For potential funders out there:
Within the decade, more people around the world will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices than from their desktops. Capable of so much more than just telephony, this new generation of interconnected mobile devices will be able to track location of users and be aware of contextual information, such as where they have been before, what they have looked at and where they are headed next.
In the world of historical interpretation, this opens up a mind-blowing number of possibilities, including interactive narratives that immerse users in a particular time and place and even within a specific character. Information no longer has to be written in brochures or displayed on interpretive panels or wall screens, and costumed interpreters don’t have to be performing on site every hour to have round-the-clock edutainment.
Some within the field are becoming aware of these possibilities, but the race still is on to create the first mobile app for a national park service site. The chance still is there to break that ground and lead the federal government's historical interpretation efforts into this immense new digital world, to suitably enough be pioneers in generating this augmented reality, which is destined to become a standard operating procedure of historical sites in the future.
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site -- the only historic site in the Portland, Ore., metropolitan area -- has been doing extensive research, under the direction of Texas Tech University doctoral student Brett Oppegaard, on mobile storytelling and tourism, from delivery methods and platforms to interactive narrative structure. Clark County's government recently awarded Oppegaard, also an adjunct lecturer at Washington State University Vancouver, a $9,000 grant to purchase the industry-standard audio equipment needed to generate this high level of mobile content. Various partners on the 12-member production team also are bringing professional level equipment into the mix as well, but there still are a few integral main parts needed to make the production process run smoothly and generate commercial-level quality: An industry-standard video camera and video monitoring system, including a tripod, which costs about $9,600, and a Macintosh-based video editing and media storage system, with the industry-standard Final Cut Pro software on it, which costs about another $8,000.
The team is in place, including several nationally renowned journalists with experience in multimedia content production and prominent regional historians, including a curator and an archaeologist. The opportunity is ripe, like looking to the west and seeing nothing but an uncharted frontier. This project just needs a few more pieces of equipment to leap into action, get the wagons moving and change history.
We are gaining new partners and supporters regularly, but we need you to take one of these larger leaps of faith while the iron is hot. Please consider covering the costs of the Macintosh editing and media storage system, about $8,000, which then would be donated to Washington State University Vancouver's Digital Technology and Culture program at the end of its use at Fort Vancouver. Thank you for your consideration.
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