To learn about the Curatescape software used in this project, please visit

White Paper, submitted to the National Endownment for the Humanities, March 2013

Strategies for Mobile Interpretive projects for Humanists and Cultural Organizations

Mark Tebeau, Ph.D., Center for Public History + Digital Humanities, Cleveland State University


This paper draws upon lessons learned from the "Mobile Historical" project funded by a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This white paper focuses on strategies for developing mobile interpretive projects. It is written primarily for humanists and cultural organizations interested in deploying mobile projects, while keeping a broad audience in mind. It is our hope that this project will help historians, historic preservationists, K–12 educators, and small historical organizations to deploy mobile projects in outdoor landscapes. Principally, we discuss the mobile project Cleveland Historical, developed by the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities (CPHDH) at Cleveland State University. In particular, we explore our efforts to transform Cleveland Historical into the mobile publishing framework Curatesape (which was termed "Mobile Historical" in our funded NEH project proposal.) Importantly, this white paper recognizes that the problems facing mobile-centered humanities projects are ambiguous and that best practices remain elusive or, at best, idiosyncratic. Indeed, we often find ourselves responding to queries about best practice with the words, "it depends." Nonetheless, we believe that our approach is suggestive of the larger considerations for implementing a mobile interpretive project, particularly those involving native mobile applications ("apps"). Finally, in writing this, we draw on insights from advisors as well as the work of project teams in a variety of places who are implementing projects using the Curatescape framework. These included, among others: Spokane Historical, Explore Baltimore Heritage, Explore Kentucky History, Discover Medina, St. Paul Historical, Connecticut Communities, and New Orleans Historical.


Cleveland Historical emerged from a decade-long process in which Professors Mark Tebeau and Mark Souther at Cleveland State University explored how urban public historians could interpret place in the digital age, specifically how they could curate a city. It drew upon best practices from several different disciplines including oral history, public history, and the emergent digital humanities. Early incarnations of the project emphasized the importance of shared authority as an oral history process in which interviewers and interviewees —as well as other partners— shared authority for constructing oral history, interpreting it, and returning it to the community. The resulting interviews, now more than 800 to date, comprise the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection, which, along with Cleveland Memory forms the primary source documentary spine of the Cleveland Historical project.

Emphasizing collaboration and gaining from the use of existing resources, and drawing upon the interactive rhetoric of web 2.0, we developed a series of systematic, cumulative public history programs over a period of several years. Students, scholars, teachers, and communities collaborated to curate exhibitions about neighborhoods and historical topics, including public presentations, physical exhibitions, public radio programming, and student-created websites, such as Recognizing the digital shift in public and urban history, both in terms of publication but also in the burgeoning interactivity of web 2.0, we established the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities. Developed over a four-year period, from 2005 through 2009, the Center rolled out the Euclid Corridor History Project: 19 street-located touch-screen history kiosks located along Cleveland's central street and rapid transit line. However, just as the project was going live, the smartphone revolution —brought on by the shockingly successful release of the iPhone— called into question the usefulness of the project's fixed-location, Flash-based presentation.

Cleveland Historical emerged out of the stew of those projects, most notably the team's question as to whether it could adapt the Euclid Corridor concept to smartphones. The Center began to consider what it might mean to curate the city in a mobile age, and challenged itself to build a standards-based mobile application that re-imagined Cleveland's history, making it available on-location and on-demand, embracing the full portability of mobile and the full physicality of the city. Beta tested in October 2010, Cleveland Historical was released for iPhone in November 2010. Drawing on insights from its early test period, Cleveland Historical was formally released in May 2011. To date, hundreds of community collaborators and partners have developed more than 500 interpretive, geo-located multimedia stories, using historical images, oral histories, archival film footage, interpretive videos, and text. As of 2013, Cleveland Historical has over 500 stories, approximately 500,000 words of interpretive text, 4,000 images, 1,000 audio clips, and nearly 100 videos; it has become a remarkably deep and broad historical resource. Approximately 13,000 people have downloaded the app, used its social media functionality, taken dozens of locally-developed historical tours that interpret the city, and built K–12 curriculum around the app. In it's first year, Cleveland Historical received awards from E-Tech Ohio and the National Council for Public History.

