V8-Powered Libraries and the Happiness Engines that Run Them
A lot of the work that we've been doing involves developing a social space for both NYPL staff and the public through our site redesign. However, I still wonder motivates a patron to interact with us using our website. Right now, the only "social" aspect of our site is the ability to comment on blog posts - how can we expand this? At a basic, collection-focused level, we could develop a simple online scavenger hunt using materials in the NYPL Digital Gallery. We don't need to have prizes - as Lawley and game theorist Jane McGonigal suggest, friendly competition is motivation enough for people to participate and to continue participating in games.
I've also been thinking about what it would take to put together an alternate reality game within a large institution like NYPL or a forecasting game involving libraries. I've been really fascinated by the creation of Superstruct, a project of the Institute for the Future, and since a Superstruct scenario was created by the American Association of Museums:
It’s 2019. Your museum is informed that an international group currently touring your building was exposed to the latest deadly strain of Respiratory Distress Syndrome. You are instructed to lock down the museum and shelter staff and visitors in place while authorities determine whether anyone is infected. Are you prepared to deal with this?
Other snapshots from 2019: Is your museum ready to help your community cope with an influx of refugees fleeing climate change, food shortages and political upheaval? How will your operations change in the face of soaring energy prices or collapse of the food production and distribution system? Your museum depends on its website to deliver information and attract visitors, but your content has been corrupted repeatedly in the past few months by hackers attempting to undermine your credibility. How do you adapt?
In addition, the Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum has developed an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance, wherein players create artifacts for display that also unlock further parts of the game. As this post on the blog Museum 2.0 says, ARGS require narrative consistency that is incredibly demanding; as such, cultural heritage institutions may be weary to participate as they might have to open their practices to greater scrutiny and mislead patrons intentionally to advance the narrative of the game. City Mystery, one of the producers of Ghosts of a Chance apparently "develop[s] and deliver[s] alternate reality games to benefit city libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions." What I want to know is what other institutions have employed City Mystery (their website is as vague as the entry points for many ARGS!). Also, why are libraries so far behind museums in this regard? Public libraries need to get into the ARG business - drawing people in for ludic reasons might really help draw them in when they are in the mode of information seeking. In addition, ARGs are often driven by information seeking behavior. Why shouldn't we think of using them as a means to make library instruction fun?