An Annotated Bibliography of Experience Research in Cultural Sites and Institutions

Armbrecht, J. (2014). Use value of cultural experiences: A comparison of contingent valuation and travel cost. Tourism Management, 42, 141–148.

In this study, Armbrecht compares Customer valuation method (CVM) and Travel Cost method (TCM) to study which better assesses use value for cultural institutions. The author compared a concert hall and a museum. This was done because different institutions have different reasons for being built and for being visited. I find this to be a significant consideration for studies like this one. One institution may value grants and funding for research over visitor enjoyment. The comparison in this study showed that the value estimates between both CVM and TCM differ significantly, especially when motivations for visiting a site are part of a larger “bundle” of experiences. I think studies like this are important. Many cultural institutions are funded by grants, and those grants are only given when value can be proven. Along with that thought, the people who donate to fund those grants may be the same visitors who enjoy the institutions. Value assessments are important beyond grants as well. Private funding has a lot of influence when it comes to research and business. I also think researchers and academics may not always realize that they are just one type of user of cultural sites and institutions. Their values may not always reflect what people want in a cultural experience.

Bourke, B. (2010). Experiences of black students in multiple cultural spaces at a predominantly white institution. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 3(2), 126–135.

In this article, Bourke discusses how literature reflects experiences of Black students in cultural spaces. They begin by identifying three forms of examining diversity pulled from literature. These forms are structural diversity, diversity-related Initiatives, and diverse interactions. The study for this article employed five focus groups for data collection. They describe their process in detail, including how they coded and analyzed transcripts and utilized intercoder agreements. The study found that Black students who are engaging with campus culture at Primarily White Institutions are concerned with four distinct cultural spaces. These are athletic expectations, traditional campus culture, Black student educators, and privilege dynamics. Studies like this are important, because they reveal how affirmative action policies may provide better experiences for their targeted populations. This study reminds me of Noble’s book on algorithms. In that book, Noble discusses how search engines are often producing racist results, which is a direct result of the information that is fed in. This matters in practice, because academic discourse had largely moved into online journal databases. It also made me think of Asimov’s concept of a third intelligence. Humans program robots, then robots program humans into a new intelligence. Taking that concept to describe discourse, as an artificial third intelligence that is meta-human. If we think of academic discourse as an algorithm that is programmed by people, then used by people, what bias ideas might we be reinforcing as we continue?

Christensen, J. R. (2011). Four steps in the history of museum technologies and visitors’ digital participation. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 27(50), 23.

In this article, Christensen traces the history of curation toward digital participation. They assert that exhibited objects are in dialogue with their surrounding paratexts. In this discussion, Christensen draws from examples of the Bode Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Dr. Johnson’s House to present four steps of museum technology history. The four steps refer to The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, which sold print reproductions to visitors; The post-photographic museum, which employs photography as a tool in curation; audio guides, and independent museum paratexts via digital and participatory forms. Christensen concludes that the significance of museum objects has shifted from being about their historical context to how they interact with modern times. This is important for both the archaeologists who first uncover materials, and the museums that display them to be aware of. When collecting data, archaeologists may choose to employ more interpretive methods. Providing a detailed archive of the data collection process allows institutions to reassess interpretations in the future, when visitor tastes change. I think another key point from this study is that visitors care more about experiences than learning. This means modern institutions will need to strike a balance between recreation and information, and learn how to market both to their visitors.

Czyrnyj, A. A. (2011). Presenting the University of Manitoba’s archaeological collections online: Implementation and user feedback (M.A., University of Manitoba (Canada)). Retrieved from

This thesis chapter provides a background in public access to archaeology collections. Their research is specific to Canada, focusing on an online collection at the University of Manitoba. The author frames their research with critical theory, and interpretive archaeologies and multivocality. These perspectives are important, considering collections are touted to have value beyond research. According to the author, however, even the accessible online collections were curated by archaeologists. Although I would argue that most digital collections are really made by unpaid interns, but that is my personal experience. There is little funding for digitization as a paid position. What I find useful too, is that Czyrnyj shares different audiences, or publics that exist according to different researchers. Each field has some idea of who is interacting with archaeology, but each are locally specific. Online collections require a broad international scope. This chapter is useful because it provides an overview of public surveys relating to opinion of archaeology. I have found however, that most surveys developed by archaeologists are more aimed at getting numbers that look good for grants. I remember one time I asked the SAA to provide their survey questions after they released a report, and the questions were basically asking for confirmation bias. This is reflected in the summary here as well. Overall, the surveys show that in Canada, the public is interested in archaeology, although they may not know what it really means.


