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Audience and Goals

Page history last edited by Nina Simon 14 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for the lively conversation on the outline page about the audience for the book and what it should address.  I started this page to continue dealing with this issue in its own place.  Please feel free to comment or edit the page directly by clicking “EDIT” above the page title.


  • The core audience is museum exhibit/experience developers who are interested in participatory design.  They may have a project in mind or in progress, or they may just have a hazy kind of interest.
  • Secondary audiences are museum/informal educational facility educators, evaluators, technologists, volunteers and floor staff, and managers who run the visitor experience side of museums.  This also includes librarians and people who work in alternative educational facilities like zoos, parks, arts organizations, and community centers.
  • Tertiary audiences are designers (not just museums) who are interested in participatory design for physical spaces.  This includes designers who work in the experience economy (theaters, restaurants, bars, coffee shops), retail, food and beverage, theme parks, urban planning, and technology.


  • The plan is to explain what design for participation is, how it works, and provide frameworks, case studies, and activities that are accessible to museum professionals at museums of any size and technological capacity. 


  • The goal is to get readers energized and trying participatory design techniques in their own work.  The goal is to demystify participatory design to the extent that it can be perceived as a useful set of techniques like any other set of design tools or strategies. 
  • The secondary goal is to convince readers that there is unique value and advantages to participatory design techniques that make them worth the time and effort.  Since I assume that the designated primary audience already is somewhat convinced, this goal is secondary.  However, part of the goal is to give the core audience the vocabulary and frameworks they need to articulately advocate for participatory design to the powers that be.

Comments (3)

Chris Castle said

at 7:40 am on May 28, 2009

I've come to this process late so please forgive me if these comments are redundant:
- is the audience intended to be an international one? will you include examples from countries other than the USA?
- do you see participatory design as something with potential for application beyond museum exhibits/experiences? are you talking about an approach that could be applied to museums etc. more holistically? Say, for example, the participatory design of mission and mandate of an institution?
- what is the difference between a museum experience developer and a museum/informal educational facility educator? I see from the intro and some of Chapter 1 that you want to talk about programs - aren't museum educators the designers of these programs?

Nina Simon said

at 6:38 am on May 30, 2009

Great questions! My thoughts:
1. Yes, I presume at least that there will be international readers and I will definitely use international examples. I'm a bit concerned that I can't be everything to everyone, and I certainly know the US issues and examples best. Since this is a book about design, I hope that the content can be useful anywhere.
2. haven't worked much on the mission/mandate/advertising sides of this coin with regard to this book. I'm thinking about a mostly exhibit developer/educator audience.
3. yes, def educators are there. I use "experience developer" to mean exhibits and or programs - they're all in the same boat.

And now a question for you: how do these answers affect the value of the book for you?

Chris Castle said

at 10:37 am on Jun 12, 2009

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, Nina! I wasn't following this thread. In answer to your question - no, your answers don't affect the value of the book for me - anything you write will be useful. I'm interested in anything that seems to stem from social constructivism - communities of practice, participatory democracy, that sort of thing - and your take on things seems to fit into that mold. But I recognize you can't be all things to all people and I think it's a good idea to stay focused. Let the reader take it where he or she will.

But I'm not sure I agree that exhibit designers and educators are in the same boat. I think exhibit designers are starting to take on more of the characteristics of museum educators or museum learning officers as the Brits refer to the role. Reading through your first couple of chapters quickly, my initial take is that people developing museum programs have already undertaken much of what you suggest in order to develop attractive programs. Programming is so much more ephemeral than exhibitions that it has had to be very adaptive and responsive to the interests of the community for quite some time. A book like _Adult Museum Programs_ talks about this. This is probably old hat to you though, eh?

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