#mstory channel

Friday, December 31, 2010

Mobilestorytelling.net's mission

As an experimental journalist / educator / researcher in a world of media convergence, I have delivered and studied stories in many different ways. Each method has its important distinctions -- per Marshall McLuhan's prescient thought, "The Medium is the Message" -- but what is, exactly, the essence of mobile storytelling?

When I first started pondering that thought, in May of 2009, very little information about the topic was accessible and available. I wished so much that there was a hub of resources related to this emerging field that I decided to just build it myself. I figured I was collecting the material anyway, so why not share?

From the many positive responses I have received from around the world since then, that was a wonderful decision. I hope more people really think carefully about what is lost from hoarding information inside walled gardens (or intellectual towers), and what is gained from openness and collaboration and freely giving away digital information. In short, it doesn't make me any poorer to do that, and it makes everyone else richer. In fact, it even makes my life better, too, by helping to build a bigger and stronger community of people within which to bounce ideas.

In that spirit, I also don't want (and never wanted) this to be a solo effort. My hope is that people will find amazing things here that they want to take with them, and they will leave other things of value behind. So please send me your ideas, links, whatever, and I'll post them here, too, giving you credit for the contribution, of course. You can either post those to this message, or reach me here:

Brett Oppegaard's e-mail

Or through Twitter:@BrettOppegaard

Thanks for spending your precious time on MobileStorytelling.net. If there is anything I can do to improve the site, please let me know,

- Brett Oppegaard

The Fort Vancouver Mobile project

I am coordinating The Fort Vancouver Mobile project, a major research effort involving several institutions, including my home Creative Media and Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver, and my doctoral program, the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program at Texas Tech University.

Much more information about the project is available here: The Fort Vancouver Mobile sub rosa blog

In short, though, this free noncommercial app (available initially in the Android format) is being produced by a core team of 20 scholars, digital storytellers, new media producers, historians and archaeologists. The nonfiction content -- including geolocated video reenactments, historical photos and texts taken directly from the vetted documentation -- is meant to help provide a richer and more fulfilling experience for visitors to the National Historic Site.

Fort Vancouver was the early end of the Oregon Trail, the regional headquarters of the British Hudson's Bay Company's 700,000-square-mile fur empire and the first U.S. Army post in the Northwest, home to such military leaders as Ulysses S. Grant, George C. Marshall and O.O. Howard.

The fort has more than 2 million artifacts in its collection, but most of those are kept in warehouses, unavailable to the site's 1 million annual visitors. Besides the archaeological items, gathered from more than 50 years of excavations, boxes of documents, drawings and assorted historical records also help to reveal the fascinating and multicultural history of the place, once dubbed the "New York of the Pacific."

This project will explore mobile technology as way to not only bring such information out of storage but also to wield that digital content in an effort to create an immersive and interactive environment for visitors.

Funding to date includes: a 2011-2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Start-Up Grant, a 2011 Historical Promotion Grant from the Clark County Commissioners, a 2010 Research Grant from Washington State University Vancouver, a 2010 Historical Promotion Grant from the Clark County Commissioners and a contribution from WSU Vancouver's Creative Media and Digital Culture program.

MS.net in this new format

I hand coded the original MobileStorytelling.net, when the field was relatively young and small. I then maintained it manually for about a year and a half, but developments in mobile storytelling have been happening way too fast for me to keep pace without some sort of help from a content management system. I looked at them all, and even tinkered around with some of the most popular open source versions, such as Joomla and Drupal. But in the end, I wanted something really fast that was kept primarily in the cloud. Google has been good to me for many years, so I decided -- despite some significant drawbacks -- to try a sort of expanded blog site for the content, using the new "pages" option and such. Let me know what you think.

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