Our geo-tagging of the Blues Trail in the Mississippi Delta continues, albeit from afar. We’ve been deep in research. Using new media/online research tools, mostly archives and libraries that have been digitized—giving us the opportunity to spend all night wandering through history with unstoppable imagination, horror at the deeds of the past, but also with a renewed sense of excitement and wonder. The images I am most drawn to are the old maps. Our amazing project researcher, Ann Bennett, is deep into the process, leading us to sources such as
* Archives of African American Music
* Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi, Special Collections
* Center for Black Music Research
* Chicago Historical Society
* Mississippi Department of Archives and History
* Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NYPL)
Once at these archives, the DRM issues become show stoppers. Either the rights are cleared or we don’t use the material. I admire folks who follow the rules (what rules? whose rules?) on copyright. (Big talk follows.) I’m more inclined to fly under the radar, push the envelope, and let the b*st*rds come find me. But not on this project. It’s bigger than I, and this time I’m not in a formal educational setting, so no educational exemptions apply. (Although, more and more learning is informal happening any time, any where because of the introduction of mobile devices as learning tools. It’s actually reassuring: History is bigger than copyright issues. Technology is bigger than devices.
As we move deeper into the process, I’m seeing citizens become researchers, and eventually become citizen historians, much akin to citizen journalists. We’ve put out calls to the community to bring their personal stories and archives to be recorded and added to the project. We’re using mobile devices, often no more complicated than a cellphone, as the tools of documentation, delivery, and for publication. Multimedia gear (aka cellphone) is in a majority of Americans’ back pockets or purses, offering a seamless way to document the world through which we walk.
I had begun to worry that as we work more and more online, we get outside less and less. Talking the talk is one thing, but walking the walk is where the juice is. The rubber can’t hit the road unless you’re outside. Guess that’s what I like about Locative Media; it blends modes, pulling on the strengths specific to each, providing a more in-depth, engaged experience for both author and audience.