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Published: March 15, 2001.


Are You Ready for Wireless?
Cary Karp , Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden

Session: Wireless

The term "wireless" is one of the buzziest recent additions to the networking vocabularly. Within its broad scope lie a variety of protocols, procedures and products, plus an extremely large dose of hyperbole.

Notions of true mobile computing are likely to be appealing to museum workers and visitors, alike. And, indeed, existing wireless technologies can get us there with reasonable convenience and little pain.

A far less pleasant experience is likely to be provided when someone exploring the resources lying behind the various wireless gateways stumbles across a miniaturized version of a museum Web site, mechanically whittled down to unrecognisability at the gateway without the museum even knowing that this "service" was being offered.

This workshop will provide an introductory review of the basic elements of wireless communication, touching briefly on protocol level issues, and elaborating on hardware and software impementations that may be of particular interest in museum contexts.

Applications examples will be selected from both exhibition and collection management perspectives, as well as the enhancement of the roving museum professional's ability to keep on line and in touch using a pocket-sized arsenal of wireless gadgets rather than an attaché case filled with more conventional gear that requires being plugged into something before becoming fully useful.

The current popular focus on palmtop devices such as cellular phones and PDA's will be reflected in the presentation. Means for adapting information on pre-existing Web sites to be maximally useful in the smaller scale viewing environment will be illustrated.

Should an ad hoc laboratory be provided by a large enough number of participants bringing palmtop computers and text-enabled cellular telephones to the workshop, the presentation will be adapted to take fullest hands-on advantage of the situation.