Imperial War Museum Image of Social Interpretation Blog title

Pause. Rewind?

It has been relatively quiet, project-wise for the past 2 weeks. Tom has left IWM and the new project leader, Carolyn (Head of New Media at IWM) and project partner Claire have been at Museums and the Web in America. The back end boys, KI and Gooii have been coding back and forth in the north. At the museum myself and Wendy (Digital Projects Manager at IWM) have been picking up snagging issues on the SI kiosks in the A Family in Wartime exhibition.

Those first 6 social interpretation kiosks and QR codes have been live for a couple of weeks now. Hardware and software issues with the ASUS tablets have meant snagging has been a little out of proportion to the small number of kiosks installed. Some of this has been because we built the interface from scratch, and worked up to the day of installation. And some of the issues are with the kiosk housing design – pressure on the touch screens is confusing them and meaning re-sets are needing to happen too often.  

Comments are coming through though. Consisting of lots of spam, lots of bad spelling and some genuine social commentary. Nothing properly offensive has been reported yet.

I keep popping down to watch people using the kiosks. Love a bit of unofficial visitor evaluation, I do. But it’ll be good to see what Claire comes up with when she gets back to the business of properly evaluating things.

Overall, it appears visitors are confused with our dual voice interface design, as well they might be. Combining a museum voice (digital label) and visitor voice screen (comments) was only ever going to be a compromise. It was a bit of a triumph of internal stakeholders over true visitor experience. The visitors aren’t fooled. And hopefully we will be able to address that imbalance in the 4 kiosks we’ll install at North soon.

Next up is finding content for the roll-out of QR codes planned. Selection criteria for objects were, quite frankly, a best guess when this project was planned. That fudge is coming home to haunt us now as inconsistencies in the collections database make life difficult. But content (always the King) is usually the rub in digital, indeed any, museum project.


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