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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


Annotate Space: Neighborhood Interpretation on Location
Andrea Moed, New York University, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 1

Annotate Space (www.annotatespace.com) is a methodology for creating interactive, interpretive experiences for visitors to enjoy in public places, using handheld computers--their own or those of an institution. The first such experience is Annotate Space DUMBO, a PDA-based, participatory walking tour of a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood. The tour originated as my master's thesis for New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program and is now publicly available to PDA users on the Web. While Annotate Space DUMBO was not created for a museum, it provides an accessible model for similar projects at any institution with an interest in community interpretation of a cityscape or landscape. This model allows a museum to extend its interpretive vision beyond its walls, telling a story that community members and visitors can build on through annotation and participation.

Annotate Space DUMBO consists of:

1. A mini-website that users can download to their Palm or Pocket PC devices using the AvantGo service,

2. An optional program of audio clips that they can download to digital audio players, and

3. A desktop website that supports and augments the portable tour.

In the proposed demonstration, I will present all of these components in an abbreviated walk-through of the tour experience. By combining photographic views of the tour route and a demonstration of the palmtop interface in a Palm emulator, I will show what it's like to be on the streets of DUMBO using the tour. The demo will highlight the content offered at a typical tour stop, as well as the interactive features of the tour. I will then briefly demonstrate the follow-up experience on the Annotate Space DUMBO desktop website.

How Annotate Space DUMBO works:

To use the tour, individuals or small groups download the mini-website to their palmtop PDAs and the audio clips to their digital audio players. They bring their devices with them to the first stop on the tour, which is located on the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge. From there, they follow the directions given on the palmtop to a series of seven locations around the neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

At each stop, interpretive words and images guide their exploration of their surroundings, showing how the neighborhood came to look and feel as it does and how it is changing. The overview is supplemented by brief Q&As with local residents or activists who have had roles in shaping the place.

At any point on the tour, a user can access an "annotation" page, where she can respond to anything she sees or hears at a tour stop, submit an update or amendment to the tour content, or suggest a new stop to be added. When she syncs her PDA, these annotations are sent back to Annotate Space central. Other features include a map, a list of restaurants, shops and galleries, a 'send more info' bookmarking function and a scavenger hunt game.