Curatescape: Creating a Framework for Humanities Curation

Following the success of Cleveland Historical, we soon decided to use it as the basis for a low-cost mobile tool that could be shared and generalized beyond Cleveland. That endeavor, initially titled the Mobile Historical project, received funding from the Ohio Board of Regents, Cleveland State University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore the process of extending Cleveland Historical. As this new tool emerged, the Curatescape mobile publishing framework was born.

Conceptually, Curatescape emphasizes storytelling, rather than the display of single archival objects, the default approach for many mobile apps. A story can be told in many ways, from the historical to environmental or from the literary to the architectural, but effective Curatescape projects must take an interpretive stance that builds meaning through evoking context, place, or identity. Importantly, the Curatescape framework pushes curators to move beyond text, to create layers of meaning through the addition of archival images and other media, especially oral history audio and video.

Just as Cleveland Historical went through several technical and administrative changes early on (e.g. adding and iterating on a mobile-friendly website design, content revisions, bug fixes, etc), the Curatescape tools required significant revision as the challenges associated with creating a general use tool became more apparent. The Omeka theme (that is, the user-facing website design) was first revised and generalized, adding customizable elements such as user-configured logos, colors, and other project-specific considerations (analytics, social media accounts and more). Eventually the Omeka theme was rebuilt from the ground up, informed by the general aesthetic of Cleveland Historical/Mobile Historical, but adding new features, fixing bugs and other issues, and replacing the separate mobile page templates with a unified set of templates using "mobile first" and "responsive web design" techniques. The new theme also brought improved compliance with WAI-ARIA accessibility recommendations, as well as semantic HTML markup, integration with Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph, basic support for "read it later" services. Because the Curatescape framework employs Omeka in a novel manner, a new Omeka plugin (that is, an extension to Omeka's functionality) was added in order to simplify the content creation interface, removing unused fields and adding Curatescape-specific field descriptions. Existing plugins were revised and generalized as needed. Importantly, all of the Curatescape web components are GPL-licensed and freely available in the public Curatescape Github repository. A bug-reporting process was established and a wiki containing technical documentation and user guides was also created (see Curatescape Github repository).

As of 2013, Curatescape web and app components are under continual development, with a redesigned mobile client app (including support for iPad and other tablets) scheduled for release by the end of the year.

Humanities Interpretation in the Mobile Age

Our approach to mobile curation emphasizes humanities interpretation as its central and defining feature, evident especially in the emphasis on storytelling through carefully constructed layers of text and multimedia digital artifacts. Unlike other notable mobile and digital endeavors that emphasize the archival object as the central unit of analysis, we emphasize a humanities or social-science based interpretive stance, whether that cultural perspective is historical (as with Cleveland Historical), environmental, or literary. We believe that this building of cultural context, of telling stories, through the interplay of layered primary and secondary materials, provides a richer and more nuanced experience than simply displaying single archival images or objects. Additionally, by geo-locating stories, we emphasize that the richness of landscape itself becomes part of the interpretive frame — another layer of data with which audiences can interact. Finally, we allow for individual stories to have many strands whose elements are connected through a variety of meta-interpretive frames, including maps/location, tours, tags, subject, and search. Tours, for example, provide paths through the stories, reframing them within broader interpretive contexts, defined by geography, time period, or theme. Likewise, common-sense tagging, formal subject headings, and free search, allow users to aggregate materials in a fashion more suited to their particular interests. Altogether, we have provided for the possibility of multiple layers of overlapping interpretations that lead from individual archival objects toward broader thematic considerations.

