by Mark Tebeau | May 18th, 2012
This post is a draft of my contribution to a discussion of mobile on In Media Res during the week of 5/21.
Download Cleveland Historical (iOS and Android) after viewing the videos to get a sense of how its functionality and content. View the website (optimized for mobile web). Imagine walking and discovering the city, serendipitously, thru geo-location, street-visible QR codes, or a thematic tour. Imagine joining scores of K12 and university students and community partners in the formal and informal learning environments created through developing digital stories. Or, imagine extending this to the landscape and interpretive context of your choice, as we’ve done through the Curatescape tool in Baltimore, New Orleans, and Spokane. (The soon to be released Curatescape tool emerged from our NEH Mobile Historical funding and is available in hosted form or as an open-source theme for Omeka.)
Mobile technologies promise to transform how we understand and “make” place by erasing boundaries between the landscape & interpretation, putting space and place into dynamic new conversations. Mobile allows for cultural interpretation to become performative public art as it creates an elaborate dance between memories, places, and objects. By erasing the distance between teacher/learning, community/university, memories/objects, mobile creates an ubiquitous interpretive environment as the bases for the emerging world of pervasive computing, with its so-called Internet of Things.
Pew Internet argues that mobile represents a paradigmatic cultural shift, one akin to the introduction of the PC. More than 50 percent of Americans presently have smartphones, and Ericson estimates that as many as 80% of all Americans will access the Internet through their mobile devices by 2015. Scholars have only begun to imagine how mobile might transform scholarly interpretive practice, from m-learning, to museums and cultural organizations, to universities, and into the broader culture.
As we theorize the mobile transformation, we must recognize the blurring boundaries between theory, technologies, and practice. Our research Center argues that practice–in the form of curation–bridges these boundaries, allowing us to remake scholarly discourse altogether.
Our work explores these questions in the realm of landscape. We Curate the City, seeking dynamic models for exploring landscape and memory, collaborative remaking a sense of place in Northeast Ohio. At the same time, we are seeking to develop tool0-based approaches (embodied in the development of Curatescape and creative use of Omeka) to extend this theoretical approach to other places.
I invite you to join me in seeking answers to a host of questions and raise new ones (feel free to comment with questions.)
How does mobile storytelling allow us to reinscribe a sense of place that is particular to a locale, but also transcends it?How can mobile teaching & learning be used to transform scholarly discourses, engage in public scholarship, and enhance civic life?How can thematic tours and tagging become part of an interpretive network of meaning within the storytelling environment? And, then, how can those features become part of the technological representation?
First introduced in November 2010, Cleveland Historical has been downloaded nearly 8000 times; the website receives approximately 4000 visitors and 15,000 pageviews monthly.