Media & Technology on the Go

Evaluation-led Mobile Experience Design

Posted on | January 3, 2010 | 7 Comments

At the MCN conference in Portland in November, I presented some of the research I’ve been doing on new approaches to mobile experience design. Sheila Carey from the Canadian Heritage Information Network kindly put together a panel for the conference on “Making the Call: Evaluating Mobile Projects in Museums” that pulled my work together with that of Sherry Hsi, who analyzed with keen hindsight the Exploratorium’s seminal Electronic Guidebook project, and Koven Smith’s latest call to action: don’t pilot – develop! More on that later…

My slides are here; the podcast of the talk is here. If you have comments or ideas to build on this work, there are pages on the Museum Mobile wiki dedicated to the topic:

What is the Museum? Who is a Curator? In the age of Social Media in Copenhagen…

Posted on | November 22, 2009 | 9 Comments

Long time no listen! I haven’t been able to podcast in a while as my ‘free’ time has been consumed with developing a website for Curator Journal, for which I’ve just taken on the role of Digital Editor, writing a couple of articles and preparing for several lectures I’ve given recently.

Here is a podcast of the first one I’ve been able to edit together so far (or find it on iTunes); the slides are here. It was delivered at the conference: Event Culture The Museum and Its Staging of Contemporary Art at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on November 7, 2009. The conference was brilliantly conceived and put together by Rune Gade and Jesper Rasmussen from the Copenhagen Doctoral School of Cultural Studies, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies.

The conference also gave me the opportunity to visit Copenhagen and about 11 of its museums and cultural sites for the first time! My favorite was the Glyptoteket – perhaps the best sculpture experience of my life, with a gorgeous ‘Winter Garden’ courtyard. Here are some pictures; check out the crazy turn of the 20th century French sculpture, and the Louise Bourgeois that apparently moves around the museum! I love her in the Rodin gallery, as if to vindicate Camille Claudel…

The conference really made me want to go back and spend some time working with and learning from the museum professionals and academics I met there. In particular, I’m keen to visit the ARoS after hearing a presentation about it from Jesper. They are doing some really innovative things in contemporary art curation: see Sense City, where “the spectator takes center stage,” and Art City, where you walk down a city street, seeing the art representing elements you might find in a city, displayed as if in their natural places along the streets and square. No labels! I’ll add a link when Jesper publishes his paper about these installations.

Until then, thanks to all who organized and attended the conference!

Spy in the City: The GPS Game of Washington DC

Posted on | August 19, 2009 | 4 Comments

Have you ever spied on someone? Have you ever wanted to be a real spy?

The International Spy Museum in Washington, DC now offers an amazing taste of what it’s like with a GPS-triggered game and tour of the city. Inspired by two real FBI cases – Operation Lemon-Aid, conducted in 1977, and KITTY HAWK in 1966 – Spy in the City is a 1.2 mile (1.5 hour), $16 experience using the BarZ Adventures GPS Ranger device. Code-named ‘Geo-Cobra’, the multimedia handheld uses Flash to simulate the experience of receiving text messages, audio, video, photographs and other breaking intelligence from headquarters as you track a foreign agent. You scan for fingerprints, descramble audio messages and decipher local monuments to identify your quarry.

It’s an ambitious application of the new technology, offering lots of important lessons for others interested in trying the treacherous world of location-based mobile, as well as exploring the value of gaming in education. For those less intrepid, this interview with the tour’s author, Amanda Ohlke, and the Museum’s Executive Director, Peter Earnest, also shares ideas on lower-tech mobile programs like scavenger hunts, and how they can be leveraged for team-building and other group experiences. After all, “it’s not about the technology” – though I do try to get some hints from Peter, a former spy with the CIA himself, as to what new mobile tricks we might inherit from the clandestine services in the next generation!

So don’t be surprised if this podcast self-destructs after you’ve heard it…

Be Extraordinary! Mobile Micro-volunteering

Posted on | August 9, 2009 | 1 Comment

‘Micro-volunteering’ is a new mobile arena being pioneered by The Extraordinaries, among others. In this podcast, I speak with Jacob Colker, CEO and co-founder of the start-up company, about how volunteers can donate small amounts of time to help non-profits with tasks like tagging images, checking addresses, or translating text through their web-enabled phones. Along the way Jacob comes up with some great ideas of how museums can use mobile apps to reinforce its role as a platform, connecting visitors in the galleries to people around the world. Noting that mobile is about ‘real-time’ interaction, he also discusses the future of ‘traditional’ cellphone uses, like voice calls and SMS, predicting the obsolescence of the latter – in the US anyway – within the next 5 years. We give a shout-out for the Steve.Museum social tagging project, and each get in a little call for museums to ‘let go’ and put at least as much energy into figuring out how to make innovations work as we currently invest in nay-saying. 😉

Chris & Ted’s Excellent iPod Tours

Posted on | July 18, 2009 | 3 Comments

Apple makes it look so easy – and it is, if you’re as brilliant, creative and resourceful as Chris Alexander from San Jose Museum of Art and Ted Forbes of Dallas Museum of Art. In this podcast, Chris & Ted walk us through their developments of iPod Touch tours for their museums: from wireless networks, to interfaces, to back-end content management and signage in the galleries. Even better, they’re making their code and wireframes available to all through the Museums to Go opensource project on the MuseumMobile wiki, and are happy to answer any further questions you might have about doing it in-house and what help museums can still use from vendors in the field.

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