Start. Somewhere. Anywhere. Just, as Mr Gilmore advised, ‘do it.’
Or… watch videos of designers struggling to sum up diverse approaches in pithy statements.
Much like anything, it isn’t where you start but where or with what you end up.
Smiling communicates a happy state within a human, but sometimes, smiling can induce happiness in a reverse feed sort of way.
Similarly, sketches/prototypes are often and erroneously seen as merely a means of communicating already formed ideas, however, they can also be tools to generate ideas.
During this sketching exercise, at some point, it became clear to me that I wanted to flip the relationship (no pun intended) between Museum and viewer/user. Typically, Museums do the curating and the visitor does the learning, appreciating…viewing.
What if that relationship isn’t completely flipped, at least not yet, but instead, the viewer is given access to the archive and can create connections between objects based on their reading of the objects and the meaning they see within these. These could be based on my nerd-like knowledge of the history of lawnmowers, or a collection of images to tell a story to a loved one. Both are true, There is no absolute truth; if an object has genuine meaning to me in a certain way, then that is a genuine truth. Michelle Hartney does some interesting work where her re-writing and designing of the didactics, info-cards, and audio tours that then become her art pieces and serves as attempts at giving a different viewpoint or alternate reading of an object or painting.
Vladimir Putin recently requested a separate Russian Encyclopedia instead of Wikipedia. While crowdsourced information certainly has problems, they are not as dangerous as the stories resting with one singular entity.
When Betty Crocker first introduced cake mixes, they were not a success as it was deemed too easy. Users felt no ownership over the final product. However, when they took out the dried egg and made their customers buy and mix an egg into the packet, it became successful. Similarly, as easy as Ikea furniture is to assemble, most owners admit to a deeper connection to something that they built. the Science Museum could take advantage of this, engage the viewer and give them the feeling of ownership over a collection of historic products.
Thus, instead of hiring a Google contraption to come in and scan your museum and archive like some latter-day digital John ‘The Cat’ Robie digitally acquiring the power of narrative over culture and owning your work by digital default, let the users, the people curate or tell the stories of the objects. Instead of a centralised network or archive, why not decentralise the network and have the users actively engaged in its curation rather than being passive viewers. The individual connections and stories could then feedback to a constantly in-flux interactive murmuration of data.
In the below mock-up, each cube would represent an object and the line its connection to another. They would move based on inputs from users around the world who would have individual local access to their own personal connections which would feed into a larger flock. Ideally, this display would be interactive with visitors (online or in-person) being able to access the information via touch.
Not unlike individuals building a family tree that then can link up to other family trees that have been created. I would actually go further and encourage The Science Museum to periodically seek out the less represented to tell their stories. Like Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons. A display like this could have filters built into it. Which in turn could be used for marketing purposes, not unlike celebrities on ‘Who Do You Think You Are…hmm, on second thoughts, maybe not.
One thing I am trying to avoid is a search box, I have yet to solve it, and may still make an appearance, but voice commands, location, or arbitrary selections, or a slot/fruit machine-like game could make a search box not redundant but also not necessary.
Creating verified (how?) connections could also be rewarded with points, with betweens found between lesser connected objects garnering more points; a quasi combination of Google Whack and Waze.
Why have physical objects at all?
A later phase could see the addition of virtual (photographed) objects via the users to create/curate a selection more representative of the population
culminate in a physical representation of data and connections collected
Find as many connections as you can