Museums have embraced QR codes and AR (augmented reality) in some pretty amazing and engaging ways. You can travel back in time, explore cities through an artist’s artwork and pivotal stories, or engage with beloved museum mascots. We can scaffold and layer content in really fantastic new ways. That said, even those that have wowed me have been largely didactic and one-way.
…you see a QR code on a label, you scan it, you get more or deeper content.
…you use an AR app and see an incredible image of historic London superimposed on your present-day view.
It’s cool; no doubt about it. But the social interaction, dialogue, and conversation happening– if it’s happening at all– occurs as asides (“hey– check out this cool app”) or maybe through linking to social networks to post thoughts and reactions.
Something is missing. The real dialogue. Where are we acknowledging the value of all voices, not just the museum voice? What avenues are there for shared learning? Where is the storytelling, questioning, and creating?
The emerging trend of location-based messaging services may be an answer to what’s missing. One with real applications for museums and culturals is Repudo, which the Dutch company self-defines as “the world’s first platform to handle digital objects in the real world.”
Repudo facilitates a place-based “drop” of digital multimedia (text, photos, videos, audio messages) at locations of your choice. For example, you can drop a video of a paleontologist talking about a mastodon bone at the site where the bone was discovered. You have to go there in person to pick it up. Repudo uses a GPS-linked map with message locations tagged; once a Repudo is picked up it disappears from the map. It’s now on your smartphone and only you can decide what to do with it. Keep it or drop it somewhere new for someone else to find. You can specify a recipient or it can be for anyone who stumbles upon it. Repudo creates the “perception of physical interaction with digital objects in the real world.”
Think about the applications. Sure, sure.. we could use it for scavenger hunts or audio tours (yawn)… or we could do something really different. We could drop a recorded thank you message from the museum Director at a donor’s favorite restaurant (even better if the Director picks up the tab!), or a coupon for free admission left at a bus stop in a part of town typically underrepresented in your visitorship. It can be highly personal. What’s better? Anyone with the free app could do the same in reverse– drop a note about something they’d like to see improved, a question for a curator, a photo of their favorite local street art, a song they recorded. That’s how it’s different. It changes the nature of the interaction and creates dynamic possibilities, including channels for two-way conversations that grow and build.
Want to give Repudo a try?
Leave a comment on this post and let me know where you want me to drop something. Maybe at your local coffee shop, your museum, or the park by your house. You tell me where and I’ll surprise you. You can download the app for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. And hey– feel free to leave something for me in Denver too.
I’ll relay this final piece– all of the above can be done without Repudo, without mobile tech, and without big budget. It combines previous ExposeYourMuseum themes of random acts of kindness, customization, taking online offline, street teams, and cornershop culturals. How will you put this into practice?
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