Deacon, J. (2006). Rock Art Conservation and Tourism. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 13(4), 379–399.

This article discusses the opposing yet intertwined industries of rock art conservation and rock art tourism. Deacon provides a description on the environmental factors that affect rock art sites, specifically weathering. This discussion is balanced with the perspectives of various social groups with an interest, such as descendent communities. Finally, the author discusses tourism and other economic factors which must be considered in relation to preservation and the public. This last discussion on economic factors will be especially relevant in considering additional stakeholders in the rock art community, for example, photographers who sell their artistic prints of sites.

Reading this article, I was reminded of a previous course discussion on coproduction. One specific article I recall is Bohannon’s article which discusses the difference between “doing no harm” and “doing good” in archaeology. There is an important consideration that archaeology is interwoven with politics and policy. Bohannon calls it a “tool to engage with development.” Although my thesis will not relate to development per say, the relation to preservation policy is important. A related discussion from Silberman stresses how archaeologists are great at interpreting the past, but not at relating the importance of the past to contemporary issues. The tendency to blame the public for issues of preservation, rather than to understand the context is reminiscent of the orientations for my research.

Archaeology is an interpretive science, and therefore the narrative is subject to change based on who is doing the interpreting. Often, multiple storylines will come from the same available information. Often, the politics and policy reflect the desires of agencies and researchers. The public opinions are considered; however, they are rarely if ever in control of the outcome. The interrelation and coproduction can be seen in the legislation, where consulting with stakeholders is now required by law.

Duval, M., & Smith, B. W. (2014). Seeking Sustainable Rock Art Tourism: The Example of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. South African Archaeological Bulletin, 69(199), 34–48.

The authors review key issues relating to rock art and tourism, focusing specifically on the case of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park (UDP) in South Africa. A “tourist typology” was created by analyzing the practices and motivations of visitors to rock art sites. This typology spans from recreational visitor to rock art enthusiast. A good point they bring up is the consideration for future visitors, those who may be unidentified because they have not yet been exposed to rock art. The goal of conducting this study goal was to describe visitor behaviors to develop sustainable rock art tourism. Duval and Smith advocate for a network web of tourism hospitality, including hotels and restaurants, so this article is very clearly from a tourism optimistic perspective. The authors touch on agency actors only briefly, and do not include any sort of descendent community or local perspective. Looking through the breadcrumbs however, I can see they considered many perspectives. This could have been more explicit throughout the piece.

One concept the authors only touch on are the risks of increasing visitors on a site. Increased visitation has potential for visitor liability, injury, and negative impacts on the site itself. They allude to deacon’s work on the interplay between environmental, social, and economic factors affecting conservation, so I would like to dig deeper into this as well. This study is especially relevant, as unintentional defacing of rock art and heritage sites is an ongoing occurrence. Tourism and preservation are often seen as competitors but taking an anthropological approach may help the two work together for public education and engagement.

This case study is fascinating in that it challenges many of the basic rock art conservation ideas that are currently in practice. In the popular conservation opinion, conservation of the physical art is ensured through perpetual separation of visitors. This is one of the few pieces I have come across that recognizes the importance of visitor motivation regarding rock-art sites, rather than modifying behavior.

Feinberg, M. (2011). Personal Expressive Bibliography in the Public Space of Cultural Heritage Institutions. Library Trends, 59(4), 588–606.

