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The eyes want to have it: Multimedia Handhelds in the Museum (an evolving story)


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A variant of this presentation, titled "Knowledge on Demand, Knowledge in Hand: Visitor-centered mobile multimedia," was delivered on 3 October 2008 at the conference "Knowledge in Demand '08" in Bern, Switzerland.

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The eyes want to have it: Multimedia Handhelds in the Museum (an evolving story)

  1. 1. The eyes want to have it: Multimedia handhelds in the museum ( an evolving story) Peter Samis Associate Curator, Interpretation San Francisco Museum of Modern Art WCC 2008 Milano • 8–10 September 2008
  2. 2. Setting the Stage
  3. 3. Museums! Even if they look like this on the outside...
  4. 4. ...they look like this on the inside.
  5. 5. … and this...
  6. 6. … and this.
  7. 7. This is our Problem Space: Opportunity
  8. 8. Modern art— like all the objects museums exhibit —exists in a framework of meanings. <ul><li>Physical aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Process of its making </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships (to its maker, to ideas, to other works) </li></ul><ul><li>Documents (journals, letters, sketches) </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>Methods of approach and understanding </li></ul>
  9. 9. Of these, art museums typically strip away all but one or two. <ul><li>Process of its making </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships (to its maker, its time) </li></ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>Methods of approach and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Physical aspects </li></ul>
  10. 10. Experts… … … … …… Novices Somewhere along the line that leaves us to restore the context.
  11. 11. Hypothetical Demand Curve:
  12. 12. First Forays
  13. 13. Points of Departure — SFMOMA 2002
  14. 14. First use of artist videos on PDAs in a museum space. Sometimes interpretation ’s a case of what’s missing …
  15. 15. Sometimes it’s a case of what’s there.
  16. 17. The goal is to meet people where they are—both conceptually and physically.
  17. 18. So the Goal, at least, is clear. <ul><li>But the means are constantly changing… </li></ul>.
  18. 19. as is the Museum environment.
  19. 20. Technology & museums change at very different paces.
  20. 21. With that in mind, a bit of history.
  21. 22. Early prototype: MEG @ Experience Music Project , Seattle, 2002 Mobile Exhibition Guide
  22. 23. Lessons learned <ul><li>Bulky & cumbersome to carry </li></ul><ul><li>Long development cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Expensive to build (prohibitive for non-profit institutions) </li></ul><ul><li>Technology surpassed by time of its introduction! </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>Compaq iPAQ Pocket PCs with video clips stored on 64 MB Compact Flash cards </li></ul><ul><li>Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player running on Windows CE (imperfect) </li></ul><ul><li>Used to present video clips of artists in each gallery </li></ul>Points of Departure iPAQ Gallery Explorer 2002
  24. 25. CIMI/Renwick Gallery prototype , Washington, DC <ul><li>Visual menus for each gallery </li></ul><ul><li>20–45 second clips </li></ul><ul><li>30-second message length deemed ideal </li></ul><ul><li>Add’l layers can be selected </li></ul><ul><li>Video clips ask: “Why did you become an artist? ” </li></ul>
  25. 26. The Visitor Experience
  26. 28. Tate Modern’s Multimedia guide , 2002/3… Casual cues shift attention from artwork to screen… and then back to artwork
  27. 29. Just-in-time learning/modeling how to look UBC’s Museum of Anthropology demo 2004… Ubiquity Interactive, Vancouver
  28. 30. … through use of QTVR and animations
  29. 31. Augmented space: physical spaces filled with electronic and visual information … and social sharing of that information
  30. 32. Question of constantly changing hardware models, not to mention form factors … and of consequent lack of technical support!
  31. 33. Visionary Failures* * aka reach exceeding grasp/ techno-hubris
  32. 34. GettyGuide Handheld (A Cautionary Tale) <ul><li>Works of art: image & stops </li></ul><ul><li>Events: tours & exhibitions </li></ul><ul><li>Map </li></ul><ul><li>Audio stops - keypad entry </li></ul><ul><li>Location sensing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Download content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wayfinding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Integrate with kiosk & web </li></ul>
  33. 35. GettyGuide Handheld : The Execution <ul><li>Five internal departments </li></ul><ul><li>Five vendors </li></ul><ul><li>Yet none had a vested interest in the complete system functioning </li></ul>Internal: Interactive Programs (interpretive content), Collections Information (object/registrarial information), Museum Information and Media Systems (academic programming and hardware), Web Group (academic programming), IT department (infrastructure hardware and software) Vendors: Server and application programming, location sensing hardware & software, handheld hardware & programming “ There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris. ” - McGeorge Bundy
  34. 36. GettyGuide Handheld: Evaluations Visitors would rather pay for a simple audio player with all artworks covered than a free but fancier handheld with only some, e.g., family audio stops. Visitors would also approve of a handheld that had all the audio content with a touchscreen keypad & improved on-screen map Inform the potential of handhelds – can we use them? How can the handheld and audio player be used in conjunction What to See guide — Handheld vs. simple MP3 Audio Player (Antenna X-plorer) Study Result
  35. 37. ArtScape @ the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Good idea, but an absence of further in-depth content made the return visit to the website superfluous.
