The preponderance of digital in this digital R&D project has been troubling me a bit. Ever since we installed our social interpretation kiosks in the A Family in War exhibition in early April, I have been remembering the various exhibitions I have worked on over the years and the various lo-fi commenting options that often drew more comments – and more engaged comments – from visitors than our SI technology is so far managing to do.
I think we might have missed a trick (and an opportunity for some A/B testing) by not also installing some comments cards and pencils. Many of our IWM visitors are a more mature lot, not always so comfortable with using their fingers to do their talking. They might have liked to use a postcard and pencil to record their thoughts. It would have been great to see if that was the case.
This image of a beautifully designed card and pencil comment system from the Turner Prize exhibition in 2008 remains one of my favourite designs. And the comments room was one of the busiest rooms in that exhibition. People reading, writing, or in my case pinching a blank card as it was such a nice thing. I also remember a lovely wall of pink heart-shaped post-it notes covered in comments at the Kylie exhibition at the V&A a while back.
And when I worked (way, way back when) on the Knit2Together exhibition at the Crafts Council in we had reams of great comments written down on cards. Stories of grandmothers teaching granddaughters to knit. Suggestions for good wool shops – you name it. The problem was the cards then sat in an office for months, waiting for an intern to type them all up. The organisation had no way of utilising all that engagement. I dare say they are still in a corner somewhere.
So, where is the middle ground? Something digital that lets you comment in an analogue style?
Digital pens? Whiteboards? (please no). Answers on a postcard please..