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Jan 29th 2013

AOL Artists Announces Their Third Guest Curator

We are thrilled to welcome long-time friend of the program and award-winning filmmaker, Daniel Stedman, to the AOL Artists Guest Curator series! His collection of canvases on the AOL Artists site features work from artists Cate Parr, Dave White, Matt Moore, Megan Whitmarsh and Tim Gough.

In addition to being an AOL Artists guest curator, Daniel Stedman is also the founder of The Northside Media Group, which publishes Brooklyn Magazine, The L Magazine, BAMbill, and organizes the Northside Festival, SummerScreen in McCarren Park, Taste Talks and Northside Creative Group. Daniel can also add award-winning filmmaker to his resume with ten short films under his belt, including "Celebration," which won the Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The AOL Artists Guest Curator program rotates on a monthly basis and invites influencers working in the arts to curate a collection of existing AOL canvases, lend their voice to our Tumblr page and takeover the AOL Artists Twitter account. Past curators have included Annie Werner, Arts Evangelist for Tumblr, and Kathleen Massara, editor for HuffPost Arts.

To view Daniel Stedman's collection and the rest of the guest curator series visit the AOL Artists site!

Nov 14th 2012

AOL Artists Kicks Off Guest Curator Program with Annie Werner of Tumblr

On November 14th, AOL Artists will kick off their new Guest Curator program with Annie Werner of Tumblr. Annie will curate a permanent collection of existing AOL canvases, lend a voice to the AOL Artists Tumblr, takeover the AOL Artists Twitter for a day, and more. The new Guest Curator program will rotate on a monthly basis, featuring leaders in art and technology.

Annie Werner runs the Arts Outreach program at Tumblr and Tumblr Open Arts. Her collection of AOL canvases will feature the work of a number of artists, including Mike Perry, Tomokazu Matsuyama, and Aakash Nihilani.

"We at Tumblr are committed to helping artists thrive online, and I'm excited to partner with AOL Artists, an incredible platform for just that," says Annie Werner.

The AOL Artists program utilizes technology to make art accessible to a wide audience. Through collaborations with over 110 artists from around the world, AOL has released over 260 original works of art, in a variety of mediums, for AOL's users. Aside from commissioning, the programs involvement in the community continues to grow. From public art installations and murals, to grants and conferences, AOL Artists is dedicated to supporting creativity in every form.

We are thrilled to kick off this program with Annie. Her understanding of art within the digital sphere and it's power to engage communities will bring an exciting voice to the AOL Artists audience.

Sep 24th 2012

AOL Artists is Featured on Tumblr's Blog Spotlight

After the recent relaunch of AOLArtists.com, the Tumblr community invited the site to become a featured blog in the Art section of its new Blog Spotlight. Other featured blogs include The Whitney Museum of American Art, Creative Time, SFMoMA, and more. So far, we've made a lot of new friends with a 375 percent boost in new followers.

AOLArtists.com relaunched this past Wednesday with a new design, offering increased interactivity and a more intuitive user experience. The new site prominently displays posts from the AOL Artists Twitter and Tumblr directly on the homepage, enticing visitors to engage with AOL Artists socially.

What is "AOL Artists"? The AOL Artists program collaborates with creatives from around the world to create original works of art for AOL. Aimed at making art accessible to a wide audience, the program's involvement in the creative community extends beyond traditional commissioning. Public art installations, charitable murals, grants, conferences, and media coverage for local artists and art communities have been powerful extensions of the program and AOL's support of the arts.

Interested in learning more? Check out AOLArtist.com's Tumblr, visit AOLArtists.com, or follow @AOLArtists on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you!

Mar 1st 2012

Talking Community with Justin Isaf, Huffington Post Community Manager

On Justin Isaf's first day at the Huffington Post, the reality of living under AOL's roof became an actuality- literally. Justin's first day aligned with the official move of The Huffington Post to the 770 Broadway offices of AOL. Staking a small cluster of desks in the sprawling newsroom on the 5th floor - Justin got right to work.

As Community Manager for the Huffington Post Media Group, Justin has one of the most challenging jobs online - leading the team responsible for cultivating the Huffington Post commenter communities. In fact, the Huffington Post generated over 50 million comments last year alone.

"I fell right in the middle of the acquisition. But since we had dedicated developers, design and management resources, it was an easy transition because we just got down to work. Since then, we're approaching 100% growth in comment volume," said Isaf, a ten year veteran of the community management space, most recently at change.org, before his move to The Huffington Post.

"The Huffington Post is the place for people to come to talk about anything in the news. Our goal is to ensure a safe space for people to comment. We have a quality standard that we hold comments to through moderation. But moderation is like roads, necessary, but not sufficient (and certainly not sexy) to growing a good community, so we do a lot more on top of that as well."

Managing a community of this size and scale can present a unique set of challenges. So can merging the commenter communities of two traditionally very different brands and audiences.

"There is one rule in community, don't talk about religion or politics, and at Huffington Post we do both heavily. As Huffington Post, being bought by AOL, politics is an especially contentious issue. The visitors have opposing view points, and very adamant ones at that. It's been a big challenge to manage. Combine that with global expansion, comments in other languages and it's easy to say growth has been 'interesting'." Justin and his team are also focusing on nurturing the smaller communities at HuffPost and they are looking for two more community managers to help curate these audiences.

Isaf's favorite thing about working at AOL is their "willingness to put resources where their mouth is; putting tech time in, and allowing the entire team to push the boundaries of community at scale. I get to play around with a lot of stuff I normally wouldn't be able to try at another company."

When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Isaf immediately cited his team. "I'm so proud of what we've done inside the moderation team. It's a family of people who go to bat for each other, which has enabled us to scale up quickly and results in increased capacity, accuracy, speed, retention - and happiness."

Isaf believes the future of social and community is user led and curated verticals. "If you like fly fishing news, you should be able to comment, aggregate and link out through The Huffington Post."

"I see Twitter losing ground, because its all about me listening about what you want me to hear, instead of listening what I want to hear; There will be a move towards networks and sites that help you listen to information at the scale of Twitter, but filtered for your interests, instead of your connections."

In terms of the future of our profession, Isaf was clear, "We will see an increase in separation of job titles for social media managers and community managers. More people are starting to understand that a social media manager is not a community manager. They are very different skill sets, and businesses will start to realize that. A social media manager's job is talking to as many people as possible - a community manager's job is to get as many people talking to each other as possible."

And what's next for Justin? He is focusing on how to increase network density in communities at scale and trying to figure out ways to apply the team's knowledge of community and the tech that powers it to new products and services.

And sleep. Lots of sleep.

Follow Justin on Twitter at @justinisaf.

(Photo courtesy of Justin Isaf)

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