The day-to-day activities carried out in pursuit of that doctorate. In other words, my PhD diary.

Some initial survey results

As part of a module, Technology Business Planning, I sent out a questionnaire to colleagues in CIT, by way of market research for a (fictitious) business plan covering a startup business that offers a social media and mobile app solution to museums (and the GLAM sector in general).

So far there are 113 respondents. Some of the key findings so far:

  • 85.6% own a mobile device (smartphone or tablet)
  • 18.6% of mobile device owners had installed a cultural heritage app
  • 67.9% visited a museum at least once a year
  • 67.7% were moderate to extreme users of social media
  • 12.4% had shared their museum experiences online
  • 74.3% thought it would be somewhat or very useful to have a mobile app in a museum that would provide additional exhibit information
  • 44.2% found the idea of social media integration somewhat or very desirable

I can conclude that the use of mobile devices in the museum is very appealing, while social media integration had a lukewarm appeal.

It was difficult in a survey to give the respondent an idea of what the social media integration would be like. My gut feeling is that a different approach would be needed, such as field testing a prototype or at least providing screen mockups and perhaps video of the social media aspect of the platform in action.

It’s been a useful exercise so far. I intend to do some more analysis once I export from SurveyMonkey into CSV format. I’ll either learn to do this using SPSS or take the lazy approach and find a student to find some correlations – e.g. age and mobile device ownership or age and desire to use mobile devices in the museum.

The rigor of the research isn’t good enough to think about writing a publishable paper, but it gives me some ammunition for the business plan deliverable of the Technology Business Planning module, and it is something I can share with museum owners / directors to entice them into being interviewed for my PhD.

I also collected some comments as part of the survey, which were all anonymous, so I will share some of those and discuss them in another post.

Conferences on Museum Technology

I have started looking into the popular conferences on or related to museum technology. The list, so far, includes:

One thing is for sure – they are not the cheapest to attend.

Food Blogging as Serious Leisure

I found an interesting article on food blogging as serious leisure (Cox and Blake, 2011). One interesting quote from a serious food blogger was:

"Obsession. Food is what I do. If I’m not cooking or eating I’m thinking about it or writing a recipe or going out somewhere to a restaurant."

I’m wondering if there might be a parallel in cultural tourism as serious leisure (and my competitive cultural tourist).

Cox, A.M., Blake, M.K., 2011. Information and food blogging as serious leisure. Aslib Proceedings 63, 204–220.

I’m wondering if a study of travel blogging might reveal something similar about cultural tourism as serious leisure and whether I see signs of something competitive (e.g. some degree of bragging or some way that the blogger highlights how travelled they are). Definitely worth consider such a study and possibly a research paper.

Serious Leisure and Amateurism

I’ve started reading Amateurs, Professional and Serious Leisure by Robert A. Stebbins (1992). I am curious about what I would call the “competitive cultural tourist”, a hypothesis I have that given a globe-trekking gamification mechanism through a social media website with mobile device support, the cultural tourist will become competitive with other cultural tourists. The distinction, then, between the amateur (my competitive cultural tourist) and the professional (e.g. historians, archaeologists) is important and the blurring of the lines is worth exploring.

A good example is the amateur astronomer. They often “compete” on a level footing with the professional astronomer and have contributed greatly to knowledge, with rewards such as having bodies or phenomenon in space named after them. It isn’t a perfect parallel to what I am researching, since museum exhibits have already been curated (to a certain extent – there could be further digital curation by the “amateur”), but it could be fertile ground in the amateur versus professional discussion.

Stebbins, R., 1992. Amateurs, Professionals and Serious Leisure. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, QC, CAN.

Quantitative Data Analysis & SPSS / Competitive Cultural Tourism / Phonegap vs Android

The last time I studied statistics was quite a few years ago, so I have much to refresh and more to learn for the first time on quantitative data analysis.

I have started reading a quick intro to that and the SPSS statistical analysis software package – “Quantitative Data Analysis with SPSS: An introduction for the Health and Social Sciences”. It’s only 144 pages and takes a pragmatic approach to dealing with a simple questionnaire and how to analyse the data generated from it. I did start reading another longer text, but found it extremely dense and written with what seemed like a disdain for the non-stats person.

My thoughts are that I may need to do some preliminary research on current technology in the museum, use of social media, etc, and this may involve creating a questionnaire or two for either museum owners / directors or the “cultural tourists” who visit the museums.

Once field testing the platform I am developing, analysis of questionnaire data will probably be one of the methodologies used.

I am also starting to look at more research on the cultural tourist and what Robert Stebbins calls “Serious Leisure”. I want to establish how this fits into my idea of the “competitive cultural tourist”, that is, one that takes pride in showing off their globe-trekking cultural tourism exploits.

I also gave consideration to the mobile development platform and whether to go with a multi-platform platform like PhoneGap or to go native and stick to Android and Java for now. I think native is winning out, due to the need for support of barcodes and NFC – which can be supported in phonegap, but I suspect would lead to technical headaches. My research isn’t all about supporting every platform to be as commercial as possible; it is to prove that a mobile and social platform that I propose is viable and desirable.