Science Museum Trip

sm_logo_0Today, we went on a trip to London to visit the Science Museum. It allowed us to further understand media spaces and to see how different people behave within public spaces. Due to our project being an interactive piece, I focussed on exploring the interactive media pieces and how audiences engaged and understood them. Due to the fact it was a museum, it was clear that the people were looking around and engaging at the various pieces and artefacts. However, due to my project being based at University, I have to find ways to ensure people look and hopefully interact with my piece.

I observed that there was a vast range of different ages of people present, but would argue that majority were children there on school trips. Within the museum, there were only a few interactive pieces as the majority were historical and scientific artefacts. However, I feel that the interactive pieces seemed to engage more people, due to their appealing visual aspects. I found that the older people in particular seemed to be more interested in reviewing the more historical artefacts, and weren’t as interesting in the interactive pieces. I found it was the children in particular who engaged with the interactive pieces, of which they seemed to find very entertaining and fun. This highlights how different age generations engage with things different, dependent on their own experiences. It is clear that some older people may not be as experienced as the younger generation with using all these new technologies, but it is important to also be aware that sometime are assumptions can be challenged.

The interactivity was mainly incorporated through touch screens and buttons, as well as a movement based interaction in the Who Am I? exhibition. From observing people engaging with the interactive pieces, I noticed that children seemed to think that everything was touchscreen. They weren’t really engaging with the true concept, rather they were playing with friends, pushing buttons as fast as they could and touching various things on screen in the hope that something will happen. Throughout the museum there were various information touch screens to support the historical and scientific artefacts. However, I found that these were only used by those wanting to find out further information about the artefacts. Due to children growing up with the revolution of touch screens, most children seemed to depend on pieceWAI-Me3-1-WEB_6s being touch screen and weren’t as aware of other interactive features. For example, in the Who am I? exhibition (image on left), some children didn’t realise what the interactive feature of piece was and just saw it simply as a white wall; it wasn’t until someone stepped onto it that they realised it’s interactive and therefore they decided to engage with it. This piece stood out most to me, the multi-coloured particle objects follow peoples footprints and then reflect their movements visually on the screen. I like the interactive idea of this piece and similarly I plan to use motion and objects within my interactive piece. This has highlighted to me that it is important that my piece is easy to engage with and that it doesn’t require lots of prior technological knowledge in order to interact with it .

filename-do-not-touchAnother piece that stood out to me was the ‘Do Not Touch’ piece that appeared to give slight electric shocks to people. The idea behind this is to do with reverse phycology, the ‘Do Not Touch’ label on the floor around the piece in fact encourages people to touch the piece of which is intended. It also shows how peoples can behave in various ways, go against orders and it is extremely hard to assume how different people will behave. Although I noticed that the majority of children touched the piece which was the intention of it, there were a few that saw the ‘Do Not Touch’ and didn’t understand why people were touching it and so told them not too. From this, I have understood further that even people of a similar age will behave in different ways, of which I have to take into account for my piece. Although, the majority of people who see my piece will be students of similar age, they will all behave differently based on their own background and experiences. By going to the museum and observing the behaviour of people, I have learnt more about interactivity with public spaces. Most of the interactive pieces present in the museum don’t require a high amount of knowledge to use and this has made me realise that simple pieces can be just as successful as they are easy for all ages to directly and freely engage with. Linking this to my idea, I feel the piece will be easy for anyone to engage with, no matter how long they want to spend in the space. I have further learnt that the behaviour of people is very complex and even though I have studied my public space and the typical people, anything could happen and peoples behaviour can alter at any point.

a_1webWhen walking around London, we came across an interactive advertisement for Alcon contact lenses called ‘The London Stare’. We saw it displayed at a bus station and it encourages people to compete in a staring contest with a person on the screen. It displays whether you win or loose and then automatically prints out a contact lenses voucher. I found the piece quite interesting and more engaging than simple print advertisement which you see displayed all over London. Although due to it being at a busy bus stop, people seemed to notice it but were embarrassed to actually engage with it. However, after we engaged with the piece, we noticed a lady then interact with it. From this, I have learnt that some peoples actions can be influenced by other people. Therefore, if someone sees someone else engaging with my piece when it is in Weymouth House then hopefully it’ll influence them to engage with it too. This idea is quite a simple concept, which again has taught me that sometimes simplicity can actually be just as good or even better than complex ideas.

