Re thinking an annotation tool for Museum Community Created Content


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Re thinking an annotation tool for Museum Community Created Content

  1. 1. RE-THINKING AN ANNOTATIONTOOL FOR MUSEUM COMMUNITY -CREATED CONTENT MARIANA SALGADO, TOMMI JAUHIAINEN AND LILY DIAZ MEDIA LAB- UNIVERSITY OF ART AND DESIGN HELSINKI HÄMEENTIE 135 C-00560- HELSINKI- FINLAND + 358 9 75630 596 + 358 9 75630 555 FAXThe key question of this paper is how to re- that the concept of the map as interface wasdesign a tool for deploying museum community useful; these studies also raised other issuescontent as a means to enhance the visit (questions related to the software, the maps andexperience. During two exhibitions an the installation at the museum) that constituteannotation tool, ImaNote, was used to gather the core material of this paper.and share comments in the exhibition space.This user-centered study of ImaNote gives us the Although this article emphasizes identifyingopportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities for the development of software,possibilities that map annotation tools can have in the context of the museum many other issuesfor the museum community in the specific influence the use and perception of software. Incontext of an exhibition. this study, the concept of the ecology of participation is a way to speak of software,Along with developing an instance of ImaNote installation and the exhibitions’ maps in theirthat would be easier for visitors to use, we relation to the collaborative design processcreated two “maps," as we called the compiled within the museum community in which theyimages based on the layout of the exhibition were conceived. We aim to design user-centeredspaces. These maps worked as an interface software that can motivate visitors and staffbetween visitors, staff, designers and artists, and participation while acknowledging that ImaNotethe displayed objects. The design of these images is only one piece of the ecology ofwas developed according to the possibilities of participation.the instance of ImaNote we were working with.User studies performed at the museum reaffirm 1. INTRODUCTIONEngaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 1
  2. 2. Systems of Representations Research Group groups of the Media Lab at the University of Art and( is undertaking a project related to Design Helsinki.the design and development of an annotation tool: 1.2. THE CONTEXT: TWO PROJECTS IN TWOImaNote ( In 2005, Salgado MUSEUMS IN HELSINKIproposed that the tool could be used to collect and “Conversational Map” (Keskustelukartta) and “Thedisplay visitor- created content in museums. The first Secret Life of Objects” (Esineiden Salatut Elämät) weretrial, “Conversational Map,” made it possible to test the two projects in which visitors’ comments were gatheredhypothesis that visitors’ content could be shared in the and displayed in the museum exhibition and onlinegallery and online to enrich the visit experience and to through ImaNote. In both cases, Salgado designed acompile information about the changes that the software compiled image following the floor plant of the buildingrequired in order to be used to share visitors’ comments and lay out of the exhibition –that is, a map– thatat museums. The experience proved that the map was a visitors could navigate and annotate. The map conceptmeaningful interface by which to comment on the works was chosen to identify and annotate the objectsin an exhibition (Salgado, M and Díaz-Kommonen, L. exhibited. The objects were points for discussion;2006). The concept of a digital board with a map tool as visitors added their comments and, with them, aan interface such as ImaNote, was further developed in rectangle or square to the map. Thus, the conversationthe framework of co-design practices (Salgado et al., had many threads, all based on the objects exhibited.2008). Through these practices, we understood that The non-linearity of the discussion -in comparison with,other members of the museum community such as for example, a weblog, where comments appear oneartists, designers and external researchers have rich after the other- allows for a random exploration withoutmaterial about a given exhibition and, therefore, should clear hierarchies, and this was just what was desired: thebe encouraged to add to this board. Kevin Walker has aim was to open several discussion threads at the samealso observed the benefit of a system that links time through the multiplicity of visitors’ voices and of“curatorial and user-generated content” (Walker, K. the art/design works exhibited. The objects under2008, p. 114) like these maps, which serve as an discussion could be video installations, sculptures,interface between the objects, the visitors and the staff. design pieces, paints, drawings, etc.There were many reasons for choosing ImaNote. First it “Conversational Map” was installed for four days inwas being designed by our research group, therefore it November 2005 as part of the “Young Artists’ Biennale:was possible to contribute to its development. The Small Heaven in Kunsthall.” During those days, asecond reason for choosing ImaNote was that it is number of Biennale-related events and workshops wereflexible in terms of changing pictures (personalized held at the museum. The map was placed in theimages can be uploaded). The third reason was that