This week was a two conference presentation week for me. The second was the keynote for Etech, but the first was for the Outdoor Historical Museum Forum. The Forum, which our friends at The Henry Ford asked me to participate in, is a gathering of leaders in the US outdoor history museum world. I think that outdoor museums are fascinating examples of the long history of experience design. They've been designing experiences for 100 years or more, in the interest of creating environments that allow people to see things that no longer exist in their world, in environments people no longer live in. It was an honor and pleasure to spend some time with these folks.
Unfortunately, the audience of many of these museums is shrinking. My talk was about the role that technology can play in helping history museums communicate their core competitive advantage, which I defined to be authenticity, and provided some examples of projects that I think used technology particularly well to do that:
The history museum's advantage relative to other activities is direct exposure to real artifacts and experiences. You provide the examples on which explanations of contemporary life, politics, industry, etc, are based. People’s understanding of “here and now” starts with “there and then.” You’re the there.
I believe that new digital technologies can greatly lower the costs of communicating the value of authenticity. In other words, they can tell you what makes the real thing REAL.
The full text of my presentation is available as a 600K PDF.