On Oral Histories, Communities
and Annotating the City
Gabriela Avram, John Slattery, Alan Ryan
University of Limerick, Ireland
University of Siegen, Germany
Origins and evolution of the idea
Work to date
Origins and evolution of the idea (1)
Limerick Tweasure Hunts
Origins and evolution of the idea (2)
Oral History Network
oral history = the collection and study of historical information
from individuals using audio or video means, or by transcribing
Origins and evolution of the idea (3)
„Mobile Cityscapes‟ is an urban awareness experiment which
attempts to „hack‟ (crowdsource) subjective urban data: city dwellers‟
experiences, emotions and meanings attached to spaces in the city as
they move through in their everyday lives.
“the city infrastructure is now virtually
augmented and enhanced by
communication and information technology”
Three categories of location-based
applications (Froehlich, Baille, Simon 2008):
(1) orientation and wayfinding,
(2) accessing and creating data that refers to
physical places, and
(3) augmented reality.
the city as a network in which people and
artefacts – such as streets and buildings –
influence and interact with each other. (Dörk
and Monteyne 2011);
a place as consisting of a “semantic tangle”
of people, events, and loci (Harrison and
inspired by the Urban Tapestries project -
embedding social knowledge into the fabric
of the city (Angus et al 2008).
Participatory design – interaction designers
setting the stage for the process.
Following the methods of Buscher et al (2010):
„moving along with‟ members of the public
likely to be touched by technology;
„being moved‟ by experiences, observations
and conversations that arise along the way;
„moving in‟ with prototype technologies.
Work to Date -
Telling stories about the city
Overall, the users found using the
application easy to use, informative and
the experience enjoyable.
The text transcription of the audio was
well received by non-native English
speakers as it helped them to follow the
story. Many locals also appreciated this.
Experience provided “more freedom”
to explore than a walking tour would.
One user/contributor commented that the
application provided the opportunity to
embellish stories more than an official tour
Issues that need further work
Many users wished they had a real time locator on
the map to help them navigate the physical space
Content was sometimes seen as lacking
context, too short or lacking local character.
Some users felt vulnerable in the environment
with expensive equipment.
Certain headphone types were seen as “isolating”,
which detracted from the experience of some users.
Where do we go from here?
Creating a proper
app – flexible, but
Digital support for urban activism
Allowing people‟s voices to be heard;
The city is made by streets and houses, but
also by the stories people say about these;
Diversity and awareness.
Limerick – City of Culture 2014
Oral histories -
Dance Halls project
– Communities Art