When ploughing through the M&W2007 papers (more are still going up), pay particular attention to Do You Know Who Your Users Are? The Role Of Research In Redesigning sfmoma.org by Dana Mitroff and Katrina Alcorn from SFMOMA looking at the evaluation and redesign process behind their forthcoming new SFMOMA website.
Of particular pertinence to discussions about implementing, encouraging, (and sometimes requiring) user interaction comes this caveat/warning –
Example 3. Web 2.0
The finding: When we talked with our users about potential Web 2.0 features we could offer on our site (blogs, wikis, etc.), they showed surprisingly little interest in them. The users we interviewed were fairly passive about the types of interactive things they would like to do on our site. Instead of asking an artist a question, they would rather read what other people asked. Instead of giving feedback about an exhibition, they would rather read what other people wrote.
The insight: We realized that if we were going to add any of these new types of Web 2.0 features, we should not invest in designing things that our visitors would not use. And if we were to incorporate any of these features in the future, they should extend the interpretation dimension and make the artwork more accessible.
The design: In addition to providing an authoritative museum perspective on an artwork, we must include features that incorporate perspectives from a variety of users, from front-line staff to visitors. On the “On View” main page, for example, we plan to include a feature called something along the lines of “Guest Take” that will present rotating works from SFMOMA’s collection selected by prominent local community members, artists, writers, museum members, etc. These guests will write about what the works mean to them and share their personal reactions, thoughts, and musings. Another feature, called something like “In Focus,” will allow museum staff members at different levels throughout the organization to select works from the collection and share their personal thoughts and reactions. This informal, multi-vocal approach will bring Web 2.0 values to the site and complement what we are already doing with SFMOMA Artcasts, our podcast audio-zine. SFMOMA Artcasts feature “Guest Take” commissions of music, poetry, and prose in response to works on view as well as “Vox Pop” pieces that capture live reflections from visitors in the galleries. We see these as methods of engaging the community in a dialogue of art and ideas; they are excellent ways to bring Web 2.0 values to the interpretative dimension of the museum experience.
Nina Simon picks up on the importance (and dominance) of lurkers in commercial 2.0 applications and reconsiders in the context of museum.
We would concur.
Of the most “2.0” aspects of the Powerhouse Museum’s collection database – the tagging – it is important to note that out of nearly 10 million object views there have been only about 4000 tags. That’s 0.04% of views resulting in a tag – at most. Some views result in multiple tagging of the same object by the same person.
However, because lurkers can gain benefit from other people’s tags (frictionlessly/effortlessly) tags represent up to 40% of search interactions – they add usability and thus access points to content.