Thursday, March 26, 2009


I read the paper "ArtLinks: Fostering Social Awareness and Reflection in Museums" by Dan Cosley et al. from the CHI 2008 Proceedings.

ArtLinks is a test system the authors designed to attempt to link visitors perceptions of an exhibit at a museum. The authors acknowledge that many people go to a museum to learn, but they also state that people may go to a museum to see what others think about certain things.

The ArtLinks system is set up for a particular exhibit, and visitors are encourage to share their thoughts about it, much like a guestbook. The main page of the system displays common words used to describe the exhibit, with words that are used frequently appearing larger than relatively infrequently used words. As the user mouses over a word, they will see lines drawn to the visitors who used those words. As they mouse over another visitor's icon, they will see lines drawn to words that that visitor used to describe the exhibit.

I think the ArtLinks idea is a thought-provoking one; however, when I go to a museum, I want to learn about the objects on display. I am not usually interested in what others have had to say about it.

I do see that there likely is value for an ArtLinks type of system in an art museum, where the exhibits are intended to be interpretted, perhaps differently, by each visitor. In such a museum, the system could be a useful way of sparking interest and different ideas for the visitor. It would give them a better vocabulary of expressing appreciation for the art by seeing what others have thought about it.


  1. It would be interesting to see what type of comments people would write. Hopefully most people would write things other than "Cool," "Interesting," "Bob wuz here, lolz" and simple things like that. If meaningful comments weren't written, I'm not sure if this idea would be worth the effort/expense to implement.

  2. I think this would go under utilized