background image
fraction of the information space containing the data necessary to meet a particular need.
The interface provides the users with semantic elements that help to describe concisely
the things they expect to find while exploring information spaces/repositories. A semantic
coordinate system equips users with a minimal but sufficient vocabulary. Hierarchically
arranged and grouped along major content facets, this vocabulary acts as a stable coordinate
system which is at the same time easy to comprehend and memorise. Users find localising
themselves easy and quick. Successfully searching and navigating now means guided
travelling from information to information by changing the semantic coordinates, i.e. by
pointing to relevant concepts.To foster collaboration among puppeteers (both professional
and amateur), puppet theatres, and authors of different kinds of puppetry-related literature,
eStage provides puppeteers with a platform for exchanging their work, their artefacts,
and their ideas.The project team hoped that in this way eStage would become a catalyst
for inspiration.The corresponding collaboration platform is manifested through an
Internet portal which allows uploads and downloads of a variety of media types includ-
ing plays, videos, textual/descriptive data, and still images.This approach was dubbed
`intecreation' by the project partners, and defined as the interactive development of a col-
laborative workspace.
eStage put a strong emphasis on user involvement in terms of participatory design
applied to the software development, and this is an approach that all projects aiming to
create collaborative or virtual communities could usefully adopt.Throughout the project,
but particularly in the early stages, the partners carried out a number of interviews with
puppeteers and puppet theatres. Among the institutions which contributed to the shaping
of the design were the State Collection of Puppetry of Saxony, the puppetry
department of the City Museum of Munich, as well as Union Internationale de la
Marionnette
(UNIMA) and Association Nationale des théâtres de Marionnettes
et des Arts Associés
(THEMAA), both international associations of puppetry.
291
According to Kurt Englmeier of LemonLabs, the success of the project reflected direct
contact with the puppetry community. Consideration was given to reports of user needs
in the design.The team considered what kinds of information puppeteers are likely to be
looking for.The following is a good example of the types of queries that puppeteers
make:
We were looking for a new play for children that should have some educational effect
through a certain level of cruelty as it occurs likewise in many of Grimm's fairy tales.
We looked for children's books in libraries, bookshops and even toy shops and run
into a book in English telling the story of a mother and cannibal looking for a child
to eat (The Female Cannibal by Valerie Dayre).The design idea for the necessary
puppet came from a picture in a festival announcement showing a puppet representing
a fierce devil. (Theater Waidspeicher, May 2000
292
)
User interaction is a fundamental cornerstone of the eStage venture and experience.
eStage was designed around the kinds of user interactions it was expected to meet:
- The access to a digital archive must enable creative talents to go directly to the
material they are looking for while bypassing the vast majority of the collection;
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
158
291 http://ww.unima.org; http://www.themaa.com.
292 A description of the play can be found at http://www.waidspeicher.de/cgi-local/pagemaker.pl?mf*rep.
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