In thinking about possible project ideas for this course, there is one particular project that stands out in my mind, which I have been mulling over for some time now. I would like to create an app that would combine concepts of interactive technology and pedagogy with concepts from performance studies. Drawing on similar technology used in Bluebrain’s interactive music composition “Listen to the Light” in Central Park in 2011, I would develop an a soundscape for the city drawn from recorded sound archives, such as speeches, radio programing, and oral histories. As the user explores the city spatially, the app would allow the user to explore the history and diversity of New York City. In addition to linking the audio to the geolocation information, the app would also display information about the sound clip being played and relevant historical information.
I believe this project has the potential to enhance learning and teaching about New York City’s social and cultural history. While the app could offer traditional curated walking tours, putting the information in sequence for the user, the benefit of the geolocation technology is that it allows the individual to craft their own experience. The individual becomes a flaneur, like a character in a Joyce novel, who spends the day exploring the city on multiple levels. The app could perhaps be pushed further, to create a stronger pedagogical experience, by adding a gaming element. In this scenario the user travels the city searching the historical recordings for items in a digital scavenger hunt.
This project also offers several opportunities for collaboration with various institutions in the city: The New York Public Library, The New York Historical Society, The Museum of the City of New York, as well smaller museums who have interesting collections that could be incorporated into the project. Additionally, the project seems to be ideal not only for recent digital pedagogy initiatives, but also for the recent push for Public Humanities programs.
In terms of scope, the project offers opportunities to start small and then expand. I would be possible to establish the framework while working in a small geographic area, such as a single neighborhood or Washington Square Park, and then expand out bit by bit.