6 November 2006

The People will be heard: Interactive technology in public spaces

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AllOfUs kiosk
“In their efforts to compete with other and more dynamic providers of information and entertainment, many museums are listening to their visitors more closely than ever before,” writes Jennifer Kabat in a long story on the website of the Adobe Design Center.

“In some cases museums—famously top-down institutions—are even incorporating the views, critical choices and contributed content of visitors into their programs. They are also re-examining the ways in which visitors interact with objects and spaces, as well as each other. For help with both of these approaches they are turning to a growing sector of the interactive design world; one that specializes in interactive museum displays.”

“Thus, the best interactive exhibits are open-ended. They encourage visitors to be active participants in the experience rather than passive consumers of information. They take their visitors’ views seriously and break down the hierarchy of institutions.”

Acknowledging the debate (“The idea of the audience taking control sends shivers down many a curator’s spine”), Kabat provides some very good examples of thoughtful integration of user-generated content in museum and exhibition contexts.

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