  36. 38. WiVID Messaging & Live Updates (prototypes)
  37. 39. Multi-modal communications <ul><li><— All these plus: </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive gaming </li></ul><ul><li>Simulations </li></ul><ul><li>Tickets </li></ul><ul><li>eCommerce </li></ul><ul><li>& Concierge services !!! </li></ul>
  38. 40. Chasing the tail of technology was getting museums nowhere…  (except into debt )
  39. 41. Nancy Proctor’s Findings (Formerly Antenna Audio Strategic Planning in London, now at Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC) <ul><li>Wireless location-sensing’s just too problematic </li></ul><ul><li>Onboard content’s “a good thing” </li></ul><ul><li>Stabilize the platform </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple </li></ul><ul><li>The best technology is invisible </li></ul>
  40. 42. Capability - Maturity Model <ul><li>Initial phase: “heroic” </li></ul><ul><li>Managed phase: “1-deep” </li></ul><ul><li>Defined phase: Processes in place </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitatively managed: metrics </li></ul><ul><li>Optimizing: metrics fed back into system </li></ul>Institutions’ reach was exceeding their grasp. Don’t skip the steps. Just set your sights on the step you’re at, and the next.
  41. 43. Grassroots Returns & Tests
  42. 44. Enter a cheap & disruptive Social Technology: the Podcast
  43. 45. SFMOMA Artcasts <ul><li>A rapid response, audio zine format that blends structure and flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>A movement from the Museum out into the community , and from the community into the Museum </li></ul>Beyond an audio tour:
  44. 46. A $2 admission discount at all price levels when they show their Artcast: <ul><li>Adults </li></ul><ul><li>Seniors </li></ul><ul><li>Artists </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Youth </li></ul>
  45. 47. Guest Takes Pamela Z JT Leroy Beth Lisick
  46. 48. Vox Pop
  47. 49. disruptive Social Technology #2: The Cell phone
  48. 50. Why “disruptive” ? <ul><li>They posed fundamentally new questions : </li></ul><ul><li>Should visitors bring their own devices? </li></ul><ul><li>Should Museums ask visitors to contribute their own voices and interpretations?* </li></ul>
  49. 51. Matthew Barney: Drawing Restraint, 2006
  50. 52. Our problem: subtract the man/film from the gallery, and… How to make the mute plastic speak?
  51. 53. Traditionally, this would have been cause for a multimedia feature. … online, by the galleries, in the Koret Center.
  52. 54. To this, we were adding multiple format audio tours: <ul><li>Podcast: download from home </li></ul><ul><li>Gallery X-plorer: rent in Atrium </li></ul><ul><li>Cell phone: turn on in show </li></ul>Collaborate with Antenna to develop content for all three.
  53. 55. Downloadable podcast map
  54. 56. Cell phone promotional card - collab w/ Guide by Cell
  55. 57. In fact, we thought we were setting out to measure visitor preferences for three different types of audio tours. And we did that.
  56. 58. What did we find out? <ul><li>There is no clear winner </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional devices skew older </li></ul><ul><li>iPods and cell phones seem to skew younger * </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors appreciate multiple experience options </li></ul>* statistics not fully conclusive
  57. 59. Different devices support different touring styles : <ul><li>Cell phones averaged less than 50% stop use , indicating à la carte, on demand use. </li></ul>iPods and traditional audio tour devices averaged 70-80% stop use : a more immersive , custom experience In fact, iPod and traditional headset tour users had more in common than these users might suspect…
  58. 60. Those who chose the iPod and cell phone formats rated them more highly than traditional headset tour users rated theirs. — although the content was identical!
  59. 61. Phone logs enabled us to see patterns in where visitors wanted information most: (or perhaps where they or could find the labels!)
