back to article The ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ where iPods track your every move

David Walsh invented what he calls “a money mine”, and when he decided to spend some of its contents on an art gallery, he gave his IT team more than four years to provide the best visitor experience of any museum in the world. That team now rates their work on the gallery as a “dream project”, thanks to Walsh’s no-compromises …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Looks like an impressive place.

    I agree that iPod touch WiFi is extremely 'stable' - mine have such a consistently poor reception compared to all of the other devices I own that I can always rely on them for 'worst case scenario' WiFi surveying on sites.

    1. keithpeter

      Re: Wow

      Imagine something like this as an educational display for children, perhaps minus the dead kitten and plus some science?

      I'm having goveitus (an affliction that affects mainly middle aged maths teachers forced to teach content that was dated 30 years ago). We seem to be focussing everything on classrooms with teachers in them. Perhaps a different approach to education might be better, including technology like this...

  2. CaptSmegHead

    Tasmania !!!

    It'll be a while until I save up the readies to visit something that far away !

    1. frank ly

      Re: Tasmania !!!

      The next development will be 'immersive telepresence'; so you don't need to travel to 'see' it.

  3. Malc


    How come bit.fall never mentions pron?

  4. P. Lee Silver badge
    Black Helicopters


    Does your loyalty card have an RFID tag too, so the shop can track you as you move around the store and little speakers can address you by name to suggest things you bought before?

    Seems like the next logical step, if it hasn't been taken already.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Shopping!

      It's the 'little speakers' that needs to be addressed - maybe a display on the trolley handle that shows you where to get your 'favourites' and 'specials'. speakers would become a bit of a pain.

      But there's still Jeff Noon's Blurbflies . . .

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Seriously? Theyvgo to all this effort and spend all this money then put it on ipods?

    I imagine they present all the people being physically sick from having to touch embarrassing apple gear as part of the art?

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    What MONA really needs... a Lisa display.

    Yeah, yeah I've already got my coat. Gone.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we really need to know...

    ... is what "MOFO" is supposed to stand for.

    1. Daft

      Re: What we really need to know...

      MOFO is short for MONA FOMA (festival of musical art), currated by Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femes.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want one of those word waterfalls. Surprised one of the big London stores hasn't used one for their Xmas window display. Perhaps they could make it interactive like the David Černý figures in Prague (NSFW) - with audience SMS messages written into water.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    I also LOLed at the iPod claims (they really have rubbish wifi, and I took "there's no Android device at this price point" to mean none are that expensive). But, it's hard to argue with results if they had 1300 of them running on opening night and didn't have it all fall apart. I'm not even into art, but if this museum wasn't so far away I'd go to it.

    1. dylan 4

      Re: Yeah...

      For all the eccentricity of the art, choosing iPods as the delivery device is a classic example of a sound enterprise IT decision. Walsh may have made his money through "gambling", but not in the sense most people understand it.

      You have to consider where Android was at 6 years ago when this project commenced. Even assuming a platform switch a year before opening were realistic, find me an iPod sized Android tablet that was on the market in early 2010. What were the specs and price point of that device, assuming it existed? Sitting in 2010 and using your crystal ball, what would you think the likelihood is that you could buy the same device (or another device with hardware specs, drivers, interfaces, and OS that would reliably run your custom app and hardware) in 3/6/12/24 months time? Consider the complexity of supporting multiple different OS and app versions, quite apart from whether it still fits in your custom charging station. Remember the furore from Apple changing the iPod connector this year after it stayed the same for 8 years? Until not so long ago, many vendors changed the connector design with every iteration, and even since standardising on micro USB you're still lucky if the port is in the same place on the next device version).

      Having been to MONA, the devices aren't flawless - as another poster mentioned, you often have to select from a list of numerous artworks to find the one you're looking at. This would be a limitation of the number of active RFID devices in the walls as much as in the device itself. I also found them a bit of a distraction from the exhibits.

  10. Bsquared
    Thumb Up

    Definitely worth the side-trip to Tas if you happen to be in Australia

    I've been to MONA twice now (fortunate enough to live locally), and it is an exceptional space to view art in. Not all of the art will be to your taste, or even David Walsh's taste! The iPod thingy gives you some notes and thoughts from Walsh on some of the pieces, and even where he disagrees with his curator.

    Some of the pieces are deeply pretentious, and these may have the joyous "Artwank" entries on the iPod.

    And finally - and I admit to being deeply partisan here - Walsh commissioned Damian Cowell (ex-TISM Australian wordsmith par excellence) to write an albums-worth of songs for works that caught his fancy. So certain pieces you can listen to a song about them while you ponder the art. (The DC3 - 2011 - Vs Art) This item is not available in the shops, as part of the deal was that performing rights reside with MONA. You get the CD free with a copy of the (costly!) MONA catalogue.

  11. Barry 16

    Nice idea but...

    I find the O device a bit frustrating because you are often looking at an artwork and want to know something about it. You press the button to determine your location and then need to scroll through a list of nearby artworks and try to see if the photos on the device matches what you are looking at. Sometimes the location isn't detected correctly.

    If we really must give up on wall plaques then I would prefer something where you can just scan (eg via a barcode) the artwork you are looking at so it goes straight to the info. After a while I just get a sore neck from looking down at the device and look around without information instead...

  12. Marvin the Martian

    "Old and New Art"

    Or, in summary, "Art". But I see they're not into economizing.

  13. TimChuma

    Even had a song written about it

    This song was written about the artwork with the words from Google

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Invented a gambling system that <b> works</b>

    Title says it all.

    1. Paul 129

      Re: Invented a gambling system that <b> works</b>

      i.e. play only when the odds are in your favor. Unfortunately there are a lot of people not so well gifted, including the former owner of the loverly little area that has now become the eyesore that is 'Mona'

      Full points to the guy for setting up a 'Mona', but I couldn't stomach doing stuff that he has.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    OT They're back

    I refer to the whiny, confrontation avoiding nonentity who insists on down voting every post I make.

    I guess you worked up a script to do it. Could any human be that anally clenched to waste their time?

    Well done you. You must be so proud of yourself.

    Have I offended you in some way? Hold opinions you don't agree with? Replied to you in a way you found hurtful? None of that's going to change unless you communicate with me instead at me.

    I doubt you will contact me. Despite probably being several thousand miles away from you and incapable of offering any physical threat to you you're still too scared of that much communication with another human being.

    I'm not angry or impressed, just bored. That you make me your target just shows how pathetic you are.

    Fail because that is what you are.

  16. ShadowDragon8685

    A kitten pelt? Really?

    Someone must be a Dwarf Fortress fan. I guess we should be glad he didn't boil it into a Kitten Leather Left Gauntlet and make kitten-bone totems for trade goods and kitten roasts to go with them.

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