It is not about the technology, it is about the education.

It is not about the technology, it is about the education. Nancy Proctor brought up several good points in her presentation. I want to focus on the ones that hit home for me. I have enjoyed having a having itouch this semester and exploring the technology involved in creating a mobile application. I have actually really enjoyed playing with app builders (even if I was not able to get past the cost of publishing). It has an instant gratification component to putting your research in and seeing a result instantly. However, I was swept up by the technology and maybe a little forgetful of my purpose to educate. I liked how Proctor concluded that we should not see this technology as bringing in new income into the museum atmosphere, although it may cut some costs as an education device, a device which enables as public historian to provide quality work to the general public. Often as an intern at the Idaho State Historical Museum in conversation with my peers we have discussed the need for the museum to become more business savvy to bring in more patrons and money. Proctors pointed out the museums life spans are ten times as great as any usual business. It occurred to me that Idaho Historical Museum has been in use downtown a lot longer than many businesses downtown; perhaps businesses should ask us what to do to stay alive through the ups and downs of an economy. I think there are still advantages to museum mobile apps that may bring in more revenue. Proctor’s illustration of the app that advertises the local paper was, in my opinion, great! It is two community based businesses supporting each other and public access to knowledge. Her talk gave me a lot of food for thought on mobile devices in the museum. I hope to see this implemented in several museums.

I think the advantage of the mobile device is the accessibility to it, especially to the younger generation. Specifically on our mobile music project it sells to a mass audience, but allows for a niche audience too. Music nets a broad audience, and like museums, has several niches. Boise has several music venues that fit a variety of music. We are able to access the interest of several people by using music as our “hook” and then bringing in history and the variety of music available in Boise. Liabilities…. Cost! (yea I am not going to get off this Buzztouch thing) I think Buzztouch is still an incredibly easy to use and great developer. I will some way or another make an app come to life from this developer (I have some other projects in the works). I wonder if you could get enough universities on board to create a grant or funds to entice apple, android, or blackberry to create a site similar to Buzztouch that allowed for students to create applications available, perhaps only through a “university app store”, to test their models and ideas without cost. This would benefit several colleges within universities business, history, education, ect.  Because of the popularity with mobile devices and technology, I see public history going in the same direction. It has become more apparent to me that web/mobile design skills are going to be an important factor in public history projects and jobs. I think it’s a great move in the museum’s long business run to keep up with.

Our Unprotected Heritage

Thomas King attempted to wrestle with a problem that is not limited to historical preservation laws. Many laws and even amendments are not fully enforced. The lack of public knowledge and complex and vague verbiage in the law are all problems with almost every law in the United States. Take for example the Civil Rights Act’s of the 1960’s, the general public is under the impression that these laws fixed racial inequality. It takes very little research to stumble on to the fact that class differences still exist. King argued the same thing. That most people believe there are laws put in place to protect their heritage, but once an organization attempts to use those laws, they find themselves unprotected. This does not take away from the fact the poor enforcement is of heritage laws is any less of problem, but his arguments are not new. His pointing fingers game at the Bush administration is childish. I believe by now everyone understands that Bush and republican congress are responsible for several bad decisions, even Idaho republicans are embarrassed about their reign of terror for eight years. However, pointing fingers does not really get results. King gives strong examples of why there are problems with the law and his resolutions are same resolutions that everyone provides for a broken laws. Public support, clarifying the laws, get presidential support, “tell the agencies to clean up their act” (his suggestions here are extremely complex taking away from the simple process), reworking the regulations, and change in law.[1] Great! Now how do we convince the government to do this? The people? Ok, how do you get the people involved? There has to be enough incentive for a majority of the public to be involved. For some it will be the cultural heritage that is being taken, but as King so bluntly states unless you have the money he can not help you. So how do we get the “ordinary” person involved? I honestly believe that to remedy several legal issues with the United States; more public involvement is needed, but the real issue comes down to how. How do we get the public involved? Will simplifying the laws make the public anymore willing to read them?  Overall the book had great points about the problems with the heritage laws, good examples to prove his points and justify his finger pointing at the Bush administration, but it was frustrating that these solutions to the problem of law are always impossible to implement. It would be nice to see these solutions working at a smaller level and how they were able to put them in operation before assuming these are the right answers.

