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0 (AKA “The Social Museum”)
Liam Templeton 0704913 Prof. Roderic Page University of Glasgow
Abstract Introduction The Current Role of Museums Previous Attempts to Monitor User Navigation QR Codes Aims & Hypotheses Methods Specimen for Consideration Establishing Web Content Generating QR Codes Preparing the System for General Use Collection of Data Results Devices Preference Navigation Discussion Devices & IP addresses Preference Navigation Limitations Improvements for Further Use Museum 2.0 Conclusion Acknowledgments Bibliography Websites Appendix
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Museums have held a high standard of cultural and scientific significance for centuries. First serving as a store by which specimen of all descriptions could be catalogued and studied and secondarily as a platform for public outreach and the communication of science. In a rapidly changing environment where the importance of natural resources are often overlooked in place of human development the purpose of institutions such as the Hunterian zoology museum can be considered instrumental in their influence on individuals and how they consider the natural world. Current museum displays are limited as to the amount of information they are able to display and unable to accommodate new scientific discoveries. Digitally stored information may serve as a possible solution although the use of technology may represent a large investment on the part of the museum which is often open to abuse. By incorporating a system which employs the use of user owned technology it could act to alleviate any such investment. This study explores the use of quick response (QR) codes as a cost effective means to accommodate a digital system made available for internet enabled mobile devices (i.e. “smartphones”) in the hope to offer a more rewarding and interactive experience to visitors while at the same time establishing a means by which to monitor and track user navigation and preference.
The Current Role of Museums
Museums of Natural History perhaps more so than any other represent a platform not only for public outreach and education but for the study and exploration of biological systems and diversity (Winker, 2004). Historically this mission could be considered the primary role of museums of this nature though as natural sciences progressed with the synthesis of Darwinian modes of thought this too ushered an interest in public involvement and observation. This is perhaps most apparent in the Natural History Museum in London which was only made publicly accessible in 1881 (Stearn, 1981), to which Bill Bryson commented "by making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our expectations of what museums are for" (Bryson, 2004). This relates to the idea that it may function not only for the pursuit of a further understanding of the natural world but also to promote an active interest in those that might otherwise not be aware of such phenomena. An outreach program such as this is as vital now more than ever as fewer considerations are given to the state of our natural resources in favour of the proliferation of further human development. Where schools fail to it falls on the shoulders of public education in the media and through institutions like museums to captivate the imaginations of the public in order to help cultivate an interest in the hope to effectively direct action toward the understanding and conservation of the natural world. Perhaps in doing so a revision in the way that museums are operated is required where visitor participation is favoured over curatorial authority (Simon, 2007b).
Through the design of more creative means to communicate information to members of the public curatorial staff can hope to more effectively convey themes in biology to visitors. One limiting factor in the designing of museum exhibits is the nature of content which should be included. Typically one can expect a wide range of visitors from differing educational backgrounds and institutions such as this should aim to not
alienate any potential visitor. Displays should be relevant and informative but not so challenging so to exclude any demographic or individual. This in itself may pose somewhat of a challenge as the space in which such information is displayed is often restricted. Another potential challenge that exists is that visitors may feel intimidated if confronted by large bodies of text, and so may be less likely to retain any information they are faced with (McManus, 1989). One way to overcome this challenge would be to host a digital source of information which would then allow visitors to selectively view that which interests them most. In doing so it is hoped that a wider audience be reached with the inclusion of interactive forms of media. However criticisms do exist in that some forms of interactive technologies are thought to detract from the true nature of the object and so limiting the overall appeal of that exhibit (Fleming, 2005). Doing so would also require some investment in order to install and maintain the required technologies, which may at first seem unattractive on the part of the institution. By facilitating the use of user owned technology we can hope to alleviate any financial investment or personal intrusion a system such as this would otherwise pose.
Another challenge in curating exhibits of this nature is that our knowledge of that which is put on display is constantly being challenged by advancements in the field. This could perhaps be said to be occurring more rapidly than in any other discipline. Because of this some areas of content may be found to be outdated shortly after being put on display. As few institutions have the resources to revise displays on a regular basis, at least not at the rate at which new discoveries are made, it would appear as though there is a need for a more adaptable platform on which content can be hosted. Such a platform might easily be facilitated by the establishment of a digital resource on which content could be hosted. The nature of which would mean that updating displays would require as little action as editing a block of text. This would act to ensure that the content provided was relevant and current and may even pose as an opportunity to include user generated content, a concept which will be explored later in this study.
Previous Attempts to Monitor User Navigation
A major frontier in the study of museums is that of visitor behaviour. By understanding the processes by which visitors navigate throughout a museum curators, and those involved in the design of museum displays, can then use this information to design future exhibitions that relate to the patterns of interest expressed by any key demographic. The current means of doing so may seem largely restricted to assumptions made based on visual observations. The use of closed circuit television systems may pose a suitable aid in doing so though the analysis of the footage retrieved might prove to be incredibly tedious to say the least. Multiple attempts have since been made by inferring the use of sophisticated technologies and advanced statistical modeling to predict visitor interest (Bohnert et al, 2009). However in doing so it may also pose further complications and uncertainties to an already poorly explored area of research.
One such attempt of doing involved the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) whereby visitors were provided with passive RFID tags to be worn throughout the duration of their visi (Baldwin & Kuriakose, 2009). Exhibits were then coupled with an antenna for the purpose of receiving data relating to visitor proximity and navigation. Though arguably discrete the process of distributing and then recollecting RFID tags to and from each individual visitor may seem inappropriate in that it is directly invading that person’s privacy. If confronted by an alien device visitors may feel intimidated and prone to unnatural behaviour (Simon, 2009). A system such as this also poses somewhat of a financial risk in that if not properly monitored the devices may then be open to abuse. While RFID tags themselves are said to be relatively inexpensive for this purpose this might still be considered an unnecessary investment for a permanent installation.
