More workshops

Two blog posts in quick succession – wonders will never cease.

Last weekend (Friday 4th and Saturday 5th March) RAMP held another set of workshops. This time we were based entirely in Rothbury and Lordenshaw, a design decision made so that we could test our first working mobile prototype at a single rock art site.

The workshops followed a similar pattern to the ones we had in September: going out on a site visit in the morning, returning to Rothbury for lunch and then having group discussions in the afternoon.

Listening to dialogue, Lordenshaw

This time however, we added a new component – mobile phones! We brought along a set of mobiles (a Blackberry, a Samsung running Android, an iPhone and an HTC Desire, also running Android). We also had some Flip video cameras, and asked participants in pairs to take a phone and a video camera and look at the mobile website we’d built once we arrived on site. We were looking for indications on how well the website dealt with navigating around the physical site of Lordenshaw – would everyone understand the directions and be able to find the information? We were also keen to find out how the rock art information itself worked – were the diagrams useful? What about photographs? How the style of the text we’d written fit? Was what we said interesting or useful?

While we’re still going through all the data, a few things quickly became clear:

  • The navigation system worked, in part at least. While there are some glaring faults with it, the actual directions themselves seemed to be clear, in the main.
  • The conversational style of the content we’d written was well received.
  • The use of a question (in essence, ‘Do you think rock art was painted or occasionally re-pecked?’) provoked some discussion and debate.
  • Diagrams showing the carvings were helpful, especially annotated ones which picked up on some of the interesting features of the rock art panel.
  • Speculation on the meaning of rock art was missing. Whilst we were testing an early stage prototype, it was obvious that we hadn’t addressed this.

Our next steps are to look at all of this information in more detail to try to address all the issues, and build our next, more complete prototype. We will then test the mobile website again, probably in a more informal setting, by basing ourselves in the car park at Lordenshaw for a day or two, trying to find visitors willing to spend an hour with us, finding out more about the local archaeology.

However, at this stage, we need to say a big thank you to all of the participants who gave up their free time to visit rock art with us, peering at mobile phone screens, and telling us their thoughts. It is much appreciated by the whole RAMP team.


About Debbie Maxwell

Researcher on Rock Art Mobile Project (RAMP).
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