First day at the MCA was exciting, a bit daunting, but very interesting. Tristan gave me a quick tour of the museum before it was open to the public. My favourite part was probably seeing Anish Kapoor’s My Red Homeland from a viewing deck above the floor, not open to the public. Pretty rad to see such a large scale work in an empty room. After the tour it was time to get to work! Keir ran through the project with me, MCA NOW.
MCA NOW is a website that takes in the physical space of the museum and presents it as a website that can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. One of the key elements that make up MCA NOW is using live location data from inside the museum to present what areas are popular NOW. This would be useful to see what are popular exhibions to see, or to see what artworks lots of people are looking at. Conversely, it will be able to show you the least busy galleries for people who prefer to visit with less people around. It will also show when the cafe is most popular. There is other great location data we can get (for MCA admin, rather than the public) like how people move around the galleries, what rooms they visit, how long they spend there and other data that we don’t even know about yet! At the end of a visitor’s visit they can check out their trail and see where they went. MCA NOW will also show relevant data about the weather, when the museum is open, what special events are on today and any mentions of MCANOW on social networks like twitter and instagram.
Day one involved remembering how php works (it’s been about 2 years since I last played with php!) but thanks to the kind folks at learnable.com who donated access to their site to our hackagong team, I was able to brush up my skills relatively quickly (well, hopefully!). I sucessfully got a php scrip grabbing weather data from the BOM and another script showing when the museum is open and closed, and counting down until when it opens again. Inititally, the countdown was in hours, but this gave stupid results like “the museum reopens in 16 hours”. No one knows how long 16 hours is! Well…… what I mean is, if I asked you to meet me in 16 hours, you wouldn’t know when it was, it would be far better for me to say, “hey I’ll meet you at 10 tomorrow morning”, so currently the scrip will tell you that the museum opens tomorrow at 10, then today at 10, then hour countdown from 3 hours and finally MCA NOW Open. Yeah, get to tie in the name, oh yeah. Day two was more php wrangling, this time with the instagram API. MCA seems to be a very popular acronym, and the museum shares it with the motor club of america, who seem to have some shady affiliate program going on. #mca is flooded with spam of pictures of cash and people saying how you cn make heaps of money too! #mcanow has a few too, but we still want visitors to be able to interact with MCA NOW on instagram, so currently the challenge is to pull the data from instagram based on if the picure is tagged with #mcanow and then if it has #cash or some other spam like triggers, not to show it on our MCANOW stream.
I am still without internet at home, so blog posts are going up later than I write them.