Reduce, Refine, Perfect

After accepting an offer for a full time job, I have been thinking and talking with friends.

I have concluded that there is a need for me to simplify my life. 

I will be adding a lot to my plate in the next 6 months. More people, tasks, and responsibilities. I need to reduce the excess, focus on what I have, and make it great. What that means is eliminating some of the distraction of social networking. For me, some of the experience has become very antisocial and impersonal.

For that reason I have decided to reduce the number of my connections on Facebook. My Friends list will be reduced to about 1/10 of its current size. This is in an effort to minimize the number of connections I have on Facebook and remain connected only with those people to whom I speak most frequently.

Please do not be offended if you notice sometime next week that I am not on your list of friends. I am just making Facebook easier for me to use. Please, do get in touch with me through e-mail, Twitter, or if you are abandoning social media like I am, then text me.

 

Please feel free to contact me through other channels:

  1. email (monahan.connor@gmail.com),
  2. phone (email me and I can send it to you),
  3. twitter (@CaptKerberos).

I have elected these channels for 2 reasons:

  • they are more personal and direct
  • they are more manageable

To those of you that will take this personally. I am sorry. I do not mean to offend you. Just realize that I am trying to make my Facebook presence a much more private one.

Thanks.

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Musical Growth

I am a huge fan of music, always have been. I grew up with music and have been developing my own musical tastes since before I can remember. I am thankful to my father for having good musical taste and imparting it on me. I listen to music nearly all the time. I would say about 75% of my waking hours have some level of music happening. (I’m listening to music as I write this)

Image by ShirtWoot

When I hear music from days past, the feeling of nostalgia strikes me like anyone else. I remember all of the good times and memories associated with the music. I can’t listen Matchbox Twenty’s Long Day without thinking about reading Dinotopia on Christmas listening to the Yourself or Someone Like You album on repeat with a Sony CD Walkman. Ah, the 90’s.

Musical nostalgia is double edged sword, though. It is good with equal parts narrow-mindedness. I often find that this pining for the music of old ends up hurting our musical appreciation in the long run. It is a subconscious struggle we may not even realize at first.

I am a huge fan of The Mars Volta and have been for many years (about a decade). They recently released a new album NoctourniquetSince I heard in late 2011 of its impending release, I marked the date and closely watched its approach. Finally it arrived and I quivered with joy as I loaded it into my music player. I was in a break between classes and had the 64 minutes required for a single playthrough, so I gave it a straight run-through. It is not often get the chance to immerse myself into an album in this way at the outset. If you have the chance to do so I would recommend it. Radio, Music Videos, and popularized music delivery (Web) often tramples on the idea of musical albums as stories to be experienced. Most albums lack innate progression, narrative, and any real impetus to listen to an album start to finish.

What I heard while listening to Nocturniquet for the first time was strangely foreign. It was distinctly Mars Volta, to be sure, their sound is unmistakable. However it had a strange energy to it. The music was more electronic and more frantic, which if you know TMV that is really saying something. It felt simply uncomfortable for me. This isn’t a feeling unknown to me; new music always takes time to break in. Still, something was off about Noctourniquet. I listened to the album a few times through over the next week and it didn’t break in, it didn’t grow on me, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Every time I tried to listen to it, I ended up turning it off and returning to the older TMV albums. I eventually let the album collect dust in my digital library.

I would only return to it a few months later, with a different perspective. I had happened across an interview by a musician who has been very influential in my life: Maynard James Keenan.  It is an older interview from Keenan, and I had seen it before. Maynard delivers an idea that has stuck with me for a very long time, but had receded to the rear of my mind. It really gets at the heart of musical performance, and art forms in general. There is a very apparent selfishness to a majority of music floating around these days, music that preaches the basest selfish emotions: greed, violence, abuse, misogyny, and hate.

