Playful Engineering: Designing and Building Art Discovery Systems

Liam Andrew, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Desi Gonzalez, The Andy Warhol Museum, USA, Kurt Fendt, MIT, USA

Published paper: Playful engineering: Designing and building art discovery systems

How can we engineer the discovery of art? HyperStudio, MIT’s digital humanities laboratory, has been tackling this question through the development of Artbot, a mobile website that encourages meaningful, sustained relationships to art museums in the Boston area. Artbot combines two strategies to enable users to discover cultural happenings in the city: a serendipitous approach that allows users to explore via linkages between art events, and a recommendation system that suggests events based on a user’s interests.

Using Artbot as its primary case study, this paper will examine the design and building of art discovery systems. First, it will survey other examples of art recommendation and discovery systems, such as Magic Tate Ball, Serendip-o-matic, Artsy, and the Powerhouse’s OPAC 2.0 collection project. Then we will discuss the front-end design and back-end technologies behind Artbot’s discovery engine and consider how other cultural institutions can implement these approaches.

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