Last week I argued that websites and other technologies are vehicles, not destinations.
So what *is* the destination?
As cultural institutions, we want it to be us.
But here’s the thing… the definition of ‘destination’ is finite. It’s “the ultimate purpose for which something is created or intended.”
And why wouldn’t we want to be that? (Let’s be honest, it’s not entirely unlike us as museums to feel we are the ultimate purpose!)
But should we be?
What happens once people have arrived? If we’re the destination, what’s the point of going any further, learning any more, exploring, delving deeper, making meaning, co-creating, participating, growing, finding inspiration? If we reposition ourselves as part of something, we become integral and embedded in peoples’ lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot about QR codes.
If you’re not familiar, they look like this:
(That one happens to link right back to this blog. Try it! Download a reader for your smartphone via your app store.)
QR stands for “quick response” and is essentially a bar code system for smartphones. There have been plenty of arguments for and against them, and I have certainly seen them misused and poorly executed, but I would advocate that their utility in museums and culurals has amazing potential (and at minor cost).
For those in need of a little convincing, have a look at this breathtaking use of QR codes in last year’s WorldPark in NYC:
QR codes can be made for free (try Google and Microsoft) and printed out on a basic printer. They can link to any existing webpage– content, music, video, information, surveys/polls, social media. The applications and implications are pretty exciting.
While the WorldPark is by far my most beloved example, there have been some other great applications of QR codes. Check these out:
Have you seen QR codes used in culturals? (I saw them at the Denver Art Museum this week!) Did it “work?”
If you see QR codes around, let me know. Snap a picture. Send it to me.
Are you using QR codes/tags in your museum? Tell me about it!
How can QR codes help us encourage our audiences, inside and outside of our institutions, to dig deeper, delve further, look at the world differently, and see things we showcase in a whole new light?
Are we comfortable relinquishing our title of ‘destination?’
Oh! And stay tuned…
In a few days I’ll let you know what we learned when we showed our visitors a QR code and asked them of they knew what it was.
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