The mobile revolution is transforming the digital age, and we hope that our work in building Cleveland Historical and developing Curatescape can provide guidance to humanists working in the academy and cultural institutions to become more effective curators in an increasingly mobile age.

The Mobile Transformation

Mobile technologies have accelerated and transformed the digital age. The Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Horizon Reports have outlined the dimensions of that change. Over half of Americans now use smartphones to access the Internet, and within two years more than 1.5 billion people worldwide will engage the Internet primarily through mobile. The projected "rise of apps culture" is here, with more than 17 billion distributed worldwide, with a growing number issued by, or on behalf of cultural organizations. The swiftness and scale of this change has been revolutionary, suggesting new paradigms for professional practice in numerous fields, including museums. However portrayed, the unprecedented saturation of mobile devices and software presents a daunting challenge to humanists, cultural institutions, and educators, many of whom are still struggling to adapt their professional practices to the hypertext age.

Digital and especially mobile technologies have shifted how, when, and where we access information, including humanities interpretation. Most obviously, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 began the shift in access from desktop and laptops toward mobile devices. By 2011, sales of mobile devices exceeded sales of desktop computers. By 2013 more than half of all Americans owned smartphones, and something on the order of 15% of all Internet traffic occurred on mobile devices. Even more striking, in emerging industrial nations, and those outside the developed world, more than half of all internet traffic occurs on low-cost mobile devices. (Notably, at present, most of these low-cost "feature phones" can only run pre-installed apps and have browsers with limited functionality; though such things can and likely will change quickly, we should not yet think of this mobile-centric web usage as analagous with the comparatively luxurious and featureful mobile usage in the rich industrial nations)

Not surprisingly, using a smaller screen alters how we engage information, both as consumers and producers. Smartphones, along with cloud computing, mobile networks (3G/4G/LTE), and steadily increasing data transmissions speeds, have altered how we access information. Mobile devices make it more and more possible to access information any time of day or night. Research on this so-called "timeshift" confirms that how we engage the Internet has shifted with the advent of mobile devices. We often ingest information in smaller chunks, engaging it whenever we have time and wherever we are presently located. Often this means that desktop or laptop computers are our devices of choice during the hours of the typical work day, from 9 to 5. At night and in the morning, however, we are more apt to read the news and use our phones to access and share information.

As these trends make information access ubiquitous in terms of time, they also have altered the locations and places where we access information. The ability to consume information anywhere has created new ways for us to engage the landscapes that surround us. By making interpretive materials available in the landscape through mobile devices, our ability to interpret those spaces has expanded dramatically, and landscapes themselves —their architectural, environmental, and social characters— are now able to become part of the interpretive framework. The landscape is no longer a contextual backdrop for humanities interpretation but a physical contributor to those frames and understandings.

The shift toward mobile has coincided with the emergence of a more interactive and dynamic web environment, including especially the rise and ubiquity of social media. Mobile tools are connecting people in new ways, both to one another and to physical places, even as the social web is rewriting how we are constructing knowledge. If the social web has emerged independent of mobile computing, its features have been accentuated by the character and use of mobile devices, for example with explicitly location-based social tools and services, such as Foursquare and Yelp, as well as other social tools where location is a prominent but secondary factor, such as with certain features of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on.

As digital technology transforms how information is being consumed, it has resulted in the proliferation of interpretive approaches that challenge the authority and power of traditional interpretation and interpretors, undermining the hegemony of publishers, news organizations, cultural institutions, and universities. In the scholarly community, blogs, web-based interpretive projects, open-publishing, and other digital publishing endeavors have challenged the traditional scholarly currency of journal article and monograph as the standard means for expressing humanities interpretations. If the battle continues to be waged in academic departments over the value of digital tools in expressing scholarship, major humanities professional organizations have moved decisively to embrace the new digital era. Likewise, in museums and public humanities settings, there are similar changes underway with the advent of digital archives, online exhibitions, and the move toward openness. As with the academy, these trends have challenged traditional practices, even as they opened new opportunities. If the pace of innovation in museum settings has been slow, it nonetheless has accelerated in recent years with more and more institutions moving toward adopting new technologies, including mobile.

