The first open beta test for the Fort Vancouver Mobile project, as part of the historic site's annual Brigade Encampment on June 18, was yet another reminder to us of how weather dependent use of an outdoor mobile app can be.
Friday, June 17, was an unseasonably hot day. I spent a few hours at the site, making sure the app was primed and ready for testing, and came home with a sunburn. The glare from the intense sun, particularly around noon, made seeing the mobile screen tough at times, but that was a minor usability issue in comparison to what testers dealt with the next day.
Typically, in the Northwest, the skies are gray, and there is sporadic rain. But there usually are clearings, too. On Saturday, the weather was pretty much drizzle to downpour throughout the testing period, which I finally pulled the plug on about 1:30 p.m., after the lunch crowd left the site.
Special thanks are due, by the way, to: Brady Berkenmeier (PI of the Kane's Wanderings module), who helped throughout the day; to Dene Grigar and John Barber of the Creative Media and Digital Culture program at WSU Vancouver for their direct support as well; and to the fort staff, including Chief Ranger Greg Shine and volunteer coordinator Kimm Fox-Middleton, for making our test as comfortable as possible, considering the conditions, including providing a historic tent for us to work under.
The marketing of the beta test seemed to work well this time, with many reTweets and several pieces of direct correspondence generated by the various announcements. Greg even remarked that the mobile app launch was the most talked about part of the Brigade Encampment on the historic site's Facebook page.
A 5K run weaved through the historic site about 10 a.m., and many people (of the hundreds that jogged by) slowed down to look at what we were doing before continuing the run. That was more great exposure for the project.
Those who did test the app during the Brigade Encampment were exceedingly positive about the experience. Yet the rain sleeting sideways, the misting of the screens, the cold fingers trying to manipulate the app, and the difficulty in taking notes as well as conducting paper surveys in such an environment, overall seemed to me to be out of context with what would be typical use. So when the sun returns, or at least the rain stops, we'll be back out there. ...
Fort Vancouver Mobile - A video overview
Courtesy of: Research Assistant Aaron May of Washington State University Vancouver's Creative Media and Digital Culture program. Produced in 2011.
Video highlights from the apps (36-minute version)
This montage provides a sampling of some of the video media in the Fort Vancouver Mobile apps. This app is much more than just a video distribution system, but these videos show the variety of content, from expositional segments to new journalism to those intended to prompt the development of interactive narratives.
More about the fort
More about mobile storytelling ...
Phase One background
- William Kaulehelehe background
- Hawaiians at Fort main
- Hawaiians at Fort brochure
- Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawaii)
- Leaving Paradise book by Barman and Watson
- Crossing East (NPR excerpt on Hawaiians)
- Crossing East (radio series)
- Hula's history (NPR piece)
- Ke Kukui Foundation
- Na Hawaii
- Kalama ceremony (video)
- Clark County gov's Hawaiian link