You choose some words that sound fun, like "flip-flops" and "corkscrew." The docent slips through the door, then closes it. You hear things moving around for a few minutes. The door opens. You walk in and peruse your choices with interest, but you can't help wondering what you missed. How would "tin can" and "adhesive bandage" look? You ask if you can see them. "Let's go out and close the door, and I'll show you the book again," says the docent helpfully.
The docent's clothes are impeccably tailored. The book's paper is extravagantly gorgeous. And the whole experience is incredibly frustrating.
This isn't a real physical exhibit (that I know of). But its equivalent exists as the digital exhibit Hidden Heroes: a splendid idea beautifully executed in every way except UI. I just wrote about the exhibit's actual content for KQED Science--which led me to learn some crazy things about animal eyeshine, e.g., did you know sharks can turn theirs off and on?--and which also required multiple visits to the website, and therefore multiple opportunities to "create a personalized exhibit." UGH.
It was . . . well, about what you'd expect from a fourteen-year-old with a creative spirit. The background was a repeating image of a purple raindrop. And there was poetry.
I've gotten older and maybe slightly wiser. I've dabbled in CSS. There's still poetry and my background is still purple, but at least I ditched the raindrop motif.
I'd be the first to admit that I've never made anything nearly as pretty as the Hidden Heroes website. But I also hope I've never made anything nearly as aggravating.