Title:Making the Punishment Fit the Crime: Content-Driven Multimedia Development
Authors:Peter Samis, Susie Wise
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

Based on experience over the past year developing the next generation program “Making Sense of Modern Art,” this paper asks the question: what happens when you position yourself firmly in the dialectic between content and interactive functionality?

Multimedia or Web-based projects are often characterized by a standard book-like or template-based design augmented by the occasional inclusion of video, audio, and/or animations. In developing the new version of “Making Sense,” we made a concerted effort to map our ways of thinking about and experiencing art more directly into the ways the screens function, designing a set of tools with names like Collaboration Web, Slider Gallery, Critical Reception Screen, and of course the old Pan-and-Zoom (with or without accompanying audio). These, plus Thematic Essays, Activities, and an Interactive Timeline that permits comparisons of works across the century, make the program a more pro-active exploration of artworks and their meanings.

We will discuss our work flow processs:

  • Research, with seminar-like discussions about each artist and work, followed by storyboarding and spec'ing out of potential goals appropriate to the variety of methodological approaches key to a given artwork.
  • Generalization of these tools when appropriate, without stifling creative solutions for new animations, metaphors and juxtapositions
  • Development of modular and recombinable elements for many screen-types
  • Design of a Flash Generator database capable of generating the interactive Flash functionality for each of these screens
  • Development of an interface that allows us to independently administer this database to generate new screens and add artworks at will.
  • Augmentation of the catalog of database-generated screen types by selective hand-coding to assure variety of experience and spontaneity of feeling.

The resulting program will be publishable not only on the Web, but to gallery-based kiosks/flat-panel stations, CD-ROMs (for easy distribution of high bandwidth material to the schools), and potentially to wearable computers and smart table technology. Subsets of content can be targeted to different audiences, locations, and delivery platforms.

Topics of Interest treated:

  • Web publication of content developed by and from Museums
  • Interface design and beyond
  • Database publishing
  • Contracting out
  • Internal Management of these processes
  • Multi-platform delivery of Web-compatible content inside and outside Museum walls