Tag Archives: technology

Your Smartphone Summer Travel Tool

22 May

Wow! This past weekend sure was crazy here at the Harbourfront!
The Queen’s Quay Terminal building was full of families, couples, and anyone curious to see what we had in store for the holiday (and maybe take in some free air conditioning as well).

Here at MIA we were really happy to see kids getting creative at our craft table or excitedly pointing to our video screens and proudly announcing, “We’ve been there! We’ve seen that!”. And as a lot of my internship duties revolve around the use of new media and technology, I was particularly happy to hear the adults mention how they found our museum through smart phone apps.

Above: iPhone screenshots of Baffled by Travel’s “The Best of Toronto” (Version 1.6.3)
and BeeLoop’s “At a Glance” City Guide tour for Toronto (Version 3.3)

If my post about QR codes, and my sneaky hints pointing towards AR markers didn’t already give it away – I am really into tech. Not enough to start writing everything in binary code, but enough to read the work of Nancy Proctor while on the subway, or waiting for a friend, or in a coffee shop…

Currently I’ve been reading a book she’s edited featuring essays about how museums are using smart phones to achieve various exhibition goals, but as the above mentioned visitors have pointed out – these same smart phones are great for promotional and way-finding purposes as well.

Above: iPhone screenshot of GPSmyCity’s “Toronto Walking Tours and Map”

Now that vacation season is starting to pick up and people have more time to explore the city, it will be interesting (at least to me) to see HOW people have been planning their trips. The MIA has an interesting hurdle to overcome because we share our location with an entire mall. So when people look up 207 Queen’s Quay West, they find themselves amongst everything from shops to restaurants to our Inuit museum. One of my summer projects will be coming up with a way to easily direct people to our museum so visitors don’t end up thinking they’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Apps might be one direction we could go, but there are other options as well all of which I learn more about as I finish Nancy’s book.

Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Educational Assistant


What’s the deal with… Pinterest

16 May

Last week I spoke a wee bit about how the MIA has incorporated QR codes into their exhibitions. This week I continued to explore some tech trends by finally succumbing to Pinterest.

As per my usual skeptical self, as soon as I heard that something was popular, I gave it a long hard stare and questioned everything about it. Hours later I’m beginning to see there might actually be something to all the hype, aside from the countless cute puppy photos.

For those of you who don’t know what this newfangled site is and why the number of followers has been exploding on a daily basis, here’s a quick summary from the Pinterest people:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “But Brittany, but why would MIA get a Pinterest account when they already have Flickr? What’s the difference?”

Great question, and pretty much the reason why I didn’t get a personal Pinterest account earlier.

The main thing I took away when dealing with that question is that Flickr is built around posting images you’ve created whereas Pinterest is built around sharing all types of content.

Pinterest isn’t limited to photos, it’s a collection of everything. So you could click on a photo of our Educational Coordinator, Alysa Procida, while she is speaking with an Inuit artist via Skype – and also see the actual video of her interview. Unfortunately, Flickr can’t do that.

And since Pinterest encourages sharing (or “repinning”) you can include the content other people have posted into your own collections (or “boards”). That’s pretty cool, especially for museums because a HUGE part of our mandate revolves around education. Through Pinterest, we can both inform the public about Inuit art, and show support for like-minded institutions all while maintaining professional courtesies (i.e not stealing the hard work of others) because the original links are automatically embedded in the pins.

Now that I understand the concept behind the site I’m starting to play around with our boards. A lot.
I foresee a Pintervention in my future…

Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Educational Assistant

Interactive Intern Insights

7 May

Hello again! It’s week 2 of my internship and now that I’ve got the full run through of MIA’s inner workings, it’s time to get cracking on my summer project.

One of the many things I’ll be working on over the next few weeks is building on all the social media sites the MIA is connected with. I’ve already written a few Tweets (and found some written about me!), posted some links about upcoming local events, and figured out how Hootsuite works.

Museum visitors may have also noticed that our virtual interests go beyond these social media sites and appear throughout the museum. As a recent smartphone purchaser I’m the type person you’d see scanning any QR (Quick Response) codes in sight, and our exhibitions are no exception. I think it’s great that people can personalize their experience by pressing a few buttons to find more information about a particular object or artist. QR codes mean that people aren’t limited to what is presented in ‘Tombstone’ labels – an affectionate term we in the museum biz call those short labels that tell you the title, artist, and date. Scanning the bizarrely patterned QR codes can reveal videos, audio clips, and other images.

Like the Bart Hannah “Drum Dancer” we have in our lobby!

Bart Hannah’s ‘Drum Dancer’ at the entrance of MIA.

By scanning this QR code, you can access an interactive website featuring a map of his hometown of Iglulik, photos of the sculpture in various stages, and a video interview with our Education Coordinator Alysa Procida.

Using my Android Galaxy S to scan the Bart Hanna QR code.

Linked to the Youtube video of Alysa’s interview with Bart Hanna.

QR codes are still a bit new to many Canadian museums, with lots of different institutions trying to figure out how best to handle the technology. We have used our codes as an alternative to an audio tour, but we’re still on the hunt for other technologies that can enhance a trip through our collection. In fact, last month Alysa Procida and one of our volunteers Rob Mausser headed out to San Diego for the Museums and the Web conference where they gave a presentation on our QR code project. You can read a copy of it here and get a sneak peak at some new ideas we have for the future.

Posted by: Brittany Holliss,  MIA’s Educational Assistant