My new project - QRpedia - gets its first official outing at Derby Museum's Backstage Pass this Saturday. Do come along if you're in the area.
Before then, I thought I'd give you a sneak-peek at what's happening.
In February, there was a discussion on this blog about using QR codes in museums to link to Wikipedia pages. Things have rather snow-balled from there. Working with Roger Bamkin, we've created a working prototype which is ready to take over THE WORLD!
The basic idea is this...
- Museums have lots of interesting exhibits.
- The explanatory texts are usually fairly short.
- Often, exhibits are only in English.
- Wikipedia has mobile friendly, multi-language pages for just about every exhibit.
- If only there were a way to link museums to mobile friendly Wikipedia pages so visitors could read about exhibits on their phones....
Could I create a service which allows a single QR code to redirect museum visitors to a language-appropriate mobile Wikipedia article for the exhibit they are looking at? Only way to learn is to do...
So, after a few nights of hacking away at the Wikipedia API, my Glamorous Assistant (Liz) and I snuck off to the British Museum to see if the prototype works. This is us at the Rossetta Stone (my favourite exhibit in the museum).
It works! Scanning the QR code, directs the phone to http://qrwp.org/Rossetta_Stone . The QRpedia service then redirected the phone to the mobile version of the Rossetta Stone article!
I then set the phone to a different language. First Korean, then French.
Flawless! In both cases, the QRpedia service detected the phone's language and redirected it to the appropriate page. And it's pretty speedy!
Should you wish to take a look at how I've done it, the code is available for perusal and reuse.
I'm not great with Wikipedia's "Toolbox". This code I've created should allow you to generate a QRpedia code from any Wikipedia page (it's based on Fæ's excellent code).
/*************************************/ /* Userscript to add a QRWP.org code display option to toolbar /* /* Generates a QRWP.org code image using the current Wikipedia page URL. /* Demo version so use at your own risk! /* /* /* More info on QR codes: http://qrwp.org/QR_code /* More info on QRWP codes: http://qrpedia.org /* Created by edent: 3 April 2011 /*************************************/ // Set up toolbox basics var tid="t-qrcode", ttxt="Create QR code", rhref=location.href rhref=rhref.replace("wikipedia.org/wiki/", "qrwp.org/"); // Keep language. Change domain name. Correct path thref='http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=qr&chs=400x400&chld=q&chl='+rhref; // Google Chart API // Create link var tul=document.getElementById("t-whatlinkshere"),ta=document.createElement("a"),tli=document.createElement("li"); ta.appendChild(document.createTextNode(ttxt)); ta.href=thref; tli.appendChild(ta); tli.id=tid; tul.parentNode.appendChild(tli);
We're still refining the code and the design. I'm actively looking for feedback on the project. The first step is meeting with Museum staff and Wikipedians at Derby Museum's Backstage Pass.
Secondly, we need feedback from you. Drop a comment on this blog or over on Twitter.
Thirdly, I'll be discussing this work at Mobile Monday London and OpenTechUK - please come along to both if you're interested.
Finally, chatting with museums, galleries, libraries, and other cultural spaces. If you run one and would like to know more about QRpedia - please contact me.
The QRpedia service is still a little way from being production ready. Soon, I hope, it will be in use in museums across the world. Actually, I'd settle for just the British Museum and Derby Museum - but you've got to dream big!
I wouldn't have got this far without co-creator Roger Bamkin - his knowledge of Wikipedia and of the UK Museum scene has been vital. Michael McNeela who has generously let us use the QRpedia.org domain and is, as we speak, designing a more professional user-experience for it. Also due credit are Fae, Andy Mabbett, Nick Moyes, Tom Morris, and everyone else who contributed to the discussion and testing of the service. Finally, a big thanks to Liz, my wife, for letting me drag her to the Rossetta Stone and repeatedly film her scanning in QR codes.
I'd love to know what you all think of QRpedia - please drop a comment in the box below.