This too can be resolved by employing the use of user owned technology. Mobile phones carry features that would allow for the use in monitoring user navigation. The function of which may be passive by making use of bluetooth identification by other bluetooth devices fixed to exhibits. This would rely heavily on the assumption that users would have bluetooth enabled on their device, the likelihood of which might not be very high being that it’s function has been somewhat subsided by more advanced wireless technologies. Other more active means of employing the use of user owned devices might on the surface appear intrusive and require some form of activity on the part of the user. Under this assumption a user would have to actively view an exhibit using their device for it to be recognised by the system. A way to influence a visitor to do so might be to offer some form of incentive. In the case of this study that incentive can be thought of as the prospect of gaining access to exclusive web hosted content and supplementary information. Actively viewing an exhibit can be thought of in terms of accessing the content using an internet enabled device. In order for this to be effective the delivery of such content would have to be almost seamless. In this case a means of doing so is facilitated by the use of quick response (QR) codes. QR Codes
QR codes are two-dimensional images that can be generated to encode information readable by remote devices. Unlike bar codes which are limited to encoding numerical data QR codes can be made to represent letters and other symbols. This feature makes them attractive for use in a number of practical applications. First developed by Denso-wave in 1994 for use in the car manufacturing industry their purpose was mainly that of a logistical tool (www.denso-wave.com). Since then they have been adopted for numerous uses. With the advancement of mobile devices a more commercial use has become available to explore. The nature of the codes and their ability to directly link information to mobile devices almost instantaneously has made them attractive for use in fields such as advertising and public relations. Poster and television advertisements are now commonly coupled with codes relating viewers and observers to
supplementary information hosted online. It seems only natural that they would be adapted for use in museums and throughout the public education sector to better enrich the experience of visitors in a way that is discrete and poses little financial implications on the part of the institution.
More recently a recreational use of QR codes has begun to be explored. One such exploration is a concept proposed by the website Tales of Things whereby users are encouraged to generate and contribute online content relating to physical objects that bear some significance to them. These objects are then coupled with a QR code so that others who encounter them in real life can be made aware of any interesting aspects of that objects history and personal significance. This idea supports the concept of participation (Simon, 2007a) whereby including user generated content related to previous experiences and knowledge of that object we can seek to establish a forum of content which is not limited to that dictated by the curatorial staff but which relates to visitors on all levels of interest, and in doing so collapsing the telescopic nature of public interest and education.
Another example of this type is that of the website and mobile application My Personal Tour (www.mypersonaltour.com) where people are invited to curate personal tours of sorts which can then be subscribed to by users for free via their mobile devices using a downloadable application. This also facilitates the use of QR codes as a means to easily and effectively relate digitally stored information to physical objects but also has been extrapolated for use in outside tours by employing the use of in-device global positioning systems (GPS). In this system users are prompted to view a building or object of interest by push notification when in close proximity to that building or object and then supplied with information relating to that site. The use of QR codes in this case is thought to be necessary where GPS is unavailable (i.e. in a closed building). This method fully supports the idea of user participation in that all content is user generated and so allows the construction of tours tailored specifically for varying levels
of interest (Borggrewe, 2009). One limitation is that currently the MyTour mobile application is currently limited for use with Apple devices only.
Some of these concepts were briefly outlined in an article featured in New Scientist (Giles, 2010) in which the idea of employing the use of QR codes in museums by curators was put forward, though to my knowledge has yet to have been implemented in a way similar to that outlined in this study. The MyTour application was released via the Apple app store in December 2010 and so was not suitable for use in the development or the execution of this study. Aims & Hypotheses
The aim of this experiment is to integrate a digital system into the current collection of the Hunterian zoology museum, the purpose of which is to provide a more engaging and ultimately rewarding experience for the user and to allow the passive collection of information relating to user navigation and display preference. In doing so it is hoped that user information can be tracked in a way that might prove useful for the design of future museum exhibits relating to apparent user interest. A null hypothesis can be thought of in that there is no observable bias of display preference or typical navigation subscribed to by visitors. The alternative being that there is an observable bias of display preference or typical navigation subscribed to by visitors, the nature of which is hoped to be explored throughout the process of this study.
Specimen for Consideration
For the purpose of this experiment a group of exhibits were selected from within the current collection at the Hunterian zoology museum at the University of Glasgow. A set of 24 museum specimen was established. This number was considered appropriate to give a sample size of adequate statistical integrity and manageability. Also taken into consideration was that the sample size be of a sufficient number to ensure that the specimen included would not simply be considered a novelty by the visitors, but not so many that making content for each would become laborious and unmanageable. When selecting specimen to be included in the study certain considerations were taken into account. These considerations included various aspects of the biology of the specimen (i.e. taxonomy and geographic distribution), the nature both of the display and the specimen and the relative position of that exhibit in the museum. It was desirable that the set included an even number of specimen of each description. This consideration was given in the hope that the data collected could be extrapolated to pertain to various aspects of user navigation and to some extent preference. In practise this hope was somewhat confounded by an existing bias in the museum collection in that it features a disproportionate number of mammals and birds than it does amphibians and reptiles etc. With this in mind it was decided that the most important aspect of selection be that which considers the spatial distribution of specimen throughout the museum, and that any other aspect be considered but only of secondary importance. A complete list of the exhibits that were included is included in the appendix.
Establishing Web Content
Once the set was confirmed a series of online content was required with a page relating to each of the specimen included. A format for the web page was established with each page featuring the name of the specimen (both common and binomial), an
image of a specimen of the same species, a paragraph of text relating to that animals biology, information relating to that animals taxonomic classification and a map outlining the distribution of that animal. All images and the basis for text were taken from Wikipedia. Maps were taken from the IUCN red list where available, and otherwise illustrated onto a blank map based on information from the same source.
