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Crowdsourcing design: what will this mean for museums?

Reprinted fromSocial Media and Cultural Communication:
http://nlablog.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/crowdsourcing-design-what-will-this-mean-for-museums/

“Across the online environment, there is growing engagement with user-generated content which impacts on designers as they move from sole author and producer to facilitators of the design process. User-driven and open innovation models of collaboration are impacting on the design and development of services and while there is a growing body of theory exploring the basis of this innovation, there are few models for the way in which designers will practice within this environment.

We are currently witnessing transformations in the ways in which clients engage designers and the ways in which designers participate in the development of products, services and experiences. These transformations in design practice are closely aligned to changing audience expectation and a growing demand for user participation in the design process. This is in keeping with a shift from the development of a service to an experience economy. (Gilmore & Pine 1999, Rivkin 2000)

The notion of experience enterprises has been coined in response to the experience economy. It encompasses those enterprises, both commercial and publicly funded, which have at their heart, the mandate to attract new audiences/ consumers/ producers through the development of integrated, multiplatform experiences. For example, both Nike, with its hugely successful Nike + social networking campaign which facilitates the development of communities of runners worldwide and Flickr Commons, the photo-sharing facility developed for cultural organisations to share archival imagery focus on adding value to existing services by creating and sharing in memorable experiences.

In the museum environment, it is sometimes suggested that audiences/creators and producers are willing to pay more for products and services if these are provided in an atmosphere that generates ‘memorable’ experiences. If this is the case and designers have yet to explore the impact of the user/creator on their practice, what will it mean for the development of future museum communication programs?

This posting is a starting point for problematising a broader shift in consumption and production, recognising the profound impacts that these shifts will have on future design practices and in turn, the ways in which they will affect museum programs.

Some of the questions it seeks to explore include:
How will social networking affect design as an enterprise?
What will this mean to organisations which engage designers?
Will services and experiences converge?
Who will drive new models of design innovation?
How will innovation drive new audiences/clients?”

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at mark@walhimer.com.

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