Over the course of the past six decades, technologists have been building the perfect television. Black-and-white and vacuum tubes have evolved into internet-enabled and on-board CPUs. Pixel density is high, profile depth is low and HDMI connections flow with zero latency. Colors are bright and surround sound systems throw down some mean bass. We control these perfect televisions from remote locations via mobile devices and we live our lives unconfined to program schedules.
But for all the effort we’ve placed on building the perfect television, we have very little to show for it with respect to viewing experience. From network broadcasting to subscription cable to online streaming services, there are hundreds of content channels/streams available to us. Perfect televisions deliver unending content yet nothing is worth watching. We’ve iterated on the infrastructure to such a heightened level, the experience of watching television has fallen off the radar and remains virtually unchanged from its inception in the 1950s.
A compelling experience – one that keeps up with the technological advancements of the infrastructure – has not been designed for us.
In a way, I think this is also where we are with respect to museum technology. Koven’s thoughts fall into perspective when we consider content management systems, collections databases and institutional strategy as infrastructure (the perfect televisions) that can be not only built upon, but designed upon in interesting ways. We can see these elements of experience design taking shape in some of the projects Koven notes in his brief, thought-provoking post.
Innovation is nothing new. Museum technologists, like their counterparts working within other types of organizations, have been innovating for decades. It’s exciting, though, to think we may be in the midst of #MuseTech version 2.0, where institutions can stand tall upon the firm foundations of prior work and look confidently toward intentionally designed experiences that captivate, fascinate and delight users at every turn.
Now, where did I put that remote?