Week 5 – New beginnings

Week 5 – New beginnings

When faced with a choice, there is always the assumption that there is a bad choice and a good choice. luckily we have the insights of practitioners who in a way, and perhaps intentionally, offer opposing and contrasting views. Maybe I should ask Ben what Stuart would say then do the opposite. The truth is probably dependent on the designer.

Torsten from Feld makes a good point, essentially along the lines of ‘the master knows one way to do something, whereas the novice tries many ways and finds new potential solutions’; Luke Veerman from Edenspikerman pushes an alternative approach in that the more you know upfront, the deeper your understanding and conversations with a client can be, while experience will bypass any learning-curve mistakes and lead to better solutions more quickly. In many ways, it doesn’t much matter in my case, as I have no real experience in any of the projects, so in this instance, assuming that after a number of weeks any project will be hard or tedious or start to grate, one might want to choose the one that is of the most interest in the beginning.

I am currently leaning towards the Science Museum brief. partly intuitively, partly as it is the least vague, and partly because it is live and mental health is too close to home(school) right now, which could have also been a reason to work on that.

An initial cursory look indicates that all museums believe that they need to evolve digitally in order to survive, although, survival needs to be qualified as to whether it means in terms of relevance or financial – because digital offers a wider audience but not necessarily a proportional increase in income.

In addition, and with ABSOLUTELY NO real understanding currently, it does feel that every formerly analogue institution is jumping on to technology without specifying the desired outcome or goal. Just because you can digitise something, doesn’t mean you should. It is almost as if during the steam-age all museums wanted to make their collections move with the magical power of steam and white-heat of modern technology

Wellcome Collection – Mindcraft
Clearleft, Beakus, Mike Jay

Influenced by long-form journalism, and more specifically according to Danny Birchall, The New York Times’s Snow Fall, the Wellcome Collection decided to created digital content that was less bite-sized and more in need of digestion. Their goal was to find a new audience – not a digital guide to the existing space and pieces and space, but instead, a digital audience with the ‘same spirit and intelligence that animates the venue,’ Birchall says, he continues ‘We learned a lot of lessons along the way. Perhaps the most important was that to truly free your digital content you have to let go a little. Mindcraft’s chapters are headed up by beautiful collages “mashing up” different digitised images – something that might irritate archival purists.’ 

The online experience lasts about 15 minutes and runs from Mesmer to Freud and deals mainly with the emergence of hypnotism. They hired an author/storyteller Mike jay to create the story which consists of videos, sound and image collages.

Google Arts and Culture e.g. The Frick Collection
Google Arts and Culture

Many Museums seem to be using this Google feature now, consisting essentially of Google’s street view technology it allows a virtual tour of the actual space, which doesn’t work very well on a few levels; it is is hard to just navigate and move around the space mechanically. looking at the art/objects is also quite difficult, there is a ‘handy’ thumbnail below that teleports you directly to a rather strange view of any object. It also does a bad job of relaying any sense of the feeling of the space, the sound, the lighting is perhaps somewhat understandable, the smell, perhaps an example of digital trying to do something that it probably shouldn’t. It is Google Street View it does as much s it can, it is most impressive in its reach, not its experience, this gives the viewer as much of an idea of what a piece of art is or a Museum feels like, as the street view of Blackpool explains an oceanside destination. Having said that, it is still better than before when non-New Yorkers would never be able to even have an idea of what The Frick Collection might look like, Still..for all the effort and time…not sure.

In addition, though, it also has a few stories, when you go to Google’s main Frick site – not sure if that is the correct description really, but the URL firmly puts it in Google’s ownership rather than The Frick’s, which is somewhat disturbing. It’s a bit ‘All your museum base are belong to us’

The Frick has its own and seemingly separate website which includes a different virtual tour which has been designed and built using Drupal, then it also has a digital collection at digitalcollections.frick.org…it perhaps serves best as a good example of what not to do.

Van Gogh Museum

The brief was to ‘Develop a website that supports the mission of the museum – to make the work of Vincent van Gogh and the art of his time accessible for as many people as possible, with the goal to enrich and inspire them.’
Fabrique decided to give the choice between a facilitating and an inspiring part on the museum’s landing page. The facilitating part is information on visiting the museum, the inspiring part is – again – back to stories, in this case, it is called Meet Vincent, a scroll through about his work and influences.

One challenge that the project lead at Fabrique, David van Zeggeren notes was that, ‘one of the hot topics was the About the museum page, which includes information on research, organisation, press and education. With this particular section, there seemed to be a thin line between serving the majority (someone who might know nothing about the museum) and facilitating the minority (someone who knows the museum but wants to find out something specific). We realised that a clear and concise information architecture would give us the opportunity to stick to the concept and please everyone. A museum website is a place where all should be able to find the right inspiration and information.

Moby Dick Project

This Day in History

Drunk Histories

The Pattern








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