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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Village Voice: An information architecture for community-centered exhibits
Ramesh Srinivasan, Harvard University, USA

Session: World Culture

In this paper, I propose an architecture that can enable a museum to represent the material it collects in its interactions with communities. This architecture is discussed in the context of Village Voice, an interactive video browser developed as part of my M.S. research at the MIT Media Laboratory. Village Voice has shown potential as a system that can archive content generated by community members through its departure from traditional methods of using the Web to represent museum exhibits. Instead of basing content and their interrelations around ad-hoc indices, Village Voice allows the user to interact with material based on how the community itself articulates the relationships within its different pieces. I refer to this information architecture as ontology. Village Voice's interface is based around a dynamic collage which is able to reveal the complexity of the artifacts of a community because it can adapt to a user's browsing history and the intricate relationships within the different materials in the exhibit. I will discuss the means by which the system, interface, and ontology were developed, and its deployment in a Somali refugee community within the Boston metropolitan area, as well as efforts being undertaken in a North Indian village in the Faridabad, Haryana district. After presenting the architecture and project, I discuss the potential of this technology to archive and faithfully represent the experiences of communities through a simple evaluation.