exhibition without comments previously added, and achanging images does not provoke loosing annotations. design-researcher was there almost the whole time that the stand was open. The participative piece was1.1 THE TOOL presented as a digital guestbook where visitors couldImaNote (Image and Map Annotation Notebook) is a leave comments. The presence of the design researcherweb-based multi-user tool that allows users to display a who told visitors about the project was key tohigh-resolution image or a collection of images online encouraging participation. Forty-four comments wereand add annotations and links to them (Díaz, L., collected, all of them from casual visitors to theTimonen, A. and Reunanen, M. Forthcoming). It is museum, except one from a museum staff member.possible to write annotations related to a certain point or (Salgado, M. and Díaz-Kommonen, L. 2006)area in the image. Using RSS (Really SimpleSyndication), users can keep track of the annotations “The Secret Life of Objects, An Interactive Map ofadded to the image or make links to share the image Finnish Design” was an exhibition at the Designwith others. Museum Helsinki. A stand displaying the map was part of this temporary exhibition (March 18th to June 1st,ImaNote is an Open Source and Free Software released 2008) based on the museum’s permanent collection. Atunder the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) (Raike et the opening, the map contained pre-prepared materialsal., 2008) . It is a Zope product, written in Python. (videos, pictures, music, poems, text comments, etc)Zope1 and ImaNote run on almost all operating systems. collected at workshops and over the course of a weekend when a prototype was tested. There were alsoImaNote was initially created to share cultural heritage texts by the museum’s education team that addedcontent connected to two cartographic specimens: Carta historical context to the design objects. Co-designingMarina and Map of Mexico 1550 (Salgado, M. and this exhibition and the workshops with the museum’sDíaz-Kommonen, L. 2006). Its development was a education team was a means to develop this preparedcollaborative effort involving the Systems of material and to influence digital comments left byRepresentation and the Learning Environments research casual visitors (Salgado et al., 2008). Nobody encouraged the visitors to participate during the exhibition, and the stand itself was not supervised.www.zope.orgEngaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 2
  3. 3. Nonetheless, about one hundred comments were multimodality of visitors’ comments (drawings, poems,collected through the stand. These comments were music, videos, short stories, etc.) shapes the content andprinted during the course of the exhibition and displayed the ways to share it in the gallery space and the Internet.near the objects being discussed. Staff members, Developers of the “Science Buzz” project at the Scienceincluding guards and guides, also left comments on the Museum of Minnesota, (Von Appen, K. Kennedy, B.participatory piece, and used it as part of the and Spadaccini, J. 2006) embodied the scientific personexhibition’s guided tours. The comments gathered were that answers visitors’ questions. Visitors could leave aof a wide variety in terms of the tone, content, and comment or question on-site at the exhibition or onlinetopics that they presented. This is an example of a at a website. The scientist in question was no longer ancomment left by a visitor in the interactive map near an anonymous respondent but a specific person with aart object, “Spider” in the exhibition in Design Museum personality.Helsinki. The Brooklyn Museum in New York (Bernstein, S.“Spiders horror. 2008) has explored many alternatives; one that has been particularly successful was organizing a video Spiders give me the creeps but they also fascinate competition using YouTube as the forum. Visitors mademe…so strange that I fear them but at the same time I and uploaded videos based on the content of theirwant to look at them closely… I guess fear and exhibitions.admiration go hand in hand?!” Comment Another related example is “The World Beach Project,”(Figure1: Comment by a visitor (The Secret Life of developed by the Victoria and Albert Museum inObjects, an Interative Map of Finnish Design)) London. Here, visitors are invited to leave photographs of artwork they themselves have made with stones at the beach. To encourage participation, clear instructions about what materials to send are provided, and an artist curates the online exhibition. The exhibition is impressive both in terms of the variety and the quality of materials. The project also uses Google maps to navigate a map of the world so that visitors can choose the beach where their work belonged. Visitors’ voices in this case take the shape of photographs and comments about their own work, now virtually placed on different beaches around the world. (The project is online: beach/map_gallery/index.php Consulted on 31.01.09). Currently, there is increasing discussion of the role of participatory content in the museum experience (Bernstein, S. 2008; Fisher M., Twist-Garrity, B. and Sastre, A. 2008; Mc Lean, K. 2007; Samis, P. 2008; Salgado et al, 2008; Simon, N. 2007; Von Appen, Kennedy, B. and Spadaccini, J. 2006; Walker, 2008). Some museums are courageous enough to open up an exhibition’s overall message by giving