Poster in Public Space

We put our poster up in Weymouth House to see how many people noticed it and any comments they had about it. We put our poster on the automatic doors – the entrance to Weymouth house as we thought it would attract peoples attention as they walked in. We also put it on the orange wall next to another groups poster to see if people notice it more if it was grouped with other independent posters.In a 15 minute period from 12:45-13:00, we spotted 17 people looking at our poster. We also received some comments about it:

  • 20141016_130333“What does20141016_124349 it mean?”
  • “I didn’t even notice it”
  • “I glanced at it when passing, but it didn’t mean much to me as I was in a rush”
  • “Wow look at all of these poster “
  • “Thats quite white”
  • “It has a strong clear message”

The importance of doing this, is that it allowed us to analyse the public space in preparation for my interactive information graphic that will be displayed there. I have learnt a lot more about the space, people and graphics within the space. Also, the processes we went through for the production of our poster is that which I need to follow for my interactive piece. Here are the steps I plan to follow…

Requirements Gathering – Collecting information about the public space and target audience

Analysis – Analysing other examples and concepts, and the data gathered

Design – Creating designs for the piece and development of idea

Testing – Gaining feedback from target audience and improving designs

The requirements gathering I carried out for the poster will also be useful for my interactive piece. However, some further requirements gathering such as deciding which public screen to use will need to be analysed. From putting the poster in the public space, I have realised that the expectations I had about the space and people have been challenged. It is hard to predict how people will behave in certain spaces so I have learnt not to make assumptions. Everyone behaves and engages with media in different ways based on their own experiences and background, something that I need to consider when making my interactive information graphic. I need to be aware that people may not behave how I want them to and that the behaviour of people can alter at any point in time, this could relate to whether they are with friends, doing work or in a rush etc. Jenkins (2006, p.210) suggests that:

‘new meaning take shape around what we already know and what we already think, and thus, each player will come away from a game with a different experience and interpretation.’

Even though my piece is not a game, I feel that Jenkins idea can apply to my interactive piece. I’m aware that after interacting with my piece, each user will come away with a different experience and varied decoded meanings of the piece. Audiences are highly complex and challenging, which is something to be aware of especially when displaying a piece in a public space. Next, I will go on to explore prototypes, what they are and why it could be useful to create a prototype for my piece.

Jenkins, H, 2006. Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. London: New York University Press.

Behaviour within Public Spaces

Today, I visited Weymouth House, the space where my interactive information graphic would be displayed. By doing this, it allows me to understand the environment more and I also got an idea as to how people behave within the public space. Over a ten minute period I carried out quantative research and recorded how many people came through the space and what activities they carried out…Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 16.07.29

  • walked through = 77
  • brought costa = 12
  • socialised = 14
  • working = 7
  • on phone = 5
  • looked at displays = 3

This information was gathered at a busy time period as it was 13:00, whereas I have to be aware that in the morning the space would’ve been a lot quieter. I also carried out qualitative research and considered different scenarios about the behaviour of people within the public space.  For example, if someone was in a rush to a lecture then they would walk quickly through the space without observing much about their surroundings.

Gray (2010 p.166) suggests that:

‘a text only becomes a text, only gains social meaning and relevance, at the point that it comes alive with its audience.’

This shows the importance of ‘requirements gathering’ as without an audience my text would not be successful. Therefore, by analysing the behaviour of people on the public space, it allows me to evaluate how I can make my text ‘come alive with its audience’.

By carrying out this research, I realised that not many people seemed to pay much attention to the displays and therefore I need to reflect on this and think carefully about how I am going to attract users to my piece. From this, I will go on to place my groups finalised poster in the public space in order to see whether it is noticed and the reactions we may get. This is a highly important process as understanding the environment and audience is essential for any piece to be successful.

Gray, J, 2010. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York and London: New York University Press.