Going Mobile: A Summer Revelation

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Julia Dougherty

After a year of researching a topic I thought was new and unexplored, I came to a major revelation; everyone is talking about social media.  A topic that had little information in September suddenly was the center of every report.  I quickly became bored with the subject, feeling that I wasn’t creating a very innovative project.  I decided to throw myself into my internship and hope that inspiration would eventually strike. It finally did.  One day during my daily venti iced red-eye (Iced coffee + a shot of espresso), I realized that over the summer I had randomly downloaded a number of NYC museum applications.  Was my subconscious trying to tell me something?  Ding, ding, ding! Smart phone applications are all the rage!
I began exploring each individual application, and began to notice how different the information in each one was.  I began to think, how are these apps being used?  Is there a specific function that attracts visitors to download? Are they free? Suddenly, I was excited, and a new thesis topic was born.
Since then I have done extensive research into books, journals and news articles surrounding museum applications. I have lined up three interviews for the upcoming weeks with museum professionals at The Rodin, The Franklin Institute and The Wharton Esherick Museum.  I have also analyzed data from 2 independent smart phone application surveys.  I plan to use this information to answer questions surrounding smart phone application development and their uses within museums.