In effective museum and gallery installations, visitors are usually invited to spend time simply being with art—or artifacts or other content. Curators and exhibition designers understand that people require certain things to have concentrated experiences: things like unobstructed access, good light, and freedom from distractions.
Now imagine going into a museum and trying to walk up to a Matisse, only to run into a glass wall ten feet away from the painting. To get past the wall—which is now frosted so you can’t see the painting at all—you have to write down your full name and address, and then show ID to prove that you are who you say you are. Once you’ve submitted to all this, you discover that the “painting” is only a small print—you have to go into another room full of billboards to see the original. Finally, you reach the painting. The descriptive label is written in miniature gray text on a slightly lighter gray background, so forget trying to read that, but here at last is the art.
That’s when the circus clowns pop out of the woodwork and start honking little horns and waving signs advertising tooth-whitening products and diet pills. This is content online.
From The Elements of Content Strategy, by Erin Kissane.