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Selecting a topic and title. H818 Activity 3.1.

Fig.1. Listening to a memorable and evocative ‘visitor audio tour’ on Alcatraz. Away from the bustle of people, by a nature reserve for nesting gannets. 

1) Theme and Format. Presentation of a multimedia model, QStream, for use before, during and after a trip that might be to a museum, historic property or battlefield.

2) With the centenary of the First World War upon us I would like to find ways to enhance the visitor experience, perhaps for those with a GCSE or A’Level, or an undergraduate interest rather than for the general public. Ideally there would be options to select a level of interest and previous understanding.

3) For this audience Secondary or Tertiary audiences will be of most interest. Perhaps even promoting an MA course for graduate Historians?

4) I have had an interest in QStream for a couple of years and developed a proposal for its use with patients with chronic illness. This is an alternative, though equally valid use for the platform. My only variation on this would be to include an audio component, and/or to track visitors so that content might be tailor to and for them.

5) How an App that spaces learning over a period of weeks and months can support the experience of visiting a museum, historic property or battlefield.

How an App is able to create a personalised experience for a visitor to a museum, historic property or battlefield that enhances the learning experience without distracting from the artefacts or the place itself, in other words, in compliments and augments the experience created by the visitor on their trip.

6) Already familiar with QStream (aka Spaced-Ed) I checked on latest papers and developments. I searched ‘museum’, ‘augmented’ and ‘elearning’ and from a selection of around 12 papers have thus far read, in depth, two of these as well as a couple of commercial conference presentations of a museum platform.  Based on this the idea is shifting towards headphones tracked in a space feeding a bespoke sound landscape and commentary based on where a person is and their observed and apparent behaviour. One platform avoided the need for any input by the user, though for my purposes GCSE (Key Stage X), A’leve (Key Stage Y) or Undergraduate, even Graduate is considered necessary so that you compliment the person’s necessary learning experience.

7) My literature research approach can always be refined, having completed H809 Research-based practices in online learning I feel competent to conduct a thorough search.

8) One glitch was to in error delete a folder in RefWorks rather than create a bibliography. There was no back button to undo. I make look at purchasing a commercial referencing tool such as EndNote. Having always felt that online learning was a process I felt the need to have a subject specialism too, for this reason I am taking a Masters degree in British First World War studies with the University of Birmingham. This is a very different experience. A monthly day of lectures/tutorial, a reading list with books to find from a regional university library, and an online platform that makes the OU VLE look like Whisley to Bham’s assorted allotments under the railway bridge! But you do get to meet fellow students and librarians.

9) Audio, without visuals, feelslike harking back to audioguides of the 1980s and 1990s, yet today, with GPS and other sophisticated tracking devices a visitor experience can be situated, to the spot, personalised to the individual, and still be evocative through ‘painting pictures’ in the mind without distracting from artefacts museum curators have so carefully chosen. A recent experience visiting Alcatraz, for all its Disneyfication and complimentary wildlife sanctuary cum Native American protest camp, included what I would describe as a BBC Radio 4 docudrama that was intelligent, moving an engaging – a blend of officer, prisoner and officer family oral memoir and soundscape. However, it did rely on the visitor being in the right spot when the audio was played so that very quickly, taking my own route around the island, I found the content in my head at odds, in an interesting way, with what I was looking at: gannets nesting on an old basketball yard (making it akin to a visit to the Farne Islands or the Bass Rock, also an old prison) while in the distance multimillion dollar multi-hull yachts raced the America’s cup.

On Reflection

The experience of Alcatraz would be extended if I had this audio-tour still to listen to repeatedly, to read as a transcript and then to find links for my own research. Having circumvented the regular tour I nearly found myself embarking with the headphones still plugged in … I’m like the characters in ‘Jurassic Park’, I soon tire of someone else’s plot and create my own journey.  It gave new meaning to the ‘birdman’ of Alcatraz, for example. And I can see why Clint Eastwood would never have made it to land … you’d be washed out into the Pacific.

How can the gallery or museum visit be personalised and augmented to make first impressions last?

Fig.1. Miro – Barcelona

A lifelong love in art galleries yet I still feel unmoved (most of the time) by galleries and museums, possibly because I expect the gentle, guiding voice of my late mother at my shoulder (artist, art historian, Mum).

What could be a more personalised visit than to have someone who knows you so well point things out, guide you to things that will interest or irritate, then offer an insight – invariably linked to ‘what do you do next?’ i.e. look, learn then apply.