However there is a different kind of selfishness, one that has an indirect but an altruistic result. Keenan’s desire to performing/recording is not to directly entertain fans: it is to learn, heal, and grow through his self-expression.

At around 1:50 Maynard responds to a question about fans bemoan Maynard’s departure from his older, much angrier, music. He explains:

“Well for those that miss that type of music, that’s why I recorded the old stuff, if you want to listen to that, go back and listen to the first albums. If I can’t heal and grow from my art, then how can you? I suppose I could repeat myself over and over and over again but what’s the point of that?”

While Maynard’s reasoning for performing may be at first self-centered, his work benefits his fans by joining them into the healing process. Through this exercise both the artist and audience can grow together.

I never thought about musical performance in that light before. People often respond negatively to new recordings by their favored bands, and I began to realize it may not be the artist’s fault but instead the listener’s musical obstinacy. Artists continue to grow, experiment, and hone their craft. Yet we refused to grow along with them, and we are left behind with only our nostalgia and dusty albums to comfort us.

Hearing this simple observation I decided to replay through Noctourniquet. What I found was that with a different mindset, one not bound by the expectation of old Mars Volta vibes, I enjoyed the album more with each listen. I can honestly say that it is a great album; it just took me some thinking to realize it. Some people may not want to ‘think’ about their music to enjoy it, that’s their choice. However I will approach my music as I always have, in a way which Maynard explains in another great interview:

“There are several ways you can go into music. You can just kind of click out and just kind of use it as a backdrop and not really think about what’s going on in your everyday life. Or you can use music as a catalyst to do some searching, to do some soul searching, to do some growing. And that’s the kind of band that we are. […] that is the kind of music that we perpetuate […] something that is going make you get involved.”

So the next time one of your bands drops an album that doesn’t exactly click with you: try to appreciate the musical growth that the artist has undergone.

Don’t forget though, there are artists who just lose touch and make shitty albums.

FTL: Faster-Than-Light

FTL game is one the best games I have played in a very long time.

FTL is a space combat survival game. Its made in the style of many indie games of late, 16-bit graphics and sprites. For those fans of pixel art, FTL is a prime example of pixel art done right. There are a few scaling issues with text, but unless you are looking for such problems they are unnoticed. Visually it looks great. The 2d overhead view of your ships and its crew lets you see everything you need to. The game’s survival element comes into effect in a few different ways. The core mechanic will resonate with fans of the Battlestar Galactica series, the player takes control of starship that hails from a civilization who has just suffered a catastrophic attack. The player’s vessel is tasked with  traversing the galaxy to reach a rendezvous point where the remnants of their Federation will rally. Your ship is carrying information vital to the war effort. However the evil aggressors are hot on your tail, so the player must push through the galaxy will continually FTL jumping away as the enemies just enter the sector (see BSG  Season 1 Episode 1 “33”). The player must also micromanage the systems and subsystems of the ship. They can diverting and forward power to the different systems (which can be upgraded over time from resources gathered in-game). These systems include: Engines, Shields, Weapons, Life Support (Oxygen), Flight Control, even Door Controls and Sensor arrays. The micromanagement of systems provides intense gameplay where you can reroute power away from oxygen just to squeeze a few more seconds out of your shields to prevent total destruction; or divert all power from thrusters, leaving you dead in the water, to the guns to pummel the enemy before they can hit you. The leveling up of different systems and crew (who man the systems and gain skills for the systems they use the most) is an engaging progression that keeps you hooked. It also attaches you to the crew.

If you want more background on the game feel free to check out the numerous review floating around the web.

The main elements survival here are crew management, ship integrity, and travel. You need fuel to keep doing FTL jumps (1 fuel per jump). You need crew to operate your ship. You need hull integrity  because you can’t damn well play the game without a ship. These survival keys come into play a few different ways that are really intriguing and it is actually why I became so enthralled with the game.

