Monday, April 23, 2012

The Spokane Historical Smart Phone App is in the House!

Spokane Historical on the web. But that is not all...
Readers with long memories might recall that I have been working with my students to create smartphone walking tours of local history. I am pleased to announce that as of today our smartphone app, Spokane Historical, is available in both the Android market and the iTunes store.You can also explore our contents on the web. Yeeessssss!

Sample stop on the iPhone 
We are launching with about 60 historic sites in Spokane and Cheney, but more are being added every day and by summers end there should be over 200 sites. We are currently in what is called "soft release"--the app is available but I am publicizing it only a little bit at a time as we work out a few bugs. My students in Digital History last spring did a great job in researching and producing community stories and getting them into the database. But without the app in existence we did make some mistakes in things such as formatting and labeling. Email me if you find any errors.

Many more sites are under development. My excellent graduate students, Julie Russel and Tracy Rebstock, are developing rich tours of Spokane's cemeteries and parks, respectively. I am teaching a Digital Storytelling class right now where the students will be developing tours of the Centennial Trail, Indian War markers, Fort George Wright, and more.

Next steps on this project include looking for sponsorship and content partners, software updates that will include QR codes and better tour functionality, and perhaps expanding the project beyond Spokane. If you want to help, drop me line.

Navigating with the Android app
Spokane Historical was made possible by the generosity and support of my colleagues in the EWU History Department, who voted unanimously to support the project with department funds. So many public historians complain about how their colleagues demean or ignore what they do, I am lucky to work in a supportive department. Thanks friends. I also want to thank all of the local archivists, librarians, and historians who have helped my students create these stories. Spokane has friendly and sharing historical community, without whom this project would hardly be possible. A big thank you to Mark Tebeau, Director of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University and his team for sharing with us the software platform for Spokane Historical, along with their hard-earned expertise. And my colleagues at the Washington State Archives, Digital Archives offered some technical advice along the way.

Last but not least, Spokane Historical is the product of many hundreds of hours of work by my awesome EWU students in public history. A year ago I walked into my Digital History class and announced that everyone should scrap their final project plans, we were going to create mobile historical walking tours instead. "How do we do that?" they asked. "I don't know," I answered, "Let's get started." It is a brave student who stays in a class after that.

Check out Spokane Historical and let me know what you think.


Jen Baldwin said...

This is great! As an EWU alum and a genealogist, I'm very excited to see you working on developing programs and technology like this. Fantastic!

Larry Cebula said...

Thanks, Jen. It has been a long time coming, my students have been working behind the scenes for over a year creating content for the app. Watch for a bunch of great, additional items to pop up in Spokane Historical in the next month.