It was recognised that content sourced primarily from Wikipedia was perhaps not entirely suitable for use in a museum but also that for the purpose of this experiment it could be considered a fair compromise. This was justified by the point that the content could be considered to be secondary to the function of the system and that the system itself was intended to act as a pilot study on various aspects of the use and functionality of the system. If such a system was to be adapted for a more permanent use then it was appreciated that a higher level of content would be required. Construction of the pages was done using the application TextWrangler for Macintosh computers. A universal theme was created using the jQuery mobile online application (jquerymobile.com). This theme made it so that the content was compatible and aesthetically pleasing when being viewed on different types of mobile device. Once complete the content was hosted on a local server on the museum premises. It was recognised that some mobile devices failed to receive a mobile internet reception required to operate the system. For this reason a local wi-fi network was established in the museum using an Apple Airport module.
Generating QR Codes
Upon completion of the online content individual QR codes were generated to relate to the URL on which each page was hosted. This was done using the Kaywa online QRcode generator (qrcode.kayway.com) which is able to generate a code specific to an inputed URL. A truncated URL was also generated using the online URL shortener bit.ly. It was proposed that these truncated URLs might work to allow access to pages
for those without the relevant QR reading software. However it was soon recognised that such URLs require access to an external server, which the established wi-fi network does not allow. For this reason the shortened URLs were abandoned. The QR codes generated were downloaded as an image format before being resized into approximately 4cm squares and mounted in a printable document using Microsoft Word. In this format they were also coupled with a text label specifying the name of the specimen to which the code relates. The codes were then printed and cut to size. Each individual code was mounted to the display of the relevant specimen using single sided adhesive film. For most of the specimen this involved attaching the code to the outside of the glass display case relative to the position of the specimen within that case, though for other more open displays positioning and attachment of labels required a little more imagination. Preparing the System for General Use
As soon as the system was considered to be operational an email was composed and sent to members of staff and senior students associated with the department of ecology and evolutionary biology situated in the same building as the zoology museum inviting those who were able to use the system. A poster was also constructed for the attention of the public informing them of the aims of the project and a guideline to the proper use of the system which was placed near the entrance of the museum. An example of the poster can be viewed in the appendix.
Following a collection period of approximately 14 days it was observed that the system had received little attention from visitors. In response to this it was decided that an event be hosted in the museum where the project might be explained in person and that visitors be offered some incentive of reward for their participation. An event page was created on the social networking site Facebook encouraging those that were interested to attend and advertise the event to their friends. This was also advertised via an email sent to the same individuals as outlined previously and mentioned loosely
on various other social networking platforms such as Twitter. A short questionnaire was composed for use during the event in an attempt to gain user feedback in terms of ease of use of the system, the apparent effectiveness of the system and overall perception of the system. Other questions included user age and device owned. A space was also given for additional comments to be made. The results of which were omitted from the final study as they were considered to be of little value.
It was also decided that a visual representation might be necessary so that users might associate the codes with their purpose. For this a number of codes were coupled with a cartoon image depicting a mobile device scanning a QR code and receiving additional information. This image can be found in the appendix. Collection of Data
A recording system was established so that data points were collected and logged on a database each time the code of a specimen was scanned. This system used a script on the host web server to identify the browser cookies of visitor owned devices to identify and track individual devices. In doing so, information could be viewed relating to the time at which a code was scanned and the type of device which was used. As well as this the individual identity of the visitor could also be monitored. By inferring data on the order of scans as well as the number it was made possible to extrapolate information pertaining to visitor navigation, preference and behaviour. The IP address of each device was also retrieved searched for using the lookup feature in Network Utility on a Macintosh computer. This allowed for the source to be recognised and the nature of their internet connection to be identified. The data used in this study was collected between February 15th and March 11th.
Results A total of 28 visitors took part in the study over a period of approximately 25 days generating a total of 262 hits to the exhibit sites. The entire database retrieved from the study can be viewed at the following url: http://iphylo.org/~rpage/museum/report/ Devices
Of the 28 visitors the distribution of the device type used can be viewed as follows: Chart 1
From Chart 1 we can see that the most prevalent devices used by visitors are Blackberry, iPhone and those which support the Android 2.2 operating systems. As shown here the three of these represent an equal proportion of visitor devices used, however if the different versions of Android software were to be considered as one then devices using this software could be considered the most abundant.
Seven unique IP addresses were recognised as having been used by visitors, the most prevalent of which was that of the wi-fi network provided for the purpose of this experiment. Others identified included those relating to various mobile networks suggesting that many visitors were able to access sufficient 3G coverage in the museum to operate the system without the need for the wi-fi network. The distribution of which used can be viewed as follows: Chart 2
Although of all those listed in Chart 2 the museum wi-fi is the most commonly used it is clear that most visitors were able to operate the system to a satisfying degree using only mobile reception.
A total of 262 hits were received over the collections period, though some of these were recognised as being repeat hits by individuals on some exhibits leaving a total of 234 individual hits. A histogram outlining the distribution of those individual hits among the exhibits can be viewed as follows: Graph 1
The x-axis relates to the number of individual hits received in total while the X-axis lists the latin name of the exhibits included in the study. From Graph 1 we can see that the sloth exhibit (B. tridactylus) received the most hits overall and the porcupine exhibit (C. prehensilis) received the fewest.
The overall apparent popularity of exhibits of the same taxa was also considered. The following histogram shows the distribution of hits among the different taxonomic groups that were included: Graph 2
Again, the x-axis represents the total number of individual hits received but this time relating to a number of exhibits grouped by their taxonomy. Graph 2 would suggest that mammal exhibits received significantly more attention than other exhibits, and amphibian and fish exhibits significantly less.
However, it should be recognised that a total of eight mammal exhibits where included while only two amphibian and two fish exhibits were included and four of every other. With this in mind these results were then calibrated to give the values as seen in the following histogram: Graph 3
Graph 3 would suggest that in fact bird exhibits received the most attention and that fish actually received relatively more attention that invertebrates in comparison to that seen in the previous histogram.
