Media Technology MSc

Word-of-Mouth: A technologically mediated agent provocateur


In this paper, we propose a configuration of the museum environment that allows the viewer of a museum exhibit to overhear previous spectators of the same exhibit. “Word-of-Mouth” is an unauthorized comment capturing agent that confronts the subsequent visitor with the unmediated expressions of previous visitors, in what we propose could be a useful disruption of the museum experience towards a more critical approach of the museum visit. We describe a first prototype of the “Word-of-Mouth” configuration and the result of a case study that took place in Naturalis, the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden. By means of the “Word-of-Mouth” prototype, we study the potential value of the visitors' unofficial comments and the impact of the comments’ playback inside the museum environment. Ethical and moral implications of an unauthorized recording of conversations are not overlooked, nor is this practice promoted. Our study contributes both conceptually and through the case study results to investigating possibilities for a critical approach of the museum visit.


Amalia Kallergi and Maarten Lamers, Word-of-Mouth: A technologically mediated agent provocateur. In: Proceedings of the Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums Conference (NODEM 08), December 2008, Reykjavík (Iceland)