In the last two weeks we’ve finally had the chance to get out and about with some friends and test our digital pilot projects in the landscape. But could months of time, effort and research really prepare us the occasion?
The four pilot projects are currently sitting on a dedicated website http://buxtonmuseumapps.com. Most of them, with the exception of Dovedale, rely on a mobile internet signal to run the web-based application. However, the site can also be viewed from home on a PC or Tablet or anywhere else with a Wi-Fi connection.
We’re very interested to hear what people think, so whether or not you get out in the landscape or explore from your armchair, let us know!
For me, one of the most interesting locations was Arbor Low & Gib Hill. This is for two reasons, firstly because I love the site, secondly because of the technical challenges it has thrown up!
On both the 7th and 8th March we bundled into a minibus and set-off to try The Mysterious Arbor Low web app. Strong, cold winds awaited us, but the rain held itself at bay as we explored the site and tried to access the digital content through our smartphones or tablets.
So what did we did discover?
Our participants were full of great of ideas about what they liked and what they didn’t. Once we’ve completed our evaluation process it looks like we’ll have a great resource with which to decide the next step for Collections in the Landscape.
However, here are three lessons I learnt very quickly over the weekend.
Don’t trust the weather forecast!
Go to Arbor Low they said…It’ll be sunny they said.
Friday had been bright but chilly. But as I drove through thick fog on the following Saturday morning it began to dawn on me that the promised ‘brightening up’ was unlikely to take place before our visit began! That said, the rain held off and the mist and fog do lend Arbor Low & Gib Hill a certain spooky charm.
In cold weather, people don’t like taking off their gloves!
As a general rule, the screens of tablets and smartphones don’t react well to gloved fingers. However, there was a certain reluctance to remove these accessories whilst standing on an exposed, windy ridge in the Peak District!
Mobile Data can be extremely variable
During out visit we experienced amazing variability in the accessibility of mobile data. Some participants had almost no problems at all whilst others (myself included) found themselves relying on pre-downloaded audios as a ‘plan b’. Interestingly, I’m on the same network as my colleague Jess, who had no difficulties whatsoever! This variability is certainly something to bear in mind as we plan ways to roll-out Collections in the Landscape.
We’ve already learnt a lot from the digital pilots, things that can only be gained from actually getting out there and braving the elements and technical difficulties! As we study the results of our evaluation we hope to take this learning further in order to tidying up the projects we have, and to plan more for the future.
As a final note, I’d also like to take the time to thank Museums Sheffield for their support and cooperation during the making of the Arbor Low & Gib Hill pilot and for letting us incorperate some their own amazing collections.