Smartphones and open content – emerging trends

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 25 Apr 2010

Smartphones are changing the face of journalism and open content is changing the nature of education – what does this mean for providing museum content on demand?

At the 2008 INTERCOM conference leading museum architect, Ralph Appelbaum, stated that visitors will bring in to our museums more technology in their pockets than will be available throughout the whole physical museum. The 2010 Horizon Report predicts that within one year mobile computing will be the norm for many university students: “... virtually all higher education students carry some form of mobile device, and the cellular network that supports their connectivity continues to grow. ... Devices from smart phones to netbooks are portable tools for productivity, learning, and communication, offering an increasing range of activities fully supported by applications designed especially for mobiles.” (page 6). Another study about students’ use of social media (reported here) showed they actively follow the news, yet seek it from online sources, not traditional mainstream media.

Media 140 report one journalist's experience using mobile devices to break news as it happens – quickly and cheaply. Increasingly Twitter is becoming the way that news breaks, and the primary source for news updates for more and more people. The tools we have at our fingertips now are affordable, easy to use and, increasingly, available to all. Coupled with the rise of open content (another 12 month trend identified in the 2010 Horizon Report), what does this mean for distributing museum content and breaking news? Will we supply all staff with Smartphones just as we now supply them with computers as a matter of course? Will content producers be required to publish across all platforms of the web with less emphasis on the printed form (including exhibition texts, journal papers and one-to-one email enquiry services)? Will blogs and other social media tools become the primary way we communicate with our audiences? How will museums market to their audiences, given that so many museums desire to engage more people and that these people are not using traditional forms of media? How will breaking news and open content then be translated to the physical spaces of our museums? Is this even necessary anymore?


Lynda Kelly - 9.10 AM, 06 October 2010

New study by Telstra confirms Australians are addicted to smartphones (and that one-third of them surf the internet while on the loo!). More here.

Janet Carding - 5.07 PM, 08 July 2010

Lynda you might also want to look at this list of iphone apps for kids from a parenting website here . Judging from the number of creative apps for quite young children, the idea mentioned in the blog you reference of parents and children interacting together on smartphones seems to make sense.


Lynda Kelly - 5.07 PM, 08 July 2010

Been asked today about Smartphone usage among young people. While it’s difficult to find hard stats, two sites I came across provide some insights.

First, the blog post, Can Smartphones Make Kids Smarter?, reports that: “It should come as no surprise to parents that as "smartphones" (cell phones with advanced capability such as Internet and full keyboard) become more popular, the number of children with access to mobile technologies is also increasing. Carly Shuler, a Cooney Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and author of the report Pockets of Potential, estimates that almost 20% of children aged 5 to 7 use a cell phone. Younger children, she says, are also getting in on the act. ‘It’s very common to observe what we call the ‘pass-back’ effect, where the parent passes their own device to the child,’ says Shuler. ‘And it makes sense - parents’ devices like phones have always been amongst children’s favourite ‘toys’, and as the devices become more functional for adults they simultaneously get more fun for kids.’” This blog also discusses the educational use of Smartphones with some interesting ideas around the mobile environment.
The second, Teens and Mobile Phones, while not focusing on younger children, still has some insights that are useful particularly how teens are using their phones heavily for texting their friends (yet still calling their parents!).
While I can’t find definitive stats on Smartphone ownership by children at this time, I’m guessing the trends over the next 12 months will be an increasing reliance on internet-enabled Smartphone firstly for accessing social media sites such as Facebook and then probably for using location-based services (and may even become users of game-based sites such as Foursquare). It seems Smartphones may even surpass the use of laptops, as suggested in this post by Cebit: PC makers eye smartphone boom.
The Smithsonian is ceratinly dabbling in providing mobile content for visitors as reported here.
Lynda Kelly - 7.04 AM, 30 April 2010

Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today is new research from The Neilsen Company showing that: "Nearly half of all Australian mobile phone users now own an internet-capable phone, but only a third accesses the web regularly on them. ... Australians’ ownership of internet phones now sits at 43 per cent, with 29 per cent regularly using it to search, email, find maps and to share their lives on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace."

Other stats: 73% of users conduct searches via their mobile phone; 59% check news and weather; 58% email; 57% maps and directions. Facebook is the most common site accessed by mobile phone (98%!!) and Twitter is at 20%.

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