Can this sign be saved?

This article is an excerpt from the course Interpretive Signs: Attractive, Brief, Clear. I’m offering the course online starting May 4, 2021. Check it out here. What this sign does well This interpretive sign connects people to place; it interprets the scene in front of the visitor and refers directly to features that the visitor can see. That might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s […]

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Taking It All Online

One Year Into the Pandemic It’s hard to believe we are now a year into this COVID-19 world. We got ourselves past the initial panic and have now settled into this ever-shifting new normal. For those of us in the cultural/natural heritage sectors, it has been a rough ride. One of the hardest aspects of it was the panicked call to action from our superiors: […]

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A Field Guide to Content Developers

If you’re trying to put together a design project, it pays to know who to hire. I often see “interpretive writer” in an RFP when it’s clear that you’re really looking for a content developer or an interpretive planner. And while it’s not unusual to find someone (like me) who can do all three, the scope of work (and the price tag) for each is radically different.

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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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interp panel with grammar error

Proofread Twice, Print Once

As an interpretive writer, I really enjoy reading panels and exhibits as I travel across the country for my work. Occasionally, of course, I spot something that makes the writer-editor in me really cringe. I really sympathize with writers whose errors end up in interpretive panels. It’s one thing to see your mistake online, and rush to correct it. It’s quite another to see your […]

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mute swan

The World’s Worst Interpretive Themes

Writing great interpretive themes is not rocket science. Why do we make it so hard? In the world of interpretation, we refer to messages as themes. The word ‘theme’ has different connotations and meanings. Sometimes I wish we didn’t use the term at all; it’s confusing, and this is one area that we really need to get right. Let’s see what the dictionary has to […]

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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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Big Book of Disasters

The Interpretive Disaster

An interview with the editors of the Interpreter’s Big Book of Disasters I suppose every profession is prone to minor disasters. I was a waiter once; I recall tipping about a half litre of pop onto a child’s head. In another job I remember hopping out of a vehicle to grab some equipment… and forgetting to put the truck in park (I stopped it just before it […]

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