  60. 62. In fact, GuideBy Cell now mashes up area codes and Google Maps to reveal where visitors are from:
  61. 63. Stats: Cell-phone Tours <ul><li>Good News: Guide by Cell records </li></ul><ul><li>1st exhibition with over 10,000 calls </li></ul><ul><li>Average message selection in other museums is only 33% </li></ul><ul><li>Bad News: </li></ul><ul><li>Still only averaging 45 visitors/day </li></ul><ul><li>Only 3.7% of exhibition visitors </li></ul>
  62. 64. So somewhere along the way, the target shifted.
  63. 65. The elephant in the room is that: The vast majority of our visitors do not use technology during their museum visit. So how do we reach them?
  64. 66. If our goal is to use technology, we may just nod and move on . But if our goal is to enhance visitor experience, we have to think larger.
  65. 67. “Variable on-demand mediation.” –Brad Johnson, Second Story Interactive
  66. 68. Interpretive Menu: analog + digital <ul><li>One curatorial intro panel </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibition brochure </li></ul><ul><li>Docent tours </li></ul><ul><li>Audio tour delivered via: </li></ul><ul><li>Antenna MP3 gallery guide </li></ul><ul><li>Downloadable podcast </li></ul><ul><li>Cell phone tour courtesy GuideByCell </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Lounge in show: </li></ul><ul><li>Plasma screen with Barney video interview clips </li></ul><ul><li>Barney FAQ wall graphics </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive feature/website </li></ul><ul><li>Books & catalogs </li></ul>
  67. 69. So what did we learn? What did visitors prefer? <ul><li>Audio: Different people opt for different devices </li></ul><ul><li>Video: Visitors want to see and hear the voice of the artist above all else </li></ul><ul><li>and perhaps most surprisingly: </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors opt for the analog first. </li></ul>
  68. 70. Here’s what that looks like: Use of offerings by respondents:
  69. 71. But on the other hand: What helped make meaning?
  70. 72. But taken together, Interpretation works: Statistics Courtesy Randi Korn & Associates
  71. 73. Or put another way: This is our Opportunity Space! Is it time to re-train our visitors? Change their expectations? Change our approach? All of the above?
  72. 74. Next Tests: Traditional audio tour vs. iPod
  73. 75. When visitors were given the choice … 49% 51% Eliasson / Cornell / Wall 45% 55% Matisse 41% 59% Picasso & Brice Marden iPod Antenna XP - “Classic”(mp3) Exhibitions in 2007 (in sequence)
  74. 76. Do we detect a trend?
  75. 77. Fast forward to summer 2008 (right now):
  76. 78. Enter Frida Kahlo <ul><li>MENU: analog + digital mix </li></ul><ul><li>Brochure </li></ul><ul><li>Wall texts </li></ul><ul><li>Multimedia tour with low price barrier to entry </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Lounge </li></ul><ul><li>Supplementary galleries to add context </li></ul><ul><li>Kiosk / Website </li></ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts </li></ul>
  77. 88. Visitor Feedback
  78. 95. iPod-Touch and iPhone
  79. 96. Using PDAs to harvest visitor feedback <ul><li>Tate SMART Tours for school groups </li></ul><ul><li>Favorites, drawing, even voice commentaries </li></ul><ul><li>Mesh with website for after-visit classroom assignments / follow-ups </li></ul>
  80. 97. iPod-touch interfaces <ul><li>Tate Liverpool’s Klimt exhibition </li></ul><ul><li>Stops are a series of short enhanced podcasts mapped to the default iPhone interface </li></ul><ul><li>Meshing of linearaudio tour with selected visuals </li></ul>
  81. 98. iPod-touch interfaces <ul><li>Museum of Modern Art (New York)’s MoMA udio program </li></ul><ul><li>Wi-Fi throughout the galleries </li></ul><ul><li>Download in advance or on the spot </li></ul><ul><li>Optimized for iPod-Touch & iPhone; plays on other devices as well </li></ul>
  82. 99. Soon to come… an SFMOMA iPhone title: In the meantime…
  83. 100. <ul><li>The beginnings of custom design using the iPhone SDK </li></ul>
  84. 101. Planning Today/State of the Art
  85. 102. Words of Wisdom from Chris Tellis , founder & former Chairman of Antenna Audio <ul><li>“People go to museums often to get away from technology.” </li></ul><ul><li>“The subjective is always more powerful than the objective .” </li></ul><ul><li>“Never be the early adopter…  What ’s hip is to have a program that works !” </li></ul>
  86. 103. A url to remember:
  87. 108. New Book Digital Technologies & the Museum Experience: Handheld Guides & Other Media Editors Loïc Tallon & Kevin Walker, AltaMira Press Available now through amazon or
  88. 109. Thank you.