Interpretation is about sharing but also listening. Museum interpreters are information chefs. They take raw content, say scholarship, and then make something palatable out of it. After serving their delicacies, they listen for the feedback of the consumers. Using this feedback, they might refine their recipes. Social media allows visitors to make the interpretation about museum collections into a potluck.
Vine is a particularly useful tool to do this. First, Vine is a consumer product. Anyone with a smart phone can use it, and many of your visitors will have it on their devices. This makes it incredibly useful as a tool to use with visitors. Visitors and museum professionals have equal access to this tool. It can be a point of commonality.
Often museum educators seek to impart some information to a constituency. Content that might seem daunting, like making art with young children, can be shown in a non-threatening, playful manner. Process videos that are dead dreary in the length of YouTube are distilled into the essential steps. While you could certainly use a myriad of tools to describe the iconography of painting for AP art history students, in 6 seconds you can point out all the key points. Vine offers informality, speed of production, and ease of consumption. You are transmitting the content in a form that your end-user already consumers.
Vine is also very easy to use with visitors. Many of the Vines out there are not very good. The bar for content production is low, making the chances of doing better than average high. This is adds the accessibility of the media. Even young children can touch the screen. The investment in each video is low, so discarding videos doesn’t feel too painful. (Additionally, Vine has a useful editing feature that allows you to discard sections.) With children, Vine is an easy way to teach kids simple narrative. You can help them learn to pace and transition. This takes a little bit of workshopping, but once done, your youngest visitors have a tool to share their ideas alongside adults.
That said, many people with Vine on their devices are content consumers, not producers. You will need to help most visitors make Vines.
How can staff help visitors produce content?
1. Create prompts to jumpstart users creativity—like make a Vine of your favorite color
2. Set up Vine experiences. Have props ready to foster playfulness. Include backdrops and other materials that make this feel like a set.
3. During these experiences, or even at events, set up times to show visitors how to use Vine on their devices. This is something that interns can be quite good at doing.
4. Or, have your interns or staff make the vines, so that visitors can focus on their creative expression.
My vines can be found here.
I have written a series of short posts about Vine. Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Looking at Art through Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips
I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_
Our presentation Vine feed is here.
Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.
Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.