klondike

There are no meanings inherent in your resource.

Which is not to suggest that your resource is without meaning. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting together basic training for interpreters, and one of the first things we always try to do is define exactly what our profession is. You’d think that’d be easy; it ain’t. Every time I try to define interpretation, I come away less convinced than ever that […]

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Mayne Island

Requiem for the QR Code

The QR code is dead. It didn’t have to end this way. The year is 2011… …and I’m wandering through the galleries of my favourite local aquarium. Suddenly a gaggle of tweens rushes past me: “Over here! I found it!” They converge at an obscure spot under a counter, aim a smartphone, pause, shriek with laughter, and take off again. “This way! I think the […]

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Woman curtseying in street

Dear Don: Is theatre still interpretive if it has no storyline?

This week’s Dear Don question comes from my friend and colleague Caroline, who asks, “Have you ever seen great interpretive theatre that doesn’t have a strong narrative or plot?” I have been giving this one quite a bit of thought. All theatre is interpretive, of course, and some of the most powerful theatre I’ve ever seen had no narrative or plot that you could articulate in […]

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Lagoon Silhouettes

The Interpretive Voice: Find Your Spirit Guide

Finding Your Voice… On A Graph This is part two of a series. You should probably start with part one, here. In trying to craft my own voice as an interpreter and interpretive writer, I often look to some of the great interpreters I have seen over the years. And one of the things these inspiring people have in common is that they speak with a […]

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Barred owl

Dear Don: We’re Too Successful.

Welcome to the first in my Dear Don series, in which I do my best to answer questions from my readers about interpretation and visitor experience. (And if I don’t have the answers, I’ll be featuring wise experts who can help.) Dear Don: I attended your webinar on target audiences and have a question: We offer a variety of adult-only programs but there seem to be […]

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Song sparrow, singing

The Interpretive Voice

… have you found yours? Have you ever tried writing interpretive text as a committee? It’s about as delightful as being pecked apart by mergansers. Each writer contributes a piece, and each piece might be lovely on its own, but you put the bits together and they just don’t get along. And so you talk and you edit and you re-write and edit some more… until you […]

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Honey bee and lavender

 The Interpretive Soapbox

  Interpreters are purveyors of wonder. Never, ever forget it. Those of us who work with endangered species (or endangered resources of any kind) tend to feel fairly passionate about them. We also tend to be have long personal histories with our subjects, and a high level of knowledge about them. As a result, we are prime candidates for committing what I’d like coin as Enright’s Cardinal […]

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boy

High Horses, Ivory Towers and the M-Word

This is the third instalment in a series, The Visitor Experience Revolution. You should probably start at part one, here.  I will be presenting this topic at  the National Association for Interpretation’s big workshop coming up next week in Virginia Beach. I hope to see you there. As interpreters, we identify ourselves as educators first and foremost. That is not a bad thing. But with that lofty self-image sometimes comes a sense of superiority […]

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Forest floor, lifted.

Visitor Experience: Out With The Old

This is part two of a series; I suggest you start with the first instalment, here. Understanding our visitors’ needs and desires and trying to facilitate their experiences—both internal and external—very quickly become more important than creating didactic panels and programs. Organizations have started creating departments of Visitor Experience and hiring directors of Visitor Experience, and we are suddenly left to figure out where our old interpretive […]

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