Further to this point a chi sqaured test was performed to test whether there was any significant bias displayed by visitors toward any group of exhibits based on the logic that if the mammal exhibits represent 1/3 of the museum collection then we would expect those exhibits to receive 1/3 of the hits. The results for which are shown in the following table: Table 1 Taxonomic Group Mammals Observed Popularity 86 Expected Popularity 78 Chi Squared 0.82051282 Probability 0.5>P>0.3
Taxonomic Group Birds Reptiles Amphibians Fish Invertebrates
Observed Popularity 47 39 12 17 33
Expected Popularity 29 39 19.5 19.5 39
Chi Squared 1.64102564 0 2.88461538 0.32051282 0.92307692
Probability 0.2>P>0.1 P=1 0.1>P>0.05 0.7>P>0.5 0.5<P<0.3
From that which is shown in Table 1 none of these values are at all significant suggesting there is little bias in how a visitor selects which exhibits to view.
Similarly these values were generated relating to other aspects of exhibits (such as display type etc.) and the effect they may have on their popularity. The results for each are as follows: Table 2 Display Type Open Closed Grouped Solitary Observed 57 177 199 35 Expected 58.5 175.5 195 39 Chi Squared 0.03846154 0.01282051 0.08205128 0.41025641 Probability 0.9>P>0.8 0.9>P>0.95 0.8>P>0.7 0.7>P>0.5
Table 2 shows the chi squared values for the display type of exhibits. Display types were grouped separately as being either open or closed, in that the the physical specimen is either contained within a glass case or displayed openly, and as being grouped or solitary. These values also show no significance of display type in visitor preference. Table 3 Region of Origin Extinct Observed 25 Expected 19.5 Chi squared 1.55128205 Probability 0.3>P>0.2
Region of Origin Marine African Asian Australasian European American
Observed 57 36 24 41 19 32
Expected 68.25 29.25 19.5 48.75 19.5 29.25
Chi squared 1.8543956 0.455625 1.03846154 1.23205128 0.01282051 0.25854701
Probability 0.2>P>0.1 0.7>P>0.5 0.5>P>0.3 0.5>P>0.3 0.95>P>0.9 0.7>P>0.5
Table 3 shows the same, this time with respect to the region in which the displayed organism is typically found. Though still of little statistical significance it would appear as though it has a greater effect than the previous discussed factors.
One final consideration was given to the nature of the specimen exhibited in terms of physical condition. Exhibits were recognised as being either living, skeletal, taxidermied, chemically preserved or artificial. The values of which can be viewed as follows: Table 4 Status Living Skeletal Taxidermied Preserved Artifical Observed 19 77 84 25 29 Expected 19.5 78 78 29.25 29.25 Chi Squared 0.01282051 0.01282051 0.46153846 0.61752137 0.00213675 Probability 0.95>P>0.9 0.95>P>0.9 0.5>P>0.3 0.5>P>0.3 P>0.95
Similarly these factors are shown to have little significance on the influence on the preference of visitors.
A full table outlining the categorisation of each exhibit can be found in the appendix.
A basic floor plan of the Hunterian zoology museum was constructed based on a previous hand drawn version supplied by the curator. It can be viewed as follows: Plan 1
Each blue dot indicates the approximate location of a specimen that was included in the study. Dots are labelled with the initial of the specimen which they relate to. This is to be used as a reference for the following charts. A key for the abbreviations can be found in the appendix. This was done by calculating the points of each exhibit on the floor plan and then generating a scatter plot relative to these points. The resulting chart was then imposed onto the floor plan to outline the relative position of the exhibits.
Onto this plan the relative popularity of each exhibit could be visualised using a bubble chart where the size of the bubble occupying the relative position of an exhibit is indicative of the number of hits it received over the collection period. This can be viewed as follows: Plan 2
Plan 2 visualises that which was displayed in Graph 1 to show the relative popularity of exhibits with relation to their spatial distribution throughout the museum. Towards the bottom right we can see that relating to the Robber Crab (Birgus latro) exhbit which appears to be significantly larger than that of any other invertebrate exhibit. Another notable point is that of the Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) exhibit which received the most individual hits overall.
Using this same plan the navigation of individual visitors could be tracked by inferring the relative position of each exhibit and the order in which they were viewed by that individual. The following diagram illustrates a compilation of all individual visitor paths attained over the collection period: Plan 3
Lines shown in bold represent the paths most commonly taken by visitors. From this it can be seen that visitors typically navigate themselves around the periphery of the museum walls, but also that there is significant amounts of crossing over that occurs between exhibits of opposing locations.
The individual paths taken by visitors were also generated using the same method, though this was only relevant for visitors who viewed three or more of the exhibits throughout the museum. A total of 20 visitor path plans were generated, an example of which can be viewed as follows: Plan 4
The starting point of the visit is indicated by the letter x. From here the visitor can be seen to have taken a clockwise route loosely following the outside wall of the museum.
An animated .gif showing the reaminder of the plans can be viewed at the following url: http://iphylo.org/~rpage/museum/report/.
Using a similar technique a series of star charts was compiled. These charts relate to the exhibits which were viewed by visitors after having viewing a particular exhibit. An example of which can be viewed as follows: Plan 5
Plan 5 is shown to have the relative position of the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) exhibit located at the centre of a star plot. The lines protruding from this relate the positions of those exhibits that visitors viewed next. If we were to take north as facing upwards, shown here we can see the Tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) exhibit due south of this position, the Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) exhibit south by southeast, the Dolphin exhibit (Delphis delphinus) southeast, and the Gian Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) to the northeast.
The relative distance between these points were also calculated and imposed onto the charts as well as the average distance traveled by visitors after having viewed that particular exhibit. An example of which can be viewed as follows: Plan 6
Shown in Plan 6 is the distance chart for the Royal Python exhibit (Pythos regius). The value shown at the centre of the star represents the average distance traveled by visitors to reach the next exhibit. Using the same compass analogy as above to the southwest of this point we can again see the Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) exhibit, to the northwest the Tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) exhibit, north by northwest is the Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) exhibit, north by northeast is the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) exhibit, and to the southeast the Merlin (Falco colombarius) exhibit. The distance travelled from the starting point to the dolphin and elephant exhibits respectively is seen to be equidistant. The same can be said of the distances shown of the Sloth and Merlin exhibits.