FTL surreptitiously teaches you about what kind of person you are. At first you start the game out. Everything is peachy, relatively safe and stable. You have a clear mission, and a direction. You are the valiant commander of a Federation ship who is tasked with saving an entire civilization. You can do no wrong. You jump through a few systems and come across survivors, you lend them aid as you are flush with supplies and resistance in minimal. You encounter a few rebel pickets, they put up a fight but soon surrender as your superior firepower withers their shields. Being an upstanding captain, whose primary directive is to save lives, you grant the rebels their lives and allow them to surrender. As the game progresses though, it changes pace and forces you to make choices that you never expected to make. Soon you are facing down enemy vessels with technology you don’t know how to combat. After surmounting these obstacles, you go further into uncharted space. You encounter deceitful pirates, slavers and rebels. It becomes unclear which distress beacon is trap and which is not. You grow more suspicious of every vessel hailing you with peaceful intentions. Eventually you lose one of your crew to a stray missile, or a hull breach. You mourn and move on. Then your supplies begin to dwindle, you have enough fuel for a jump or two, but the rebels are closing in. Finally you expend your last bit of fuel to keep yourself just one jump ahead of the Rebels. You drop out of FTL and see a civilian trader floating harmlessly in space. Desperately you ask for them to give you some fuel, but they have none to spare. You now have only one option, you have to get your data to the fleet. Surely the lives of the entire Federation outweigh one crew. You fire on the ship and strip it for fuel and parts. You heave a sigh of relief as you jump through the next few systems with the gather fuel. Looking back in horror you realize that you have done the unspeakable, you have taken an innocent life to further your own. It was with good reason, you assure yourself, but it doesn’t make you any less of a murderer. The next system drops you into heated combat with the insect-like Mantis. You send one of your crew to fight off the boarding party, but a fire is spreading through your ship and he is losing fight. You need to keep the ship afloat, you’re forced to vent the ship killing the fire, the attackers, and your crewman. You’ve save the ship, but at what cost? The lines between right and survival get blurrier every jump you make. The slow degradation of your morality and the vicious survivor FTL turns you into is a great way to show the player just how deluded they are.

FTL loves fucking with you. The randomly generated galaxy throws twists and traps at you with joyful abandon. However, it delights at the fact that: When you die, it’s usually your fault. You will die in a number of ways: ship fires, hull breaches suffocating your crew, boarding parties tearing through your ship, enemy vessels blowing you up, asteroids destroying your hull, and the Rebel fleet descending upon you. However, at almost every loss, you can find an error in your ways. If you had jumped to a different system, you wouldn’t have encounter this ship. If you had built up your shields a bit more, that laser wouldn’t have shredded the hull. If you had just paid more attention when you vented the ship, you would have noticed the boarding party attacking the door control and depriving you of your only way to close the airlocks. Every time, the blame for failure rests on your shoulders.

To be fair there’s a decent amount of chance to the procedural generation of events, this makes for some difficult game setups. But the ultimate player control and finality of the game is consistent. The experience is something to be appreciated.

I recommend this game to any and everyone one who enjoys strategy games, or rogue-likes, or space games, or RPGs, or just about anything Sci-Fi related.

I kept a ship log of one of my playthroughs. Take a peek to see the type of shit you run into in the game. And the type of crazed internal monologue of someone who really loves space sci-fi. The entire account is what happened in my game, with a bit of embellishment for dramatic effect.

PlanetSide 2 Beta Experience

I will say this about Planetside 2 (PS2). It is fun.

Overview & Positives

It possesses an unparalleled sense of scale in an modern action shooter. Being able to move from one end of a the continent traveling over 10km to the other end, flying over geodesic dome labs, gigantic star forts, space warp gates  mountains, canyons, rolling planes, and watching epic battles unfold beneath is at its best in PlanetSide 2. Battlefield 3 eat your heart out with your 64 player cap and limited vehicle spawns. PlanetSide 2 boasts 2000 possible concurrent players per server. I have yet to see so many, but I have hopped into a full Galaxy dropship which carries 20% of a BF3 server in one  load.

