign involving a little bit of self-mockery" (de Vet, 2006), but we were limited by our need to balance an authoritative tone with a more fun and colloquial voice. Within the museum community, this barrier has been for the most part removed from interactions on the Social Web, but certain implications specific to public and federal institutions still need to be considered.

Recommendations and Conclusions

Go forth time travelers, and remember the future is what you make it!

Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future: The Ride (1991)

Throughout this monitoring exercise, one overarching issue was clear, that the days of traditional brand monitoring were over for CHIN. For eight months, we tracked the Sasquatch footprints of our Time Traveller with the intent of devising a more integrated strategy for following our digital assets on the Web. What we came to realize was that what we once thought of as multidirectionality—joined by arrows that connect our institution to disparate players in the Web world—has given way to omnidirectionality, looking more like a Venn diagram of overlapping or even separate bubbles of relationships and conversations.

The aim from the outset was clear, even though our methods developed in parallel with, and often one step behind, the surge of conversation. Our primary objectives were to ensure that information regarding our online resources was accurate, credible and properly attributed, and that our member museum was also properly represented. In response to steps taken by CHIN to achieve these goals, the Web began to self-regulate. Within a relatively short time frame, the majority of articles and postings were pointing back to the VMC and the Bralorne Museum.

Our action plan followed CHIN's methodology for an effective social media strategy (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2010: 47). Whether creating a social media strategy from the ground up, or jumping aboard an already sailing ship on the Social Web, CHIN offers a simple set of recommendations to help you succeed.

Define:
Set clear objectives, identify your audiences, and define your brand and its elements. Summarize who you are by creating a list of key phrases.
Explore and Monitor:
Use monitoring tools and your list of key phrases to familiarize yourself with what is happening in the Social Web and observe what people are talking about. Decide which audiences you wish to engage, and what communities best represent your institution and brand. Be aware of anomalies in your site activity. Keep abreast of conversations using Social Web, Web and social media monitoring tools.
Colonize:
Identify and join relevant and active communities, contributing directly to discussions while keeping your strategy in mind. If possible, use a personal tone rather than a corporate one. Aim to add value to discussions, and point to these discussions on your own Web or social media channels.
Socialize and Build:
Create profiles for your museum that link to and build on the content of your website, blog, or both. Save time and energy by multipublishing your website and blog content to your various profiles, and from one channel to another. Use RSS feeds and widgets to automate these functions.
Evaluate Your Performance:
Monitor the Web and Social Web using analysis tools such as Google Analytics for overall statistics, FeedBurner for RSS feeds, and Google Webmaster for online visibility. Use analysis tools for social media such as YouTube Insight, Flickr Pro stats module, and Facebook Insight. Consult Social Web monitoring tools like Socialmention.com and Addictomatic.com to keep up-to-date with recent discussions or those still in progress.

Google's Eric Schmidt claims that every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003; with the real issue being user-generated content (Siegler, 2010). The Social Web is a constantly shifting and elusive challenger, with fresh players and new communities appearing by the minute. Sifting through this mountain of information might seem like an exercise in Web forensics, but what is being said about your brand and institution online need not be a mystery. A good detective cracks a case by listening, observing and trusting his instincts. Today's digital sleuth needs to listen and observe, but also connect with the community to protect his brand.

Acknowledgements

From the Canadian Heritage Information Network: Louise Filiatrault, Madeleine Lafaille, Dany Vallerand, Thierry Arsenault, Martine Lachance, Denis Tsui, David Hendricks, Denise Sirois, François Gadbois.

From the Bralorne Museum: Cara DeMare, Sally Bird.

A special thank you to "Detective" Evgeni Balamutenko, NTV Moscow.

References