It should be noted that as the floor plan was not drawn to scale distances can be taken as being represented in map units, where one map unit is equal to one centimeter when viewed at size A4. This can be used to infer some sense of how far a visitor is likely to have traveled between viewing exhibits.
The proportion of visitors that chose to a particular exhibit next was also inferred for each individual exhibit. This can be used to estimate the likelihood of a visitor viewing a particular exhibit next. An example of which can be viewed as follows: Plan 7
Plan 7 shows that from viewing the Tarsier exhibit 28.6% of visitors went on to view the Sloth exhibit, while 57.1% of visitors viewed the Koala exhibit next, and only 14.3% viewed the Giant Anteater. This supports the notion that visitors may be inclined to view exhibits that are spatially closely associated with that which they are currently viewing. These figures also indicate a slight preference of visitors to navigate in a clockwise motion throughout the museum.
A full set of these figures can be found in an animated .gif format at the following url: http://iphylo.org/~rpage/museum/report/ Discussion Devices & IP addresses
Data retrieved relating to the manufacturer and operating systems of the devices recorded may prove useful in the further establishment of content included in the pages. Some content including other forms media and interactive features may require specific drivers for different device types and so any considerations made to this effect would then allow for the development of more engaging and interactive content that would seek to exclude the fewest number of visitors possible. As seen in the results the most prevalent of the devices used were those using Android and iPhone operating systems, both of which to my understanding feature dedicated application services which would likely allow the successful operation of such features.
Of the IP addresses recognised it was observed that the majority of visitors which took part in the study where able to satisfactorily operate the system without the aid of the wi-fi network provided. It was originally assumed that sufficient mobile internet reception was unavailable in the museum and so for the purpose of this experiment a dedicated wi-fi network had been established. This assumption was based on observations made on the function of my own device (an iPhone 3GS), though it would appear as though this is not the case for all devices.
A secondary function of hosting visitors on a dedicated wi-fi network is that the IP address recognised can confidently be said to have come from within the museum. The function of this system as a tool by which to effectively measure visitor interest and navigation relies heavily on the assumption that a visitor is located in the vicinity of a particular exhibit when viewing a web page related to that object. This was largely
facilitated by the exclusive association of a specific QR code with a physical object (i.e. with no alternative means of accessing a page). This may have been somewhat confounded by the fact that a visitor is potentially able to gain access to a page from information stored in their browser history after their initial visit. By identifying a visitor with an IP address other than that of the dedicated wi-fi network it was thought that it could be assumed that they were viewing a page from outwith the museum. However, it was observed that many of these foreign addresses were coming from the mobile networks of those with mobile devices capable of receiving adequate signal and so were included in the results. Preference
The chi squared values generated show that there is little significance in the effect that the various aspects of exhibit type identified have on which exhibits visitors decided to view. This would suggest that there are no factors which affect the preference of visitors towards exhibits of any particular type and so lead us to accept the null hypothesis proposed earlier in this document. This would then suggest that visitors are generally operating in the absence of any pre-existing bias of preference to any particular group of exhibits and instead considering all of those equally. Any effect of bias may potentially have been confounded by the small number of exhibits included in the study, whereby visitors operated under the consideration that all those included are equal in that each represents a novel function when compared to other exhibits which were not included in the study.
There is perhaps some small observable bias of preference in relation to the spatial distribution of exhibits throughout the museum. See that of the Robber Crab (Birgus latro) which was seen to have received more hits relative to any other invertebrate exhibit included in the study. This may be because it is situated close to the entrance of the museum and so visitors would be more aware of this particular exhibit upon first arriving in the museum. Contrary to this point is that of the Common Frog (Rana
temporaria) which received relatively fewer hits than many of the other exhibits. This could be because it is situated toward the far right corner of the museum in an unexposed corridor. Consideration to this effect with respect to the spatial distribution of exhibits may offer an explanation to the small amount of preference observed toward some exhibits over others, although the nature of this study does not allow for any full analysis toward the nature of this.
The compilation floor-plan shown in the results indicates that most visitors favoured paths which outlined the periphery of the museum. This would indicate that there is in fact some factor of influence in how visitors choose to navigate themselves throughout the museum, though the nature of which is not fully understood. This notion is further illustrated by the individual floor plans observed. While some may appear more erratic in their navigation, and other more brief visits somewhat obscure in themselves, the majority of those clearly indicate a route which follows a logical outside path. Perhaps quite obviously this may be the case as there are few exhibits that where included in the study which are situated toward the centre of the museum. What this does indicate though is that users are not simply drifting autonomously from one exhibit to the next but are instead directed by some governing factor. With inference of the information shown by star charts and their respective distances we can then make the assumption that visitors are most likely to feel an inclination to view exhibits that are spatially quite closely associated to their current position. This tendency may also be influenced by the visibility of neighbouring exhibits, though the data collected does not permit the testing of such an effect. While this is perhaps to be expected it does pose as an issue in that a visitor may simply be searching for a tag as opposed considering their purpose as a means to access supplementary information.
Although the floor-plan is not drawn to scale and the positions of individual displays are not precise it still serves a purpose in that it conveys the relative position of users at the time of scanning and the relative distance travelled between displays. As well as this the plan fails to acknowledge various physical barriers that occur throughout the museum. Often the paths assumed by this process are unlikely to have been taken in reality due to physical obstructions present throughout the museum. Despite this the charts still act to convey some aspect of association between displays in terms of their general proximity to one another with moderate success. Such barriers include tables and chairs which may act to obstruct some displays and pathways between displays. Most notably are those facing the Merlin (Falco colombarius) and Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) displays. An arch of tables surrounding the Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) tank may also have served as a physical obstruction. Also present throughout the collection period of this study were a pair of large storage containers which acted to block a direct path between the Tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) and the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) displays (to the far left of the floor plan). The presence of these, though temporary, may have influenced user navigation throughout the collection period of the study. Also missing from the floor plan provided is the insect installation which resides between the Koala and the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) displays, which might also be taken into consideration when considering the paths chosen by visitors relative to this area. Incidentally the contents of which were omitted from the study entirely, and in doing so effectively excluding an entire animal group which may have been of potential interest to a number of visitors. The initial logic behind this was that the installation is apparently more recent than the other displays and in itself represents a newer and more interactive way to view the exhibits which it holds when compared to the rest of the museum.