Fuck me does PS2 look good and sound great. When cranked up to High settings this game impresses with it fidelity and sheer volume of effects.

Watching 3-4 Galaxies (each filled with 12 troops) escorted by 4-5 gunships moving towards an enemy fortress is wicked cool. Watching that formation start to take Anti-Aircraft fire from below and strafing runs from enemy aircraft is spectacular. Watching that happen during the night to see the tracers tear through the starry night and rip apart the Galaxies as they begin to burn and spin out of control dropping their payload of anxious fighters, that is truly surreal.

This game will eye fuck you with visual showcases of legitimate gameplay that most engines would weep at the thought of pre-rendering. Well done SOE.

Vehicles are another great part of PS2. They are versatile and effective. Both ground and air vehicles have ‘roles’ and a vehicle that fits that role. The generalized roles are: Transport (Galaxies & Sunderers), Fire Mission (Main Battle Tank & Liberators), Fire Support/Recon (Lightnings &  Mosquitoes). These have different costs based on your faction resources and personal progress. Generally speaking, if you play you will be able to afford vehicles if you want them.

Base Layouts are pretty awesome. They have about 6-7 ‘types’ of bases throughout the continent. These range from small outposts with a handful of buildings to military compounds and industrial complexes. The different bases allow for some different tactics when approaching them, however battle ultimate boils down to corridor fights inside the base buildings. Each base has a capture procedure; some bases are a single capture point that needs to be taken, some have multiple points. The massive forts have 5 capture points spread out across the compound, these points are sometimes a 1000m from the farthest other point. Larger compounds also have defenses, namely forcefield barriers. These barriers protect the interior player and vehicle spawns, as well as the final capture point. The only way to circumvent these barriers is through either some tricky jetpack work as the Light Assault class, or destroying the shield generators which will drop the barriers granting the attackers access to the main structure of the fortress. A single fortress can be vied for by hundreds of fighters and battles over control can last for hours.

Character classes are a thing. There are 6 basic classes: Light Assault (Jet Pack!), Heavy Assault (Machine gun & Rocket Launcher), Medic (Heal & Revive), Engineer (Repair & Mines), Infiltrator (Sniper & Cloak), MAX (Mech Suit w/ Chain Guns). The classes variation is nice, each class ability is balanced and effective for that player role. The weapons are fairly ubiquitous so support classes are totally underpowered with pea-shooters.

Flaws

  • Shooting – I am sorry, thus far shooting fails to impress. For a game whose main mechanic is shooting, this is not really acceptable. Controls are a bit splashy, getting the sensitivity right for accurate shooting is tough. Default aiming is too slow. Most guns kick too much to keep steady with no solid means for compensation. Reacquiring targets is difficult because the gun model takes up nearly the entire screen when aiming down sights and recoil ensures that your target is totally concealed by muzzle flare and the weapon itself after the second round out of the barrel. Opponents take a bit of damage, so lighter caliber weapons (Carbines) need to land multiple shots at center mass to take foes down. Doing so is too difficult at this time. Serious adjustment needed.
  • Concurrency – This is not a flaw, so much as a limitation of the beta set up. This game is built around large scale combat, unfortunately there are not enough players in game at any one point to get frequent epicness. At peak hours in your server (around 7pm for my server US West 01) you can get some pretty kick ass battles. Outside that, its tough to even fill a galaxy or 2. Obviously when the game releases this will be less of an issue, but SOE will really need to push the game to as many players as possible and keep them invested for longevity.
  • Lack of Player Control – Right now all servers are run through SOE, which is good and necessary. I mean dedicated servers supporting 2000 players may not even be possible. However, players can’t control the settings they play on: Friendly Fire, Team Settings, Comm Settings, and the like. Currently players can’t remove other players either, and there is rampant team killing right now. I recently saw a player in a Sunderer (basically a semi truck with guns) in front of my factions Warpgate (the un-capturable faction spawn) driving back and forth running over every teammate who exited the spawn point. Players could do nothing to stop him but eventually kill him. There needs to be some recourse there.
  • Aerial shooting / bombarding – Not sure if this is poor controls or something SOE is striving for, but right now firing from the aerial platform is pretty tough. Specifically bombarding from high altitudes. My initial understanding is that they want to make accurate bombardment a difficult skill to master, especially at high altitudes. Unfortunately airships move fast, and the projectiles move slow. After an hour or two of dedicated gunning in the Liberator gunship, I still can barely hit shit. Maybe something to consider tweaking.

