Hidden Histories: a Towards Pervasive Media feasibility study

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This is the presentation of a Towards Pervasive Media feasibility study, carried out between colleagues at the University of Nottingham and a community history group, People's Histreh. …

This is the presentation of a Towards Pervasive Media feasibility study, carried out between colleagues at the University of Nottingham and a community history group, People's Histreh.

Towards Pervasive Media was funded by EPSRC as a new initiative to foster collaborations between the Arts, Humanities, Science and Engineering at Nottingham. The broad topic of Pervasive Media, refers to new media forms in which the public contributes as well as consumes content, is available anytime and anywhere, and is ever more deeply interwoven into our daily lives.

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  • The aim of the Walk is to engage and educate the audience. By discussing and defining ‘educate’ with the historians we settled on three objectives 1/ To improve historical ‘literacy’ about the Reform Riots in Nottingham, asking: What happened in the period of the riots? (original questionnaire 2, 4 & 5; new questionnaire ) 2/ To encourage empathy with historical subjects as a specific kind of historical knowledge/understanding, asking: What were this period and these events like for different kinds of people? (original questionnaire 2, 5, 6 & 7 a, b & c; new questionnaire ) .3/ To encourage conclusions to be drawn through evaluating conflicting historical interpretations: What can we conclude from how these events and their causes were viewed from differing perspectives? (original questionnaire 2, 5 & 7d; new questionnaire ) . From the historians’ perspective, these levels of historical understanding have a hierarchical relationship, in that level 1 must be attained before level 2, and level 2 before level 3.
  • A planning meeting was held with the community historians. Individuals took on aspects of work towards the presentation of the material on the walk as (narrated, source-based and visual materials such as maps, copies of documents in the form of a trail guide). This is a process of self-directed ‘active learning’, similar to that fostered within the School of History at UoN. It is learning achieved through the selection, understanding and employment historical subject matter and sources. The history group does this ‘actively learning’ quite intuitively, to the extent that participants do not comment that this is what they are doing. In other words, the community historians themselves are learning about the Reform Riots by putting on a guided walk. They are also using the walk as a way of disseminating what they have learned and encouraging a way of viewing the past that stresses the experiences and aspirations of the ordinary people of Nottingham as the starting point for understanding the Riots.


  • 1. Hidden Histories:To the Castle!
    A riotous happening, orchestrated by Claire Taylor, Elizabeth FitzGerald & Mike Cravenwith People’s Histreh
  • 2. Developed existing interest between local community history group and academics in School of History
    TPM enabled multidisciplinary approach and for other colleagues to be brought into the mix
    Investigated how located audio can be used to provide opportunities for historical learning in public history
    Case study of the 1831 Reform Riot in Nottingham, content initiated by the community group
    Conducted 2 types of guided walk:
    Overview of the project
  • 3. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
    Augurscope (Equator, Notts), 2003 – group history tour around to Nottingham Castle using laptop/GPS unit on wheels
    - Superposition of past scenes and narration.
    Mobile experiences
    Riot! 1831 (Bristol, Mobile Bristol), 2004
    History Unwired (MIT/Dept. Architecture, Venice), 2005
    - Both location aware neighbourhood audio tours using the voices of historical citizens
    Examples of related work
  • 4. Can mobile technology be used to convey historical empathy and learning of contested perspectives from different historical sources, in an history walk format?
    Main questions to the participants in the walk:
    Who were the rioters?
    What motivated them to engage in their direct action?
    Academic research questions
    Historical focus
    Educational focus
    User experience
    What are we trying to find out?
  • 5. Historical literacy concerning the Reform Riots in Nottingham, asking: What happened in the period of the riots?
    Historical empathy with the people involved: What were this period and these events like for different people?
    Historical interpretation: how were these events and their causes viewed from differing and/or conflicting perspectives?
    Historical research areas
    Attaining historicalliteracy
    Experiencing ‘empathy’ with historical subjects
    Responding to & evaluating accounts from a variety of perspectives
  • 6. Learning in location
    Whatdifferences arise from learning in location compared to elsewhere (e.g. indoors; round a table etc)?
    Factors affecting learner preferences
    Do you like learning in location? Why – or why not?
    Group versus individual tour guides
    How did the audio guide technology affect group dynamics?
    Educational research areas
  • 7. Preferences for location based audio guides
    What did you or didn't you like about using the audio guide to learn about the Reform Riot?
    Experience of using smart phone technology
    What were your experiences (good, bad or neither) in using a handheld (mobile) device to help your learning?
    Comparing people-led and technology-led modalities
    What were the important differences between the two types of guided walk? How did they affect the user experience?
    User experience research areas
  • 8. Planning meeting [Sept/Oct 2010]
    People-led guided walk [Oct 2010]
    Recording of audio files [Jan 2011]
    Technology-led guided walk [Feb 2011]
    Stages in the project
  • 9. Route, narrative, source materials and handouts were organised by members of People’s Histreh
    Emphasis on experiences and aspirations of ‘ordinary people’ of Nottingham as starting point for understanding the riots
    Self-directed ‘active learning’ – carried out intuitively
    ‘Learning by doing’
    Use the walk as a way of disseminating what they have learned
    Stage 1 – Planning meeting
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12. Stage 2 – To the Castle! ‘people-led’ walk
    Photos courtesy of Alan Lodge, Nottingham Indymedia
  • 13.
  • 14. New audio files recorded by People’s Histreh
    What software/platform to use for playback of geolocated audio?
    User requirements
    Potential tech solutions
    TrailsCymru / Peoples Collection Wales
    Layar or Wikitude
    Failsafe – use mp3 files stored on the handheld device with paper map
    Stage 3 – Audio: recording and playback
  • 15. Stage 4 – To the Castle! ‘technology-led’ walk
  • 16. 7scenes – tracing the walk
  • 17. Difficult to draw comparisons between the two walks – too many variables that could not be predicted or controlled
    Still analysing data from user questionnaires
    Historical aspects: historical literacy (facts), empathy, interpretation
    Educational aspects: informal learning; learning in location
    User experience aspects: visibility vs invisibility of tech; group vs individual; affordances of each walk
    Main findings
  • 18.
  • 19.
  • 20. Not without problems
  • 21. Detailed questionnaire analysis
    Academic publications
    Explore tensions between amateur/professional and authoring/presentation of media
    Issues of trust and authenticity in relation to the source material and how it is presented
    Feedback to People’s Histreh – potential for future walks
    Future research into different variables relating to pervasive media, particularly in relation to user-generated content
    Where next…?
  • 22. Claire Taylor, School of History
    Elizabeth FitzGerald, Learning Sciences Research Institute
    Mike Craven, MATCH, Faculty of Engineering
    People’s Histreh
    A massive thanks to all those who participated in the walks and who gave us valuable feedback on this project, also to Faye Taylor and Robert Jones who assisted in the research.
    Thanks for listening…