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Mobile Content Standards Summit UK 2010

Posted by Nancy Proctor on | September 8, 2010 | 5 Comments

Notes from the gathering at Tate Modern, 1-5pm 8 September 2010

Meeting led by Rob Stein, notes by Nancy Proctor


  • Andrew Nugée, Imagineear
  • Chris McLaren, Tristan Interactive
  • Robert Genereux, Sennheiser
  • Lena Bonsiepen, Jewish Museum, Berlin
  • Sayoko Teitelbaum, Toura
  • Louise Downe, Tate
  • Peter Gorgels, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
  • Gavin Hogben, University of Cambridge & RISD
  • Marco Mason, University of Venice, Italy, Dep’t of Design
  • Lisa R. Tucci, Art & Media
  • Glen Barnes, MyTours
  • Sandy Goldberg, SGScripts
  • Mia Ridge, Science Museum, London
  • Steve Gemmel, Getty
  • Silvia Filippini Fantoni, Cog App

Governance of the standard

Who will decide what gets in and not, who steers the initiative?

Recommend representatives from museums, vendors, researchers; will likely be self-identifying/volunteers.

Intellectual Property

Should be Commons Licensed.

Perhaps some of the industry organizations (AAM, ICOM, IMLS) who know about standards advise on intellectual property and governance, but don’t postpone building the standards until an officiating body is identified. Be pragmatic, look for shared languages and move from their towards standardization.

A Platform-Neutral Metadata Spec for Mobile Experiences


The root element for all TourML documents (the top level ‘bucket’). Discussion notes that not everything we’ll be building will be tours, but we’re aiming to establish a language that will adequately describe 80% of what we do; at this point at least 80% of what museums are building for mobile platforms can adequately be described as ‘tours’, at least in a loose sense, so ‘tour’ is an acceptable term.

NB: need to define the standard to describe what we’re doing today, not get hung up on what we might be doing in future.


A container for media and its metadata description; the basic unit of mobile measurement, the common denominator at the ‘atomic level’ of a mobile experience.

[TourML currently uses the term ‘stop’ for a basic media element (audio, video, text/HTML, image, poll); the group is concerned that this is confusing with existing audio tour terminology so identified ‘asset’ as an alternate term.]


  • A reference, which can also be understood and experienced as a link, describes what combines stops into a logical structure.
  • Each stop may have multiple references. A reference is either automatic or user-controlled. Logically, there can only be one automatic reference per stop.
  • If a stop has no reference, it must have a stop code (see below).
  • Reference elements have an attribute for autofollow which is default to false
  • A set of references can optionally be ordered.
  • In addition to order, references can be given navigation hints, expressed as attributes, for next, previous and auto-play.


  • A stop is a container of assets, e.g. all the assets (video, audio, text, image) that together interpret a given artwork. It is a synonym for “choice” in the visitor experience of the tour.
  • A stop has a title and a description.
  • Stop describes the logical presentation and connections of a tour.
  • Stops can refer or “link” to other stops.
  • A stop can refer to other stops without having any assets of its own. In that case all the visitor gets is a title, description and the choice of that ‘stop’.
  • Stops can be nested, allowing graphs to be drawn of tours for mindmapping and datamining.

Stop Attributes

  • Stop code: alphanumeric, could be a stop number or a key word, e.g. answer to a riddle in a game-based experience. A stop code is mandatory if there is no reference pointing to the stop.
  • Icon (optional): an override of a default stop-type icon
  • Goto: a stop reference that is accessed immediately upon finishing the action of this stop.
  • Lat/Lon [Locations/Position]: for geolocation of stops; could be indoors or outside [should be called X & Y to be more generic?; what about altitude?]
  • Param: empty parameter that can contain anything not already covered by the rest of the TourML spec

Soundtracks & Soundbites

User-generated Input to a Mobile Experience

Connection of Mobile Experiences to Object Collections

Simultaneous Assets

e.g. playback of audio file with an image

Licensing Tags

  • Expiration attributes
  • Media rights, credit line(s)
  • Watermarks
  • Machine readable format

Source vs Publishing Formats (Asset derivatives)

Titles and Descriptions

to support multi-lingual content organization without duplication

Keywords/tags, description, closed captioning, subtitles (cp Titles above)

Next steps

  1. Summarize and clean up notes – Nancy & Rob, audio from Andrew
  2. Develop a valid XML schema that reflects this conversation – Rob, IMA
  3. Assemble sample content, example instances (xml) and use-cases that help inform and illustrate the schema – all
  4. Discuss, comment, adjust via online methods (wiki, conf calls, groups) – all
  5. Help spread the word, recruit more participants in the standards project – all


5 Responses to “Mobile Content Standards Summit UK 2010”

  1. Nancy Proctor
    September 17th, 2010 @ 11:23 am

    Piotr Adamczyk from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting on his work with collections data and mentioned the museums data exchange project headed up by Gunther Weibel at OCLC, as well as Digital NZ ( which I believe Glen Barnes is part of). Sounds like the mobile content standards project could learn a lot from these earlier initiatives??

  2. Günter Waibel
    September 17th, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    Happy to chat with you about what we learned from the Museum Data Exchange project, Nancy. We created tools to extract data out of museum collections management systems in a standards-based fashion and share it via an automated protocol for data exchange (OAI-PMH); we also harvested the data 9 museums, and analyzed this aggregation of ca. 900K records for coherence and compliance with applicable standards. If you’re so inclined, you can take a look at the full project report at, or an abbreviated version at

  3. Glen Barnes
    October 7th, 2010 @ 4:38 am

    I’m back from my trip now and presenting at NDF next week. I’ll ask the Digital NZ people about how they went about the project. I’m not involved directly wiht Digital NZ but do keep in regular contact from work with Open Data.


  4. Timo Pietilä
    October 27th, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    I represent a commercial vendor called Zonear ( and we specialise in mobile museum and cultural heritage tours. This is a very interesting but challenging initiative because of the wide range of different solutions out there for mobile tours.

    Our approach is emphasize lowering the barrier to use these tours which is way we’ve taken the mobile web approach instead of native application and created our own modular framework to easily customize and implement new features. The main aspects of this approach is that:

    + works on different mobile platforms
    + no need to install anything
    + easy distribution to user (just provide a short URL or QR-code)
    + user’s location can be shown
    + easier integration to social media services
    + embed content from youtube etc.
    (+ very similar user experience can be achieved as in native apps [or atleast we can 😉 ] )

    – no access to compass or accelerometer (yet)
    – no access to camera api (yet)
    – more challenging to get a smooth user experience
    – difficult to monetize
    – no centralized distribution channel (e.g. appstore) (yet)

  5. Timo Pietilä
    October 27th, 2010 @ 1:43 am

    I somehow manage to browse through the initiative and see that there were discussions about the implementation standards also but this was actually all about the content standards (d’oh)

    So my comment above is quite off-topic in this discussion. So sorry about that. Shouldn’t comment on things so early in the morning (in Finnish time) 😉

    I’ll ask our technical staff to look at the agenda and give you feedback from our point of view.

    Thanks and sorry 🙂

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