Shifting the Limits - How to go beyond one-way guiding in Museums with Fluxguide & "visitor-generated content“ on-the-spot
Technology-based guiding in museums still lags behind its potential. This is not because there are no efforts towards new mobile technology. In contrary, plenty of "iPod touches" and similar devices populate exhibition spaces around the world. But no matter how fancy the used technology may be, one core element is still missing at most visitor-guides: the visitor. According to our view, existing guiding-solutions ultimately still rely on a one-way information flow from exhibitor to visitor. With the Fluxguide-solution we suggest to extend and to multiply that flow of meaning, by taking advantage of recent mobile computer technology and concepts of the Social Web.
Thus, the basic idea behind of the Fluxguide-solution is to introduce Web 2.0 - ideas to the real space of the exhibition, where visitors are able to create & share interpretations. We claim that this could turn the visitor from a passive consumer to a creative designer of meaning in order to actively focus on artworks and exhibits.
We want to discuss three main features of the fluxguide-solution, covered by use-cases from European museums and exhibtion-spaces:
Fluxguides are fully capable art exhibition guides providing visitors with structured multi-medial information about the exhibition, individual artworks, and artists - in complementary formats like audio, text, and video.
(2) Participation & Communication
Fluxguides are also used to text-comment and to rate exhibits during the tour. This motivates visitors to actively focus on artworks, as well as to generate their own thoughts and interpretations. Additional interaction between visitors is stimulated by the possibility to read and reply comments of others. Attending the exhibition then becomes an active, interpretative, and communicative event where visitors do not only receive information, but also create meaning by themselves and share it with others. Fluxguide, for the first time, allows to realize Web 2.0 features „on the spot“ within the real exhibition environment.
Fluxguide-users may also add interesting exhibits to their individual digital catalog, which automatically is sent to the visitors via e-mail (or as printed brochure via mail-order). This gives people a totally new way in keeping a permanent & personalized memory of the visit, as well as to share their experiences with others.
(4) Exhibitor feature: Analysis
Fluxguide is fully based on web-technology and equipped with an analysis tool which gives unprecedented insights in visitor behavior, e.g. to track popularity & ratings of exhibits.
To summarize: a fluxguide-environment unveils a flow of meaning not only from exhibitor to visitor (information), but also between visitors (participation), as well as beyond the visit itself (personalization).
The discussion will also adress some general and critical questions: is there a new paradigm of technology-based-guiding arising? What are the implications of letting visitors generate and share content on-the-spot? Which new roles & responsibilites emerge, when the museum looses its monopoly on in-house information creation & communication?
The discussion will end with an overview of future projects and extended possiblities of visitor-participation.