The possibilities of humanities interpretation have expanded dramatically in the digital era. Indeed, in practice there have been a number of important ways that digital technology has augmented and extended the scholarship of humanists. Even putting aside the ways that the work of humanities research has been expanding to focus on the expression of humanities interpretations, we find several important innovations. First, humanists making arguments in digital form often have an expanded repertoire of cultural and multimedia objects through which they can express argument. Oral histories and soundscapes are now available for audiences to hear in a fashion that would have been uncommon in the past. Images, texts, and other media have proliferated, providing interpreters a wider array of elements through which they can make argument. And, finally, other metadata-enriched features of digital era such as tags, links, community comments, social media, text-mining and semantic web portals also provide new avenues for developing interpretation, contexts, and controversies. If perhaps we read fewer book-length monographs, as a society, than we once did, our appetite for information, including interpretive insight does not appear to have waned. Indeed, the volume of information flowing along the Internet continues to grow exponentially. In fact, the amount of Internet traffic passing through mobile phones today is as great as the traffic on the entire Internet in 2000. Moreover, even as the volume of information has increased there is every reason to believe that users continue to seek out high-quality interpretive information. In this context, the proliferation of mobile technology offers an opportunity for humanists to build interpretive strategies designed for the evolving architecture of the Internet, including mobile devices, and to build new and wider audiences.

Thinking about Humanities Curation in the Mobile Era

We designed Curatescape to emphasize a layered approach to interpretive humanities storytelling, based on an understanding of the opportunities offered by mobile devices for humanities curation. What follows is an argument about what our team at CPHDH believes are some best practices for humanities curation in mobile environments. In developing interpretations for Cleveland Historical and technology for Curatescape, we have emphasized an interpretive strategy based in the interdisciplinary diversity of humanities scholarship and the recognition of the ways that mobile (and digital) technologies enhance and constrain storytelling. This allows for many approaches to interpreting landscapes, texts, or artifacts, emphasizing that storytellers adopt strong, critical, narrative voices. It also asks storytellers to recognize that users of mobile technology (and digital narratives more broadly) have altered the ways that we consume information, not just how and when we engage it. Thus building mobile interpretive strategies demands that we adapt best practices in humanities interpretation to a new technological environment, in which information is consumed differently at different times.

We believe that what delineates humanities curation from archival or library-based curation (which is typically more akin to collection) or from other forms of curation are the interpretive frames and contexts that humanists bring to their work. Whether literary, environmental, material, or historical, these interpretive perspectives give humanists both a unique voice and understanding, shaping how we express and organize knowledge. Cleveland Historical, for example, has been informed by the scholarly perspectives of two scholars steeped in urban history, the study of landscape, and social/cultural history. We want to explode the prevailing practice in mobile environments of using text, or text and an image, or an image as the basis for interpretation. Effective humanities curation involves more than displaying artifacts on a map. It requires building an argument, informed by disciplinary knowledge and a rich array of source materials, whose presentation is informed by the context in which the materials are being engaged. Project advisors have argued to us that this emphasis on stories is part of what makes both Cleveland Historical and Curatescape unique and valuable to the field broadly.

