Many institutions have spent considerable time and money on digitising their collections. The motivations for this include the desire to provide computer access to collections, to expand their audience, and to open up entire collections to the public (i.e. the parts in storage as well as items actually on display).
Consumer expectations for interacting with computerised systems today are high. There is an expectation of rich, engaging content-based experiences which permit them to follow self-directed pathways, and to flow seamlessly between different contexts.
We contend that many of the systems currently used to provide access to digitised collections from museum, gallery and other cultural heritage institutions fall short of these objectives. Current systems generally provide a keyword search system together with a basic browse function , both usually resulting at some point in a page of thumbnail images followed by a static "one at a time" view.
Such systems meet the needs of experts and researchers well, but for the "lay" visitor the experience is often not very engaging and usually limits them to viewing a narrow slice of the collection, not the overall view they are more likely looking for. These search methodologies can often prevent the general user from following their interests, or from discovering serendipitous connections between different collections of material.
The ViziQuest system we present in this latest White paper is an example of how new, user-focussed platforms can offer new ways of accessing digitised collections. It provides a general exploration of a collection, allowing users to "wander" through the collection, guided by their individual interests. The addition of multimedia elements can enhance the whole experience and is a natural extension of the digitisation process, extending the use of the digital assets. Moreover, the connection to social and ecommerce platforms demonstrates how the user can move seamlessly between cultural, social and retail experiences within an integrated context.
|Author:||Nick Poole, Alan Payne|