It took me a while to watch the Nancy Proctor video partly because, like Clete, I didn’t check my Broncomail. Also, once I read my e-mail (after class on Monday) I wanted to watch on my big PC monitor, but was frustrated with the audio. I finally ended up getting out a little laptop (one that my 83 year-old, rather tech savy father handed down to me) that I rarely use and plugged in the ear buds. The sound was really great.
I think my feelings about mobile devices in museums may be evolving. I’ve had this idea that people would pay more attention to their mobile devices than the actual exhibit, but I’m not sure I think that anymore. I have often used audio tour devices in museums because I find them more informational than reading signage on the walls. Though I sometimes get annoyed out and about in the world by how often people have ear buds in their ears, in a museum I appreciate being able to cut out other distractions and to concentrate on the exhibits. Now I have this shiny, new iPod Touch and I want to be able to use it. I really would like to be able to take my own device into a museum and access information from it. I used to spend lots of time looking up supplemental information before or after a trip to a museum… back in the dark ages from a big, multi-volumed, out-of-date encyclopedia. Now I could access extra information while I’m at the exhibit while it is fresh on my mind.
After seeing even a little bit of what is involved with getting a small-scale mobile project to “work” I think it is even more important that mobile devices be part of classes in public history. If the mission of a museum is to “provide access, education and interpretation to all audiences” then museum visitors are going to expect uses of new technology. Students who want careers in museums or as public historians need exposure and practical experience and time to think about any how new technology fits into their work.