Smithsonian Commons Prototype - Experience Brief
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Story #4: Enthusiast / Citizen Scientist


Over a third of Smithsonian Web visitors identify themselves as "Enthusiasts" - -
lovers of art, nature, science, and history.
This story shows how the Smithsonian Commons helps enthusiasts and
citizen researchers to find and engage with Smithsonian resources.

“I work as an electrician by day, but I’m an amateur astronomer by night.
I keep track of a lot of astronomy resources on the Internet
and I have a blog where I keep in touch with friends and share what I’m working on.
Every year I give a talk about astronomy at my kid’s school,
and this year I’m making them a Web mashup that links a sky chart
to photos and videos that explain celestial features.
I’ve met a lot of great people through astronomy and I want to contribute to the field,
so I’m learning how to collect and contribute data on “variable stars” to the AAVSO database.”



Top: YouTube sketch/cartoon of the storyboard, in progress.
Bottom: a draft of the storyboard doc, via scribd, in progress (click on Full Screen to view)


Transcript of video (.txt file)

Persona Behavior

  • Studies a niche interest topic
  • Downloads data and open APIs
  • Creates a new service because of the data
  • Keeps current on research through RSS feeds

Key Themes

  • Vast – huge amounts of content are available to enthusiasts in many subject areas (Long Tail)
  • Findable – search and navigation make depth/breadth of content apparent to visitors
  • Shareable – RSS feeds and downloadable data give information to visitors in relevant/useful formats
  • Free – no direct charges to user. Smithsonian benefits from long-term loyalty and more opportunities to offer e-commerce and membership/donation opportunities

Experience Flow (needs updating [M.E. 1-3-09])

This is what the prototype will simulate/demonstrate
  1. Enthusiast visits the Smithsonian Commons Home Page. He searches for [x].
  2. Immediately he’s excited by the already-busy community of enthusiasts. He sees hundreds of project contributors, photos and comments. [Not sure how to rewrite this, but it is vague to me. What is he seeing that shows him that there is a community? This seems hard for someone unfamiliar with the Commons to envision. Maybe once the "He searches for [x]" is filled it... DM]
  3. He sees that he’s able to stay informed through real-time data sets of [x] and an RSS feed of [x]. He downloads the data and subscribes to the feed.
  4. With the Smithsonian data that he downloaded and data from [x third party], he creates a Google map mash-up to demonstrate [x].
  5. Another user clicks a link on his mash-up and discovers the Commons.
  6. That user then creates a blog post of her own (virtuous cycle…)
  7. Repeat visits result in increased exposure to membership/purchase opportunities. He (or one of his followers) makes a donation or buys [x].

Possible Topics for this Scenario

  • Public sculpture
  • Bugs
  • Amateur astronomy
  • Meteorites
  • Climate change

Outcomes/Benefits for the Smithsonian

  • Our visitors feel part of the Smithsonian
  • Our visitors keep current on latest research through an organic growth of ideas
  • We connect visitors with others of similar interest/experts
  • We uncover and support “interest tribes”
  • We enrich discovery and innovation outside the Smithsonian


Smithsonian Commons Prototype - Experience Brief
<< Story # 3: Millennial | Table of Contents | Story # 5: Summary >>