Introducing the Epiphany Project: discovering the intrinsic value of museums by analysing social media

David Gerrard, Loughborough University, UK , Thomas Jackson, Loughborough University, UK, Ann O'Brien, Loughborough University, UK

Published paper: The Epiphany Project: Discovering the Intrinsic Value of Museums by Analysing Social Media

There has been plenty of discussion about how museums may potentially offer more value to visitors than is easily accounted for using instrumental measurements such as attendance figures. Open-ended questionnaires or interviews may provide deeper insight into the impact of museum activities, but they can be intrusive and hard work, and they only provide snapshots of visitor disposition at fixed points in time. The Epiphany Project investigates the feasibility of using computational social science techniques to find evidence of the inspiration caused by museums from within visitors’ social media. This paper introduces the Epiphany Project, the problems it will address, and the potential for it to find relevant, valuable data within social media. The initial steps towards defining “inspiration” in a manner applicable to the work of museums are discussed, and the stakeholders who might benefit from Epiphany, their requirements, and the vision for the system’s architecture are described. The issues involved with integrating two ‘heavyweight’ formal stakeholder and requirements management methods into the project’s Agile methodology are also considered.

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