Bugs

  • Geometry hitches – I cannot list the number of times I got stuck on a boulder, a crevice, even building geometry. I have stood on roofs and walked towards sloped portions of the roof that a normal person could step over with a 1-2inch adjustment in their stride; my conditioned super soldier however had some difficulty with it. Obviously this is expected at beta, but not to the extent I saw.
  • Entering Vehicles – This pissed me off to no fucking end. Some vehicles I could simply not enter. Running along side them and hitting ‘E’ furiously on every side was futile. I also spotted a ‘feature’ in the PS2 engine. It seems that when a pilot leaves a vehicle, the pilot seat is reserved for him so no one can grab it and drive off. I am not sure how long or in what manner that seat is reserved. I recognize this is to prevent BF3 style team hijacks and I am appreciative. Though right now, some guy will role a Sunderer or a tank up to a base, hop out, run off leaving the vehicle, and we as teammates can only sit in the gun ports and hope for salvation. That needs some readjustment.

All that being said I am on US West 01 Beta server going by Zappor (Account is CaptKerberos)

Marriage: 1) Something everyone thinks they are entitled to have and define.

So there has been a lot of talk regarding marriage equality lately. Within the past week the Vice President Joe Biden openly supported same-sex marriage, President Obama got grilled for not openly supporting it, North Carolina outlawed it with a constitutional amendment, and then Obama announced that he supported it. That’s a bit of a hullabaloo.

(Quick side note about the North Carolina business: The new amendment also outlawed Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships, but left the North Carolina law that allows cousins to be married untouched. Thank God!)

Well, as far as I understand marriage, this conflagration seems to be an utter waste of time. I often feel alone with this stance because everyone seems so fervent. I am surrounded on all sides, stuck in no-man’s-land of a vicious and bloody stand-off.

So let’s describe this no-man’s-land in case you happen to share this small spit of idealism with me.

Marriage is defined by Dictionary.com as:

1) a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies.

1) b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

I find it mildly amusing that there are two primary definitions, just so everyone is equally miffed.

But to extract the non-sexualized essence, marriage is to “establish their decision to live as [spouses] by legal commitments, religious ceremonies” . That seems pretty straight forward, but its not. You see there is a contradiction in the definition. The phrase ‘by legal commitments’ and ‘religious ceremonies’ are juxtaposed to define or establish the same system. Anyone with a 4th grade education knows that a system being backed by force of law is diametrically opposed to the concept of religious ceremony (That is if your 4th grade teacher covered the Separation of Church and State).

The Separation of Church and State in the USA was established long ago by the founders of the nation, I will cite 3 specific and definable examples.

  1. It was first established in the Constitution of 1787 Article VI wherein it explicitly denies religious affiliation as a requirement for governmental office: “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”. Illustrating that religion had no connection in government.
  2. It was again reaffirmed in the Bills of Rights, as the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Once again making it clear the legislatures inability to regulate or enforce religion, a concept which is very important and we will return to it later. (It is also understood that since the President can only enforce the law of the legislature, he too is barred from religious entanglements. If you believe that to be false and you subscribe to the theory of executive (royal) prerogative, you have entirely different problems that we can’t address right now.)
  3. Actual authors of the Constitution and political forces such as  James Madison, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson were all devout Christians. These men also made their thoughts clear about the fact the our state is one that cannot be ruled or legislated by Religion. Jefferson wrote about the ‘wall’ built between the two systems ( Jefferson’s Letter Regarding Secularism ). I wouldn’t call these men those who mince words or misrepresent their ideas.

