Museums and the Web

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Cell Phones and Exhibitions 2.0: Moving Beyond the Pilot Stage

TitleCell Phones and Exhibitions 2.0: Moving Beyond the Pilot Stage
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHaley Goldman, K.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2007. Proceedings
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedToronto, Canada
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordscell phones, diffusion of innovations, phone-based enhancements, technology adoption, third screen, visitor owned cell phones

For the creative museum professional, innovative technologies can be an irresistible Pandora's Box. Enormous possibilities await -- possibilities to connect with disaffected audiences, to make dynamic, engaging programs, to suffer software incompatibles, costly contractor support, and potential obsolescence. Personal technology devices (PDAs, iPods, cell phones/smart phones) solve several problems by shifting the burden of maintenance to the user and eliminating distribution and collection of museum-loaned devices.Still not a true convergence device, cell phones have rapidly moved towards the vision of being the "third screen." Despite some technical liabilities, they are poised to be the most pertinent technology device, primarily because visitors generally have their phones with them during their visit. However, despite the pervasiveness of such phones, early studies have revealed that when presented with phone-based exhibition enhancements, visitors are quite hesitant to use them. Yet visitors who do make use of cell phone capabilities appear to have more in-depth experiences and longer stay time.Is hesitancy to use the phone capabilities in exhibitions a true trend? And if so, what is the nature of that hesitancy? We have been thinking hard about these questions in the course of working on the NSF-funded SNSE (Science Now, Science Everywhere) project.In SNSE, the Liberty Science Center is pushing the possibilities of the visitor/phone interaction beyond tours. This paper will explore visitor use of cell phones as exhibition resources from the viewpoint of potential challenges to visitor adoption and the emerging benefits of such technology. The author will examine the preliminary data and the implications from both theoretical and practical interpretations.