a voice to other1.3 PARTICIPATORY CONTENT: COMMENTS members of the community. In these museums,FROM THE MUSEUM COMMUNITY community participation in the form of digitalThere are many ways to participate in a museum visit comments is desired, encouraged and then displayed asexperience. In the case of these projects, the part of the exhibition. Participation is something thatparticipation takes the form of a digital comment left on can be designed and a new practice that challenges thethe map through ImaNote. We decided to call these roles within the community. This is why in our opinioncomments “museum community-generated content” is worthy to observe.because we wanted to emphasize that this content iscreated not only by visitors and museum staff in a broad 2.MAPS OF EXHIBITIONSsense, but also by designers, artists and externalresearchers (Salgado, M. Saad-Sulonen, J. and Díaz, L. During this process we developed two maps as devices2009) In this paper we will call the comments gathered to collect visitors’, staff’s and external collaborators’“community-created content” to emphasize the creative stories, opinions or/and questions related to the objectsaspects of them. on display and to disseminate knowledge about the exhibited work. The images created were informed byDifferent strategies and media are used to encourage the opportunity that the software offers and thevisitors’ participation in museums nowadays. The framework for collaboration proposed by each project as developed in conjunction with the museum staff.Engaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 3
  4. 4. 2.1 FIRST TRIAL: CONVERSATIONAL MAP staff produced previous versions of the map that wereIn the case of Conversational Map, the map was tested on another exhibition at the museum that includeddeveloped after the opening of the exhibition. The some of the objects in this second exhibition. Thecomplete freedom to take pictures of the artworks, development of the prototype was crucial to reaching aselect them and document them in order to produce the common understanding between the team membersmap made production easier and quicker. In one day, (people from Media Lab Helsinki and from thethe photographs were collected and selected. By the museum). There were a total of fifty objects in thefollowing day, the design of the compiled image based exhibition and forty were on the map. The teamon the layout of the exhibition space had been choosing the objects for the exhibition and the mapcompleted as well, though without the collaboration of consisted on five persons from the museum staffthe exhibition designers. The gallery’s two-floor space including a lecturer, a curator, an architect, a workshopwas restricted to a two-dimensional image. All the guide and the museum director. The criteria forpieces in the exhibition were part of the map. (Figure 2: choosing objects was how well they represented aThe Map (Conversational Map)). certain moment in the history of Finnish design, the qualities of the museum’s collection, the particularity of Finnish design in terms of gender (Finland has had both men and women designers from the very beginning of the profession) and the multiplicity of designers’ working skills (Finnish designers have worked in industrial and artistic projects), as well as the materials and production process used. The criteria for choosing the pictures for the map were the availability of permissions and copyrights, the quality of the picture and its ability to display features of the object not evident in the exhibition (for example, The position of the pieces on the map reflected the real its storability or different colors). Different places werespace of the gallery. The fact that the exhibition allocated on the map for rectangles (comments) comingincluded a good deal of video art installations posed a from workshop participants (“Workshops”), fromchallenge to representation on a static image. The educators (“Design History”) and from casual visitorstypography of the map image was the same as the (this section didn’t have a title but contained priortypography of the exhibition. comments from visitors, so it was easy to identify). The aim was to clarify where visitors’ comments on aThe map resulting from the design was useful for certain object would be placed. A series of three mapsvisualizing problems and developing the concept of a with texts in three languages (one for each of thedigital board of comments: it was simple to find a museum’s official languages) was proposed. Hence,certain artwork to comment on and to identify the visitors could navigate the map in Swedish, Finnish orcorrespondence between a given artwork and set of English. The piece was immensely valuable thanks tocomments. In some cases, it was difficult to understand the museum staff’s effort in terms of selecting objectswhere to place the comment. Sometimes there were and creating texts posted on the interactive map. Themany comments about a single piece and too many creation of the interactive map led to major debates andrectangles to allow the viewer to see the artwork conversations between the project’s participants. In theunderneath. Prior collaboration with the artists in the final version, the interactive map showedexhibition and with the museum staff on map content simultaneously materials created by the museum’s staff,would have benefited the quality of the