Omeka Plugins for Mobiles

Produce and use Omeka plugins that will facilitate the development of in-gallery mobile work.

Understanding that many museums are focused on creating mobile experiences for users who are within the walls of the museum, we would like to highlight the plugins that are available for use with the Omeka web publishing platform that will facilitate this work. Omeka is free and open source, as are all of the plugins that work to extend the basic software’s functionality. Once a museum makes its in gallery content available through an Omeka installation with a mobile stylesheet, the following plugins could be used to extend the mobile experience:

* Barcode-Reports: This plugin allows curators and technologists to print a QRCode and place it next to a museum object or on a object label. Visitors who have mobile devices loaded with one of the several small QRCode reader applications (mentioned above) can photograph the code, which translates into a URL. From that link, visitors will discover additional information that you offer to them, including metadata, videos, audio recordings, or images about that particular item.

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* Geolocation: This plugin allows curators and IT staff to array collections on a google map so that users can experience museum content through a spatial orientation. If a museum desires to engage visitors outside of the gallery, geolocated objects might attract additional visitors.

* Location-based-search: This plugin extends the Geolocation plugin, and allows individuals to search for items in an Omeka site based upon a specific street address, or latitude/longitude. This plugin has been integrated with the native cross-platform application listed as the third prototype, and allows users to find objects around them.

* Contribution: This plugin allows users to submit a story or reflection on a particular element of mobile content, whether it be a particular item, a collection or an entire exhibit. The contributed reflections can then be made available for other users to browse.

*Social bookmarking: This plugin allows a mobile user to share an item’s link to any one of many popular social networking or bookmarking sites, such as Delicious, Facebook, Myspace or Digg. Users make meaning independent of the museum when they save content and share it with their friends in their own web space.

* Send to mobile: This plugin allows website visitors to send information about the location and institution of an artifact to a mobile device, either by text message or email. If a user visits the website prior to a museum visit, they can conveniently use this as a way to remember things to see during their visit. Or, a user may text a nearby friend or family member to ask them to come over and see a cool artifact. Similarly, users can easily text object links to friends who might be visiting a venue in the near future. Users without smart phones can easily use text messaging (SMS) to share information and access content from an institution’s website.

* Enhanced JSON Output: This plugin creates a lightweight data feed of information from an Omeka website, including item and collection information. Created specifically for mobile clients, this provides an optimal way of exchanging information between a server and mobile application. (http://code.google.com/p/art-in-the-city/)

* Batch uploading for Creating your mobile-friendly Omeka site:

* OAI-PMH Harvester: This plugin allows metadata from pre-existing OAI-compliant repository (such as ContentDM) to be harvested into an Omeka installation. If an institution already has collections that they wish to feature in a mobile website, they can use this tool to select and transfer that information and avoid the work of having to manual replicate pre-existing data.

* CSV Import: Similar to the OAI-PMH harvester plugin, the CSV Import plugin is designed to migrate data into your Omeka installation. CSV, which is short for comma-separated-values, is one of the most-basic data formats, and makes Omeka interoperable with a large number of systems that an institution may already have.

Both plugins offer museums and quick way to share collections data among institutions, and to set up a mobile-specific site.

Developing and extending Omeka for mobile projects requires less initial work because the system already maintains an archive, and provides an easy way for developers to focus on the functionality of a plugin. The plugin architecture implemented in Omeka allows for a variety of customizations that can be tailored to specific institutions and initiatives. The examples listed above demonstrate that Omeka offers several ways for museum professionals to integrate pre-existing collections into a mobile site, saving time and resources. Additionally, museum visitors will find different ways to interact with content using their mobile device. Future plugins may offer similar and new functionality, and be shared across institutions. Omeka’s flexibility offers institutions multiple ways to design and implement a mobile project.