This article discusses how the intentions of people who make collections and those of cultural institutions differ, and this has implications for how to select and organize materials. Feinberg asserts that personal bibliographies can present an alternative view of collecting information in cultural heritage institutions. The article identifies three venues of alternative communication institutions may experience when allowing users to generate their own collections. The first is by having more eclectic goals for collecting and describing materials. Next, users will have their own unique voice of authority. Finally, without institutional constraints, users can engage emotionally with collections. Feinberg presents the discussion that expressive bibliographies are a form of poetic communication. This poetry is important, since they way collections are selected, described, and organized are intended to tell a story. When I read this piece, I was reminded of my work in collections management. On several occasions, I was responsible for transporting materials, and there was not always a solid protocol on how to properly and safely move the collections, or how to document the process. Collections move many times before they arrive at their final institution, and therefore are likely to lose their provenience context if the chain of custody is not detailed.

Garau, C. & Emiliano Ilardi. (2014). The “Non-Places” Meet the “Places:” Virtual Tours on Smartphones for the Enhancement of Cultural Heritage. Journal of Urban Technology, 21(1), 1–2.

This paper explores how the technology of handheld smartphones, can be harnessed to enhance the access and feature availability of cultural institutions. This paper uses three case studies to show how smartphones are changing how people interact with places. The most important realization from this paper is that people no longer need to be present at a place to experience it. A smartphone can offer a virtual tour. I also recall an experiment I provided feedback for where a researcher designed a chatbot to talk with people about Catalhoyuk. I was able to learn key information about the site though a virtual conversation. The author concludes with a list of four potential applications for incorporating technology into cultural institutions management models. The first is the expansion of educational options. Next is an extension of the system, where the physical place is an access point to deeper experiences. The third is the potential to integrate with new technologies, such as augmented reality. This is already being done, for example, with researchers leading heritage tours using the PokemonGo App. Finally, the fourth application relates to content management, which I find important since many institutions have online presences but have no clue how their users experience this presence. I think this has huge implication not just for accessibility, but sustainability. Many travelers would like to experience a place, but feel guilty about the environmental stress travel can influence.

Jauhari, V. (2010). How can the visitor experience be enhanced for spiritual and cultural tourism in India? Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes; Bingley, 2(5), 559–563.

This paper reviews six related studies from a theme issue of the Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes Journal. The papers all relate to tourism experiences in India. The paper describes each study briefly, and then discusses recommendations pulled from the key themes of each. They key issues relating to tourism in India have more to do with infrastructure and management than any other factor. The papers discuss transportation, hygiene infrastructure, and queue management. The paper also mentions a key visitor desire for site preservation. One notable thing the authors mention is that there is also a concern for “beggars” detouring tourism. This paper is useful because it focuses on one main location of tourism, rather than tourism in general. Each location will have specific needs relating to the local population and infrastructure and management will not be a fully-standardize practice. The authors also mention the need for government regulated education programs and better marketing. I think what it interesting about this paper, is that it shows just how many approaches researchers can bring to the same topic. This is important because each one presents its own form of bias, but together they can ebb and flow around the strengths and weaknesses of each study.

Jauhari, V., & Sanjeev, G. M. (2010). Managing customer experience for spiritual and cultural tourism: an overview. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes; Bingley, 2(5), 467–476.

In this article, the authors discuss the goal of improving visitor experience for the hospitality and tourism industry in India. They frame the goal of their research to be increasing visitors to cultural sites, thus increasing revenue. According to the authors, some factors that affect experiences are infrastructure, accommodation, transportation, food options, and queue management. Researchers studies visitor experiences at six different cultural sites. The article concludes by saying that the areas of customer experience and hygiene infrastructure are of the most importance to get visitors to return. While this article provides useful information on some concepts from tourism marketing via background research, it does little to reach its goal of learning how to improve experiences. What the researchers really ended up studying was more of a visitor loyalty. An increase in the number of visitors to a site may only mean that marketing is working, not that the experience is good. If visitors are having negative experiences, they are less likely to return or recommend the place to others. While it is nice to see research being done that relates to tourism experiences, there is not a clear business perspective in this one. I think there are so many related fields with different jargon that could benefit from collaborative interdisciplinary studies.


Klinenberg, E. (2018). Introduction: The Social Infrastructure. In Palaces for the people: how social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life (First Edition). New York: Crown.

