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A visitor's guide in an active museum: Presentations, communications, and reflection

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Abstract Technology can play a crucial role in supporting museum visitors and enhancing their overall museum visit experiences. Visitors coming to a museum do not want to be overloaded with information, but to receive the relevant information, learn,
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  11 A Visitor’s Guide in an Active Museum: Presentations,Communications, and Reflection TSVI KUFLIK , University of Haifa, Israel OLIVIERO STOCK and MASSIMO ZANCANARO , FBK-IRST, Povo, Trento, Italy ARIEL GORFINKEL, SADEK JBARA, SHAHAR KATS, JULIA SHEIDIN, and NADAV KASHTAN ,University of Haifa, Israel Technology can play a crucial role in supporting museum visitors and enhancing their overall museum visit experiences. Visitorscoming to a museum do not want to be overloaded with information, but to receive the relevant information, learn, and havean overall interesting experience. To serve this goal, a user-friendly and flexible system is needed. The design of such a systemposes several challenges that need to be addressed in parallel. The user interface should be intuitive and let the visitors focuson the exhibits, not on the technology. Content and delivery must provide relevant information and at the same time allowvisitors to get the level of detail and the perspectives in which they are interested. Personalization may play a key role inproviding relevant information to individuals. Yet, since visitors tend to visit the museum in small groups, technology shouldalso contribute to and facilitate during-the-visit communication or post-visit group interaction. The PIL project applied at theHecht museum extended the research results of the PEACH project and tried to address all of these considerations. Evaluationinvolving users substantiated several aspects of the design.Categories and Subject Descriptors: H.5.2 [ Information Interfaces and Presentation ]: User Interfaces— Screen design; Pro-totyping; User-centered design; Graphical user interfaces; Theory and methods General Terms: Design, Human Factors, Experimentation  ACM Reference Format: Kuflik, T., Stock, O., Zancanaro, M., Gorfinkel, A., Jbara, S., Kats, S., Sheidin, J., and Kashtan, N. 2011. A visitor’s guide inan active museum: presentations, communications, and reflection. ACM J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 3, 3, Article 11 (March 2011),25 pages.DOI = 10.1145/1921614.1921618 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1921614.1921618 1. INTRODUCTION The visitors’ experience in museums tends to be personal, self-motivated, self-paced, and exploratory;they choose what, where, and when to learn [Falk and Dierking 2000; Falk 2009]. Location-aware mul-timedia content on mobile systems provides new opportunities for the museum’s curators to enhancethis experience. However, together with the growing acceptance of technology in the museum, new This work was supported by the collaboration project between the Caesarea-Rothschild Institute at the University of Haifa andFBK/IRST in Trento, and by FIRB project RBIN045PXH. Author’s address: T. Kuflik; email: tsvikak@is.haifa.ac.il.Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee providedthat copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies show this notice on the first pageor initial screen of a display along with the full citation. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACMmust be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, to redistribute tolists, or to use any component of this work in other works requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Permissions may berequested from Publications Dept., ACM, Inc., 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701, New York, NY 10121-0701 USA, fax + 1 (212) 869-0481,or permissions@acm.org.c  2011 ACM 1556-4673/2011/03-ART11 $10.00DOI 10.1145/1921614.1921618 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1921614.1921618  ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 3, No. 3, Article 11, Publication date: March 2011.  11:2 • T. Kuflik et al. challenges arise. In particular, multimedia content should not divert the visitors’ attention from theactual objects in the museum, which should remain the focus of the visit; a balance should be keptbetween fulfilling the need to provide a rich information space, suitable for a wide variety of visitors,on the one hand, and tailoring the presentation to individual preferences and characteristics on theother; the visitor’s use of technology should be conceived as contributing to one unique experience, andas such it should offer an integrated approach to different aspects of the visit.These challenges need to be addressed during all the phases of the development of museum visitors’guide systems: the definition of the system’s functionalities, the design of the user interface, and theplanning and preparation of multimedia information presentations.Many visitors tend to visit museums in small groups, mainly with family or friends [Falk andDierking 1992], so that not only the individual visitor but also the whole group needs support. Inthis context, interaction among visitors may enhance learning in the museum environment, as well asthe whole visit experience [Leinhardt and Knutson 2004; Falk and Dierking 2000]. New tools for