Friday, June 7, 2013

Is This Tech Necessary?

I often have a fraught relationship with how technology, especially digital technology, gets used in museum exhibits. The devices we choose so often seem to overpower the messages they are presenting.

I've been thinking about technology and museum visitor experiences a lot lately, since I'm an advisor on a project funded by the National Science Foundation called HCI+ISE.  The acronym stands for Human Computer Interaction in Informal Science Education.

Next week,  HCI+ISE will hold a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico that will bring together 60 museum exhibit designers and developers, learning researchers, and technology industry professionals to explore the potential impact of new HCI technologies in ISE settings. The conference will explore the balance between exhibit technology and the visitor experience.  I'm really looking forward to some meaty conversations! (Which I certainly will report back on in a future ExhibiTricks post.)

As I've been preparing for the HCI+ISE Conference, two previous ExhibiTricks posts kept bubbling up in my mind.  The first, Are Screens Killing Museums? continues to generate lots of passionate responses from people (in fact, it's still my only post that generated hate mail!) but I think the issues inside are still worth thinking about.

The second, Screened Out: Preferences for Technology in Museums reports on research that wrestles with whether museum visitors are as entranced by technology as we think they are.

I'm sure these (and many other!) tech-related topics will come up in Albuquerque, so stay tuned for updates here on the blog or on my Twitter feed (@museum_exhibits)

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