This is the introductory chapter for Klinenberg’s book on social infrastructure and inequality. They open with a description of the Chicago heatwave in 1995. Data from this point in time illustrated that communities that fared the worst were those who already facing inequality and segregation. Women and Hispanics fared better, according to Kleinberg, because they tend to have cultures centered on social support and altruism. In this chapter, Kleinberg raises key questions relating to how infrastructure influences culture. These questions are: what are the qualities of places that influence people to develop stronger relationships, and which are more likely to create isolation? The author discusses what is and what isn’t considered to be social infrastructure. Social infrastructures are anything that bring people together. Things like water infrastructure are not considered to be social in this perspective, because the purpose is not to bring people together. What I like about the author’s writing, it that they make a clear distinction on how quantitative statistical data differs from what is observed “on the ground.” This is key for applied policy research, because policy that is based on only one source of data is incomplete. According to the author, disasters can be much better managed through better policy research methods.

Korn, R., & Jones, J. (2000). Visitor Behavior and Experiences in the Four Permanent Galleries at The Tech Museum of Innovation. Curator: The Museum Journal, 43(3), 261–281.

This article shares the results of a Phase I evaluation for the Tech Museum of Innovation. The study reviewed how visitors behaved in four permanent galleries in the museum. The study employed time observations, exit interviews, and more focused observations and interviews as data collection methods. What concerns me about this piece is that, although the article describes the data in detail, the interpretations are clearly obscured by institutional perspectives. The authors say that overall, visitors “failed” to grasp the intended big ideas of the permanent galleries. I would argue instead, that the researchers failed to understand why visitors didn’t receive the information that the gallery wanted to present. I do think it is important to note that in this study, the researchers were specifically aiming to measure success of the Tech Museum goals. This is important because often, it will be the institution who is overseeing and funding researchers, not visitors. In my experience, funding is the great motivator for research and project goals. Even for myself, my goals differ depending on whether I am getting paid to visit an institution, or if I am paying. This study focused on the experience while in the museum, but there could be more to learn about visitors and how they learn and experience information while outside of museums.

Marsh, D. E., Punzalan, R. L., Leopold, R., Butler, B., & Petrozzi, M. (2016). Stories of impact: the role of narrative in understanding the value and impact of digital collections. Archival Science, 16(4), 327–372.

This article discusses digital collections in the library, archives, and museums (LAM) fields. The authors provide a great discussion on some of the challenges presented when assessing ethnographic related collections. The first challenge for assessments is that ethnographic collections are comprised of multiple forms and formats. Collections may include any number of objects, documents, digital recordings, or other media. The next issue is that ethnographic collections are not always easily identifiable. The authors illuminate that ethnographic collections are those that are specifically linked to an Indigenous community. Next, assessment of collections must be sensitive to their original intent. This can be difficult but important, like when cities need to assess whether to remove or revise public statues. Another barrier to assessment is that access to collections is often restricted. The last issue of assessment is that there is an aversion to metrics from these LAM fields, and anthropology us specifically mentioned. The authors suggest that this is partially influenced by some of the more negative history of metrics. Previous researchers have employed metric information as a rationalization for some of the more racist history of the field. Avoiding metric analysis, however, does not eliminate the colonial history of the discipline.

Mazel, A., Galani, A., Maxwell, D., & Sharpe, K. (2012). I Want to be Provoked’: public involvement in the development of the Northumberland Rock Art on Mobile Phones project. World Archaeology, 44(4), 592–611.

This paper describes the process and use of the Rock art on Mobile Phones Project. RAMP is an interesting project because it is an in-situ site interpretation program that was created using participatory design. The authors begin with an introduction on the Northumberland Rock Art: Web Access to the Beckensall Archive (NRA) and the Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Pilot Project (NADRAP), before launching into an in-depth description of the Rock Art on Mobile Phones Project (RAMP). These resources were combined with co-experience workshops to assess the public’s expectation for an interpretive program. During these workshops, key issues were identified. People wanted their mobile phones to be able to access information about locating rock-art sites, ambiguous and speculative interpretations, and the ability to connect to the landscape.