comments. As it workshop participants and casual visitors. (Figure 3:was a first trial, we were not sure how the project should The Map (The Secret Life of Objects)).be introduced and, hence, did not propose such priorcollaboration. Indeed, only when talking to artists andstaff at the exhibition itself did the possibility ofcollaborating arise. At that moment, we encouragedartists to leave comments but they were too busy withthe events at the museum.2.2 SECOND TRIAL: THE SECRET LIFE OF OBJECTSIn the case of “The Secret Life of Objects, AnInteractive Map of Finnish Design,” the map wasdesigned as the exhibition was being developed. On theday of the opening, the two artifacts (exhibition andmap) came together for the first time. During theprototype stage, designers on the team and the museumEngaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 4
  5. 5. 3. DEVELOPING IMANOTE In the previous instance, it was possible to resizeThe goal of the user studies conducted at the museum squares. This action was perceived as difficult, and thewas to observe the interaction with the software and to resulting image was not clear because of the quantity ofanalyze the museum community’s response to the contributions and different sizes of the rectangles on theconcept of a digital board of comments. This section is main map. In the new instance, the size of the squareswritten on the basis of observations made and was preset.interviews held over the course of four days inKunsthall and fifteen days in the Design Museum In the new instance, though casual visitors did not needHelsinki. Videos, audio tracks, photos and notes related to login to add or move a comment, they could not editto the interviews and observations were collected and their own comments afterwards. It was, however,later analyzed. In the case of Conversational Map in possible to add breaks within a sentence. In thisKunsthall, the researcher was at the stand working as a instance, we also included a general help text written infacilitator, helping visitors to login, introducing the three languages. We changed the typography used forproject and observing the difficulties in its use. Several comments and titles to fit with the rest of themodifications to the use of ImaNote were implemented communication material in the exhibition and to beafter these observations. easier to read on a vertical screen.Some persons from the museum staff used ImaNote as a When visitors did not login, leaving a comment wastool for long periods and, therefore, spent more time easier. In the first version, the form had the followinglearning how to use it than a casual museum visitor items: “Title,” “Annotation text,” “URL,” “URL name,”would. Interviews with them were relevant to this study. “URL description,” “URL author,” “Tags,” “Icon,”Several features of ImaNote had to be simplified or “Visible for all” and “Publish to group.” In the seconddisabled for museum visitors in order to highlight version, the form had only: “Title,” “Your comment,”meaningful actions. The instance of ImaNote deployed “Address of your link,” “Name of your link” andat the Design Museum Helsinki had undergone several “Image.”changes. 3.2 INSTALLATION AT THE DESIGN MUSEUM3.1 NEW INSTANCE HELSINKICategories were re-named (“Image” was replaced by The kiosk mode2 for installing ImaNote at a museum“Language” since that category was used to place the must contemplate the possibility of visiting other URLmap in three languages). All the titles of the categories addresses, allowing visitors to input data as well aswere translated into their respective languages. The ways to avoid upgrade notes coming from the browsertitles for the "Language" button were "English," and other software installed in the computer."Svenska" (Swedish) and "Suomi" (Finnish). Because of different problems we decided to restrict the navigation to Firefox. The plasma screens used in theThe vocabulary was changed in order to be more exhibition didn’t have VGA or DVI connectors, soaccessible and coherent with the rest of the exhibition’s analog video connectors had to be used. Due to thiscommunication material. For example, the button connection, the resolution was poor and, hence, long"Annotate" was replaced by "Comment!." “Icon” was comments from the education staff, including links andreplaced by ”Image.” Similarly, "New Annotation Here" pictures, were edited so that they could be displayed.became "New Comment Here." (Figure 4: comment by This problem was noticed only two days before thethe staff (The Secret Life of Objects) exhibition opening, when the plasma screens were installed in the gallery. The aspect ratios of the two screens (computer and plasma screen) were different. The plasma screen was wide screen and the computer was 4:3. The IMac G5 had only clone mode for displaying, which made things difficult. Proper information about screen resolution and connections is crucial before installing the software in the gallery. A high-resolution display with a DVI or VGA connection is recommended. 2 Kiosk mode is a software and user interface software designed for a kiosk or Internet kiosk. It locks down the application in order to protect the kiosk from others uses than desired.Engaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 5