Paths were first assumed to originate from the entrance and progress throughout the museum thusly, as would be experienced by most visiting individuals. However, as the majority of participating individuals were made up of students and members of staff
from the department these paths may have originated from a number of points throughout the museum. More to this point on the day of the event visitors were engaged at a small stall that was set up next to the Elephant Bird (Aepyornis) exhibit, where the nature of the experiment was explained to them and they were offered a reward for their participation. From here the participants would most likely have initiated their recorded visit starting from exhibits closely associated to this point. This could have potentially been avoided by implementation of a dedicated starting point, whereby a visitor would be expected to scan a code near the entrance to mark the start of their visit. Upon doing so they could be informed of the various exhibits included in the project and directed from this point. One issue that a system such as this might pose, as well as the nature of the event itself, is that this may act to influence the navigation of a visitor in a way that is unnatural and unrepresentative of their own behaviour. It was originally hoped that data points be collected passively and without any form of intrusion, though as the collection period progressed it was made clear that some form of intervention was necessary to in effect guide users in the correct use of the system. In doing so this may have effectively corrupted the data retrieved, though undoubtedly it is still in some way representative of that which it was hoped to have been achieved.
It should also be noted that the paths shown are based on the sequential scanning of displays and do not necessarily represent the true navigation of visitors but rather an approximation of which based on this information. By inferring information relating to the time spent between displays we can speculate as to the nature of the distractions and deviations encountered in between scans. Though the data retrieved does in effect permit doing so this particular aspect was not explored in the study. The reasons for which are that several instances were recorded where visitors were apparently viewing two or more exhibits within the space of a single recorded minute, and thus calculating the time between sequential scans as effectively zero. One means of correcting this would be to record data relating to time on a scale which includes time in seconds. It was originally hoped that time spent between scans could be extrapolated as a means
to gauge interest in a particular exhibit (Bohnert et al, 2008), although from this it would appear that visitor interest in some cases is minimal, and that visitors often scan an exhibit in the hope of receiving some form of instant gratification (i.e. to view an image or a map etc.). This attitude may have been accommodated by how the system is viewed by visitors. By including so few exhibits in the study visitors might have viewed those with a tag as representing a form of novelty. This effect may have been less apparent if more exhibits had been included, although it is likely that the main issue lies within the content provided for each exhibit. If the visitor were to be provided with some aspect of interactivity when viewing an exhibit we might then expect that their engagement be held for a longer period of time, and thus be able to better gauge their level of interest.
One can expect that if implemented on a more permanent basis the results generated would be considered generally more robust. The results generated throughout this study represent only a small demographic of potential visitors generated over a relatively short period of time. As a result little can be said about the trends displayed in the results as they occur in such little abundance that they may not be considered of any statistical significance.
The success of the experiment may have been somewhat confounded in that use of the system is limited to those who own a device able to operate it. What was first considered to be a lack of interest might have merely been a lack of user compatibility. There may also be a bias in those who are most likely to own a device of this nature. One way to rectify this would be to provide visitors with task specific QR readers for the purpose of viewing the content during their visit, though in reality such a solution represents an investment on the part of the museum. In doing so this might also challenge the user by introducing an alien device and novel behaviour, thus limiting the
popularity of such (Simon, 2009). What is more is that throughout the conducting of the experiment numerous individuals were encountered who were in possession of a suitable device but were unaware of this particular function. This could have been remedied in part by better publicity of the new system coupled with a demonstration of proper use or a more comprehensive review of the software available. Although users were prompted to seek out the relevant software before participating, and given some guidance on how to do so, it was often the case that unfamiliarity on the part of the owner limited the number of those who were in the end able to participate.
Another limiting factor was that the network on which the wi-fi was hosted only allowed access to locally stored information, meaning that if a willing participant was to arrive who was in possession of a capable device but without the suitable software it is unlikely that they would be able to download and install that software on the premises. This was a particular disadvantage when trying to include members of the public. The success of the system relied on the notion that the user would arrive with the relevant reading software pre-installed. As there was little effort made in terms of public relations other than a poster at the entrance of the museum it is likely that few members of the public were able to contribute. It was suggested that the system be advertised in an upcoming newsletter distributed by the Hunterian museum, though the next installment of which was not due until after the data collection period for experiment had ended. Given this and the fact that the experiment was most successfully advertised among the senior students and staff of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology it could be said that the results may have been further confounded by the nature and occupation of the subjects. Any indication given to preference and navigation may be subject to a preexisting bias based on academic interest or familiarity with the museum layout and content. For instance one user had expressed her dismay at the lack of amphibian specimen included in the study. Though this was not apparent in the results it still represents some threat to the overall experimental design.
Such issues encountered with the poor network coverage available also meant that the nature of content included in web pages was limited to that which could be stored locally and with relative ease. It was originally hoped that video and audio content sourced from websites such as YouTube may be imbedded into pages so as to further enhance visitor experience. Although on the current network settings this is not impossible doing so would require downloading the desired material and hosting it on the local server which could be considered an unnecessary hassle that could be otherwise mitigated with a more reliable and open network. Although the practical implications of establishing such a network is clear, doing so in a public venue would make it is largely open to abuse and may pose other security issues. Improvements for Further Use One drawback of introducing this system to a preinstalled museum is that codes and labels had to be mounted onto existing displays. This often meant placing them of the surface of glass displays which poses a potential issue in that they are subject to vandalism and may act to obscure parts of displays from a given perspective. If this system were to be established on a more permanent basis then further consideration could be given to the placement of codes by integrating them into the displays themselves. One limiting factor with this approach is that in order to successfully scan a code the image must be of a suitable size or distance from the device so to satisfy the processing software. This means that codes would ideally be placed on the surface of displays unless they were made to be very large which itself would pose somewhat of an issue.
