You can't win the prize if you don't enter the raffle

I love winning a prize so when I saw an opportunity to win a Scholarship to attend SXSW2014 Interactive   it was definitely worth a go. were offering the opportunity for a museum professional to attend SXSW Interactive, if you haven’t heard of SXSW (South by South West) its a big conference held in Austin Texas, originally just music but has grown to embrace Film and Interactive media.

SXSW Interactive is where cutting edge technology and start ups demonstrate their new ideas and products,hoping to get noticed to secure funding or create buzz to bring their product to the wider public.

So when I found out about the chance to win a pass to go I jumped at it.  There were 4 passes been given away in two draws.  I had missed the first draw but could still enter the second.

There was a little bit more to it than just entering into the draw. I had to answer three questions.  The first was to describe my role in the museum.  For this I talked about how I work with other departments,creative agencies and developers to deliver New Media into our galleries and exhibitions.

Second was to explain why I would like to attend SXSW Interactive. On this i talked about how I am really engrossed in the museum world but trying really hard to learn all about how digital media and technology can be used in museums but also it is important to look around outside of museums at new ideas and ways of thinking.

Finally I had to think up an idea for a mobile app,this had to be completely new and not implemented anywhere else.   Rather than briefly describe itm, here is what I wrote in full:

I see a lot of people taking photos of our objects especially in the galleries that have the large objects, the aeroplanes,cars,space rockets. There are already plenty of social apps to share and tag these photos so that people can see them. What the social  photo sharing apps don’t do is connect the shared photos with the museum content.  

What I am proposing is an app that  has two modes of operation.

In the first mode  to be used in the museum, the app will be an augmented reality mode, it will recognise objects and display both photos that have been shared by other people and information about the object. The information will primarily be the museum written information but can also pull in from other sources such as Wikipedia, tagged tweets from visitors  or others as applicable.

Other features would also be possible,  take your own photo to share back for other people, tweet a comment or do a facebook ‘like’.

The second mode is designed for use outside of the  museum, working slightly different to the in museum mode,  and is intended to engage visitors with the collection before they visit.  It would start by presenting the potential visitor with an ‘official’ high quality photograph of an exhibit that a user can select they can then see the photographs that the gallery visitors have taken, see what people are tweeting about the object and again read the information written by the  museum and other sources.

Interesting things could be done to connect the pre-visit with the visit modes such as allow users to create trails for other to follow, or by measuring the number of tweets or photographs about an object create heat maps to allow potential visitors to see what other people are interested in.


From after answering those questions my application would be vetted and if suitable I would be entered into the draw. From the first round approx 40 people entered and about 10 of the applications were rejected.

At this point if you are probably expecting me to say I was entered into the draw,won the pass and will be attending SXSW Interactive. Sadly no. I passed two rounds of vetting and was into the draw but my name didn’t get pulled out of the hat. It was worth doing just to be challenged to think up an idea for a mobile app. Getting through the vetting gave me confidence that if something like that came up again it would be worth giving it ago and you never know next time I might get lucky.

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