Intellectbase International Consortium – December 17, 2011

I had the opportunity to present a segment of my initial research on activity theory and the participatory museum at the Las Vegas meeting of the Intellectbase International Consortium several weeks ago.  This was a very unique conference to attend and present at — unlike the education-based conferences I have attended in the past, the vast majority of presenters were using technology-enhanced presentation methods, and a majority of those included the software Prezi rather than the traditional PowerPoint model.  Also, the research-in-progress was widespread and fascinating — topics ranged from finding commonalities in the numerous certification possibilities for accountants to the economic impact of publicly-funded sports stadia.

I once knew how to embed a Prezi into a blog, but I cannot figure it out today, so I will post the link.  Like any presentation I give, the tech is an enhancement, not a replacement.  I could not stand a teacher putting a laminate sheet on the overhead projector and then reading it to me…I could have read it myself.  So, tech is a supplement for me.

The presentation started with a theoretical understanding of the purpose of the museum.  I postulate that the museum was designed to do three specific things:  determine, preserve and display items of cultural and historical significance.  My presentation then looked at how technology and the ability to reproduce (whether it be a tangible or digital copy) has affected the mission of the museum.  I also looked at Stuart Hall’s ideas of resistance reading — dominant, negotiated, and oppositional — as a means to discuss how the museum has presented texts (dominant), and how they have failed to look at unique readings (negotiated, oppositional).  From there, I discussed current efforts to make the museum more participatory, and briefly touched on successes and failures.  I then presented the first of my multi-part idea in the crowdsourced wisdom of the crowd search engine that allows users multiple entry points in seeking out information.  I will go into more detail on this in future postings.

Three pictures follow the Prezi along:  American Gothic (Grant Wood), The Old Guitarist (Pablo Picasso), and Nighthawks (Edward Hopper).  These three paintings hang in the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, a museum which has done a great deal of work in utilizing technology to promote access to its content.  However, the work of the Art Institute seems to follow that pattern of using technology to do more of the same, just flashier.  This is not an indictment — I probably ought to write a review of the Art Institute’s website, as it is a step in the right direction on many parts, but could be so much more if it looked at human computer interaction as an aspect of the collection. The reason I use these three images is because in the bricks and mortar museum, they hang in three separate rooms, in three separate contexts.  They hang in those situations because a curator made those decisions on how and where to place in order to create a narrative or meaning for the pieces.  That is important, and cannot be ignored, but in looking at The possibilities of putting them together for study using the tablet medium are fascinating…and will be studied in greater depth in future postings.

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