  6. 6. The two-button mouse created problems as the rightbutton opened the browser’s contextual menu which The museum’s education team, designers and somewas not needed for the installation itself. If possible, it visitors appreciated the possibility of collecting andwould be less confusing to install ImaNote with a one- displaying the material from workshops as well asbutton mouse, since ImaNote requires only one button. visitors‘ comments and making them part of the exhibition’s message.In the Design Museum Helsinki, the pre-existingInternet connection was upgraded to achieve better Visitors who had a positive experience with the toolperformance, since the ImaNote-server was situated in described it as “intuitive,” “instinctive,” “simple,” andMedia Lab. In order for the software to run optimally “easy.” In some cases, their positive experience waswith the used map a dedicated connection to the internet also quick: navigating, reading, visiting a link andis needed which is at least 2000 kbps in speed. walking away from the stand all in less than three minutes. In other cases, they spent more time reading comments and navigating the links. Getting over3.3 OBSERVING AND INTERVIEWING IN THE DESIGN mishaps was relatively easy, and visitors could get backMUSEUM HELSINKI to the map navigation when they opened the form forThere was no selection criterion regarding which leaving comments by mistake. Visitors were able tovisitors to be interviewed, since there were not so many understand the overall logic of the maps and to navigatevisitors at the time. Visitors who approached the stand it and find material that captured their interest. Theywere interviewed, as were some who did not approach it noticed a difference between comments from thebut did read the comments on the walls. The interviews museum staff and those from other casual visitors,took place mainly on weekdays. When there were many though in most cases they couldn’t explain what thatvisitors, the ones that had engaged with the interactive difference consisted off. Visitors didn’t use the map formap were prioritized. Most of the interviews were short, playing around. Only in two cases, when children usedas so not to disturb visitors’ museum experience and the tool, were irrelevant messages left. As visitors werethey were debriefed immediately after they had been not encouraged to search for an external link and add itdocumented in a diary. In most cases, the researcher to the comment, they didn’t do so. In Conversationalexplained that she was evaluating the exhibition and Map, the facilitator encouraged visitors to add a link tospecifically the interactive map. support their comment, and they did. Only once did a visitor leave the map site to check his e-mail.Straightforward, simple, casual questions were posed toopen the conversation. When the visitors had not used Visitors deemed real time publication as important.the stand, the questions were: “Do you like the Most of them checked to make sure their comment wasexhibition?” “What do you think of the wall texts?” on the map after they had left it. For some of the visitors“Who do you think has written them?” When they had interviewed, this was the first time that they had postedused the interactive map, the questions were: “What something on the Internet and they were pleasantlycould you do with the map?” What do you think of it?” surprised by how easy it was and by the possibility of“Was it difficult to use?” After using the map, visitors accessing their comment from home. Museum staffwere eager to talk about the experience. Of the visitors trusted that advertising and other undesired commentsinterviewed, twenty-nine were women and nineteen would be identified and deleted quickly, and there wasmen. no in-depth discussion about this problem. Only two advertising comments were posted during the two and a3.4 POSITIVE EXPERIENCE AT THE DESIGN MUSEUM half months of the exhibition, and they were deletedHELSINKI (one was a link to a site that sells prohibited herbs andThe team involved in the installation of the software at the other was a commercial added by a group ofthe museum consisted of three persons: a programmer children in the interviewer’s presence).who implemented the modifications to the previousversion and assisted in the installation, a technicalassistant who installed the software, and the project’s 3.5 IDENTIFYING OPORTUNITIES: CORRECTIONS ANDdesign-researcher. No major problems arose in the use ADDITIONSand implementation of the tool, probably due to the fact Museum staff added the comments made by thethat the group was already familiar with it from the education team to the category “Design History” and,Conversational Map project. It was a pleasant surprise along with the researcher, worked at the stand duringto learn that ImaNote could be used to post visitors’ the weekend the prototype was tested. Thiscommenting for two and a half months without collaboration created dialogue and providedencountering major problems or needing maintenance constructive criticism about the We considered it positive to have the project’sweblog on a different server than the map. This meant Visitors who approached the stand and tried it out werethat the day servers were being updated at the most likely computer literate; otherwise, they wouldUniversity, the stand displayed the project’s weblog. not have come near a computer in a space like aEngaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 6
