Personal and Social? Designing Personalised Experiences for Groups in Museums

Lesley Fosh, University of Nottingham, UK, Katharina Lorenz, The University of Nottingham, UK, Steve Benford, University of Nottingham, UK, Boriana Koleva, University of Nottingham, UK

Published paper: Personal and social? Designing personalised experiences for groups in museums

The designers of mobile museum guides are increasingly interested in facilitating rich interpretations of a collection’s exhibits that can be personalised to meet the needs of a diverse range of individual visitors. It is commonplace to visit these settings in small groups, with friends or family. This sociality of a visit can significantly affect how visitors experience museums and their objects, but current guides can inhibit group interaction, especially when the focus is on personalisation towards individuals. Our design approach embeds sociality from the beginning, treating personalisation as a social rather than computational issue, an idea that has potential reach beyond our own project.

We describe our design of an interactive visiting experience that lets visitors create interpretations of exhibits for their friends and loved ones that they then experience together, letting them scaffold a visiting experience by setting up prompts, information, and emotive triggers around individual exhibits. The result is a personalised, one-off mobile tour crafted by the visitors themselves to directly communicate interpretations to others that they know well. We present the results of two pilot studies in which this approach was used in different museum settings and with different types of small groups. We report on how visitors designed highly personal experiences for one another, analysing how groups of visitors negotiated these experiences together in the museum visit, and revealing how this type of self-design framework for engaging audiences in a socially coherent way leads to rich, stimulating visits for the whole group and each individual member. We present a replicable design for engaging audiences, increasing visitor participation, and realising the potential for meaningful group experiences.

1. Aoki, P.M., R. E. Grinter, A. Hurst, M. H. Szymanski, J. D. Thornton, & A. Woodruff. (2002). “Sotto voce: Exploring the interplay of conversation and mobile audio spaces.” In CHI ‘02, Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, NY: ACM Press, 431–438.
2. Ardissono, L., T. Kuflik, & D. Petrelli. (2012). “Personalization in cultural heritage: The road travelled and the one ahead.” In User Modeling and User Adapted Interaction 22 (1–2). 73–99.
3. Bartindale, T., Clarke, R., Shearer, J., Balaam, M., Wright, P., & Olivier, P. (2011). “Bridging the gap: implementing interaction through multi-user design”. In CHI'11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, NY: ACM Press, 2071-2076.
4. Ciolfi, L., & McLoughlin, M. (2012). “Designing for meaningful visitor engagement at a living history museum”. In Proceedings of the 7th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, New York, NY: ACM Press, 69-78.
5. Cosley, D., Lewensterin, J., Herman, A., Holloway, J., Baxter, J., Nomura, S, Boehner, K, Gay, G. (2008). “ArtLinks: fostering social awareness and reflection in museums”. In CHI ’08, Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, NY: ACM Press, 403-412.
6. Falk, J. H. (2009). Identity and the museum visitor experience. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press Inc.
7. Fosh, L., Benford, S., Reeves, S., Koleva, B., Brundell, P. (2013). See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Hear Me: Trajectories And Interpretation In A Sculpture Garden. In CHI’13, Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, NY: ACM Press, 149-158.
8. Grinter, R. E., Aoki, P. M., Szymanski, M. H., Thornton, J. D., Woodruff, A., Hurst, A. (2002) “Revisiting the visit: understanding how technology can shape the museum visit”. In CSCW ’02, Proceedings of the 2002 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, New York, NY: ACM Press, 146-155.
9. Laaksolahti , J., Tholander, J, Lunden, M., Solsona Balenguer, J., Karlsson, A., Jaensson, T. (2011). “The LEGA: a device for leaving and finding tactile traces”. In TEEI ’11, Proceedings of the fifth international conference on Tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction, Ney York, NY: ACM Press, 193-196.
10. Luyten, K., H. Van Loon, D. Teunkens, K. Gabriëls, K. Coninx & E. Manshoven (2006). "ARCHIE: Disclosing a Museum by a Socially-aware Mobile Guide". The E-Volution of IC Technology in Cultural Heritage, Papers from the Joint Event CIPA/VAST/EG/EuroMed Event, 221-226.
11. Mauss, M. (1990). The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. London: Routledge Classics.
12. McCarthy J., Wright, P. (2007). Technology as Experience. MIT Press.
13. Mckay, S. W., Monteverde, S. R. Dialogic looking: Beyond the mediated experience. Art Education 56, 1 (2003), 40-45.
14. Miyashita, T., P. Meier, T. Tachikawa, S. Orlic, T. Eble, V. Scholz, S. Lieberknecht (2008). "An augmented reality museum guide". Proceedings of the 2008 7th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality-Volume 00,103-106.
15. Robles, J. S. (2012). “Troubles with assessments in gifting occasions”, Discourse Studies 14(6). 753-777.
16. Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on Conversation. Blackwell.
17. Satoh, I. (2008). “Experience of context-aware services in public spaces”. In ICPS’08 Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Pervasive services. New York, NY: ACM Press, 81-90.
18. Sengers, P., Gaver, B. (2006). “Staying open to interpretation: engaging multiple meanings in design and evaluation”. In DIS’06 Proceedings of the 6th conference on Designing Interactive systems, Ney York, NY: ACM Press, 99-108.
19. Serrell, B. (1997) “Paying attention: The duration and allocation of visitors’ time in museum exhibitions.” In Curator: The museum journal, 40 (2), 108-113.
20. Sherry Jr, J. F. (1983). “Gift giving in anthropological perspective”. In Journal of Consumer Research 10(2), 157-68.
21. Simon, N. The Participatory Museum. Museums 2.0, 2010.
22. Terrenghi, L., Zimmermann, A. Tailored Audio Augmented Environments for Museums. (2004). In IUI’04 Proceedings of the 9th international conference on Intelligent user interfaces, New York, NY: ACM Press, 334-336.
23. Tolmie, P., Benford, S., Greenhalgh, C., Rodden, T., Reeves, S. (2013). “Supporting Group Interactions in Museum Visiting”. In CSCW’13 Proceedings of the 2002 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, New York, NY: ACM Press, 1049-1059.
24. Wecker, A.J. et al., Group navigation with handheld mobile museum guides. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2011. Consulted September 29, 2014.
25. Whitehead, C. (2012). Interpreting art in museums and galleries. Routledge.
26. Vom Lehn, D., Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J. (2002). “Exhibiting interaction: Conduct and collaboration in museums and galleries”. In Symbolic Interaction 24(2),189-216.