[1] Thomas P. King, Our Unprotected Heritage: Whitewashing thr Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment, (Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2009), 161.

Buzztouch Problem

Hey guys! I attempted to publish the app last week and hit a snag. For the itouchs (or mac products) it required a purchase of $99 membership to Xcode for publication the app store. I have not attempted to publish yet on the android side to see if there is charge. Xcode is free on Mac computers but will only allow for a simulation of the app, not publication without the purchase of membership fee. Sorry for the inconvenience.

How do we teach history?

The letter to the curator of Baron Von Munchaussen Historic Home reminds me of the entertainmentality of a historical location. Prior to reading the curator’s response I questioned how would displaying the facts versus the “this coined the phrase” impact the guest attendance to the historic home? Although I was not fond of her response I can understand the difficulty in teaching this concept to younger children. These excuses, however, should not stand in the way. We discussed in Dr. Gill’s Race, Class, and Ethnicity class last fall how do we deal with topic of race? It is very difficult to teach the younger generation about the separation in race and class that exists today because we teach them at a young age this happened in the Civil War and 1960’s and we fixed it. Smoothing out the hard edges of history places makes it difficult, in my opinion, to defend the historian’s argument “we must know about history to move forward with our future.” If we teach that law resolved all the issues of the past how can we possibly continue to write law? But then again how do you teach the younger generation when their required text books with misleading information tainted by an extremely bias group? Or your parents take you to workshop educating you on the founding fathers having the answers to all current day issues. (which fascinates me that “states rights” states find founding fathers, who have no idea on the current state of the local affairs, would be so inspired to correct their states flaws!) It appears to me that when it comes to the teaching accurate information you must teach research concepts. Teach the public to ask questions, to be skeptical of all you hear. This may sound pessimistic, but I think questioning leads to the research. Curiosity will lead a person to find what they want to hear and they may stumble across contradictions. In an attempt to save the guest list of a historical location without offending your patrons try to encourage questions. Do not merely ask “are there any questions” but seed the questions, offer websites, or apps to give them a jump start. Teach the public to not be spoon fed history, but find out for themselves. This may be fair compromise while keeping the ethics of historian intact.



That blog was great! It is a fantastic lesson in technology. The web allows for anyone, with any agenda to post their ideas, research, or propaganda. That does mean it should all be trusted. The second website disturbed me. People were genuinely upset over the “misuse” of the internet.  Some of them believed that the internet was going to be a scared source of knowledge. I am not certain how that is even possible. It seemed to me they were arguing (some of them anyway) that the internet could no longer be a great resource for study.  The blog proves otherwise. It advised people to be cautious in internet research; it is still a good resource.  This resonates in all research; even newspapers get the story wrong, books cite inaccurate information, and ideas change. It reminds me of the so-called greatest generation that still believe if it on television it must be true.  Anyone with a camera can get on TV these days (see reality TV).  Sometimes it takes a “trick” to prove to people that a resource has the possibility of misuse.  Just a final note I think keeping a blog tracking your work is brilliant. Not only does it help keep yourself in check, but gives you support from other people as well.

Public Historians

This first website is a blog off of a Public Historian themed WordPress. It is an interesting analysis of how twittering is similar to telegrams and the trend of twitting historical diaries. It has some links to interesting sites like Massachusetts Historical Society’s John Quincy Adams twitter project. It is a fun short read that connects public history with the tech world. Just read the first blog entry.

The second site is my favorite!  I would encourage exploring the whole site. It is devoted to jobs as a public historian. It includes “Views from the Field” under the Employment tab which interviewed a variety of public historians. (Similar to what we did in class) It gives ample definitions of what it means to be a public historian under the About Public History in “What is it?” The link I provided will take you directly to the Public History Employment section and gives description of jobs in public history. Do not be distracted by the “View Current Job Openings” link. It appears the website may have gone back into hibernation (see their “history” under the about PHRC tab).  Although a lot of the information is older, it has great ideas and is very optimistic about the field of public history.

New Solider Field losing its integrity

I can see how New Solider Field lost its integrity after Tyler’s explanation of the degrees and evaluation required for a building or site to be on the National Register. However, I do not think the renovations on New Solider Field were inappropriate. Further use of the facility is an up keep of its integrity and historical context.  Now with more seating, which includes the original stadium, the public can enjoy sporting events where historical fights such as the famous Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney.[i] I can see why it is no longer on the National Register, but it deserves an honorable mention as stadium that has housed historic sporting events and is still used for that purpose.