In part, the layered approach of Curatescape informed by the mobile environments in which it is designed to operate. After all, digital tools are not the books or journal articles that have long defined the humanities. Digital technology offers access to a wider variety of multimedia materials, providing more vehicles for storytelling. Within that universe, mobile devices are distinctive. Unlike desktop environment, this information is accessed on a smaller screen — not to mention anywhere and anytime. Small screens provide information in smaller chunks, which encourages us to nibble rather than to bite into a story. Likewise, ubiquitous information environments also challenge us to rethink our approach to storytelling. Thus, we designed the information architecture and user experience of Curatescape to emphasize a layered approach to storytelling. We did this in two subtle ways. First, the user interface introduces stories as complete packages—containing layers of multimedia. It does not introduce images or sound independent of the interpretive story. This approach allows (and demands that) curators frame meaning, build context, and create multiple layers to their stories. Second, we use the Omeka content management in such a way that each "item" is a "story," conceived as a compounding archival object, composed of several parts. Those compound objects include multiple audio, video, or sound files. As a result, the technical fabric of Curatescape is oriented around interpretive, multimedia, and layered storytelling, implicitly making an argument about how central this approach is to mobile humanities curation.

Humanities curation also demands that curators take an interpretive stance. Such interpretive perspectives are sometimes born at the beginning of a project and are sometimes developed iteratively, over time. For example, Cleveland Historical evolved from several early iterations, including an effort that culminated in the Euclid Corridor History Project in 2009–10. Through 22 kiosks, located at 19 bus stations along one of Cleveland's chief East-West streets, Euclid Avenue, we shared interpretive narrative, historic images, and oral history clips. As that project evolved, we began to realize that our approach to choosing subjects and telling stories was informed by our training as urban historians. Coupled with our interest in oral history and commitment to social history, we discovered a common commitment to sharing the region's stories through the voices of its residents — including ordinary folks and community leaders, as well as local scholars. Finally, we realized that our public history training — both formal and informal — was prompting us to take on a curatorial role, meaning that we viewed the city as a museum for teaching and learning history, not to mention we saw our work as having a role in preserving the city's historic landscapes and building public audiences. By the time the Euclid Corridor kiosks went live, we'd come to understand our work as curating the city of Cleveland, imagining it as a living history museum.

Of course, building an interpretive perspective for a mobile project is not the same as arguing that mobile apps are monographs or textbooks. Rather, we believe that scholars possess a breadth and depth of knowledge that goes beyond the anecdotal, the archival, or the hyper-local. We must express those scholarly understandings in a fashion that complements other ways of knowing — whether based in other disciplines, local knowledge and lore, or in the community. The boundaries of mobile projects demand the integration of the scholarly with the communal, and the challenges of humanities curation pushes us to confront this challenge. The Cleveland Historical project, for example, is sometimes compared to the wonderful Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (or even Wikipedia) and sometimes compared to the hyper-local histories of Arcadia publishing. When we are asked how our work is different, we argue that our work — far from encyclopedic — is a collection of interpretive vignettes, woven together through a variety of conceptual and technical frames. Our work is designed to interpret the city, to curate it as a living museum, through which we invite questions, discussion, and an ongoing collaborative of content-development with the community. Our work derives from scholarship and broad historical contexts, as well as local insights. And, moreover, our interpretations are designed to be engaged on mobile devices, in the landscape, and (sometimes) while sitting on one's couch at home. Regardless, recognizing the distinctiveness of our perspective reveals much about the boundaries and importance of building a clear and definable intellectual frame for a project. Thus, we believe that it is imperative to recognize that our humanities projects cannot and should not be all things to all people.

Curating landscape through interpretive humanities stories should also be differentiated in subtle ways from the sort of curatorial work being done in building a digital archive. Both curatorial endeavors are informed by interpretive assumptions, professional metadata practices, and a host of challenging technical questions. And, there is no doubt that both types of approaches exist not as opposites but along a continuum of professional practices in digital curation. Once we've dispelled the notion that these endeavors are diametrically opposed or unrelated, they are nonetheless different in important ways. Digital archival collections generally seek to make individual archival objects available to researchers, publics, and communities, organizing them and making them discoverable in a variety of ways. Interpretive humanities stories, by contrast, are typically larger than that single archival object. If the interpretive humanities narrative usually possesses more than a single element, scholars would argue that our work is a purposeful aggregation and combining of these elements, according to disciplinary practice, perspective, and theory. This effort is distinct from the ways an archive search yields an array of images related to the search query, even though we recognize that emergent data structures and algorithms may well be on the way to creating alternative — largely automatic/automated — forms of curation.

