Museums, apps and and the power of three (#smwgla)

Things come in three’s don’t they? And the power of three struck me this morning at the Guide Me Tours at Kelvingrove Museum session at Social Media Week Glasgow this morning.

Claire McLeod from Guide Me Tours gave an overview of the app they have developed for the museum. For those of you not familiar with Glasgow, Kelvingrove is one of the city’s main museums and is consistently in the top five visitor attractions in Scotland.

However like all (municipal) museums developing new income streams and improving the visitor experience is an ongoing challenge. And so to the power of three bit. The business model of Guide Me tours exploits the power of three. They develop the app (at no charge to the museum, but obviously working with museum staff) and then when the finished app is available, the income is split three ways – a third to the Apple/Android store, a third to the museum and a third to them. Seems like quite a good deal to me.

The new app (available on the Apple store just now and the Android version will be available in the next few weeks) gives a two hour audio tour of the museum. A free version gives a taster of the full experience and some of the highlights of the collection.

Screenshot of GuideMe Kelvingrove Museum App

Screenshot of GuideMe Kelvingrove Museum App

The team are now working on extending the user experience to produce other versions which are more inclusive with features for hearing and visually impaired visitors, and different language versions.

Currently there is no wifi in the museum, which gave rise to quite an interesting discussion about wifi provision in council buildings. I do find it disappointing that although we have wifi provision in our libraries, the City Council are still reluctant to widen provision to museums. This is just my personal view and I don’t know all the ins and outs of the decision process, costs etc. But I think wifi provision would increase visitor numbers and return visitors; as well as making downloading the app a lot faster (until we all have 4G on our phones!). It seems an interim measure of a wifi hot spot for access to the apple/android stores might be the first stage. There’s also a cafe across the road from the museum which has wifi – so you could just go there get a coffee and download the app there :-)

Social Media Week, 24-28 September, 2012

This week is social media week, “a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. Our mission is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information.”

Once again, Glasgow is one of the participating cities and I am one of the volunteers who will be at various locations and events around the city this week. There are a huge variety of events covering all aspects of social media for all sectors of the community.

I’m attending a couple of education specific events, including “What’s it all about? Using Social Media” at Glasgow Caledonian on Tuesday morning, and “Education on-line – mini-mooc” on Wednesday morning, where I’ll be part of a panel presenting a variety of view points on online education. My brief is to share some of the work JISC and CETIS have been involved in around curriculum design and course information.

As you’d expect, there are lots of ways to participate in all the events via hashtags, live streaming, youtube, flickr, facebook, apps etc. More information is on the main SMW website.

For the Glasgow event, here’s a twitter archive (courtesy of Martin Hawksey). There’s already a bit of activity on around the #smwgla tag. As the week progresses I’ll be sharing and checking out the top conversations using Martin’s tags explorer.

TAGS view of #smwgla twitter interaction

TAGS view of #smwgla twitter interaction

Again, using one of Martin’s templates, I’ve pulled together a timeline of videos/images which are using the #smwgla hashtag.

#smwgla timeline

#smwgla timeline

I’ll be sharing more of my experiences and thoughts throughout the week via this blog and twitter.

Social Media and Academia

Glasgow is one of the participating cities in the global Social Media Week. I was pleased to be able to attend the Social Media and Academia workshop at Glasgow University earlier this week; organised by Edinburgh Beltane, Beacon for Public Engagement and EDINA.

The event generated a really interesting discussion around use of social media from three main perspectives – teaching and learning, the library and community engagement. Nicola Osbourne (@suchprettyeyes) live blogged during the session and her account really captures the varied discussion that took place.

The things that struck me most were around the power to use social media to connect (or perhaps) reconnect place and community. Being a bit of a transient soul, I tend to use and think of social networks as virtual space devoid of location. However a sense of place is important for institutions, and it was interesting to hear about the various uses of Facebook within Glasgow University and also the discussion around the dangers of being in too many networks – particularly related to staff time to monitor these networks for any request for information. We also heard form Chris Speed and Peter Matthews about a really fascinating project in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, were local residents are sharing their memories of places, and place through voice memories via social networks – in this case primarily Facebook. I also found out about how Oxfam are using tagging of objects so you can now trace things you donate and see how much money they have been sold for.

There also seems to be a growing recognition in academia of the power of social networks – are we, in Gartner terms, on the slope of enlightenment perhaps?

I’ve also pulled together some of the tweets from the session too – which gives more of a twittter stream of conscious feel for the session too. All in all a really thought provoking session which I’m still thinking through. Many thanks to EDINA and Beltane for organising the session and to colleagues at Glasgow Uni for hosting it.

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