  7. 7. museum. Some visitors who didn’t approach to stand There is one feature that serves to identify the place of areferred to the installation as “the computer,” suggesting comment on the map: clicking on the title. For example,that the presence of a desktop computer was perceived a visitor might search for a comment using the searchas a threshold. engine and then, from its title, the visitor can find the comment and its position on the map. Some visitorsWhile implementing this tool, we realized the confused the title with an external link. We recommendimportance of being careful with language. For that external links be visually distinguished from linksexample, when we used “New Comment Here,” it was that identify comments on the map.not clear to visitors what they would find when theyselected it: would it be a form for leaving a comment or We should also explore ways to more efficientlya comment to read? Similarly, in the section entitled communicate the possibilities that the software offers to“The name for your link,” some visitors left their own users. For some visitors, it was difficult to identify whatname. to do and how to do it. The computer might offer a quick guide to how to use ImaNote through, forOther issues are cause for further discussion. On the one example, a video screensaver that is interrupted thehand, the fact that the software used text instead of moment someone approaches the stand. One of the“buttons” made it easier to modify the categories, problems identified was that some visitors didn’t movemaking the tool more flexible (one example is replacing the map but just navigated the available comments at“Images” with “Language”). On the other hand, the map the preset zoom level.created for “The Secret Life of Objects” exhibitionintegrated text and images of the exhibition’s objects in Prioritizing comments with external links such as videosorder to clarify the source of the comments. Visitors could be a strategy to attract teens, for example. Thisconfused these texts created with the text of the buttons would make it clear to visitors that they can offerand clicked on the text in the map, trying to find further materials other than text. Young visitors became muchinformation about it. more involved when they noticed the presence of multimedia resources. In only a few cases did visitorsVisitors leaving a comment must be able to replace and find the videos and music on the map; most wentmove their own published comments. Some comments directly to the written comments as they constituted thehad been placed in the wrong location; they were clearly bulk of the material.addressing one object but they were placed in the areadedicated to another. This happened because the visitor It would be advisable to optimize and quickenwas not able to find his or her comment after writing it performance because visitors to museums often comeor, if they managed to find it, they couldn’t move it. from faraway regions and later access the tool from other countries. Another reason is because if visitorsAlthough generally speaking visitors perceived the tool cannot see results quickly, they click everywhere,as intuitive, there were some complaints about making the tool behave awkwardly. Museum staff hascounterintuitive panning options. “You have to move also reported disappointment related to performance: “Ityour hand up when you really want to go down,” one of was too slow.” Speed could be increased by delegatingthe museum guides noticed. Visitors and staff didn’t use more tasks from the server to the museum’s computer.the search engine, but the researcher did. As this feature Another issue is enhancing the tool’s ability to responddid not distract from normal navigation or the use of the to quick and unexpected movements. When panningtool, we suggest leaving it as potentially useful for the quickly, the map lags FUTURE STEPS 4.1 NEW FEATURES OR ACTIONSIn this section, we propose some modifications that New functions worth including are an archive of all thewould improve the software when it is used as an comments, even the ones that have been deleted, withannotation tool for a museum community. After the date in which they were deleted as well as theimplementing the modifications suggested, it would be coordinates of their locations on the map. This way,good to perform usability studies. researchers could track the comments’ movements. We also recommend including an analytic tool that tracksAt the moment, in this instance, new comments are where visitors come from and where comments are left,connected to previous comments which are seen in the how often and for how long they visit the page, etc.back. Visitors could not easily find these prior These materials could later be use for audience research.comments after adding their own, and this createdfrustration. While the discussion needn’t be based on a In the future, we would like to integrate a tool for onlinespecific prior comment, it should make reference to the audiovisual editing that would make it possible toarea in which the comment is placed. In this way, the include other types of ad hoc comments made at thecomments form a two-dimensional space for navigation, gallery into the map. That way, visitors could add videorather than a straight line. or audio input as a way to enter audiovisual comments.Engaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 7
