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By Harald Kraemer, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Since the 1990s, multimedia technology has had a growing impact on communication and education in museums. Museums have spent enormous effort in the production of multimedia applications like CD-i, CD-ROM, websites, kiosk-systems, etc. Nowadays museums are open to any kind of media that the new communication technology has forced them to comply with. Using Multimedia and Social Media-supported technologies, visitors have changed from passive learning customers to active co-authors and consumers.
The Millennial generation in particular, with its narcissistic and event-driven behavior and its expectation of following the latest technology innovations, has led museums into a dependency with unforeseeable consequences. This essay contains aspects of the following questions: Are the multimedia contents, which mostly follow Alfred Barr’s didactic model of the educated consumer and focuses on interpretation, still relevant in view of the changed behavior of the digital born user?
How can museums develop a contemporary education model that strengthens our visitor/user’s ability to critically engage with art and media? In the face of the growing loss of the products of our digital cultural heritage, the question remains how can we ensure that future generations will have access to the hypermedia applications created by museums, and that we will not lose these interactive masterpieces, as it is happening right now with the first generation of multimedia classics? Last not least the inglorious end of the NMC raises the question of who now evaluates and recommends the technologies that will have to be used in museums in the future.