Exploring the Potential of Digital Lables


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Exploring the potential of interactive digital labels. We will present a case study of a project in the new IWM ‘A Family at War’ exhibition which uses digital touchscreens, mobile interpretation and an online presence to encourage audience interaction and debate. The project raises issues about incorporating visitor interpretations into object labels, curator moderation, multiple interpretations of objects, sharing message making with visitors and taking new approaches to exploring sensitive subjects. The speakers are particularly interested in hearing the delegates’ response to the project and its aims.

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  • Claire What is social interpretation?
  • ClaireIt already happens.Museums traditionally bad at capturing and representing it. A bit like shouting something provocative in someone’s face then running away.It’s becoming expected – users are expecting the same levels of social interaction in their daily lives as they find on-line.What if we take cues from best online interactions and apply them across a museum’s setting?
  • Claire Explicit aim is engagement and spreadSpread to others, and to other parts of a user’s lifeEngagement with each other, with object, with collection
  • ClaireWhat does this look like?3 Applications – minimum to link everyoneAll 3 enable the same interaction: consume, debate, collect, share
  • ClaireIf successful, spread and engagement follow
  • ClaireDoing so will force museums to come to terms with a number of things:Moderation and social contractsRebalancing audience / authority
  • ClaireThe purpose being that social Interpretation changes the dynamic between curators and visitors. Visitors are encouraged to make their own interpretation of object. Because working, together we win…
  • JaneWe have implemented social moderation in the newly opened Family in Wartime Gallery at IWM London.
  • Jane
  • JaneMuseums have objects....and visitorsVisitors alreadyshare things they like on their social networksWe wanted them to share what they thought about IWM objects, from the galley, from their mobile phones and on the web
  • JaneGet people thinking, provoke an opinion and then let them read on if they chooseIWM visitors are label readersChatty tone
  • ClaireParticipationMultiple interpretationsRadical trust - promoting institutional change on authority
  • Claire
  • JaneQR Codes,Fussy design,Mixed media, Objects aligned to text, too much text
  • JaneStakeholders – get them to buy in asapwifidigitisationconsistent and signposted digital policy - photography and T&c's. 
  • JaneKnow the state of your digital assets before you start a digital projectPlan time for writing bespoke content – the more targeted your content the more likely it is to elicit a responseA picture is worth a thousand words – V2
  • Jane
  • JaneWhat is it you want from digital labels? What does digital add? Question the decision because digital can be expensive, it needs up front development and on going maintenance.It can be a barrier to engagement for some sectors of your audience.
  • Jane
  • ClaireBut what if you don’t have the budget of a National Museum?The QRator project explores how interactive digital labels can create new models for public engagement, visitors meaning making and the construction of multiple interpretations inside museums.
  • ClaireThe Grant Museum of ZoologySmall BudgetQuick turnaround
  • Claire10 ipads in the Grant, each asking a provocative question about natural science, zoology and museum practice. Visitors can respond to the cureent questions posed by the museum. Their interpretation becomes part of the display directly next to the museum objects in real time.
  • ClaireVisitor and content driven, not technology driven
  • Claire
  • Exploring the Potential of Digital Lables

    1. 1. Exploring the potential of interactive digital labelsVisitor voices, moderation and social interpretation Image: IWM Malindine E G (Lt) Cat no. TR 455
    2. 2. What is social interpretation?
    3. 3. Image: EPH 3268 Image: D 12847
    4. 4. Image: Art.IWM PST 8363
    5. 5. What SI does is change the dynamic between curators and visitors
    6. 6. How we did it at IWM
    7. 7. Give them something to talk about..
    8. 8. Title prompt: Is it a crime to be wasteful in a time of war?Object title: Squander Bug Air Rifle Target, EPH 4611Initial prompt: Propaganda is designed to make you behave in a certain way. Do you know when you are beingmanipulated?Extended text:This strange-looking creature was designed to make you think twice and feel guilty about spending money onthings you did not really need.The Squander Bug was a wartime cartoon character intended to discourage waste and over-spending. A hairy,evil-looking character, covered in swastikas and with a forked tail and a certain facial similarity to Hitler, theSquander Bug was created by illustrator Phillip Boydell, who worked for the National Savings Committee.From 1943 the Squander Bug featured heavily in the National Savings Committee’s poster campaigns. He wasoften shown whispering into shoppers’ ears, trying to persuade them to spend their money on luxuries andfrivolous purchases, rather than saving their money or investing in National Savings Certificates.The government wanted people to save their money rather than spend it on consumer goods, as this wouldhelp to keep inflation levels down. Higher inflation would make all of the materials which the country had tobuy to fight the war (suggest adding an example here as it’s not too clear, so ‘such as ...’) much more expensive.By 1943 there were nearly 300,000 savings groups in Britain and individuals were saving approximately aquarter of their disposable incomes. However, the popularity of saving was not only due to governmentcampaigns. Rationing and restrictions on the production of luxury goods meant that there were far less thingsin the shops for people to buy!
    9. 9. What works?• Planning it in• Make it easy to use• Tell your staff• Gardening
    10. 10. What didn’t work?
    11. 11. The challenges at IWM• Stakeholder buy in• Post-moderation is still scary• Expensive• Digital barriers• School groups• Tech issues
    12. 12. ..and content
    13. 13. Does it have to be digital?
    14. 14. Things to think about• Why digital?• Its not about the technology its about the experience• Cost benefit analysis• Know your visitors
    15. 15. The simple things..
    16. 16. Those Hints and Tips Again• Keep it simple• Know your visitors• Its only as good as the content you have.• Its not about the technology its about the experience
    17. 17. Jane Audasjane@janeaudas.com@ShelfappealClaire Rossclaire.ross@ucl.ac.uk@claireyross Image: www.shelfappeal.com