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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

What’s On TAP? – Strategies for keeping pace with rapid changes in mobile technology

Abstract

In 2011, the New York Times published an article that reinforces what many museums are feeling as they scramble to keep pace with changes in technology. Entitled, “Software Progress Beats Moore’s Law”, the article cites a White House advisory report detailing the changes in hardware and software innovation in the past 15 years. The report notes that while the rate of change in hardware innovation is staggering, changes in software have vastly outpace even those impressive numbers.

Perhaps most challenging for museums today are the changes occurring in the mobile industry.  This leads to questions about how best to take advantage of mobile tools to promote access, interpretive content, and engaging experiences for the public – and at the same time, find solutions that are scalable and able to be maintained over a long period of time.

As described in (Stein 2011), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) proposed a platform called TAP that envisioned a modular software framework in addition to a formal description of mobile tour content called TourML. The IMA released an initial version of the TAP and TourML framework in 2009, which has subsequently been adopted by a number of museums. While the initial TAP software proved stable and capable of serving a variety of needs in museums, it fell short of the ability to support the vision and needs of the community as expressed in several working meetings about the specification.

In 2011, the Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded a National Leadership Grant to a collaboration of museums, led by the IMA, to create and extend upon the TAP & TourML open-source platform to create a suite of interchangeable tools that can support the creation of reusable mobile experiences. This paper will discuss the goals of the project, the current state of the TourML specification (including its relationship to other open-source mobile projects), and will outline the software development roadmap for the project. Authors will describe the various components of the TAP system and how modules from the toolkit can be used individually or in combination to build a variety of museum mobile experiences.

Rather than being a stand-alone product, the paper will document the ways that TAP and TourML seek to integrate with existing museum authoring tools and commercial mobile systems creating a method for interchange and migration of mobile content between these systems.  This same interchange method can help museums preserve and reuse the content developed for mobile tours and can potentially lead to the ability for museums to share and trade content elements between distinct mobile experiences.

Lohr, Steve. "Software Progress Beats Moore's Law - NYTimes.com." Technology - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com. New York Times, 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/software-progress-beats-moores-law/

Stein, R., and N. Proctor, TourML: An Emerging Specification for Museum Mobile Experiences. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2011. Consulted September 26, 2011. http://conference.archimuse.com/mw2011/papers/tourml_an_emerging_specification_for_museum_mobile

Type: 

Paper - in formal session

Authors

cmoad's picture
Charlie leads the application development team towards providing open-source and reusable solutions for the IMA and the cultural community as a whole. His diverse programming background has helped the IMA provide internal solutions and bypass the communications barrier often experienced with museum...
rjstein's picture
Robert Stein is the Deputy Director for Research, Technology and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). In that role, Stein leads a wide range of activities for the museum including an extensive effort in media, web technology and software. Since 2006, he has played a significant role...