com-munication may increase this interaction and hence contribute to the visit experience. Some recentresearch prototypes of museum visitors’ guide applications provide means of communication among visitors (for instance see Rantanen et al. [2004]).The PIL project (Personal experience with active cultural heritage-IsraeL), was concerned with de-veloping an integrated framework for museum visits that addresses these challenges, and focused onfour specific aspects: multimedia content preparation, user interface design, ubiquitous user modeling,and group interaction. It followed in the footsteps of the PEACH project [Stock and Zancanaro 2007,Stock et al. 2007], and extended the prior experience of implementing a mobile multimedia guide at thehistoric-artistic Renaissance site at the Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento, and, in part at an industrialarcheological site, the Iron Works at the Voelklinger Huette museum in Saarbruecken, by applying itstechnology and enhancing it using novel research results. Following the initial PEACH idea, that is,to produce a multifaceted system that accompanies the visitors and augments their overall museumexperience, PIL introduced some primary elements for the transition from supporting the individualvisitor to supporting the common situation of a small group visit. PIL has resulted in the creationof a multifaceted prototype that was demonstrated and tested at the Hecht Museum at the Univer-sity of Haifa, Israel, which has 4000 square meters of exhibition area, with 8 different exhibitions,6 permanent and 2 temporary, with over 5200 exhibits, mostly devoted to archeology in the Land of Is-rael. Evaluation involving users substantiated several aspects of the design and in some cases yieldedunexpected results.The rest of the article is organized as follows. Section 2 provides a survey of related work, in orderto put this work in the context of current research; Section 3 briefly presents the PIL system and theresearch environment and goals; Section 4 details the specific research directions and realizations;Section 5 presents an evaluation of some aspects of the system; Section 6 discusses the lessons learnedfrom the project; and Section 7 presents the conclusions of the study. 2. RELATED WORK Research prototypes of multimedia museum visitors’ guides and other mobile guides started as early asthe late 1990s. Several surveys were published presenting the state-of-the-art of mobile guides (among them: Kray and Baus [2003]; Baus et al. [2005]; Raptis et al. [2005]; Stock et al. [2007]; Ardissono andPetrelli [2008]), emphasizing the challenges and wealth of research opportunities provided by museumvisitors’ guide systems. The systems in those surveys span a broad range of research directions. Thisincludes presentations preparation, user modeling and personalization, context awareness and contextaware services, and more. However, PIL focused on several specific areas where relatively little workhas been done so far.  ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 3, No. 3, Article 11, Publication date: March 2011.  A Visitor’s Guide in an Active Museum: Presentations, Communications, and Reflection • 11:3  Multimedia presentations preparation. Generating multimedia presentations for mobile guides isknown to be a time- and effort-consuming task. Previous research tried to address this challenge byusing various levels of automation, varying from dynamic integration of small predefined building blocks, as needed [Not et al. 1997, 1998] and rule-based information integration for dynamic pagegeneration, such as Ardissono et al. [2003], to applying Natural Language Generation techniques fordynamic generation of multimedia presentations [Callaway et al. 2005]. However, while the former arestill limited in their flexibility, the latter requires a detailed domain knowledge base and complicateddeep Natural Language Generation mechanisms. PIL did not focus on this aspect, and hence presen-tations were generated manually. As part of the project, a methodology describing know-how aboutmultimedia presentations generation was defined, based on classical guidelines for museum label gen-eration, augmented by the requirements for audio and images. User interface design. Petrelli and Not [2005] present a detailed description of applying a user-centered design for the development of museum visitors’ guides as part of the HyperAudio and HIPSprojects. They started with an extensive study of user practices that resulted in detailed requirementsfor a museum visitors’ guide. HyperAudio was one of the few adaptive projects where a user-centereddesign approach was employed, and was probably the first such project in the area of adaptive andubiquitous guides. We adopted their recommendation for the development of the PIL project. Thetwo interfaces developed for the project were designed following the user-centered design approachproposed by the RESPECT framework [Kirakowsky and Vereker 1998]. System architectural aspects. Since most prior research work naturally focused on the specific ar-eas of interest of the researchers, museum visitors’ guide systems were developed ad hoc, as researchprototypes, for specific research purposes. Architectural aspects of museum visitors’ guide systemswere addressed only in PEACH [Stock et al. 2007], where a generic agent-oriented communication in-frastructure was adopted. This was done in order to demonstrate its applicability for