After many months of planning and groundwork, the Fort Vancouver Mobile project I'm coordinating at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is starting to emerge into public view. That's because the first of what I hope to be many financial backers, the Clark County Historical Promotions committee and Clark County Commissioners, recently awarded the project a $9,000 grant. This in turn triggered the project's official sponsor, Washington State University Vancouver, to link a fall 2010 class in the Digital Technology and Culture program to this project. I also have been surprised at the volume of interest generated just from the grant announcement in the local newspaper and various WSU publications. It's clear that people are highly intrigued by the idea of offering engaging mobile content at the site to share historical information and stories through devices, such as the iPhone or Android phones.
While I have gathered a talented and trusted group of people to work on this, initial informal brainstorming sessions with some of them have shown that there are way more great ideas than we have the capacity to perform this year. Which makes me wonder how much I should expand this project, and how quickly?
The initial goal for me was simply to develop a laboratory for my research into mobile interactive narratives as I pursue my doctorate degree in technical communication and rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Yet the support I have received for this idea from Chief Ranger Greg Shine as well as DTC co-directors Dene Grigar and John Barber -- and the many others who have been instrumental in the project's development so far -- has been energizing.
That leads back to the main question I have at this time. Should I keep focused only on the dissertation needs and pursue resources strictly to that end? Or, while I have this wind in my sails, should I start reaching out toward potential funders with a bigger message in mind, one that could make the fort and this project a model for historical tourism sites in this country?
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