Using layers of text, image, audio, and video allows the storyteller to construct meaning in a variety of ways and encourages us to use these layers creatively. Consider, for example, all the possibilities of how one might use multimedia — not just text — to interpret a historical monument, such as the statue of Milan Stefanik, a Slovenian cultural figure memorialized in a prominent public square in Cleveland, as well as throughout the world. One could tell the story of Stefanik in images by way of a photo essay, comparing the Cleveland monument to others throughout the world. Alternately, one might interview the leaders of a present-day effort to move the Stefanik memorial to the nearby Cleveland Cultural Gardens and contrast their points of view with a scholar's perspective. Or, better yet, those views could be contrasted with primary-source archival materials that explained why the Stefanik Memorial was originally not included in the Cultural Gardens. Or, perhaps, the interpretive team could produce a video exploring how historic monuments frequently are relocated. In each of these cases, multimedia elements would help carry the interpretive perspective of the story. Not only does this allow one to build multiple layers of meaning beyond written text, but it also allows one to build scholarly context. In this case, we suggest that the story of the Stefanik memorial reaches beyond Cleveland, to other places and times throughout the globe and also we would (if we actually made the proposed short video) be making the argument that statues are not just historically "constructed" and "re-constructed" with time, but that such cultural reconstruction is accompanied by literally-moving statues, a phenomena that is surprisingly common.

The story of the Stefanik monument hints at how the perspective of a project team generates a project's identity. Cleveland Historical reflects ongoing scholarship — my own and that of my colleague Mark Souther — and has become a remarkably deep and broad historical resource. But, it is not encyclopedic. It is perhaps best described as a focused case study in urban social history, as told through the stories of landscapes, people, and events. And, although it seeks out and addresses many different sorts of scholarly problems, at its core, its humanities perspective is clearly informed by the literatures of urban, social, and cultural history. One could imagine, as we have, many different approaches to the region's history including an environmental perspective, literary perspective, or cultural studies frames. Each such frame would not only generate different types of multimedia and textual layering, but would also be reflected in the choices of the stories themselves. For instance, an environmental perspective on Cleveland might produce an app that possessed a host of different geological or biological referents and materials, with completely different stories.

Building a layered interpretative approach involves more telling multimedia stories it also includes creating multiple threads or arguments that run throughout an entire project. Toward this end, we've developed an extensive "tour" funcationality for Curatesacape. Tours allow curators to create threads of meaning — connections between stories. Borrowing the idiom of the urban walking tour provides an avenue to explore location-based histories. We conceptualized these tours as methods for presenting stories through different (meta-)interpretive lenses. These frames need not be just neighborhood-based or geographic in orientation. They can be thematic, temporal, or disciplinary. Imagine, for example, a women's history tour, a tour of Art Deco architecture, or a 1930s tour. Each provides an overarching framework through which a particular interpretive story can be framed and reframed. Indeed, just as with the urban landscapes, individual interpretive stories can appear in multiple tours, providing a new way of imagining and experiencing those stories. The tour, then, becomes more than a way to connect stories that are geolocated within a single neighborhood; it allows curators to build connections that cross geography. Tours contain a narrative that weaves its component stories together, and curators can order those stories in any way that makes sense, although we've noted that app users don't always follow the best-laid plans of curators. Future versions will possess richer maps to accompany tours, the ability to add multimedia items to the tours (such as an audio track or additional video or photography), as well as the ability for users to build and share their own tours. In developing tours for Cleveland Historical and experimenting with their functionality, we have discovered that tours provide a curator's point-of-view, but users often seek to find their own paths through the interpretive stories using search and other functionality. Toward this end, we have continued to add a variety of features that accentuate the concept of layered interpretation. These include social media functionality, allowing users to share their discoveries, as well as user comments, which provides forums for public feedback and conversation. Additionally, using tagging, subject headings, and search all provide alternative ways of aggregating stories, allowing users to follow their own interests. In recent versions of the website, we have also encouraged users to "view a random story." This enhancement allows users an even more serendipitous discovery, which we've been surprised to learn is a favorite way for returning users to explore the stories on the app. In the future, we will allow users to identify and share favorites, and we will provide an algorithmic search that will direct users down paths that other users interested in the same stories have favored. Altogether, these features — present and future — underscore our sense that humanities curation is layered and non-linear, especially in mobile environments. Just as important is seeking to balance our own curatorial voices with the interests and perspectives of our users, allowing them to be able to discover and make connections between stories.

