Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Superstruct: Playing the Future of Our Museums

maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums For the past few days I've been contributing to a future-casting "game" called Superstruct (apologies for those who are already in the know). It's a make-believe, online game where you are asked to think about the world in 2019. This is done by posting on the game's wikis and blogs while pretending that it really is 2019. Why, you ask? Because it's a powerful way to try ideas on for size. This is especially intriguing to me against the backdrop of some of the posts I've written, and some of the projects we've had in our office. One idea we foster (in the present) with our clients is actively and sometimes pervasively engaging with the community. This can be done through programs, media, location- the list goes on. In addition, there are numerous papers, blogs, and books outlining the benefits of this approach. As I think about how it might play out moving 10 years ahead, community engagement begins to make a lot of sense. For example, take the satellite or "Science Spot" idea that Gyroscope (with others) proposed for the Buffalo Museum of Science. That's where a large museum has outposts in the community that offer limited collections but extensive programming. If in the future energy resources make it impossible to house large exhibits, the cost of travel skyrockets, and global illnesses becomes real (they are pretty dark about 2019)-- then having smaller satellite museums start to look like a sustainable model. Building upon this idea of a local museum, I add to it the prevalence of "Crowd Curating" and instant communication/sharing we see today. In this future where user feedback is the norm, distributed yet personal experiences could create a realm of content that sits atop or alongside the object/exhibit+wall text paradigm. This is all done in a community or local context, which has the added benefit of creating affinity groups for an institution or place. That begins to look like a place where it's easier for people to be invested in, and thus, will be more passionate about contributing to and preserving it. I know, I know. You're thinking I'm a Pollyanna. There are weeks to go in the game, so I'll report back and let you know if things are still looking so optimistic.

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