  8. 8. Also, the possibility of using handheld devices to add a work as an entity. The concept of ecology makes itdigital comment to the map needs to be further possible to consider the design process in relation to theexplored. resulting design, since ecology necessarily means something that is modified over time.Should the museum be interested in displaying thecomments left in ImaNote at the exhibition, it would be The term “ecology of participation” comes from thebeneficial to be able to select and print some of these definition of information ecologies proposed by Nardicomments. Printing and screenshot could be integrated and O’Day (Nardi, B. and O’Day, V. 1999). We foundinto ImaNote. this concept interesting because it implies diversity, evolution and a locality, yet it has mostly been used toFor the team involved in implementation at a museum’s analyze larger scale ecologies such as libraries, hospitalsgallery, it would be important to change some features or schools. We proposed the use of the term “ecology offrom source code to a web interface (size of the participation” because they can maintain the focus oncomment, background, color or printing sizes, etc.). For the constituent groups of an ecology that relate to thethe manager of ImaNote, it would be valuable to be able practice of making and publishing digital select and move several notes at one time.Screenshots in which several comments are visible People in an ecology of participation can be describedwould make presentations based on the map’s content according to their role in the team (designer, educator,easier. exhibition architect, etc) or according to their relation to the project in question. Of course, the two parametersIntegration with other language dictionaries would also are related: in designing for museum audiencebe useful (for example, the use of a language participation, educators would likely be more eager torecognition system that could re-place a comment explore this area than others, whose job description hasaccording to language). Visitors did not always realize not historically included the relationship to andthat there were other languages available and placed inclusion of the visitor. The more actors engaged in thetheir comment on the wrong map. Some settings might ecology of participation, the richer and more varied theallow recognition in three predefined languages. In content material gathered.future trials with several languages, we would like toencourage visitors to translate other visitors’ comments. After the experience of co-designing with the educationFor example, the lower part of a comment might read: team at the Design Museum Helsinki (Salgado et al.,“Leave a comment here” or “Translate this comment.” 2008), we recognized the importance of the staff as an active co-author of the design process. In order to createAnother feature to add would be a register of visitors’ design geared towards visitors’ active participation, ithistory viewing the artefact in order to facilitate was necessary to pay special attention to the time andnavigation (marking as seen the comments that have spaces that facilitated the inclusion of the museum’salready been seen, for example). At the moment, all staff members, artists and designers. The developmentcasual museum visitors are seen as only one user, of a workshop that entailed the possibility of displayingbecause we do not required to login. This new feature the material created in the gallery as part of ancould be partly implemented by including time as a exhibition was crucial to motivating the participation offactor. Another issue is that visitors would also casual visitors and staff members. For example, guidesappreciate a positive feedback message after leaving who conducted workshops in the museum were activelytheir comment. Something like, “You have successfully adding comments to the map and encouraging visitors toleft a comment. Thank you.” do so as well. Due to the performance of multiple tasks that working at a small museum often entails, the guides5. ECOLOGY OF PARTICIPATION also worked at the museum’s information desk and as guards. These guides were part of the project from theAlthough in this article the emphasis is on identifying beginning, and they enjoyed seeing that the results ofopportunities for the further development and use of their workshops were displayed in the exhibition space.ImaNote, in the museum context there are many other Guides communicated the possibilities of theissues that might influence the practice itself. In this participative piece to teachers that came with theirstudy, the concept of an ecology of participation is a students, for example, or to casual visitors to theway to understand the specific mechanisms at play in museum. This type of collaboration with differentdesigning for participation in museum communities. members of the staff is crucial to external researchersThe groups involved in an ecology of participation are who often have little direct contact with everydaythe community, the interactive piece (which includes in visitors. (Salgado, M. Saad-Sulonen, J. and Díaz, L.these cases the software, the communication material in 2009)the gallery, the maps, the digital comments and thestand), the place and the practices (such as visiting,shoping, publishing, comenting, etc). For the ecology tocome to life, all of the members of those groups need toEngaging Artifacts 2009 Oslo 8
