Saturday, April 06, 2019: 11:00am - 12:30pm - Back Bay CD
Published paper: Designing a “No Interface” Audio Walk
Audio-based locative media (Tuters and Varnelis, 2006), sometimes known as “audio walks” (Cardiff and Miller, 1991), “placed sound” (Behrendt, 2012), or “situated sound” (Fagerjord, 2011) can be used to offer educational material outside the museum—effectively creating audio guide-like experiences in public spaces. However, such experiences raise concerns that have long been discussed in relation to mobile devices in museums: that they may take too much of the user’s attention, resulting in visitors focusing only on their mobile screens (Woodruff et al., 2001; vom Lehn and Heath, 2003; Wessel and Mayr, 2007; Løvlie, 2011; Behrendt, 2015). While this is a long-standing concern in the museum world, it also matches current trends in interface design suggesting that “the best interface is no interface” (Krishna, 2015).
This paper presents a research-through-design exploration (Zimmerman, Forlizzi, and Evenson, 2007) of this problem through the development of an audio walk conveying the history of the 1970’s squatter movement in Copenhagen. User tests demonstrate that the absence of a visual interface allows users to ignore their mobile screens and navigate simply using the audio while observing their surroundings. Some users report great pleasure from this experience: “The feeling of only listening, instead of looking at pictures, and then looking at reality, I really liked it—it was wonderful!” However, the experience also relies on the user’s ability to imagine the past and to understand the differences between the contemporary urban environment and the historical period in which the events unfold.
Behrendt, Frauke. 2012. “The Sound of Locative Media.” Convergence 18 (3): 283–95. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856512441150.
———. 2015. “Locative Media as Sonic Interaction Design: Walking through Placed Sounds.” Wi: Journal of Mobile Media 9 (2). http://wi.mobilities.ca/frauke-behrendt-locative-media-as-sonic-interaction-design-walking-through-placed-sounds/.
Cardiff, Janet, and George Bures Miller. 1991. “Walks.” Artist’s website. Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. 2006 1991. http://www.cardiffmiller.com/artworks/walks/index.html.
Fagerjord, Anders. 2011. “Between Place and Interface: Designing Situated Sound for the IPhone.” Computers and Composition, A Special Issue from Oslo, Norway, 28 (3): 255–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2011.07.001.
Krishna, Golden. 2015. The Best Interface Is No Interface. San Francisco, CA: New Riders.
Lehn, Dirk vom, and Christian Heath. 2003. “Displacing the Object: Mobile Technologies and Interpretive Resources.” In International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting: Proceedings from Ichim03. Paris: Archives & Museum Informatics. http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/ichim03/088C.pdf.
Løvlie, Anders Sundnes. 2011. “Annotative, Locative Media and G-P-S: Granularity, Participation and Serendipity.” Computers & Composition 28 (3): 246–54.
Tuters, Marc, and Kazys Varnelis. 2006. “Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things.” Leonardo 39 (4): 357–63. https://doi.org/10.1162/leon.2006.39.4.357.
Wessel, Daniel, and Eva Mayr. 2007. “Potentials and Challenges of Mobile Media in Museums.” International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (IJIM) 1 (1). http://journals.sfu.ca/onlinejour/index.php/i-jim/article/view/165.
Woodruff, Allison, Paul Aoki, Amy Hurst, and Margaret Szymanski. 2001. “Electronic Guidebooks and Visitor Attention.” In International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting: Proceedings from ichim01, edited by D. Bearman and F. Garzotto. Milano, Italy: Archives & Museum Informatics. http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/ichim01_vol1/woodruff.pdf.
Zimmerman, John, Jodi Forlizzi, and Shelley Evenson. 2007. “Research Through Design As a Method for Interaction Design Research in HCI.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 493–502. CHI ’07. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/1240624.1240704.