Social media's real ace – experience

August 11th, 2010 § 0 comments

I was at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane a couple of months ago with the primary aim of seeing Ron Mueck’s works on display. Before we hit the Mueck exhibition, we walked around the main gallery, where there were an assortment of works on display, from old furniture to paintings from all genres. As I went through I couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied, and I sent this out:

My beef isn’t just with galleries. I dislike museums, zoos, exhibitions – anything where one is expected to just walk through a space and observe an artefact. Look and move on.

I want to experience these objects. Personally, the sense I struggle to control the most is touch. I practically have to restrain my hands in order to curb the urge to feel the texture of a carved wooden chair, or the feel of an oil painting. (Don’t tell anyone, but some times I touch the edges of a painting’s frame just to somehow connect with a work)

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. I’m well aware of the preservation issues facing curators. But as I thought about it, I realised that we can extend the ‘observe’ model to traditional media – print, broadcast, film. All of a sudden the ~insert country of choice~ Idol phenomenon made complete sense. It allowed the audience to break the ‘sit and observe’ model and actively participate in the program. The more one votes, the more one feels they have a say in the outcome of a series. That the creators of the show recognised and monetised that is just genius. (I will now reduce my scorn towards reality shows like Idol)

This is where social media’s real ace is. It allows us to experience events, instead of just being observers. Q&A is a great example of that. The panel and the things they say usually annoy me, yet I watch it because there is very engaging discussion around it on Twitter. The same thing happened with other tv shows, like Iron Chef, sports events, and even events unfolding (I will NEVER forget the day we waited for Pres Obama to be declared the winner. Nor the day the Mumbai attacks were in progress.)

This is what I’m now gonna say to people who question my use of social media, or who tell me they don’t get it – I ceased to be an observer through social media. Involvement leads to engagement and all of it lends to an experience. It is what I’m gonna say to businesses that ask me why they should bother with social media. The Old Spice campaign was a great example of engagement on a large scale, but I do believe every business can apply the ‘experience’ model on a small, everyday scale.

So, back to the spaces I started off this discussion with. Dear museums, zoos, galleries, ya know how you have programs for kids where they get to be hands on and have fun? I want that. For adults aren’t all that different from kids. Have a Picasso on display? Have a spot where I can have a go at painting in his style. I would treasure that experience, link the memory to your display, and certainly return for more.

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