I take heart from the exceptions, only two visits I can think of though:

‘In Flanders Fields’ – you need a day to yourself to take this in. The most shocking moment entering a funnel like fixture, looking around then twisting your head up to see sets of photographs of mutilated combatants. It put your physically in a demanding postion to view them. Then the multi-media displays, not just actors giving accounts, but the ultimate before and after shots of places using satelitte images and old aerial photos.

‘Alcatraz’ – on many levels the visit irritated me, partly the Disneyfication and advance booking, then the many layers of the islands as bird sanctuary, prison and Native American conquest. What impressed though was the brilliant audio guide – BBC at its very best might be the way to describe it. Very carefully and sensitively juxtapositioning of interviews with former inmates, guards, and family members of guards/governor which between them created a sense or atmosphere of the place like some kind of hideous monastic retreat.

So how do we ‘recreate’ battlefields” We have the 750th of the Battle of Lewes here in East Sussex next year, as well as us all having five or more years of the run up to, the war and aftermath of 1914-1918.

The opportunity exists to use smart devices to give visitors and pilgrims an enhanced, personalised and lasting memory of these places – but how?

The limiting experience of the museum visit unleashed

A lifelong love in art galleries yet I still feel unmoved by galleries and museums, possibly because I expect the gentle, guiding voice of my late mother at my shoulder (artist, art historian, Mum).

What could be a more personalised visit than to have someone who knows you so well point things out, guide you to things that will interest or irritate, then offer an insight – invariably linked to ‘what do you do next?’ i.e. look, learn then apply.

 

Knowledge through objects

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Elias Asmole believed that knowlege could be gained through the study of objects and so gave his collection to start a museum in Oxford in 1677. When students got tired of wordsin the myriad of libraries acorss the city they could come here.

I need a few days in the Ashmolean and a few weeks to savour it, helped by a hundred ‘grabs’ with the iPad as I went around. Visitors were asked to name the 20 things to see if you had little time – I’d go for the maps and timelines and collections such as these that cover nearly 1500 years in a few coins and notes. Here an Anglo Saxon, then a Mercian Penny. Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror and Edward III. Henry VII, Edward IV and Elizabeth I.

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Inspiration

 

Fig.1. Inspiration courtesy of a pad of cartridge paper, the Royal Academy of Arts, designers in residence at the Design Museum, Mirrielees on Story Writing and Robert Gagne‘s ‘The Conditions of Learning’. There’s a guitar by the desk and a set of 6B pencils and a putty rubber out of vision.

For moments when the Muse calls … and when she doesn’t.

The cartridge paper and guitar would be on my Desert Island.

 

What is curation in our Web 2.0 world?



Fig.1. Apples from the Barton Orchard

First of all understand the derivation of curation from the Italian and pick not ‘caring’ for, as in caring in the medical sense for a person, but ‘curato’ – the cared for. Curation used to require a critical process – a curator in the critical sense, would decide at an intellectual level what a theme or a journey should be. Curation is also a process, a collection of choices and acts.

How does curation of art, or of artefacts in a museum compare to the way we have hijacked the term to describe what is done online where someone (are they ever a team?) make choices regarding the aggregation of content on a theme, with an audience or users in mind. At what point does this curation become marketing, or editing or re-blogging rather than this intellectual act where the value you add are the choices you make about what to put in and what to leave out?

And surely curation is diluted even further if a clever piece of software, because of feeds you suggest, words you put in or boxes you tick comes up with the content for you?

Wikipedia Definition : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curator

Digital Curation : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_curation

Why is curation online so different to curation in a museum?

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Fig. 1 The curator and team behind ‘Digital Memory’ at the Design Museum

This is what curation means to me – a team working collaboratively to meet a brief – here to interpret ‘digital memory’ with sponsorship and a bag of crystals from Swarovski.

Ironically the curator for this gallery achieves what auto-curation tools can never do online – collaborate. While it is likely that it is the curated content online that is forvever changing while the stuff in the gallery is fixed.


Fig.2. Is this what a memory looks like?

Fig.3. Or does memory look like this? Unfamiliar Mass by Hye-Yeon Park

Fig.4. Or this? Hardcoded Memory by Troika

Fig.5. Or even this? Thought Cloud by Marten Baas

Collector is another word for it – weren’t the first ‘collections’ just that? Indulgent, expensive and showing off. And were they a curator or collector if they hoarded animal heads, bird’s eggs or insects? In fact, des the curation start the day a professional steps in and to warrant sponsorship or a grant to put someof this stuff on display?