Historical charm sells. The economics of historical preservation is an interesting argument. In Chapter six Tyler touches on the six reasons to establish a historical district which include at least two, and arguably more, reasons that the help a district become more economically stable. Furthermore, chapter nine made valid points as to why development is inclusive of new development. Historical preservation sells. The Starbucks example is one of my favorites.  When it comes to preservation a build you have to have a sells pitch explain how it is going to be economically viable to keep. Selling the atmosphere, like Starbucks, of the period is the best angle. The public’s approval is essential for historical preservation to link with economic value. Take the example of the Idaho Statehouse. Approving renovations for the Capitol building so that it could still be a functioning law house was difficult. The people would have to pay for the project and the only sell was that it was preserving our Idaho history. However, with its recent completion the economic value is evident. Idaho’s capitol is one of few that are still used for the law making process. During the first months of each year when the congress is in session it draws hundreds of people to the historical downtown area of Boise. These people come from all over the state as congressmen, lobbyists, and concerned citizens. This people need to eat, have a place to stay, park, and enjoy themselves. This is all available within a short walking distance from the capitol with restaurants, shopping, music venues, coffee shops, parking garages, and hotels. The Idaho Statesmen reported 30 businesses closed in 2010, but 33 opened.  This can be attributed to not only the law making process that makes place in the heart of downtown, but tourism that the building creates as a large open facility that has a history and still makes law. Had the capitol project not had the support of the public to support their heritage, it is possible that down towns economic growth would not be as stabilized.

[i] Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler, Historical Preservation: An Introduction to its History, Principles, and Practice, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009), 153.

Can a museum save city?

Can a museum save a city? yes.

Well in light of my weekend workshop on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao it can. Dr. Joseba Zuliaika has written several books and articles on the museum. So here is how you make this work:


– 2 egotistical playboys (Who are very good at their jobs.)

-1 depressed city that is obsessed with urban renewal (With a lot of money)

-1 museum that wants to become an international franchise

 -1 extremely well rehearsed cover story to smooth out the museum politics


Blend together for a couple of years and hope the price of titanium goes below the price of stainless steel

Bake using incredible (for the time) computer technology for wanted architectural design


Tourist driven resurrected city complete with river/museum view downtown condos.

*Here is the story as argued by Zulaika, who has had personal interviews with the people involved in the project. Thomas Kerns came to be director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum was in terrible debt when Kerns came on to the scene. His solution to the problem was to make the Guggenheim an international franchise to take the museum out of debt and double the art display (the current shown art is only 2% of the collection owned by the Guggenheim doubling that to 4% for any museum is quite a feat) . Enter Kerns playboy attitude. In Zulaika’s book he quotes Kerns, “Seduction: that’s my business. I am a professional seducteur. I don’t’ earn money but I raise it, and I do it by seduction. I make people give me gifts of twenty million dollars. Seduction consists in getting people to want what you want without having to ask for it. It is a transfer of desire. I am in a way the greatest prostitute in the world.”[i] Kerns traveled Europe searching for place to put his new museum. In the cover up story he did all of this without the help of the architect Frank Gehry. Gerhry came only after a competition between him and two other architects for the design of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum (so the cover story goes). Bilbao came to Kerns. Bilbao was city that constantly attempted to remake itself. For over century plans had been in drawn up for new projects. Several that never came to life. It was beautiful well structured 18th city. The city’s ambition was to change with the times. It took hold of the industry age and become a factory city. A river runs through the city one side 18th century style and the other a black chimney of smoke form the factory. In the 1980’s the factories shut down and the down suffered from 25% unemployment. With nothing to lose they were willing to gamble the all their money for the museum. The government promised the money to Kerns and the building project began. Ego’s aside both men are extremely good at what they do. The beauty of the titanium plated Guggenheim Bilbao museum is creative, controversial, and has a shock value that paid off of the city. It has now become a well know stop on European trips. It has house art exhibits of Armani and motorcycles. Zulaika argued that Guggenheim Museum saved the town of Bilbao form economic ruin.