With a firm understanding of the separated Church and State, we move on to the next step in the problem.

Marriage is a religious institution. Marital situations may have existed before religions, but the current understanding of marriage is a construct of the different religious traditions. Nearly all religions of the world have their own customs, methods, standards, and qualifications for marriage. Yet somehow we, or a large portion of the US population, believe that there is some overarching consensus  regarding what ‘marriage’ is or at least enough of one to legislate on the institution. Are you fucking kidding me? You’re going to tell me that Muslims and Christians, who in so many trivial cases oppose each other, agree about something as sacred as marriage? I’m not entirely convinced.

Even if such a  consensus doesn’t exist, there is something that does: Licensed Marriage. That is to say, there exist licenses, laws, legal precedent and rulings that regulate the institution (on a Federal, State, and Local level). Aythere’s the rub! Why is the government in the business of marriage? Why does any US government have the power to regulate a religious institution and thereby breach the Constitution and the First Amendment? It is not allowed, we know it is not, yet we allow it to happen.

Because of this unfortunate reality, opposing forces attempt to exert control over this ‘legalized marriage’. Christians who believe marriage cannot be homosexual want it to be legally defined as such. Others who don’t want the heterosexual constraints fight against such measures. While people like myself are left on the sidelines, baffled.

Maybe to resolve the issue we should return marriage to its original state: a religious institution that individual churches and faiths have complete autonomy over.  Remove all text and reference to marriage from our laws. Instead create a new system (actually just elevate an existing system) and make civil unions the only legally recognized marital/spousal arrangement. All parties win, those of faith who do not acknowledge same sex couples are free to perpetuate such barriers. Same sex couples can still have the same legal rights and financial privileges that marriages currently enjoy. (And even get married in Churches who will embrace them to boot!)

Why are people so adamant about preserving the text of marriage in our laws? Many claim it is to ensure that the integrity of marriage is maintained. As many people have pointed out: exponentially increasing rates of divorce and adultery in heterosexual marriage is doing the lion’s share of that task. Something as despicable as adultery was even explicitly outlawed in the Ten Commandments. Maybe my reading comprehension isn’t great but I failed to even catch a whiff of a reference to homosexuality in that particular sacred contract.

All I know is that something as important, sacred, and downright religious as marriage shouldn’t be under the purview of any law beyond that of the church that oversees it. As Jefferson said, “religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship”

Maybe I’m crazy, but if I had a religion: I would never sacrifice a ceremony so important to the likes of the Federal Government, and I wouldn’t be in the business of stomping on other peoples personal liberties.

Civil War Conscription

Every war in all history has a different character that defines it. Much of that character is defined by the war fighters themselves. The morale, commitment, and ideology of the soldiers in a conflict dictate the course of the war.

The Civil War was the first war in American history that saw a military draft. Conscription, being the forced military service of all men fitting the qualifications, was prevalent in the Civil War because it was such a contentious conflict. Both the Union and Confederacy had conscription laws that forced tens of thousands of young men into the fight. The introduction of the drafts caused many people to lash out against their governments. It caused problems even within the respective armies as conscripts were perceived as unreliable and disloyal. Desertion was common, and executions were also common as a result. There were however loopholes, clauses, and exemptions that allowed some to avert service. Dodging the draft in any of these ways was looked down on and caused resentment from the men and families who could not avoid conscription.

Conscription is important to an art piece like the Night Before the Battle because it casts light on the mindset of the troops. Any soldier in a such a situation faced with death will naturally question the reason for their mortal danger. Many such soldiers would find the answer was that they were forced against their will on pain of death to fight a battle their had no personal stake in. Something so overbearing is critical to a fighting man, and to the artist trying to capture that fighting man’s struggle.

