While the workshop focuses on tidying up some loose ends of Curiosity, I’ve invited some other members of the team to share their experiences of the development process. Today it’s Camille Cocaud, our intern, who has worked hard to create a strong digital presence within the gallery. Unfortunately Camille is now leaving us for greener pastures back in her native France, but you can follow all the exciting things she continues to do via Twitter @camillecocaud
This blog post is a bit different than the ones we’ve posted before. Lizzie’s been telling you everything about the creative process behind building the Curiosity Zone, exhibit after exhibit for the past few months. I’m going to tell you how the Curiosity Zone has gone digital.
QR codes. Not a swear word. Not a new Ridley Scott futuristic movie title. QR codes (Quick Response codes) are two-dimensional square-shaped barcodes, usually using black and white pixels. Like common barcodes, they contain information that can be accessed, but here we’re using a smartphone.
QR Code to Curiosity Landing Page
Ring a bell? Yes, indeed we’ve seen these appearing everywhere recently, mostly on commercial ads and sometimes for cultural initiatives. When you scan them with your phone using a QR reader app, you generally are redirected to a specific webpage via your phone browser. But enough of the boring lesson. Why am I telling you about these again? Well because we’re using QR codes in the Curiosity Zone, as the technological pivot of the exhibition digital extension, QRiosity.
Let’s step back a little and think about what is the general idea behind the Curiosity Zone. This exhibition is quite unusual for our visitors. It doesn’t have labels with detailed instructions or lists of facts to learn about. The team wanted to encourage the public to ‘exercise their scientific muscles’ by investigating the exhibits as they play. Research scientists don’t know what their final results will be when they do an experiment. In the same fashion, science is driven by curiosity and an attempt to answer questions that begin with “what happens if…” Research is only like a more formal sort of play when you think of it. The core idea was to give people a taste for investigation and enough confidence to ask their own questions by providing them with some starting points.
QRiosity has got the exact same objectives, but aims to extend people’s taste for meaningful exploration online. All our exhibits have one associated QR code stuck in its surroundings, awaiting visitors to be QRious enough to scan them.
When you do so, you access the exhibit QRiosity page. All these pages are hosted on our website, and perfectly accessible from a computer or a smartphone. For each page you visit, a selection of ‘the best of the web’ is there for you to discover. Whether it be a funny video to watch, an insightful article to read, trendy apps to download, addictive games to play online, famous geek blogs to follow, interesting websites or DIY scientific demos to try out yourself, QRiosity aims at getting visitors curious beyond the exhibition floor.
Of course, QRiosity is just starting and for now only the team’s bests are shared on these pages. Internet users and visitors are welcome and even encouraged to help curate the web page of each exhibit. Sometimes the things we share are very loosely related to the exhibit and only touch on a tiny proportion of the general idea behind them.
In addition to QRiosity, we’re also using Tumblr and Twitter to complete our digital Curiosity Zone. Indeed, all of the exhibits in this exhibition space are creativity-prone. Most of them invite visitors to create something, such as a tune on our ‘Music Box’ or ‘Reactable’, a traced drawing on our ‘Outline’ fossil tables, or a pattern on our ‘Sand’ stations. Creativity stems from previous encounters and experiences, hence why the Curiosity Zone has a platform, curiousatlife.tumblr.com, where visitors can share their creations for others to find about, whether it’s a tune, a photo, a video, a quote or an interesting link. The idea of using Twitter in the Curiosity Zone stemmed from the desire to have a wall where visitors could comment, share, ask questions or give feedback about their experience. People can add to the ongoing conversation with other visitors and our staff using #curiousatlife, and their tweet is automatically displayed on a tweet wall! Our science explainers and hosts can interact with them through our @curiousatlife account.
Having such a large digital presence in one of our exhibitions is something totally new here in the Centre for Life. We would very much like to hear your comments or advice as professionals or as a visitor (or maybe even both!) We hope that our digital Curiosity Zone fits into the overall project and that it brings extra-value to the fabulous work our workshop team have already done on the exhibits.