Being a techie by trade, I’ve often lamented that we – that is the Civil War obsessed minority – don’t leverage the technology to better advantage. During a visit to Chickamauga in the 1990s, I probably “weirded out” my fellow stompers by predicting one day we’d walk the fields sans maps or guidebooks, equipped only with an electronic device. Nostradamus I am not. I was only offering the art of the possible at that time. The gap was not technology, but rather resources to cost. Software development was the prohibitive cost. At that time (circa 1998) there was limited demand for “handheld battlefields” and the software platforms were on the heavy side.
A decade and …well a half later, the software resource question changed. I’m able to run blog posts from my phone. Lightweight application platforms lowered the raw cost of development (oh, and a few other factors such as the evolution of a profession). And at the same time, the demand picked up.
Not us Civil War wonks crying for electronic maps, but rather organizations looking for new ways to reach an audience. I’ve mentioned Civil War Trust’s series of Battlefield Apps for smart phones before. That’s a great example were a preservation organization is reaching a broader audience – in short showcasing what it aims to save.
Another emerging “requirement” falls in line with the sesquicentennial activities. Tourism boards now seek better mediums than brochures. So little wonder state sesquicentennial committees turned to smart phone apps. Two that I’ve had the chance to review are from Tennessee and Virginia.
I found the Tennessee app full of goodies. The home page divides content into four categories.
The places section offers brief overviews, some well known fields and sites. Others less so.
Each entry also provides directions and nearby attractions. In true Web 2.0 fashion, the app offers the option to share the entry on Facebook. And…even to upload you photos to share.
The artifacts section offers some primary sources.
The people section introduces military, political and civilian personalities.
I snagged a screen shot of Clinton B. Fisk, but you will find pages on common soldiers, women, slaves, freedmen, and unionists.
And to complete the outreach, Tennessee’s app offers a list of events, also with the social media options mentioned above.
Virginia’s version is not so robust yet:
It offers a calendar, but lacks the story boards.
Tennessee may have set the early mark in regard to sesquicentennial apps, but from what I hear, Virginia is about to one up that!