 

Source 1: http://www.civilwarhome.com/conscription.htm

Source 2: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-passes-civil-war-conscription-act

Source 3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_States#Civil_War

Fun Theory

According to the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2011, many modern museums face the following problem with advancing technology: 

Greater understanding is needed of the relationships, differences, and synergies between technology intended to be used within the museum and public-facing technology such as websites, social media, and mobile apps. Too few in museum administration see the opportunities that virtual museum visitors might be bringing for fundraising, philanthropy, and specialized marketing. The dichotomy between the physical and virtual museum visitor is blurring rapidly, and both audiences have high expectations with regard to online access to services and information. Still, the notion that museums must provide comprehensive information and services online is a genuine challenge, especially for smaller museums. For larger institutions, however, providing such services has risen to an expectation from the visiting public.

When looking at how address the different connections and perspectives of museum pieces, I think of how I reflect on what museum pieces enthrall me most. Usually when examining an exhibit I find myself mentally evaluating it against other pieces I have encountered, either in the same museum or in past experiences.  I also usually get feedback or recommendations from people about museums or exhibits that they believe would interest me. Often times I get great recommendations, and other times I find it difficult to follow up on a recommendation either because I have forgotten or had trouble finding the suggested exhibit.

All of these seemingly connected components of my museum experience could be enhanced by a technological ability to expound my museum findings (and look at others’). This led me to imagine a technology platform that could provide the public museum visitor with a very interactive and customized experience. I began to imagine a system that integrated across multiple media platforms, specifically: websites, mobile applications, and social media.

This system would be similar to a Yelp! or Google Maps system; where users could provide feedback on their experience with a particular exhibit (or piece in an exhibit), the feedback would be available to the public, and it could be used to make connections to other exhibits/pieces (or even other museums!). Each user could at any point during an exhibit find a placard associated with the item in question, on it would be a digitally readable identifier (possibly a QR Code) which would access a digital indexing of that item on their mobile device. There others will have posted opinions or related recommendations. The user could add their own feedback on the spot, or they could use the mobile application to find other exhibits in that very museum that are similar or in some way related to what they are examining. The application would give concise directions to the other exhibit so the user could find it. Each step of the way the visitor would be able to leave their own advice and promote advice others had given that helped them. The system can also interface with social media by affording users the ability to ‘share’, ‘tweet’, or ‘check-in’ at an exhibit or piece. This would be visible to their social media connections and could possibly draw outside attention through free social marketing.

For the ‘virtual’ visitor they would see the result of ‘physical’ visitor’s actions. They would be able to look at a specific museum on a webpage and read up on different pieces before visiting the museum. They could plan out a travel path through the museum to make sure they see only the pieces they are interested in. They could plan ahead and purchase tickets in advance (ease of purchase means more visits for museums). Users would also be able to sift through other visitor’s opinions, and follow connections made by visitors to find other pieces of interest. The possibility exists that they may end up visiting a different museum than originally intended based on the recommended connections of a past visitor. And in the typical social media fashion, users could promote other peoples recommendations they found helpful or insightful; further reinforcing high-quality feedback.

There are obvious concerns, as always, with internet interactions and marketing. It needs to be moderated to ensure that users are putting up appropriate and germane information. This is an obvious obstacle that the respective museums would have to evaluate before opting to use this interactive museum system.

This system is an interactive way to voice your opinion of museum content, but also to help others find what they are seeking in a museum. The hope is that you help yourself in the long run by bringing more visitors/friends to museums who can provides solid recommendations that improve your experience. By posting our great experiences on social media we bring attention to a part of society that is being left behind by advancing technology and we refocus a waning interest. This will bring more donations, revenue, visitors, discussion, and (hopefully) progress to the entire museum/gallery community.