Tate Handheld Conference

Me looking official

Yep - That's me!

In April 2008, at Museums and the Web in Montreal, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the preliminary planning for a conference at the Tate Modern. The focus of the conference was on handheld tours and came to be called Audiotours to iPhones. Jane Burton, Creative Director for Tate Media, searched me out in Montreal to see what the San Jose Museum of Art was doing with the iPod Touch. Thankfully she was impressed and invited me to attend a luncheon centered on the planning of the conference to be held in London. At lunch I found myself in unbelievable company with museums like the Smithsonian, New York MoMA, and Tate. Yes – me in the company of these prestigious museums!

Flash forward to July, I had almost given up on the conference because it was to be in September. That was only 3 months away, but lo and behold an email came from Jane asking me if I was still interested. Uh…yeah!? I was asked to be one of 8 keynote speakers because of our recent forays into handheld tours at the San Jose Museum of Art, particularly the iPod Touch/iPhone.

After attending I can say that it was definitely the best conference that I have been to. This is due in large part to the intense focus on the subject matter. Most conferences offer a wide variety of topics where you can pick and choose, but not this one. It explored many aspects surrounding handheld tours from simple basics to what the future may hold.

The conference was preceded by a full month of active involvement on a Wiki created especially for the event. Invited contributors were asked to provide information and insights relevant to the conference and four predetermined topic points: Handheld Basics, Choosing a Platform, Getting it Done, and Advanced Handhelds. Anyone who is interested can view the Wiki at http://tatehandheldconference.pbwiki.com/. If you wish to contribute you can request access through the Wiki administrator.

Conference Day 1

Conference Day 1

The conference was a two day event held on September 4 and 5, 2008. The first day was by invitation only, where I joined 30 people selected from museums around the world. The focus of discussion was on the four topics from the Wiki. The new information gathered during each discussion was added to the Wiki and was synthesized into four mind maps. A mind map is a diagram used to represent ideas linked to a central key word or theme.

Conference Day 2

Conference Day 2

The second day was a public symposium attended by 200 people. Each mind map topic from the day prior became a session of one and a half hours with two keynote speakers presenting their own experiences related to their topic. As one of the selected keynote speakers, I co-presented along with Célia Meunier from the Louvre during the “Getting it Done” session. Presenting on SJMA’s in-house content creation and delivery via iPod Touch offered a unique contrast to the Louvre who works closely with Antenna Audio producing large quantities of audio and video content. Following our two presentations, there was a round of questions and answers which provided rich followup discussions about the work at the SJMA and the Louvre. Many of the keynote presentations from day 2 are available via embedded SlideShare players on the Wiki.

I have to say, one of the most pleasurable parts of the conference were the people involved. The mind-power that was there was truly impressive and to be a part of it was an honor I will not soon forget. I must concur with my new friend Daniel Incandela from the Indianapolis Museum of Art where he wrote on their blog, “The conference represented some of the most innovative and brightest minds working in museums today.” I made so many new friends and connections; I cannot wait to talk with them again in person. Everybody made me feel so comfortable with their warmth and kindness.

I want to thank Jane Burton from the Tate and Nancy Proctor from the Smithsonian for inviting me to attend. It was a privilege to learn from the many brilliant people who attended and, in turn, share the accomplishments of the San Jose Museum of Art with the iPod Touch tour.

One of the Mind Maps created

One of the Mind Maps created

There are other mentions of the conference on the Musematic blog by Nik Honeysett; the IMA blog by Daniel Incandela; Buzzeum by Diane Drubay (in French, but page has a translator); and Nina Simon makes a mention of the Wiki usage on her Museum 2.0 blog.

Dave Patten of the Science Museum in London started a Flickr Group with images of the event if you are interested.

San Jose Museum of Art’s iPod Touch/iPhone tour: http://www.sjma.mobi (best viewed on one of the devices)

Leave a Reply

*Required