At the conclusion of the four modules, you should write your second portfolio blog post in which you analyze the ways that methods and/or technologies of public history influence the types of digital public history works being created today.
Digital Public History Works Today
Museums create exhibits to educate the public often implementing technology to adapt to various types of learning experiences and to reach and expand their audiences. This influences the creation of public works created today. Identifying potential digital platforms is not necessarily straightforward as platforms gain momentum and move aside to the new next thing. It is a great way to generate excitement and introduce collections to new audiences, draw on interest in local history, and connect with new demographics and be creative with how best to deliver content to an audience.
Web blogs are used to promote exhibits and add new dimensions to the visitation experience. Blogs offer a richness of content not available on social media and they can promote social media maintained. Using blogs to post articles and press releases that include a teaser of the experience can be helpful. As with any product or service identifying an audience or working through persona development are ideal for your digital project to get started. A couple of questions that you may want to ask may be – Who’s going to be most likely to engage with my experience? Who are the and what does that target audience look like? Who will understand and appreciate what I am delivering in terms of messaging?
If you dive a little deeper, you can break it down to demographics and psychographics. Demographics, involves Age, income, occupation, geography. Psychographics are a little bit more touchy-feely. They are about personality, beliefs, values, lifestyles, things such as that. You can’t judge a user experience without reaching out to your audience. Take PhillyHistory.org, they implemented Augmented Reality to their exhibit. “The public response to PhillyHistory.org proved to overwhelmingly positive. The site currently has over 6,400 registered users and regularly receives an average of 13,000 unique visitors per month. The response to our initial promotional materials for the augmented reality application has been extremely encouraging.”
To design a site that people enjoy using, you need to know what motivates them. When people use the web, they are almost always doing so to find information, not for pure entertainment. That means that when most people come to your site they are doing so with a particular goal in mind. They probably also got to you from a search engine, or by following a link, rather than by knowing your direct URL. Web browser analytics offers ways to check out the stats for your site. Typically, many more visitors are referred by search engines or links than come directly. You can use these stats to find out what people’s goals were and that helps you clarify what it is that visitors want from your site. Because people are coming to your site with a specific goal in mind, it is important that you help them quickly reach that goal.
And social media as a part of museum marketing strategy is not limited to just posting once a day and checking back in regularly. Its direct communication with your audience. Content is what an end user will see and potentially engage with. Without a community of engaged advocates content is unlikely to be seen. A community of advocates to organically share the content with their network of followers to expand reach outside of your core followers is super critical. NARA implemented a reboot of their social media strategy for access and transparency. There are staff that contribute to their channel to create engaging content that attracts readers for all a museum’s digital properties, including the web, mobile, tablet-based audiences.
An analysis of literature on museum marketing, social media environment, and the characteristics of cultural experiences produced four groups of motivations for cultural consumption in social media. This research demonstrates that social media provides an opportunity to remain connected with museum audiences outside the actual visits. “For example, user types like “Enthusiast” and “Connected” emotionally engaged with museums in social media and are willing to interact and share their experiences on museums’ pages. Nevertheless, the “Informational” type does not have a strong feeling of connection or desire to interact, but still this type follows the museums’ social media, while the actual visits do not take place as often as for the “Enthusiast” and “Connected” person. The “Interested” follower appears to be a moderately involved type that may possibly change the position according to a cycle of customer engagement to be more or less involved depending on their personal characteristics and communication style of the museums.”
The WW1 Museum in Melbourne Australia tells the story of the war is told through a personal experience with case layouts displayed informally and personal touch and offers a distinct local perspective yet ties Australian contributions to the World War. They also developed an integrated mobile app experience to complement the physical exhibit to offer a complementary level of content and the exhibit website offers “snippets of content from the gallery and museum”.
Historical tweeting like the Twitter account run by a group of German Historians for their “Kristallnacht” to recreate events from the past because the immediacy of the platform. There is a similar campaign happening with JFK’s assassination from 1963 or the events of the William Cantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence KS influenced by a comment made about listening to it on a police scanner. Unlike live tweeting there are no copy corrections or in the moment reactions to worry about.
Implementing Mobile Augmented Reality Applications for Cultural Institutions
The City of Philadelphia Department of Records (DOR) received an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up grant to investigate mobile augmented reality technology for use in displaying overlays of historic photographs on the current urban landscape. The project utilized the resources of PhillyHistory.org, a collaborative online database of historic photographs and maps from five Philadelphia area institutions.
The DOR is certainly not the first cultural institution to investigate the use of augmented reality in promoting historic materials. In the past five years, advances in augmented reality technology, and mobile technology specifically, have made augmented reality applications more common and easily accessible. Mobile devices and phones are accommodating augmented reality applications. Mobile platforms provide software development tools, that software developers can produce a variety of mobile augmented reality applications that increased public familiarity with the technology.
Beyond the Screen
A lot of people are now starting to call themselves experiential designers. These days, it’s starting to include a lot more forms of visual communications. More than just graphic design, more than just 3D models. It’s starting to include interactive media, and social media, and other forms of communication.
There are now touch screens everywhere, but we’re now starting to find that in the world today, where people are bombarded by that, on a daily basis, they don’t find that interesting anymore. So it’s balancing that with what was old technology. We’re finding that younger people actually do like doing that old stuff. And how can we now find that balance?
As things are becoming even more technological and there’s even more multimedia, we’re going to have to continue to find that balance between the two. Because I really believe that, kids and even adults getting that every day, are not going to find that interesting. So how do we make that interesting for them? It will probably be going backwards.