We work with arts and humanities researchers to understand the value of mobile applications for gathering research data, disseminating knowledge and engaging with the public.
The rise of mobile applications is perhaps the biggest area of growth and opportunity for the digital humanities, as it is with other sectors. Mobile applications, often referred to as ‘apps’, are programmes or content viewed on a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet. Its main advantages to arts and humanities research are the ubiquity of the smart phone (making it an ideal medium for dissemination and public engagement) and the fact that it is handheld, not restricted to a specific location unlike the desktop computer (thereby making it ideal for gathering research data in the field).
Possible uses of mobile applications within arts and humanities research are as follows:
- Accessing content which is normally delivered via a web browser on the user’s desktop computer. We use content management systems and stylesheets which enable researchers to create their content once but have it accessed on multiple devices with different visual appearances and fucntionality.
- Accessing location-based content using markers or GPS coordinates, enabling the dissemination of research to become responsive to place and the user’s location. For example, a gallery can provide visitors with content about exhibits that is tailored to their own interests, unlike traditional information panels.
- Crowd sourcing whereby research data is created by the population at large, or a specific group or community of users, usually without payment. Mobile applications enable research data to be gathered ‘in the field’ by anyone who has a mobile device, whether the research be location specific or not. For example, users could be invited to record personal diaries or photograph everyday objects as part of a larger cultural study.
Mobile applications are a quickly evolving area driven by a highly competitive consumer-driven industry. Some issues arising from this concern the sustainability of applications and content, since mobile devices and mobile operating systems are subject to change as technologies advance. Our priority is to always ensure that the content is created, managed and delivered using standards and techniques which ensure that it will be re-usable in the future, irrespective of the device or software.