Since our last class meeting, we have begun conducting observations in the MIT museum, looking toward to how museum-goers are interacting with the content already available. As we observe, we are looking to learn more about when/how users engage with interactive components in the museum. Are they talking with others as they do so? Are they making their way through the museum more independently? Are they looking extensively, or quickly moving on? The information that we gather from our observations will hopefully help us consider how we design engagement with our project.
Further, we’ve appreciated the ideas promoted in the readings from Session 14 on storytelling in museum spaces. We’re thinking about the notion of choice that came up in Ferreira’s “Can You Apply Transmedia Storytelling to Museums?” As Lamees noted on GitHub, this reading prompted us to consider how the audience should have choice in how they want to consume museum content, as well as the level of participation they want to have with it. Though we initially thought about ways to provide choice in the options of engagement with our project, this reading as well as the comments from our pitch remind us of the importance of having multiple means of engagement within each device/tablet. This would allow for even more freedom of choice for the visitor. Along with this, the Hollander piece on transmedia storytelling encourages us to consider consistency and coherency between tablets/devices that we create.
From comments from our pitch presentation, there were suggestions of making the text/input/engagement more publicly and prominently displayed (e.g. if a user inputs a word to be added to a word cloud, that word is temporarily projected onto the wall, etc.); different forms of these are definitely things we can consider. One example could be using the white space around the exhibit descriptions within the MIT Museum. The visitors would be prompted to share their feelings in short phrases at the end of the exhibits and their answers would be projected at the start around the description along with others’ responses for newcomers to see. If we do go along that path, there may also be space for the user to be projected as well; what might be the impact of having the user projected on the wall alongside / surrounded by their word they input, before then seeing the word move into and contribute to the word cloud?
Would that make the interaction too central and detract from the exhibit? Is that a point?
For the word cloud, there was some thought on how that may not be engaging or dynamic enough; what if there was a daily / weekly / less-than-all-time word cloud as well as an all-time word cloud, that way it would be likely that everyone would see their contribution in at least one cloud, even if it’s a completely unique contribution.
To the comments on how physical things may be more meaningful than digital because they’re tangible and you can take them home from your visit physically, we could also explore the idea of printing something. However, if the whole interaction / participation is more personally involved (i.e. like if the visitor were to see both themselves and their word projected / their word as part of a word cloud they’re actually contributing to) — the digital means of saving and taking home may be more able to capture the full essence of that, taking advantage of the affordances of digital technologies.
Another suggestion we received from our pitch project was giving the visitor more choice when interacting with the tablets. Initially, we proposed each tablet to consist of a single prompt and activity type. However, someone mentioned that this may be limiting for the visitor. What if they wanted deeper engagement with the given exhibit/display, but were not interested in the particular prompt on the tablet? What if they have thoughts relevant to the exhibition, but are not accommodated by the prompt at hand? One thing we may consider is having the tablet focus on a more broad theme (still related to the exhibit), and include multiple prompts based on that theme for the visitor to choose from. While our group is focusing on prompting as a means of provoking engagement, it may also be interesting to include a section on each tablet that is unprompted and gives the visitor as much flexibility and freedom to engage with the exhibit.