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Title: Visitors' experiences with smartphone-based interpretations in outdoor cultural heritage landscapes
Authors: Moss, Brian Patrick
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This research critically assesses the role of smartphone-based Mobile Digital Interpretations (MDIs) in the outdoor cultural heritage experience. It moves beyond haptic interactions to consider the embodied and empathetic connections which exist in such experiences. Heritage experiences reflect the rich variability of human interactions with place because environmental, societal and technological aspects are incorporated with the subjective, intellectual and emotional characteristics of individuals. The thesis argues that MDIs must echo this understanding by integrating the embodied elements of these experiences into their development. The smartphone can then become a means of empowering the individual in the construction of her/his own understanding of the outdoor cultural heritage experience. The research uses a multi-method approach which combines visual ethnographic practices, semi-structured user and stakeholder interviews and document analysis across several cultural heritage sites in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Drawing on the resulting dataset, the research articulates three key findings: (a) the introduction of MDIs in heritage contexts creates a ‘’hybridised’ place of heritage experience, which sees the addition of the various spaces beyond the physical (such as the virtual) that the user occupies; (b) mobile phones used to deliver MDIs in heritage contexts tether their user to the everyday, which may create tensions and conflicts in their experience motivations and aspirations; (c) the concept of ‘newness’ within MDIs requires rebalancing to take into consideration dimensions of ‘newness’ in relation to the heritage experience and not simply the technology. The research proposes that there is a need for a new paradigm to understand the outdoor MDI heritage experience. It is necessary because the existing paradigm is ill-defined; whereby ‘mobile’ is adopted as a proxy for ‘engagement’ and there is a disparity between the imagined and lived experiences of the users. This thesis makes the case that a more holistic approach is needed which takes greater consideration of the complexity and unique attributes of individual heritage experiences. This holistic understanding repositions the smartphone as a factor in the experience but not an experience in its own right.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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