Walking the trail


This afternoon Will and I tested the Exeter City FC Supporters Trust trail by walking from one destination to the other, more or less following the numerical order as shown in the screenshot right above. The trail isn’t quite a trail yet, it’s more of a list of locations, but testing what it means encountering these locations as part of a trail and beginning to imagine their affordances will hopefully help us to turn the list into a rewarding and engaging journey about the history of the Exeter City Football Trust and Club through the streets of Exeter.

The good news was that, generally speaking, the geocoding worked for most of the locations, though the Find Me tool didn’t seem to function today, so whilst we knew when we got something wrong, we couldn’t fix the problem there and then, and I will need to try to get a more accurate reading next week. The other good news was that the use of more precise geocoding at St James Park meant that the trail appeared as a line even when the locations were very close to each other. This is a definite improvement from where we were just a few weeks ago when the line representing the user’s journey looked more like a Kandinsky painting gone wrong.

As you can see we are currently using a football to represent St James and as the walk starts at the ticket booth the football is currently placed there to mark the beginning of the trail. However, I associate football with something dynamic, in motion, and this use turned it into a static object. There might be the possibility of using a stadium icon for St James and turning the blue dot that marks the user’s position into a football, which may give users the sense that they are playing, but we need to see whether this idea is viable or even good. We also need to think of a more efficient way to encourage users to move from one location to the other than just using numbers.

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As in the case of the Tudor map, the app tells you that you are approaching the next location, and it also tells you when you have arrived there. An image and 100 word texts will illustrate the significance of each location performatively, to encourage users to take an action (by looking at something, imagining something, remembering something, exploring their feelings and sharing their memories and emotions with others, for example).

Some sites have some brilliant affordances, some entail fairly dramatic clashes between what will be narrated through them and what users find themselves immersed in. How to facilitate presencing will be crucial and this is something I will now start to think about more specifically since the Brazilian journal Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença has expressed an interest in a piece on the project in relation to presence research.

About Gabriella Giannachi

Gabriella Giannachi is Professor in Performance and New Media, and Director of the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, which promotes advanced interdisciplinary research in performance and the arts through collaborations between artists, academics and scientists from a range of disciplines. Her most recent and forthcoming book publications include: Virtual Theatres: an Introduction (Routledge: 2004); Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts, ed. with Nigel Stewart (Peter Lang: 2005); The Politics of New Media Theatre (Routledge: 2007); Performing Presence: Between the Live and the Simulated, co-authored with Nick Kaye (MUP: 2011), nominated in Theatre Library Association 44th Annual Book Awards (2012); Archaeologies of Presence, co-edited with Nick Kaye and Michael Shanks (Routledge: 2012); Performing Mixed Reality, co-authored with Steve Benford (MITP: 2011) and Archive Everything (MITP, forthcoming). She has published articles in Contemporary Theatre Review, Leonardo, Performance Research, Digital Creativity, TDR and PAJ, and developed conference papers for IVA 2009, 9th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, CHI 2008, CHI 2009 (best paper award), CHI 2012 (best paper award) and CHI 2013 (best paper award). She is an investigator in the RCUK funded Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub (2009-2014) and is collaborating with Tate and RAMM on a number of projects. She has a BA from Turin University and a PhD from Cambridge University, UK.
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