such a dynamicenvironment and to allow the development of a flexible and extendible system. Recently Costantiniet al. [2008] also exploited intelligent agents for two ambient-intelligence scenarios in cultural her-itage. In PIL, the flexibility and extendibility of the PEACH architecture was demonstrated by adding communication service agents with minimal impact on other system components. Ubiquitous user modeling. Personalization in cultural heritage has gained growing attention during the past ten years, as surveyed by Ardissono and Petrelli [2008], where almost all the applicationshad a level of adaptation or personalization. The GUIDE system [Cheverst et al. 2002], a tourist guidefor the city of Lancaster, provided its users with personalized information, based on a user model ex-plicitly defined at the onset of the service. Sarini and Strapparava [1998] thoroughly analyzed therequirements of a user model for a museum visitors’ guide, and later on implemented in the HIPSproject. They applied an explicit definition of the initial model using a short questionnaire filled outby the visitors. Filippini-Fantoni [2003] carried out an evaluation of the Carrara Marble Museum Website that offered personalized support to three possible visitor categories—tourists, art students, andexperts—and allowed visitors to set their own individual profiles (for all those who did not associatethemselves with any of the previously mentioned types). Bright et al. [2005] describe the MyMuseumguide that tailors presentations to the visitors’ interests and preferences, allowing individual visitorsto visualize what has been adapted to them and why. After the visitor’s authentication, the systeminitialized a user model by using information explicitly provided by the user (in the form of yes/no an-swers to questions) providing some background and the level of information in which she is interested.The result of this short process was a Web page of the system adapted to a visitor. In Stock et al. [2007]one of the versions of user models was initialized by stereotypes represented by a virtual character  ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 3, No. 3, Article 11, Publication date: March 2011.  11:4 • T. Kuflik et al. the visitors selected as they started the visit, to accompany them through the museum (for instance, avirtual character of a painter was associated with a stereotype representing a user with an interest inpainting). In this case the user model was associated with the stereotype, so the visitors did not haveto initialize it explicitly.In general, the issue of bootstrapping a user model remains a challenge hardly addressed by anyof these systems. Yet in the museum, user model initialization is an important aspect, given that avisit is usually not very long, and it takes some time to build a model from scratch. Acknowledg-ing the importance of a solution that relieves the users from taking specific actions for initialization(such as compiling a questionnaire), the PIL project had among its goals to find a generic solution forthe challenge of user model initialization. It should be noted that this problem was also addressedin a recent work of Wang et al. [2009], but in a somewhat less general way. Alternative approachesbased on observing users’ behavior and matching them with past users in order to provide nonin-trusive bootstrapping of user models, have recently been proposed (see for example Zancanaro et al.[2007] and Bohnert et al. [2008 however, these are at the research stage and not yet used in realapplications.  Intragroup communication. Interaction among visitors is known to enhance the museum visit expe-rience, and technological support for communication among museum visitors already gained attentionin prior research. The Sotto Voce project [Szymanski et al. 2008] focused on shared listening as a wayto encourage interaction among museum visitors. Another approach was taken by Dini et al. 2007,where a group game that combined the use of handheld devices and a large display was used for en-hancing social interaction during the museum visit. However, visitors do not walk together all the timeand game playing does not appeal to everyone. Visitors separate from and rejoin each other, following their own interests and paths, and technology may support them while temporarily separated, or evenhelp bring them together again. Campiello [Grasso et al. 1998] enabled visitors to create a personaldiary (so as to communicate with themselves in the future). CyberGuide [Long et al. 1999] providedsupport for leaving messages for the curators or other visitors and for sending reports about the visi-tor’s location that other visitors could access. Hippie [Oppermann and Specht 1999] allowed its usersto take notes and annotate visited exhibits in order to store personal explanations or bookmarks avail-able during the visit and to send SMS-like messages that could be directed to a dedicated addressee,such as family or group members in the museum, or to enter a full email address to contact a remoteuser. Guide [Davies et al. 2001] enabled visitors to send and receive messages to/from their compan-ions, and to attach virtual notes at specific locations in the city so they could share their experienceswith other tourists. Guidebook [Fleck et al. 2002] provided its users with two communication services,named “rememberer” that gave visitors the means to build a record of their experiences which theycould