Final HIST694 Post

It is time to close out HIST694 with a final blog post about building the prototype for Nashville Sites and doing public history.

Having just put the finishing touches on this version of my course project, I feel comfortable reflecting on the experience as a whole. I think that this course and this project has enabled me to realize the full potential of doing digital history. From developing personas, a social media strategy, and an evaluation plan to building content, metadata, and walking tours–this digital project has been both challenging and rewarding. At times this project felt like a sprint, other times it felt like a marathon. In reality, most projects dealing with large amounts of information (whether a book or a digital prototype) are both.

Perhaps most exciting is the continuation of this project beyond the semester. As I mentioned in my screencast video, this project started with an idea inspired by the Histories of the National Mall.

While I ran into technical problems with using the “mall theme” I continued my course project by creating a prototype using the Berlin Theme in Omeka. I also used Neatline to build two walking tours: Upper Broadway and Lower Broadway. These two tours focus on different historical markers and themes that will appeal to different types of audiences. I also used Exhibit Builder to create a “Up from the Cumberland,” which is a thematic exhibit with four parts: Maps and Geography, Athens of the South, Nashville’s Acropolis, and Broadway. Each of these nested pages links and cross referencing the majority of the items in my collection. Each part of the exhibit was designed to focus on different areas related to Nashville history. Following the order above, I organized these pages to target history, and historical markers, based on several categories: geography and urban growth, secondary and higher education, government, and architecture.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, the assignments, and I have learned a great deal. I am more confident in my abilities as a project manager, public historian, and digital humanist. I look forward to next semester and hope that the course is designed in a way that I can continue this work.

Project Progress 4/9-4/15

I have made great progress on my dual Nashville Sites projects. For the HIST694 project I have been adding content, building my exhibit, and have completed my first walking tour. Over the next week, I hope to finish the content for my exhibit, map out my second and final walking tour, and add 5-6 more items with Dublin Core info. So I should be in good shape for submitting the project for peer review and feedback at the end of next week.

The larger and permanent digital project is also moving forward. I received the bid from Fog Haus for Stage One of development to get a “Mall Histories” type site up and running by the end of the summer. I worked with Nick Lorenson to create narratives that will add a storytelling element to the project, and his firm mocked up a potential layout (see below). We are also discussing the use of BKON, which would alert users that they are near a historical marker using push notifications on smart phones. I made my presentation this past Thursday evening to the MHC Foundation Board, and they voted to approve funding for half of the Stage One amount. I will go with Tim Walker, MHC Director, to our local visitor’s bureau and another non-profit organization called Community Partners to secure the rest of the funding. The feedback was extremely positive, and I am confident that Nashville Sites will become a reality, just not this semester. I hope that our final online course through GMU will allow me to continue working on this project as part of my coursework.