This article is a spot-on representation of how applied anthropology method and perspective can be used in developing preservation policy in archaeology. Rather than justifying a program through research literature, this project spoke to experts and the public. This was a great project for me to encounter personally, because of my interest in developing sustainable rock art tourism practices through social media. The website for RAMP is a great resource, although it is not necessarily geared toward a preservation perspective.

Mencarelli, R., & Pulh, M. (2012). Museoparks and re-enchantment of the museum visits: an approach centred on visual ethnology. Qualitative Market Research; Bradford, 15(2), 148–164.

This study utilized a visual photograph analysis to explore the symbolic dimensions of museoparks. Museoparks are places that present a hybrid of cultural education and recreational activities. This analysis showed four symbolic areas that are related to the museopark experience. These four areas are: spectacularizing, immersive character, ritualized character, and merchandising the experience. In spectacularizing, institutions will offer some grand visual for example, a castle at Disneyland or the building of a Smithsonian Museum. The architectural presentation of the place is part of the experience. Immersion relates to both immediate immersions, where visitors become part of the experience, and gradual immersions, where visitors have some control in their experience. For gradual immersion, a good example would be the interactive elements in the queue for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland in Southern California. For ritual, the authors use the examples of marine park show times, but also visual rituals such as fences to signify areas that are off-limits. Finally, souvenirs provide a merchandised version of the experience that visitors can bring with them after leaving. The authors note some limitations with this research, specifically that using case studies may be too specific to draw real conclusions on themes. Another noted risk was that of overinterpretation. The authors say that there should be more interpretations made by managers and consumers, rather than having a researcher pick out the themes they see. I think this is a great point, and inter-operator validation would be a good option for future research.

Mickel, A. (2016). Tracing Teams, Texts, and Topics: Applying Social Network Analysis to Understand Archaeological Knowledge Production at Çatalhöyük. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 23(4), 1095–1126.

This study applied a social network analysis to the site of Catalhoyuk in Turkey to illuminate how researcher teams were interacting. The author argues that there is too much focus on objects and materials in archaeology. It is just as important to study the process of how archaeological knowledge is produced. The researchers utilized research artifacts such as reports and newsletters to visualize the structural network of interactions at the site. This study is important to me, because it shows how complicated a network of research teams can be, and how the distinct nodes of the network lose structure over time. This is one aspect I found to be most important, especially for projects that run for multiple years with multiple teams. For example, the visual presentation of data with have more nodes and information over time, and this may influence details to be lost in the averages. Long-term archaeology project can benefit from this sort of reflexive research, especially when much of the project knowledge over time is carried out by novice students and interns. Studies such as this one can be illuminating to how archaeologists influence the discipline along with the data they are collecting and interpreting as they excavate.

Mocanu, R. (2014). Destination Branding Through Experience and Authenticity. Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends; Bucharest, 7(1), 89–106.

Destination branding is when a destination utilizes some consistent positive image to identify themselves. The concept aims to provide consistent unique elements and provide a good travel experience. In this article, Mocanu discusses an analysis on tourist satisfaction. According to the author, loyal tourists are like loyal customers. A destination can benefit from having visitors who become advocates. This informal marketing is one incentive for destinations to create a positive experience for tourists. I think studies like this are important, because tourism is a multifaceted industry. As a researcher, it is a good reminder that not everyone shares the same goals and expectations when it comes to travel. Mocano makes a great point that people usually aren’t travelling for education. They travel for recreation and leisure primarily, although now there are alternative options, such as ecotourism and heritage tourism. From an archaeological research perspective, it will be important to consider how sites may be experienced after the research is complete. Deciding when and how to open sites to visitors involves more than work being finished and business branding. I would compare this piece to Deacon’s discussion on rock-art tourism. Deacon discusses the interplay between economic factors, social factors, and environmental factors that can affect tourism. Destination branding would fall under both economic and social factors.