Landscape, as we've already suggested, plays a vital interpretive role in many mobile projects. As with most landscape apps, Curatescape geolocates stories on a background map. This is a common practice among many digital projects. In mobile projects, geolocation does indeed provide users with a handy way to discover stories near to their present location and to get directions to stories in which they are interested. Additionally, geolocation used in an urban context places stories in relation to one another on a map. For users familiar with a city or landscape, pinpointing a story on a map can provide a modest amount of interpretive context. For users less familiar with the geography of a place, geolocation may or may not reveal useful contextual information; to a large degree, the fundamental utility of geolocation in humanities publishing is dependent upon the "readability" of the landscape by the user. Simply geolocating a story on a contemporary, or even historical, map merely places it in a landscape that may or may not be immediately recognizable. This does not provide, ipso facto, interpretation, even with the use of historical maps. Furthermore, although maps may well provide an important referent, such contexts are also not always useful on smaller screens without significant attention by project developers.

Geolocation has other shortcomings as well. In large projects with many stories (e.g. Cleveland Historical) the number of pins (that is, stories represented by a point) on the map soon overwhelms the map, rendering it diificult to use in some cases. Various design strategies can help to alleviate this issue, but cannot do so completely. For example, concatenating large numbers of pins together (usually indicating the number of map points that have been collected into that pin) can make a map less busy at maximum zoom. As the user zooms, those concatenated pins split, revealing sub groupings, and eventually the full range of points on the map. This approach surely makes the map appear "cleaner" but does not entirely solve the underlying problems of viewing large numbers of stories on a small-scale map. It also can be confusing to users to have content appear/expand and disappear/contract based on zoom level. Other approaches include color-coding pins or showing only a limited number of pins on the map. Neither of these solutions completely alleviates the problem. In the former case, color-coding pins produces a rainbow that does not (on its face) provide a richer or clearer interpretive perspective; rather it clutters the interface and degrades the cohesiveness of the map and site, even as it makes discovery marginally easier. In the latter case, limiting the number of pins displayed in a given area renders the map legible in some ways. However, limiting the number of pins has only hidden the problem while creating a new one — namely, the loss of a comprehensive overview); it has not rendered the map more interpretive or useful for navigation. Finally, these same problems appear when geolocating many stories in small spaces or dense spaces — such as a cemetery. The tight clustering of pins requires zooming so far in to the base map that it does little to orient a visitor to the landscape. Moreover, such clusters can't be easily disaggregated (or expressed) at wider zoom levels, making the nuances of stories geolocated in small spaces less apparent and discoverable. While there are many methods and approaches for displaying geolocated data, those that are within immediate reach to small teams like our (i.e. those described above) offer only imperfect tradeoffs.

These cautions about geolocation are not arguments against using it in mobile apps — especially landscape-based apps. Indeed, we continue to view geolocation functionality as a critical function in Cleveland Historical, and we see this function as an important tool in the arsenal of mobile interpretive endeavors. However, we believe that geolocation needs to be engaged more critically and thoughtfully. We believe that mobile endeavors — including both landscape and indoor/museum applications — should supplement geolocation with other modes of discovery and interpretation. While our team loves historic maps — and often uses Sanborn Maps in interpretive stories — it is not clear that these maps actually solve the problem of interpretation on devices of any size, though especially on smaller screens. We would encourage digital humanists to continue seeking more creative solutions.