consult during and after their visit, and “communicator” that helped visitors to communicate viaelectronic bulletin boards for individual exhibits, instant-messaging, and/or beaming information be-tween handheld devices. MUSE [Garzotto et al. 2003] allowed visitors to mark the currently displayedscreen or to use a built-in camera to take a picture of what they were looking at, for updating a visitmemory album that later on could be saved on a CD, which represented the memory of the onsite visit.Proctor and Burton [2004] in a paper concerned with the museum visitor guide at the Tate, reportedpositive responses to the option to take notes and put forward the need of visitors to page each otherand to interact with the gallery’s curator. MoMo [Jaen et al. 2005] allowed visitors to send messagesto other visitors, and to see the names of visitors who had already visited a specific artwork, in orderto share similar interests at the museum or to keep in touch more easily. The researchers claimedthat the messaging feature was the main point of the social interaction because it allowed visitors tocommunicate and interact with other museum visitors, either by sending messages individually or by  ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 3, No. 3, Article 11, Publication date: March 2011.  A Visitor’s Guide in an Active Museum: Presentations, Communications, and Reflection • 11:5 sending the same message to all the members of a group. Thus, it became extremely easy to shareideas and opinions or keep in touch with other people.While all of these systems had specific services provided as part of the application, PIL took a dif-ferent approach, trying to abstract and generalize the classical communication services (leaving outshared listening and group games, since they represent totally different aspects).  Post-visit group support. A museum visit or a tour does not end at the end of the visit. Visitorswould like to keep memories, as already presented in the communication services survey, using variouskinds of visit diaries. Several of these systems allowed their visitors to manually compose a summaryof a visit during the visit (with some help from the systems). PEACH [Stock et al. 2007] took thisvisit summary one step further by suggesting automatic generation of a personalized museum visitsummary report. However, visitors may also benefit from discussing the visit during breaks in thevisit and at the end of it while still at the museum. For instance the attention of one visitor may beattracted by his fellows to an exhibit he has missed, after discussion with the others in front of a largescreen; they may then go together to revisit the real thing. 3. THE RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT AND PIL SYSTEM The museum environment is both challenging and a rich research environment. A variety of topicsrelated to the PIL scenario have been the occasion for developing substantial research studies.—  Multimedia presentations preparation . A methodological approach to multimedia presentations pre-paration for the museum environment has been defined and applied. Presentations are composed sothat they stand alone as self contained components on the one hand, while on the other, a subset of them can be presented as a collection providing a rich content space allowing every visitor to pursuespecific interests.— User interface design . A fundamental issue has been how to provide the visitor with a nonintrusive,intuitive device that includes personal adaptation. Two versions of the user interface were builtfollowing the user-centered design approach.— Ubiquitous user modeling . Personalization is particularly challenging in the museum environmentwhere, in many cases, the visitor visits for the first and only time. Hence, personal information,possibly available from external sources, is requested and mediated to bootstrap a local user model,so the visitor may get personal support at the onset of the visit.—  Intragroup communication . Generic communication mechanisms that standardize and ease the de-velopment of intragroup communication services were developed and applied, to allow developers of museum visitors guides to foster interaction and enhance the overall visit experience.—  Post-/within-visit group support . Aiming at supporting groups of visitors, at the end of the visit orwhile taking a break, systems were built to allow them to revisit the visit, using a large display forsharing individual experiences and fostering interaction.— User studies and evaluation . Evaluation of the technology developed was an important object of ourstudy. It required careful design and user evaluation studies and simulations that in turn shed lighton how technology is perceived and used by visitors. It should be noted that extensive work withself-motivated real visitors will be possible only with a complete and well engineered guide.In the PIL project we have considered the scenario of technology-assisted museum visits from a broadperspective that encompasses a pre- and a post-visit scenario as well as support during the actual visit. A museum visitors’ guide system is initialized with a user profile and then, in the course of the visit,adapts to the behavior of the visitor, proposing context-dependent presentations, ordered to best fit the  ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 3, No. 3, Article 11, Publication date: March 2011.
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