Noelle’s post last Wednesday about the pros and cons of art museum interactivity really made me pay attention. The following is what I’ve been thinking.
I remember back in school hearing about how the average adult attention span is about twenty minutes. I’m not sure how that number was derived but I can tell you that sometimes it seems awfully high given my experience with analyzing our website and its “time on page” numbers. However, while twenty minutes may seem high, I know that over the weekend I sat through the new Pierre Morel movie, “Taken,” which I’ll admit didn’t require a whole lot of advanced paying attention skills, and was surprised to find out how badly I had to use the restroom once the end credits started to roll, i.e. my brain was so tuned in to Liam Neeson chopping his way through a torrent of bad guys that I didn’t even register my body’s need to release a torrent of processed Coca-Cola.
With this recent movie experience in mind, and what I’ll assume are pretty standard “time on page” numbers for your average website, I’m going to loosely conclude that it’s the wrapping and expression (medium if you will) of the content that determines how long it will keep a person’s attention. In these cases, movies wrap content in such a way that makes my adult brain want to pay attention for more than twenty minutes and the Internet wraps content in such a way that I’m done in seconds.
As an “ad man,” I think about how people pay attention every day. For example, in my marketing mind, The Davis LAB is really just an interactive advertisement that gets people to pay attention to how awesome the museum is at this Web 2.0 stuff. And the museum, in its expansive glory, is really just a super expensive marketing piece that gets people to pay attention to the importance of preserving for future humans the stuff made by their outstanding ancestors. Ad men can be so cold.
However, while the “ad man” is cold, in my warm and normal, “I really care about people experiencing art” mind, I believe that interactive galleries like our Star Studio and The Davis LAB wrap up art experiences in as many ways possible so that visitors have the opportunity to pay attention in as many ways possible. If that’s seconds in front of a computer displaying an exhibition website, minutes in front of a computer playing ArtBabble, or hours spent in the Asian galleries, in this IMA blogger’s mind, any time spent paying attention to art, in any form, is always worthwhile.
Young Pulliam. Wow. So influential.