Morgan, C. L. (2012). Emancipatory Digital Archaeology (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley). Retrieved from

This chapter from Morgan’s dissertation provides a historical background of understanding of digital artifacts in the field of archaeology. As Morgan points out, artifacts in digital form are too often considered to be ephemeral representations of tangible artifacts. This perspective does little to provide a deep understanding of digital artifacts as actual artifacts in their own form. Morgan traces the background of materiality studies, and visual anthropology, and how these relate to the study of digital artifacts. Morgan also discusses the methods that are typically represented when artifacts are studied. These methods are symmetrical archaeology and object biographies. For digital artifacts, Morgan asserts that methods from visual anthropology will also be included. Intangible culture and digital artifacts are not the same. I like the comparisons Morgan makes between photographs and digital artifacts. Both tend to be considered as representations of some other thing. A key concept Morgan mentions is a tactile fallacy, where people will assume that because the objects in a computer screen cannot be touched, they don’t exist. This is important, because those objects are real existing things that relate to culture. It won’t be enough to just digitize collections, we will need to reassess how we present information in new forms. 


Orfield, S. (n.d.). User Experience and Heritage Preservation. Retrieved from

In this article, the authors discuss the decisions related to the preservation process of campus buildings. Their conclusion is that current preservation project models do not address the key components of what really drives preservation decisions. For a campus institution, the attention is on selection, cost, accuracy, and value of preservation. While this article focused on campus buildings specifically, I think of how much I learned about significance and sites, and how those relate to intangible values, not necessarily management values. Even in papers on site management, I see more about how to get visitors to act a specific way than asking what visitors need while they visit. I do find the field of tourism studies tends to focus more on those aspects. This study specifically focused on college campus institutions, and these tend to have their own distinct goals and cultural norms. What may work in approaching these institutions may be counter to the goals of an independent museum. On that note however, there are campuses such as Stanford University with multiple cultural institutions and departments within a larger entity. This article illuminates just how many types of users there can be for an institutional system, and how not all of their needs agree.

Pallud, J., & Monod, E. (2010). User experience of museum technologies: the phenomenological scales. European Journal of Information Systems; Basingstoke, 19(5), 562–580.

This article presents a great discussion on how phenomenological theory relates to digital technologies in museums. The paper presents a need for more IT research specifically within the context of visitor experience of cultural heritage. The authors then discuss Monod and Klein’s framework of phenomenological experience criteria and whether these criteria alone are an accurate representation of criteria that should be applied to museum visitors. The researchers present their research as a model for UX research with criteria specifically designed to fit the goals of cultural heritage institutions. For this reason, I believe their project could be a very good model to use in the development of other research projects. The authors have included multiple appendices with interview guides, questionnaires, and analysis information for their research. These appendices will be informative as I structure my own similar project.

One key point made by the researchers is that they were studying very specific technologies and did not specify the internet in those technologies. They call for researchers to pursue a similar method for different types of technology. The authors note that in-depth interviews should be used in place of questionnaires, to more fully encompass the perspective of phenomenology and draw out the experiences of visitors. They also note the possibility of another criteria of phenomenology, that of social, which I think is potentially applicable should project websites include commenting and other social functions.

Prayag, G., Hosany, S., Muskat, B., & Del Chiappa, G. (2017). Understanding the Relationships between Tourists’ Emotional Experiences, Perceived Overall Image, Satisfaction, and Intention to Recommend. Journal of Travel Research, 56(1), 41–54.

Measuring emotional experiences relates to User Experience Research and Design because of the importance of how positive and negative experiences influence things like customer loyalty. In fact, User Experience and Visitor Experience share many values, one is just more closely focused on website design. In this study, the authors applied a valence-based approach to study the relationship between the emotional experiences of tourists visiting Italy, and the likelihood to recommend. They used numerical scales to rate visitors’’ overall image of the site and asked about the intensity of 15 positive emotions visitors may have experienced. Although this study revealed that positive emotions were linked with a higher likelihood to recommend, the researchers state that the emotions were collected retrospectively, and do not represent the true capture of experience. This is one of my primary concerns when studying experience. In order to measure a concept, it must be quantified. Emotions are difficult to truly quantify on a numeric scale. I think that rather than aim for a true representation of experience, researchers should utilize experience-based methods to help with modeling. I would argue that at some point these scaled valence measurements will become obsolete as researchers start to apply technologies that can better measure perception and emotions.

Richardson, L. J. (2014). The Day of Archaeology: blogging and online archaeological communities. European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies, 4 (2014), 421–446.

