As part of organizing the Fort Vancouver Mobile project and turning it into a highly successful grant magnet, I need to develop a strong mission statement that presents a clear purpose but also illustrates how this project manages the change in the world generated by mobile technology.
In brainstorming this thought, I started by simply playing around with mission as an acronym (lame, yes, but a starting point nonetheless):
M – Mobility and movement, users are moving around the space; what makes this project so fascinating and new is that elaborate digital content now can be delivered to users on demand, or by the author's command, based on an awareness of location, spatial factors and context as those evolve in real time as people move around in a mixed environment that simultaneously blends virtual and real spaces.
I – Interactive, users respond to the machine, the author, the content and each other and participate in creating the experience, including collaboration that could develop into classifiable collective intelligence ... generated on the fly.
S – Storytelling, all of this really happens as part of a larger story. Purely informational content, the signposts of the digital world, are not nearly as interesting as the ways in which mobile content can be packaged as interactive stories and games. Focus needs to remain on the story, the characters, the plot and the setting; maybe the setting in this new genre takes on more importance than in any other form before.
S – Simplicity, this should be simple to use and simple to get started and simple to engage with; usability has to remain at the forefront of a user-centered design to get people to even try this out. I don't want to challenge people with the technology. I want to challenge them with the content, and how and when they receive the content, and how that affects their experience. I don't want users to be stuck and frustrated just trying to get this thing to work.
I – Immediacy, the goal is media transparency, with the user's space not limited to the screen or reality but a perfect blend of both. Ideally, the mobile device eventually would begin to feel like another tool for navigating and understanding and appreciating the space on a more evolved level of humanity.
O – Occurring simultaneously, a hybrid of real and virtual space interwoven; this content shouldn't encourage the user's eyes to be endlessly locked down on a screen or be so useless that users never think about it. Maybe it should be like a friend along for the journey, one you want to keep chatting with about what you are doing and seeing.
N – Numin-ousity! Inspired by this journal article: Cameron, C. and J. Gatewood (2003), "Seeking Numinous Experiences in the Unremembered Past." The authors state that numinous (new term to me) experiences at historical sites are those that create deep connections with objects and places. That's part of our goal, too!
Now, can I boil those sorts of ideas down to a single statement in support of this project?
How about this for a first draft: "The Fort Vancouver Mobile project serves as a cutting-edge research laboratory for developments in mobile content creation that emphasize location, spatial and contextual awareness in relation to interactive and mixed-reality storytelling experiences, particularly those that take advantage of the new abilities of mobile technology to illuminate important regional and national historical narratives."
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