The nature of this study meant that only a small fraction of exhibits in the museum were included. Generating content and mounting codes for each individual exhibit may be desirable but poses several issues of practicality. Exhibits which are housed in display cases are often closely associated with one another. Mounting a QR code for each might act to confuse the visitor and also act to further obscure other parts of the
display. Mounting a code as an aside may limit the success to which a visitor relates it to the relevant display. Another possibility would be to include codes in a physical menu coupled with the display. Perhaps the most attractive solution to this problem would be to provide only a single code for a display case which would then relate to a digital menu in which the user could navigate and select specimen of interest from within that display. This would allow the same consideration of user navigation and preference only relating to the contents of each display as opposed to an individual specimen.
One can imagine that if adapted for use on a more permanent basis these considerations could be met with ease. The nature of this study allows only for the system to be implemented in a relatively basic form. That being said other ideas that were hoped to have been explored could well have been accommodated. One such idea would be to actively influence user navigation by indicating related exhibits to that which they are currently viewing in terms of the ecology, geography, or taxonomy of that exhibit. For instance if the user were to view the porcupine display (Coendu prehensilis) they could then be made aware of other arboreal animals, animals from south america, or of any other mammals in the museum. This would then allow assumptions to be made on how user navigation is influenced and what is about that animal’s biology that interests the visitor most. An expansion of this idea could be the identification of returning visitors upon which they are made aware of any changes to the museum based on their previous interactions. This would allow a form of public relation that is conducted on a personal level, offering news and information provided to the visitor that has been tailored specifically to their interests.
As far as enhancing displays for use as an educational tool goes a system such as this offers a multitude of possibilities based on the level of interactivity it represents. Users could be set challenges to find and identify exhibits that share a common defining feature. For instance when viewing the Archaeopteryx (Archaeopteryx lithographica) a
visitor could then be asked to identify another specimen in the museum which is extinct, receiving points for a correct answer and unlocking content such as awards and trophies as they progress. Features such as this would work to create more engaging experiences for visitors in the hope that they might retain the information offered by the museum (vom Lehn, 2006).
Museum 2.0 The concept of Museum 2.0 is based on the same underlying criteria on which Web 2.0 is defined (O’Reilly, 2005). Here a definition is made which acts to differentiate web hosted content which allows only observation and that which encourages user participation. These same principles apply when we consider the nature and purpose of museum displays. Where a traditional museum only allows user participation on the level of spectator Museum 2.0 would actively involve visitors with the hope of engaging an interest that has otherwise been neglected. Currently displayed content is restricted to that which is dictated by curatorial authority. The 2.0 equivalent of this would be to effectively create circumstances by which users are able to generate their own content based on their own knowledge and experience. This would in effect directly challenge the idea that exhibits are unchanging in their content and display. In the most basic form this may simply mean that visitors are invited to rate or comment on exhibits based on how much they enjoyed it, serving as a further measure of exhibit popularity and also as a means by which to engage visitors in a participatory activity. Further developments of this might include allowing the display of user generated content including forms of visual media and written text. One obvious risk posed by offering a service such as this is that if not moderated properly then any user generated content would be widely open to falsification and other forms of digital vandalism. Conversely the process of moderating user generated content could be said to defeat the purpose of offering such a service in the first place. Though this is an understandable dilemma it is thought that if invited to contribute any form of content most visitors would strive to
create something of value based on the knowledge that it would be viewed by others. This content could then be reviewed by subsequent visitors and so acting as a form of community driven moderation and further acting as an incentive to generate content that is of some worth (Simon, 2007b). The success of web content of this nature is abundantly apparent and so we should hope to see a similar effect if extrapolated to be applied to museums.
Although the system described in this study does not fit the criteria of the Museum 2.0 it does represent a platform for which a system such as that could be realised. An interest has been expressed by several members of staff at the university who had inquired about the system and the possibility of hosting content relating to the history and significance of the exhibited specimen. It is well known that the University of Glasgow boasts an active exploration society through which several student lead expeditions are led every year. It was commented by one participating member of staff that the pages of specimen could be linked to a series of tagged content relating to expeditions that are related to the country of origin of the animal displayed in that exhibit. Take for instance the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) exhibit. Content hosted on this page could relate to user uploaded video and photographs as well as stories of personal encounters experienced by previous members of an expedition to Bolivia. This would then effectively act as a means of advertisement for the society. With regards to specimen history, this represents an entirely new realm of information relating to that object which transcends any biological interest and concerns that of a personal history that the object may represent.
Though the potential of implementing a system such as this is clear it can perhaps be said that it was not fully realised in this case. That being said the possibilities that it poses and those which are continuing to arise are almost boundless. At present the
system represents a tool for monitoring visitor feedback that might otherwise be considered practically unfeasible. By expanding this to accommodate the concept of Museum 2.0 it could prove instrumental in establishing more engaging experiences by promoting visitor participation. Previous efforts to do so were thought to have been confounded by an unwillingness experienced on the part of the visitor to embrace alien technology and novel behaviour. The provision and maintenance of these technologies may also prove costly to the proprietor. By employing the use of user owned technology we can facilitate a service such as this without the need of such burdens. It is not so much a hope as an inevitability that as time progresses systems of this nature and the devices required to use them will become more prevalent in all reaches of our everyday life. As this happens we can so too expect a similar pattern in the familiarity of users toward these systems and thus be able to make better use of them. One can imagine that if the use of QR codes were to be introduced for more practical everyday purposes people might cease to see them as a novelty and embrace their full potential.
