Public History and Technological Reality
This site will contain my blog post regarding the digital public history application Histories of the National Mall and how it has impacted a public history site. While Washington, D.C. has been quarantined for the COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks, I do have experience working with this application and using it on the Mall. Therefore, I can give a general review of the application and answer the following questions:
Part I of the this blog post will consist of the first general question:
- What are the place-based techniques that the projects use for engagement?
For this question, we will be discussing three different place-based techniques and how these techniques aid in the public history experiences on the national mall.
- The first technique is augmented reality. This is a virtual reality created to aid the visitor during the public history experience. In other words, augmented reality “transforms the landscape into a living museum” according to Mark Tebeau’s article “Listening to the City”. What this reality does is to deepen the visiting experience by adding layers of interactive maps and pins placed at geographical points around the Mall. An example of this augmented reality are the maps sections of the application. One is able to travel the mall freely, and then able to select pins that offer more informational on that object or monument. Pins of the Washington Monument reveal an interesting history that includes texts and videos: http://mallhistory.org/items/show/265.
- Map layering is the second technique used to help augment the experience. This type of location-based technology is to “connect the public’s interest in comparing the past to the present” according to D. Boyer’s and A. Marcus’s article “Implementing Mobile Augmented Reality for Cultural Institutions.” In other words, this technology of map layering has the goal of making the past more accessible by blurring the lines between past and present. If one is able to walk the same path or see the same buildings as a person from the founding generation once did, then the public history experience becomes heightened, and the visitor is more immersed in the public history site.
- The third piece of technology is called “placeography” (From Lauren Gutterman’s article “Experiment in LGBTQ Community History”), and this place-based technological tool and theory invites users to be placed in the “land” of the historical event. In other words, the augmented reality and the map layering creates a place that is not only accessible to the visitor, but, in many ways, the visitor is transported back to a place and time that is created by the technological application.
Part II of the blog will consist of the second general question regarding the Histories of the National Mall project.
- What is the theory of history that they are putting forward?
For this question we will be looking at three sub-points regarding theory:
- The first point is “connection to the past”. This is the website’s goal to connect visitors to the past. As with all public history institutions or applications, Histories of the National Mall strives to connect its visitors to a site, moment, or person from the historical records. The connection to the past is also seen through the site’s usage of people and posting of biographies. (http://mallhistory.org/items/browse/type/people). This subpage within the site allows for people to explore historical actors associated with the National Mall.
- The second point relates to the interaction with local/micro-narratives of history. Micro-narratives or micro-history is a genre of history that tells an historical narrative by centering its research and core evidence around a singular person or a specific group of people. In many ways, the people discussed within the website offer a micro-history approach to understanding the National Mall.
- Using these pictures and having a database of people offers the visitor an opportunity to invoke memory as a form of community memoir, (Tammy Gordon, “Community Exhibition: History, Identity, and Dialogue”). Simply, the National Mall is a public history site that is endowed with the possibility to explore the site via its people.