Museums are often thought of as places that collect, care for, display and interpret objects. It’s also a place to share stories. A variety of new media experiences in cultural heritage settings can be self-characterized as storytelling, including guides offering purely informational content.
Digital storytelling in cultural heritage contexts has been recognized as a direction that cultural heritage institutions, including museums and historical sites, need to invest in to attract and engage the (ever more demanding) audiences (Pujol et al 2013, Twiss-Garrity et al. 2008). Interactivity certainly strengthens the sense of control over the experience. The viewer is encouraged to actively participate and become more involved.
With new technologies and improvements in standards, transmission hardware, processors, internal storage, new methods of programming, and reliable software libraries, it is possible to provide high levels of interactivity in multimedia content. Instead of passively watching, listening, or reading, we take on an active role. A multimedia application offers a degree of interactivity, new forms of control and navigation (selection menus, search function, table of contents, etc.). Program outputs depend on the user’s inputs, and the user’s inputs affect the outputs. Users can move from one piece of information to another, navigating the content in a non-linear way, most often by clicking on hyperlinks. They are allowed the control to rove through multimedia content at their own desire. in addition to text, graphics/drawings, and photographs, computer information can be represented using audio, video, and animation.
Interactivity, however, takes many forms. Museums can use several different technological innovations in their exhibitions to create an interactive digital space, from apps to video games. With the use of augmented reality (AR) and holograms, they can experience these moments in 3D as well. The methods the users are given to interact with the content (or virtual world) are called “mechanics”. Computer software can be driven by touch screen, push buttons, or other hardware that allows visitors to interact, make choices, or navigate through content. Digital interactives can be as complex as simulations, “Kinect” style interaction, virtual reality, and augmented reality, or something as simple as a touchscreen kiosk. (Bradley, C & David, C 2018)
Interactive experiences can be controlled directly with an input device. In this case, there is no need for complex graphical interfaces that might break immersion and detract from the experience as a whole. However, it is important to provide the user with clear guidelines. Some input devices are more abstract and intuitive, allowing the users to focus on the content itself. In some cases, the interaction can be more passive, meaning that the information is based on specific data, collected in various ways, unnoticed by the users, such as geo-location data or eye tracking data.
For on-site experiences, mobile applications, visitor information displays and video are
currently considered the most suitable new media tools. Users can discover and explore digital exhibitions in many ways. Exhibition creators can drive navigation to a limited extent through layout, if that is desired. However, some users will follow their own path and should be allowed to do so if that is their preference. (Berth et al. 2018)
Pujol, L; Roussou, M; Poulou, S; Balet, O; Vayanou, M; & Ioannidis, Y (2013), Personalizing interactive digital storytelling in archaeological museums: the CHESS project. In G. Earl, T. Sly, A. Chrysanthi, P. Murrieta-Flores, C. Papadopoulos, I. Romanowska, & D. Wheatley (Eds.), Archaeology in the Digital Era. Papers from the 40th Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA). Southampton, UK, 26-29 March 2012: Amsterdam University Press.
Twiss-Garrity, B A, Fisher, M, & Sastre, A (2008), The art of storytelling: enriching art museum exhibits and education through visitor narratives. In Trant J & Bearman D (Eds.), Museums and the Web 2008. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Archives & Museum Informatics
Barth, G. Drake Davis l, Mita A (2018), Digital Exhibitions, Concepts and Practices. Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference.
Bradley, C & David, C (2018). Best Practices for Interactive Exhibits. Geckogroup 2018 [online]. Available at: https://geckogroup.com/2018/11/05/digital-and-mechanical-interactive-exhibits/ (Accessed: 30/3/22).