I would firstly like to thank my project supervisor Professor Roderic Page for his guidance and technical expertise. I would also like to thank Maggie Reilly, curator of zoology at the Hunterian Museum of the University of Glasgow, for her advice and insight into the various curatorial responsibilities. Finally I wish to my express gratitude toward those who were willing to take part in this experiment and offer their own criticisms on the nature and conducting of the study.
Baldwin, T., Kuriakose, L.T., “Cheap, Accurate RFID Tracking of Museum Visitors for Personalised Content Delivery”, The Kubadji Project, http://www.kubadji.org Bohnert, F., Zuckerman, I., Berkovsky, S., Baldwin, T., Sonenberg, L., “Using Interest and Transition Models to Predict Visitor Locations in Museums“, Ai Communications, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 195-202, 2008 Bohnert, F., Zukerman,I., Schmidt, D.F. "Using Gaussian Spatial Processes to Model and Predict Interests in Museum Exhibits", Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization and Recommender Systems, pp. 13-19, 2009 Borggrewe, S., “QR Codes as a Complementing Global Positioning Method for Location Aware iPhone Apps”, Department of Media, University of Applied Science, Dusseldorf, 2009 Bryson, B., “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, 2004 Fleming, D., “Managing Change in Museums”, The Museum and Change, November 2005, National Museum, Prague Giles, J., “Barcodes help objects tell their stories”, New Scientist, issue 2756, 14 April 2010, pp. 20 vom Lehn, D., Heath, C., Knoblauch, H., “Configuring Exhibits: The interactional production of experiences in museums and galleries”, Verbal Art Across Cultures: The aesthetics and proto-aesthetics of communication, pp. 281-297, 2006 McManus, P.M., “Oh, Yes, They Do: How Museum Visitors Read Labels and Interact with Exhibit Texts”, Curator: The Museum Journal, Vol. 32, Is. 3, pp. 174-189, September 1989
O’reilly, T., “What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”, September 2005. Simon, N., “Beyond Hands On: Web 2.0 and New Models for Engagement”, Hand to Hand, Winter 2007, Vol. 21, No. 4 Simon, N., “Discource in the Blogosphere: What Museums Can Learn From Web 2.0”. Museums and Social Issues, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2007, pp. 257-274, Left Coast Press Simon, N., “Going Analog: Translating Virtual Learnings into Real Institutional Change”, Museums and the Web, 2009, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics Stearn, W. T., “The Natural History Museum at South Kensington: a history of the British Museum (Natural History) 1753-1980”, London: Heinemann in association with the British Museum (Natural History), XXIII Wang, Y., Stash, N., Aroyo, L., Hollink, L., Schreiber, G., “Using Semantic Relations For Content-based Recommender Systems in Culutral Heritage”, 2009 Winker, K., “Natural History Museums in a Post-Biodiversity Ear”, BioScience, Vol. 54, No. 5, May 2004, pp. 455-459
bit.ly www.talesofthings.com www.mypersonaltour.com www.iucnredlist.org www.jquerymobile.com www.mobile-barcodes.com qrcode.kaywa.com www.denso-wave.com
A copy of the poster that was erected to advertise the project to members of the public can be viewed as follows:
An example of the visual aids provided for visitors to help relate the codes to their function can be viewed as follows:
Images courtesy of qrcode.kaywa.com
A table of exhibits included and associated categories can be viewed as follows:
Species Aepyornis Archaeoptery x Birgus latro Bradypus tridactylus Crocodilus porosus Coendu prehensilis Delphinus delphi Eretmochelys imbricata Exocoetus volitans Falco colombarius Litoria caerulea Loxodonta Africana Myrmecopha ga tridactyla Nautilus pompilus Oryx gazella Phascolarcto s cinereus Python regius Rana temporaria Rhizostoma pulmo Taxonomic Group Bird Bird Invertebrate Mammal Reptile Mammal Mammal Reptile Fish Bird Amphibian Mammal Mammal Invertebrate Mammal Mammal Reptile Amphibian Invertebrate Display Type Open/Groupe d Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Open/Groupe d Enclosed/Soli tary Open/Groupe d Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Open/Groupe d Enclosed/Soli tary Enclosed/Gro uped Open/Groupe d Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Soli tary Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Specimen Status Skeleton Skeleton Model Taxidermied Skeleton Taxidermied Skeleton Model Chemical Taxidermied Living Skeleton Taxidermied Model Taxidermied Taxidermied Living Skeleton Chemical Region of Origin Extinct Extinct Asia South America Australasia South America Marine Marine Marine Europe Australasia Africa South America Marine Africa Australasia Africa Europe Marine Observed Popularity 13 12 13 16 5 3 10 10 6 13 6 14 13 6 9 10 13 6 8
Sphenodon punctatum Sphyrna zygaena Tarsius tarsier Tridacna gigas Trichoglossu s haematodus
Reptile Fish Mammal Invertebrate Bird
Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Enclosed/Gro uped Open/Solitary Enclosed/Gro uped
Skeleton Chemical Taxidermied Skeleton Taxidermied
Australasia Marine Asia Marine Australasia
11 11 11 6 9
A table of abbreviations as they appear on the annotated floor-plan can be viewed as follows:
Abv. Ae B.l C.p D.d E.v L.a M.t O.g P.r
Latin name Aepyornis Birgus latro Crocodilus porosus Delphinus delphis Exocoetus volitans Loxodonta africana Myrmecophaga tridactyla Oryx gazella Pythos regius Rhizostoma pulmo Sphyrna zygaena Trichoglossus haematodus
Abv. A.l B.t C.pr E.i F.c L.c N.p P.c R.t S.p T.g T.t
Latin name Archaeopteryx lithographica Bradypus tridactylus Coendu prehensilis Eretmochelys imbricata Falco colombarius Litoria carulea Nautilus pompilus Phascolarctos cinereus
Sphenodon punctatum Tridacna gigas Tarsier tarsius
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