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Phong’s Fake Audio Tours

What is it?

A side project that combines my love of museums with my sense of humor. It's a phone app that lets you listen to fake descriptions of artwork around a museum. Kinda like having a personal tour guide except that tour guide is lying to you.

Why?

It's a weird idea that tickles me. Coming from an arts training, I feel like Postmodernism needs a healthy dose of irrelevance from time-to-time. There's also a fun tension between actually being educational versus making a joke.

Structurally, it's actually fairly complex too. A real audio tour app benefits from being about just one museum. This app will cover multiple, so it is fundamentally closer to an app store, or the Google's Art & Culture app. Also, I have future plan that further entangles the architecture which I’ll go into detail in a bit.

Structure

Phase 1: MVP

Barebones would include a handful of popular museums, and audio clips for a collection of works. (A disadvantage is that museums will rotate their collection. So hoping to get arbitrage by playing the numbers game.)

Phase 2: Smoothing

Removing frictions in finding the right artwork. One would be geolocation to find the right museum, and then hone into the right building and floor. The other would be whether it’d be viable to hijack the museums own marking system for their own audio tour. Some use QR codes or a numbering system by the artworks’ placard. I’d love to make use of that within the app to make searching easier.

Phase 3: Monetization

The part that makes me giddy, but complicates the architecture greatly would be additional audio packs and tours. I imagine a scenario where I get to collaborate with other people, or get guests to do their own audio packs. The basic experience would be free, but certain museums could have special tracks. Maybe it’s a comedian, or maybe it’s a group conversation. Better yet would be complete narratives that play out in the museum space. I love the idea of following two characters that are slowly realizing their relationship is dissolving, and you get to eavesdrop while walking around the museum.

Complex Part

Architectural Focus

So in a way, this is a glorified audio player. Find the track you want, hit play, and you’re off to the races. Where I’m adding complexity is multiple audio tracks per art piece. You can imagine that over time, audio guests will record their own takes on the same popular pieces. (Say, the Mona Lisa or The Scream.) And some tracks themselves will only make sense in relationship to its own set.

There’s a tension there. The internal architecture of the app wants to focus on audio track set as the defining unit. But to the user within their context, they’re thinking about art pieces. To bridge that gap, I’m using museums as the fulcrum.

I’m gonna treat them in the same way that Spotify or Apple Music treats genres. It’s a broader container for playlists/albums. The art pieces then become track items within the playlist.

This allows for upsell of the “album” on museum pages, and orients the store to be museum-centric as opposed to guest-centric.

Not bad, what’s next?

I've seen enough, what's his contact again?

612-643-1555
phong@phonghtran.com

Actually I want to click around.

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