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Building Histories of the National Mall

2015 October 15
by Sheila

BuildingHistories_homepageI am really pleased that the @mallhistory team published Building Histories of the National Mall: A Guide to Creating a Digital Public History Project (http://mallhistory.org/Guide) this week. It is a comprehensive guide that details each phase of creating website, Histories of the National Mall. This is also the final deliverable for a project that was five years in the making.

One nice feature is that the voices of project team members are heard in specific sections they authored, that also demonstrate the range and breadth of the collaboration and cooperation that produced mallhistory.org.

For organizations in the early planning stages of a project, this guide offers an open source and replicable example for history and cultural heritage professionals wanting a cost-effective solution for developing and delivering mobile content. The guide offers lessons learned and challenges we faced throughout the project’s development, and we discuss how we measured success for this specific project.

This guide goes beyond a traditional case study and is divided into seven main sections, including the project’s rationale; content development and interpretative approach; user experience and design; outreach and publicity–including the social media strategy. This publication shares the project team’s decision to build for the mobile web and not a single-use, platform-specific native app. The guide also offers lessons learned and challenges faced throughout the project’s development, as well as how the team measured success for this digital public history project.

One aspect that most readers might not realize is that Histories of the National Mall grew out of R&D conducted by my colleague Sharon Leon and I in 2009, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Mobile for Museums. I have remained connected to mobile-driven content within the cultural heritage sector and for place-based public history projects.

Building Histories of the National Mall belongs to the long tradition of knowledge sharing at RRCHNM that encourages history and humanities professionals to be active designers and builders of their own digital projects, and for making processes as transparent as possible.

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