Bilbao 18th Century Cityscape


Bilbao Industrial Ruins


Now what does any of this have to with historical preservation?  It is an example of preservation, although the museum is art museum it illustrated for example from Historical Preservation. The first painfully obvious connection was the quote on page 7 “Therefore, when we build, let us thinks for ever. Let it not be for present delight, not for present use alone: let it be such a work as out descendants will thank us…” This quote is the very intention of the design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It also encompasses the matching, compatibility, and contrast. It does not disrupt the 18th century city that come down on one side of the river, it replaced the old factories that stood across from the historic part of the city and yet did not complexly destroy the “ugly” history industrial history that still stands in “ruins” beside the museum. The museum, also, stands in sharp contrast to the old city and the new. It blends all three opportunities for preservation in one city. We argued in class that a poor economy generates revenue for museums. The book illustrated the boost for preservation pushed by the depression and Bilbao launched multi-museum that paid for itself within five years of it’s opening.

Guggenheim Museum aside, I am very critical of historical preservation. I do not think a building should be “preserved” empty space because the first someone once resided there. If a building is to be persevered it should be used to benefit the people of the present and the future. Whether for education on its historical importance or new economic needs it has to an occupied space. I am annoyed by the “historical sites” the litter the highways of the west that could be potential stopping a useful freeway. I love the idea of historical city ordinances as long as they do remain within a community’s needs and wants.  I am a complete sucker for the “edutainment” of Colonial Williamsburg, but I am also aware that it is “cute” picturesque showing of history.


[i] Joseba Zulaika, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: Museums, Architecture, and City Renewal, (Reno, Nevada: Center for Basque Studies, 2003), 93.


*Guggenheim argument is taken from notes on the Guggenhiem Museum workshop and according to Dr. Zulaika can be found in his book Cronica de una seduccion: el Museo Guggenheim-Bilbao (Nerea, Madrid, 1997)

Geggenhiem Museum picture from

Bilbao 18th century cityscape picture from 

 Bilbao ruins picture under creative commons found on flickr under by Red Castle

Are mobile applications entertainmentality?

Are mobile applications entertainmentality? Or are they a tool that will help us to walk the fine line between entertaining and educated the audience? I believe that they will become a helpful tool to resolving, in part, some the museum politics issues that Luke points out. Mobile application should be able to assist with this because applications can be built by an outside source. This may have an issue of credibility for some applications, but I believe it may help to alleviate some of the political norms. For example, you can take a structure, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and develop a variety of helper applications, for example, an application that focused on the “others” affected by the Holocaust homosexuals, gypsies, and handicaps. Furthermore, there could be an application (certainly not museum funded) that educates the museum guest on the current holocausts. While Luke argued the memorial gives a sense of “it won’t happen again” an application could counter this feel and invite the visitor to understand this is not a problem of the past. Could you imagine if an app had been built that that allowed you to hold up your phone and see the Enola Gay exhibit as the curators had originally intended? It certainly would have annoyed the protesters and government officials involved but allowed viewer who wanted to see that side of history to get what they wanted.

Museum Wiki

Timothy W. Luke’s interpretation of museum politics in these chapters gave an inconclusive view on how a museum should be handled. As of yet I do not think he answered the question on what is the “right way” to manage museum politics. He makes several points that illustrate questions that curators and historians should ask about themselves. He states on page 3 “the curators pose as unseen seers, and then fuse their visions with authority.”  It is a “power” that, I believe, is being misused by historians and politicians to display an “Americaness” vision of U.S. history. He demonstrates the attempt to fix this misuse in the varying museum exhibitions that have been denied in major museums or quickly closed. I am troubled by the idea that there is a “right way” to display history. Luke explained that several of these exhibit’s scripts give attention to several different sides of the story but I have to ask is it possible to include every aspect available? I do not think so. After reading the grant proposal for the Boise wiki, I believe that if we can see continued success with local wikis it can be translated to museum wikis. Similar to the idea of the Historic Saranac Lake wiki, I would hope that we could create interconnected local museum wikis. This then would allow for those wishing to contribute or those that believe a certain aspect of an exhibit was missing to include their thoughts, memories, or research of the topic. Perhaps in the un-edited world of wiki we could overcome the politics that limit new and “offending” exhibits.