Twitter experiment: applications for cultural exhibits?

Posted by on August 17, 2007 in TechMuse Blog, World Connections | 2 comments

Long ago (as in 15 or more years ago), Apple Multimedia Lab did an experiment where they gave a boy (11 years old?) in a forest in Brazil (I think) an audio recording device, and asked him to record every time he had a question during the course of the day. Then they compared it with the questions that a child here in the US recorded.  Very interesting…

I remember the boy in Brazil (who lived in an interior region without much technology) asked questions like "What is the height of the highest waterfall?"  And "What is the place with the most gold?"  It really struck me how much these quick questions reflected his daily life, environment, and world view.

Twitter offers the same capability in a new way. I’m experimenting with it today, making a twitter entry (here) every time I have a question. Would be interesting to compare this with someone else who records their questions throughout the day in Twitter. How are our lives similar? And different?  Do the questions reflect this? (If anyone out there wants to try this, let me know…)


  1. Hi Brad, Although I’m responding rather late to this post, I found your description of the Apple project fascinating. I would be up for comparing Twitter feeds if you are still game. I’m a graduate researcher at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. I’m currently working with Tibetan teenagers around Zurich, exploring ways of using social tags of Tibetan artworks as indicators of how the teens raised in exile relate to their own cultural symbols. Tibetan communities are highly social and museum visiting (while infrequent) usually involves a large group of friends and familiy. This leads me to suspect that Web 2.0 apps like twitter have great potential for engaging these teenagers with the museum: The question is how? Your experiment might help suggest an answer. I’m on Twitter as ‘smannion’ (or just click the link on my name below). Thanks for an interesting post!

  2. Wow, Shelley, what an interesting reply! Tibetan teenagers and Web 2.0. Interesting circles you travel in!
    OK, let’s give it a try. I posted that experiment several months ago. For a while, I tried creating a Twitter entry whenever I had a question. Then, I tried writing haiku while I was standing around in the exhibit hall at conferences. But do you want to try posting with questions again? If so, I guess the next thing is, we both create a Twitter entry whenever we have a question throughout the day. (I have an iPhone, which makes it handy in the moment).
    Let’s try this for a few days, then think some more about how this might apply to Tibetan teenagers visiting museums. (Did I mention, this is very intriguing!)

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