This article describes a study of the Day of Archaeology blogging project. They discuss the development of the project, which it should be noted the author was a part of. The goal was to create an online archaeological community, although I would argue that from my personal experience what the researchers made was a content farm. This article describes a year prior to the one I participated in. The analysis used for their study includes metrics from the twitter hashtag, which also argue does not represent a community. From what I have learned thorough my experiences studying and developing websites is that academics think their potential users are more interested in learning what they know that they are. I participated in a later year of this blogging event, and there was much less activity than is reflected in this article. In my experience, there was little discussion on the blog site or social media. One thing to not is that this type of blogging project is voluntary, so only archaeologists who have time to write around or on that event day can participate. This means actual working archaeologists may not truly be represented in the data, and this community would be better described as “blogging archaeologists”.

Suh, Y., Shin, C., Woo, W., Dow, S., & MacIntyre, B. (2011). Enhancing and evaluating users’ social experience with a mobile phone guide applied to cultural heritage. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 15(6), 649–665.

This study employed a simple communication app to enhance visitors experience at a historic cemetery site. For this study, participants were in groups of two, although the authors do mention that the app is capable of more users. This would require a larger scale of research. Evaluation of the users’ experience using the app during their visit showed that it did improve. The app was simple enough in design that users were able to start using it to communicate. Some interesting insights come in how users were employing the same functions. With GPS, users could do things such as track their children, or send locations of interesting places within the site. I think this is important for any site or museum that wants to start adding digital experiences. It is much better to start small and scale up, while learning about how users experience the technology, rather than build an intricate but hard to use experience. From what I learned in my UX courses; users prefer intuitive processes. If they must learn how to do something in order to have a good experience, there is already too much responsibility on them. This study sounds like it was a successful first step, with opportunity to scale up with features that are better honed to the specific visitors of that place.

Trinh, T. T., & Ryan, C. (2017). Visitors to Heritage Sites: Motives and Involvement—A Model and Textual Analysis. Journal of Travel Research, 56(1), 67–80.

This study reflects on culture as a data delineator for tourism studies. The researchers’ goal was to study the experiences of four different cultural groups who visited the same cultural heritage site. I think it is significant that the researchers chose culture as a segregator and wonder how they recruited participants who fell into distinct cultural groups. They used open-ended questions that they answered in writing, and these were then run through textual analysis software. The key discussion of this article is that although the study had originally hypothesized some difference in motivations between cultural groups, there wasn’t any. What was reflected is more of a homogenous tourism culture. One of the primary shortcomings of this study, as noted by the researchers, is that their analysis is on a first reflective writing of the experience. This means that the participants may have had more to say or would say things in a different way than the data collection process allowed for. According to the researchers, more in-depth interviews could provide a deeper understanding to both the researchers and the visitors as to what their motives are for visiting a site. I would say another potential shortcoming is in designating individuals as part of cultural groups. While it may work with some participants, how would this type of research design work to study motivation in participants who consider themselves multicultural?

Zaharias, P., Michael, D., & Chrysanthou, Y. (2013). Learning through Multi-touch Interfaces in Museum Exhibits: An Empirical Investigation. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(3), 374–384.

This study sought to compare the experiences of student experiences of museum tours in different forms. They studied a group of students who went through traditional guided museum tours and another group who did a virtual museum tour on a touch-based application.  Their goal was to assess both the learning outcomes of each mode of tour, as well as the user experience. They employed knowledge tests on the related exhibit material to measure how well the students were learning. They found no significant difference in the level of learning outcomes between the two modes, but the virtual tour participants reported a better user experience. The virtual tour students appeared more engaged with the content and were more likely to repeat a visit. I would be most interested in a deeper understanding of why the experience was better. Also, it should be mentioned that while a virtual tour may have presented a better user-experience in this context, it may not be the digital mode that was better. There are any number of additional factors that may have influenced the experience, including the awareness of being experimented on. In my opinion, this is the primary challenge with researching people. It is unethical to do the research without consent, but with consent you are affecting the data before it can even be collected.

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Published by Nikki M

Applied Anthropologist and Digital Dance Specialist

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