The Design Museum 2012

Fig.1. Lawrence Lek at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London.

Seen it once, then again with my 14 year old son – and for a third time with my 16 year old daughter next week. Potentially with other members of our extended family and friends too. I should have bought a season ticket.

The Design Museum is unique – I spent time with EVERY exhibit. I need a couple of hours every day over ten days. That’s how much it resonates with me – the stories, the process, the end result.

There are three galleries:

FIRST FLOOR

Fig.2. Jessica Ennis takes the stairs to the first floor seven at a time

Innovation in Sport – design with a bias towards the Olympics and Paralympics, with Formal 1, Le Mans, hand-gliding, surfind and a few other sports too. Sixteen sports people silhouettes on the walls in the stairwell – how do you physically match up to Jessica Ennis, Messi, Phelps or Sharapova?

SECOND FLOOR

Fig. 3. A 3d rendering of a crystal whose shape is formed by your presence and movement (courtesy of a Konex device and a laser)

Digital Memory – a dozen designers, architects and conceptual artists play with Swarovski crystal to express what memory is. Most mind blowing, all beautifully displayed with headsets explaining what is going on in the artist’s words and other interactive screens – and ‘augmented’ content from wif-fi and 3g.

SECOND FLOOR – SECOND GALLERY

Fig. 4. Yuri Suzuki at the Design Museum

Designers in Residence – six young innovators set a brief, there journey of discovery, experiment and creation lovingly recreated with video, artefacts, audio and displays – and a take-away booklet.

With half-term upon us where do you recommend taking children, young adults and their friends? How does this change if you are their grandparent or parent of a friend? Can you cater for them all? What might it cost?

The cost of getting into the Tower of London made my jaw-drop – £23 for an adult? £55 for a family ticket!! I think I’ll leave it for another 1000 years.

The Wellcome Foundation ‘Super Human’ exhibition and other galleries are free (and lunch is great too).

The Design Museum was £11 for an adult, £7 for a student

Where in the world do you go? We all have our favourites.

 

My teenagers curate images on Tumblr, a tumbling riot of choice images grabbed and reblogged into a visual expression of who they aspire to be, or who they are or the people they want to attract.


Fig.1. Head in the clouds

My teenagers curate images on Tumblr, a tumbling riot of choice images grabbed and reblogged into a visual expression of who they aspire to be, or who they are or the people they want to attract.

The museum of the person, for the person rather than a museum by a person for the people.

Perhaps this is the answer – blurring the boundaries between blog, gallery, library and museum we each become the curators of the external expression of the contents of our minds forming in total a waterfall of information and ideas. As a reader, visitor or learner you are the fish swimming in this river, dipping in and out and through it. The space is an interplay between what others contribute and what you elect to tangle with.

Curation is more than aggregating stuff, there is a sense of purpose, a theme, even if it is a current in this river, this torrent, this deluge of information – the content is gathered, and presented in a certain way.

Someone has made choices on the visitor’s behalf. The collection is assembled for a purpose, to change minds, to open heads, to instigate a journey, to act as a catalyst for learning and and the creation of understanding.

Whilst blogging implies creating content or self-publishing, curation is aggregating content by one person for others – going out with a broom to sweep autumn leaves into a pile then picking out the russet red ones. It isn’t publishing either, these leaves are literally individual pages, not entire books, they are, in the parlance ‘bite–sized’ pieces of information.

At what point does it cease to be curation?

The London Underground Lost Property Office is not a curated space – this stuff has been pushed into the space, not pulled. Push or pull are key words when it comes to curation, especially where the curation is prompted by the desire to respond to a problem – such as engaging people to take responsibility for their own learning by providing them with a space with blurred boundaries that will contain, more often than not, objects that satisfy and pique their curiosity in order that they then go on to construct their own understanding.

The curator doesn’t orginating content then?

Tell that to … a History of the World in 100 objects.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/

Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all

Presenter
Curator
Trustee
Visitor
Scholar


Fig.2. An online diary or journal

Over a decade ago, to some a web log and now a blog can embrace curation – 195 posts on blogging and my favourite definition is ‘digital paper‘ – a blog is anything you can do with it.

Curation is perhaps therefore, a digital museum, library or gallery?

By defintion less self–publishing, and more aggregation of the works of others.

 

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