I was the history geek child who wanted to go to every historical site possible. While we were on the Freedom Trail, in Concord, and at Fort Ticonderoga, the Lincoln Memorial, and so many other places my parents were kind enough to take us to, I tried to imagine what life would have been like there in other eras. Thanks to digital technologies, those childhood dreams are much closer to becoming realities.
Deborah Boyer and J. Marcus’s piece on PhillyHistory.org, “Implementing Mobile Augmented Reality Applications for Cultural Institutions.” taught me about Augmented Reality, a topic which, while not new, is new to me as it relates to cultural institutions. The idea of being able to “see” history in place is very exciting, yet it is challenging to implement. and the authors present both the benefits and challenges of this new type of approach. What impressed me was their clear goals to meet specific types of users, especially younger users, and their willingness to meet challenges. They are doing what I would like to do with my Persona 2 Elizabeth’s younger library patrons.
Timothy Hart and Jonny Brownbill’s “World War One: Love and Sorrow – A hybrid exhibition mobile experience.” is a fascinating example of modern technology meeting the museum visitor. In addition to having curated World War One exhibitions with a”personal touch,” Museum Victoria’s team created eight characters and tailored tours to each of them. Visitors download the Storyteller app prior to arriving at the museum, then they have the power to decide which of the eight characters and his or her family will shape their experiences of World War One. I’d love to experience this exhibition and to learn more about how the Bluetooth Beacon helps the museum create experiences using Storyteller. The time that the museum’s staff has taken thinking about visitor needs is quite admirable. Issues such as needing to use WiFi and wanting to borrow a device for Storyteller have been taken care of. I suspect that users come back again and again to experience World War One as a different individual.
Brad Baer, Emily Fry and Daniel Davis’s Museums and the Web presentation “Beyond the Screen: Creating interactives that are location, time, preference, and skill responsive” focuses on the importance of creating interactive experiences that are not only responsively designed for multiple different viewing formats (mobile, tablets, & computers), but also designed to be responsive to location, time, preference, and skill” They are another example of user-centered design at work, and I will keep their work in m ind.
While digital technologies have enabled stories and detailed explanations about places, what they have inhibited is the live tour guide who should have an encyclopedic knowledge about the collection and its historical context. Such a guide is flexible and able to answer specific questions. Digital tours allow users to explore spaces at any time, but even with Storyteller, which strives for the personal, there is less real personal contact.
When I was writing and giving tours at an historic house, I was able to tailor the tours to the audiences. If two architectural historians came by, I would focus on the architecture. If a family with small children arrived, I would tell stories about the children in the family. If I had a mixed group, I would do a combination and ask if people had questions. I don’t think there is that ability with digital tours. As we have learned this semester, people have different motivations for studying history and they have a variety of interests. While it is possible to design digital tours on many topics for several audiences, digital tours can’t answer every question. Storyteller must be fabulous, and I love the user options, but I hope that there are people inside the museum who can answer questions.
Histories of the National Mall has been our go to example all semester, and I have been following the site on Facebook. I’m grateful not only for what the site does, but also for the detailed explanation of each part of its creation, including its social media strategies.
Driving through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway, is another fabulous idea.
When I began my project, I considered using Curatescape because one of my audience groups is people interested in local history, such as Elizabeth and her public library patrons. While I decided to go in a different direction, it was a treat to see what the Rhode Tour and so many others did with Curatescape. There’s a part of me that wishes I had taken that route, but it is too late in the game to change course for this course. However, I will try to incorporate fascinating stories in to my exhibitions and have Neatline maps which help people with interests in place. Before I found a quality Worcester, MA tour, I had planned to see some of the sites on the Rhode Tour. That’s definitely on my to do list for the Summer!
Baer, Brad, Emily Fry and Daniel Davis. “Beyond the Screen: Creating interactives that are location, time, preference, and skill responsive.”MW2014: Museums and the Web 2014. Published February 1, 2014.
Boyer, D. and J. Marcus. “Implementing Mobile Augmented Reality Applications for Cultural Institutions.” In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2011.
Hart, T. and Brownbill, J. “World War One: Love and Sorrow – A hybrid exhibition mobile experience.” In Museums and the Web Asia 2014, N. Proctor & R. Cherry (eds). Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web. Published September 19, 2014