WikiLink (QR Redux)

You may remember my blog post a while back, QR in the New Year?  In it, I talked about our QR code testing and reported on some rather alarming #fails that we were seeing like five to ten fold drops in traffic.  Never one to give up on a problem, this comment from Lori Phillips sparked my interest. I took a look at the stats around the Indy Children’s Museum project and was pretty impressed.

I had to wonder if the reason QR was getting good take up in Indy was its pairing with Wikipedia.  In our own experiments with putting Wikipedia in the galleries, we’ve seen a great deal of success.  You may remember WikiPop: the Wikipedia resource for Seductive Subversion?  As I reported in a subsequent post, WikiPop, was one of our most popular in-gallery interactives to date with 1/3 visitors to the exhibition spending ten minutes at a time looking at approximately 11 articles.  After all, we all know the power of Wikipedia’s statistics—in just a month, Wikipedia sees an extraordinary amount of traffic…482 million unique visitors, 18.1 billion pageviews.  Simply put, Wikipedia is a well-used resource and it’s likely something that visitors find incredibly familiar because of the daily presence in their lives. What we know of QR is almost the opposite.  QR is dominated by technical frustration, marketing interests, low scan rates and user confusion.  Could Wikipedia get visitors over QR code hump of technical hurdles and poor user experience?


WikiLink installed in Connecting Cultures on Coffin in the Form of a Nike Sneaker.

Today we embark on a new trial project called WikiLink that pairs Wikipedia articles with QR codes on objects in two of our galleries—the new Connecting Cultures exhibition and the Egyptian and Near East galleries.  With WikiLink, curators have selected Wikipedia articles that are relevant to certain works of art and may be helpful to visitors as extended information.  After scanning a few codes, visitors are surveyed about the project on their mobile devices.

My hope is that by leveraging the most accessible platform for information (Wikipedia) that we see QR code use increase, but why do we care about this?  Well, as frankly as I can put this, we can spend a lot of time and money devising all the fancy location-aware apps we can muster, but the fact remains that QR is an incredibly lightweight and compelling way to get visitors more information.  For those institutions on limited budgets and staffing, this equation is one that we have to pay attention to and if we can increase use in general, then anything we put behind QR will benefit.  In this trial, we are going to be looking at metrics across all QR use in the building to see if we can  get these numbers up across the board.

WikiLink will be installed through the summer for a three to four month trial.  At the end of it, curators, technologists, and interpretive staff will be looking at the statistics and the visitor feedback we’ve received to determine if the project is worth continuing or expanding upon; stay tuned for our findings.  In the meantime, Ed Bleiberg, one of our Managing Curators and Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art will blog tomorrow about the complexities of selecting the Wikipedia articles for this project.