Coding Up the App

We are at the final stages of the development of “A Villager’s Tale.”  Grace and Jason have created a new map by kludging three maps with poor resolution together.  We found that we can indeed make the AR that we had hoped to create.  The videos are in the process of being compressed for mobile media delivery.  And the diary entries are written and ready to be recorded.  We plan to show the media at the upcoming arsTechnologika to get feedback from an audience.  What a journey!


Fort Vancouverville Game for the “Grand Emporium of the West” App

CMDC students, Mark Van Tassel and Greg Philbrook, have been working to develop the web version of the game, Fort Vancouverville, for the Grand Emporium of the West app that Brett Oppegaard and I are developing for the NEH EDSITEment project. 6-8th graders playing the game will take on the personae of James, an apprentice blacksmith who is new to the fort, and learn about the hard work it took to survive in the mid 1800s at the Village. Here are some screen shots of the blacksmith shop and James’ home, the two locations in which the game takes place, that Mark created by hand for the project.

Greg taught himself javascripting so that he could code the project for the app. Today we were able to see a proof of concept of the game and work with Greg to fine tune the storyline.view of the blacksmith shop in the Fort Vancouverville Game

view of the home found in the Fort Vancouverville Game

Treasure Trove of Information about Fort Vancouver

image from A Villager's TaleWhile vacationing in Steamboat with my female friends, I got to know a cousin of one of these women, a man collects first edition books about the West. He allowed me to sniff around his collection and pull out texts that contained information about Fort Vancouver and the Village. And since I am prone to insomnia, I was able to spend quite a bit of time making copious notes for the Fort Vancouver Mobile project.

I have added my notes to the “Scholarship” page of this site. A special thank you to Bill Harrison for this information.

Contextualizing History

Dene Ringing the Fort's Bell

Dene Grigar rings the bells at the Fort in preparation of recording its sound for the Fort Vancouver Mobile app

Members of the FVM team––Grace, Vern, and I––spent the morning at the Fort and Village shooting photos of household and personal objects the villagers would have used in their everyday lives. We began with a series of shots with the objects laid on the table as an artifact, with the catalog number showing. We then worked with the Fort’s archivist by having her move these objects to House 2 where we photographed them again in context to their use. In other words, the rum bottle was shot on the small wooden table in the house, the toy hatchet on a tree stump, etc. In “A Villager’s Tale,” 10 of these items will appear in the episode entitled “Home at the Village.” In “The Grand Emporium of the West,” which is the special app we are making for 6-8th graders as part of the Verizon-NEH project, they will be part of the “lost and found” game.

Later in the afternoon, we captured the sound of the bell tolling. This sound was part of the Villager’s daily life in that the bell called them to work, to lunch, to home each day. So, visitors to the Village using the FVM app will hear them when they reach the episode entitled, “Our Normal Work Day.”

Next up: The photomontage series for each of the four episodes. . .

Filming at the Village for “A Villager’s Tale”

We spent the day filming “A Villager’s Tale.”  This is the module about women and domestic life during the Fur Trade period at the Village at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The module is part of the Fort Vancouver Mobile project, an app for mobile devices that provides historical and interpretative stories about the Fort.  “A Villager’s Life” will launch this fall.

Because records about women at the Fort during this period are sparse, I decided to tell the story as a double narrative:  The first story is a metanarrative, presented as a series of videos in which Cassie Anderson, Park Ranger and Historic Programs Coordinator at the Fort talks about life in the Village from a historical perspective.  The second is a literary interpretation that parallels the historical information; this story centers on a Métisse woman of Cree and French-Canadian heritage who comes to the Village with her fur-trapper husband. Her story unfolds as sound files, a series of photomontage, and maps. Unlike Cassie who is able to identify herself in her metanarrative, the ficitonal character of this story remains nameless and faceless throughout, reflecting the general anonymity of women during this period.

Both stories unfold in four episodes.  These episodes center on Home, Family, Food, and Work and highlight major aspects of daily life at the Village.  They also provide a narrative flow in that there is rising and falling action related to the hardships of life at the Village.  The turning point occurs with a canoe accident involving our character and her children.

Fieldwork at Fort Vancouver

Digital Storytelling student Vern Blystone and other members of the DTC 354 Digital Storytelling class explore the Village at Fort Vancouver earlier today. The class spends every Thursday doing fieldwork at the Fort, and today had the great fortune of beautiful sunny skies to accompany them on their tasks 🙂

Mobile Interface Theory

Mobile Interface Theory book coverOne of the most exciting things in the Mobile Storytelling class this semester is that we are among the first courses to use former WSU Tri-Cities and current University of Maryland professor Jason Farman‘s new book, Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media, published by Routledge.

From the Introduction:

“The term “mobile” has been applied to technologies as early as papyrus, when the written word became transportable across a broad geographic space. Today we typically tend to attribute the word to digital devices such as “mobile” phones, GPS units, tablet computers, and gaming systems. Thus, the notion that mobile technologies are new is indeed shortsighted. Throughout history, when a medium that was once understood as geographically fixed becomes mobile, a cultural shift accompanies this transformation. As writing moved from inscriptions on stone to marks on a piece of paper or papyrus, the world changed. Not only did the human thought process become revolutionized as the process of writing could more closely match the speed of thought, but these thoughts could be spread globally. Thoughts were no longer geographically specific; that is, you didn’t have to travel to a particular place to read an inscription. Instead, the inscription came to you.

A similar cultural shift has been taking place as computing technologies are continually moving from their static location at the home or office computer and becoming mobile. As Intel announced back in 2000, “Computing, not computers will characterize the next era of the computer age.” This points to a key tenet of our current cultural shift: it is less about the devices and more about an activity. This book analyzes that activity, which is a practice of embodied space in the digital age. Here, I want to focus on mobile interfaces as my primary object of study, developing the ways that these devices work in tandem with bodies and locales in a process of inscribing meaning into our contemporary social and spatial interactions. I think it is important to define “mobile media” broadly to include not only our digital devices but also print texts, subway passes, identification and credit cards, and everyday objects that signify elements of our identity such as keys, notepads, and checkbooks.”