Friday, September 19, 2008

From Audiotours to iPhones [Conference Review by a Guest Blogger]

maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums Hi, Janet Petitpas here. I work for Gyroscope in London. I recently attended the "From Audiotours to iPhones" conference at the Tate Modern. It was a particularly interesting conference for me as I have a background at low-tech museums and am not experienced in using, maintaining, or facilitating interactive technology in the museum environment. Many of the stars of the field were at the seminar (Peter Samis, Nancy Proctor and Jane Burton, to name a few). I was pleased at how down to earth and un-seduced by the technology everyone turned out to be. Here were a couple of take-aways for me, and things that all presenters repeated:
  • There is no silver bullet out there. The technology available needs to be seriously assessed and is not always the best option for every visitor, every institution, or every exhibition.
  • The audience and the content are king. Don’t get swept away in cool technology– the content has to be excellent and the technology has to fit the audience.
  • While some content can be used for multiple media (a label, a podcast, a hand-held) there are important differences in what visitors expect from each type of media, and the content should have some tailoring.
  • Museums are moving towards the creation and ownership of their own content (unlike the old audio guide/Antenna Audio contracts in which the vendor owns the content).
  • The majority of visitors to Museums do not chose to use technology during their visit.
Some of the questions everyone seems to be grappling with include:
  • How can you promote a social experience with technology that is solitary?
  • How do you help visitors chose a platform when they may not be familiar with the technology and may be even be familiar with the technology that have brought with them?
  • How can you maximize use of content yet be tailored to the strengths of different devices?
The presenters set up a great wiki site that has copies of presentations, PowerPoints, case studies, general resources etc. If you’d like to know more, check out: Janet Petitpas Senior Associate Gyroscope, Inc. janet [at] gyroscopeinc [dot] com

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