  9. 9. 6. DISCUSSION obtaining content material, inspiration and feedback.In both of the case studies analyzed in this paper, there These projects proposed a choir of voices: the art/designwere comments that didn’t belong on any pre-defined objects, casual visitors, workshop participants, museumplace on the map, since contributions from visitor and staff, designers/artists and researchers involved in thestaff cannot be anticipated beforehand. How could exhibition. Distinguishing these voices and giving eachImaNote be designed to include “out of place” a role and “place” on the map was part of this work.contributions? There is a limitation inherent to representing a three-Comment management is key to making an installation dimensional exhibition on a two- dimensional map. Itvisible at an exhibition and as part of a museum’s web would useful to assess the need for an annotation toolresources. Our experience was positive, as visitors did that would contemplate three-dimensional interfaces.not add much content that was not related to the We believe that exploration in two- dimensional mapsexhibition. All the content related to the exhibition was could inform further research in 3D environments indisplayed on the map. order to gather and display museum community-created content.We have identified some opportunities that relate to thesettings in the museum. Communication strategies in the In the early 70s, Wittlin identified the need for a changegallery could improve visitors’ engagement with the in the museum “from an emphasis on hardware to anmap. For example, attractive cards that give more emphasis on software.” (Wittlin, A. 1970) In ourinformation about the project and promote online use opinion, both have to be taken into account, as does theafter the museum visit might work better than fliers. ecology of participation. User studies conducted onFriendly stands with cozy corners that are embedded these two projects helped us to understand thesmoothly in the space are a way to engage new visitors participative pieces in terms of their situation andwho might not be eager to approach computers. In the context, reconsidering the whole ecology. We aim tofuture, immersive technology will allow these design software that motivates community participationexplorations. Although we initially proposed an while acknowledging that ImaNote is only one piece ofinstallation that would not involve a desktop computer that ecology. Therefore, in designing a tool forconfiguration, the solution presented was due to the deploying community-created content it is necessary toproblems faced during the installation process. focus on the whole ecology of participation, a concept that clarifies the scale and the relations of the groupsAlthough neither ImaNote nor the stand was involved. While trying to listen to and learn from theintentionally designed for children or group use, this collaboration with visitors, staff, artists and designers,ended up happening. Children eagerly approach new the question becomes how to design this, and they bring adults with them. Childrenalso dictated comments that adults typed into the map. AcknowledgementsGroups of different configurations and sizes approached First of all, we would like to thank our colleague,the stand and discussed what to add to the map, or how Andrea Botero, for offering us the possibility ofto navigate it. Neither of the stands facilitated group working with the Design Museum Helsinki. Second,work. Having only one keyboard to enter text or to thanks to Diana DeSousa, with whom we designed theaccess the computer did not encourage group map for “The Secret Life of Objects” and who did allexploration. This is unfortunate, especially considering the videos that could be found through the map. Third,that ImaNote can be used by many users at a time. thanks to the staff of the Design Museum Helsinki,Lehn, Health and Hindmarsh have also suggested that which gave important criticism and commentssocial interaction should inform design as the museum throughout the whole process, especially to Leenavisit is essentially a social activity (Lehn, D., Heath, C. Svinhufvud and Hanna Kapanen. Fourth, thanks toand Hindmarsh, J. 2001). According to our Teemu Leinonen, Anna Salmi, Vennu Nivanen, Mikkoobservations, though these museums are not geared Laitinen, Matti Luhtala, Timo Laine, Ilpo Kari, Markkutowards children, their presence should also be taken Reunanen who helped and supported us in theseinto consideration in designing the software, the stand projects. Last but not least, I wish to thank theand the content material. We believe that there is a programmer in our team: Atte Timonen.valuable niche to explore through participatory piecesthat facilitate intergenerational dialogue. References:Based on the experience in these two cases, we Bernstein, S. 2008, “Where Do We Go From Here?recommend collaborating with the museum staff in Continuing with Web 2.0 at the Brooklyn Museum”. Inbuilding the artifact, in these cases, the map. The image J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Webused to display the multiplicity of visitors’ voices 2008: Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics,should be the result of the range of voices that coexist atthe museum. In our case, the collaboration with guides, published March 31, 2008 atcurators, the education team and guards was key to Artifacts 2009 Oslo 9
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