Landscape-based mobile projects should look toward the physical landscape for rich interpretive context. Indeed, constructing stories that draw upon the landscape provides an extraordinary opportunity to explore and capitalize upon the benefits of mobile technology. For example, in Cleveland Historical, we urge our curatorial team to visit the physical landscape where their story will be geolocated as they conceive their interpretation. Using physical location to evoke a sense of place, to engage the tangible city, provides an unparalleled way to engage senses. Details matter: Construction materials, natural environments, traces of former landscapes, architectural form, and contemporary use all contribute to the story. Space matters: What does it feel, smell, and sound like to walk the area? In what ways does the space shape a user's learning? To the degree that the physical landscape enhances our understanding of the past, the reverse is also true. Humanities interpretation helps us understand landscape. History and culture shape our understanding of place. Developing interpretive research, images, and sounds helps to evoke the physical environment transform a physical space into an imagined space. This approach of engaging landscape makes full use of mobile technologies.

Another approach is to use what technologists describe as augmented reality, which typically is defined in terms of using the sensors on a phone, such as a camera, to juxtapose "virtual" content with real landscapes. In history-based apps, such as History Pin, this results in the ability to superimpose a picture of the current landscape over a historic photo. Other platforms, such as Layar, provide information about points in the landscape as you pan the phone's camera around a space. Both approaches provide a novel and interesting way to engage the landscape that uses the full functionality of mobile smartphones in situ. If these approaches provide a clever way of using technology to enhance our connection to place, they nonetheless emphasize the technical over the interpretive. Superimposing a present view of building over a past view does not reveal the full interpretive dimensions of place, unless it is accompanied by an further elucidation of some kind. Too often what passes for augmented reality is a brief factual description of the overlaid images that does little more than identify the information being viewed through the lens of the smartphone's camera. From a humanities curatorial perspective, such an emphasis on technology over interpretation does not fully succeed in evoking landscape and place. In fact, one could argue for an alternative definition of augmented reality that is based not in technical wizardry but in interpretive rigor. Building a richer interpretive context for the landscapes being viewed — through imaginative images, oral history and other expressions from the past, and based in a theory and practice in the humanities — augments "reality," and our experience of landscape in a much deeper fashion.

Effective Storytelling Strategies: Summary

In thinking about what makes good humanities interpretation at the level of the story, it is clear that there a no clear rules. In fact, there are many approaches to effective interpretive storytelling. Although there is no single best approach, our experience with Cleveland Historical suggests that we can build a process that results in effective stories. For us that process begins by identifying a broad theme, topic, or even collection of primary documents—an interpretive thread, if you will—that will tie multiple stories together. This thematic, geographical, or temporal frame can be conceived as a frame for multiple stories that is tied together with tags, subjects, keywords, or as the basis for a tour. Alternately, this broader frame can become a story in its own right. In Cleveland Historical, the connecting threads have been defined thematically (crime and punishment, immigration, or the Civil War), by neighborhood (Tremont, Ohio City, Downtown), materials or architectural styles (statues, murals, art deco), or sources (the Cleveland Heights series of entries uses a common historical collection of oral interviews and street photographs from the 1970s.) Most important though is finding that topic or theme, and making it specific enough that it can inform multiple stories, but also broad enough that those stories can find ways to complement one another analytically.

Moving from the general to the specific, the next step is to identify a compelling place, person, event, or even humanistic theme worth building a story around. From there, identifying compelling source materials—primary and secondary—becomes vital. If a story cannot be expressed in image, sound, or video, then we have to reconsider our approach to that particular narrative. Coupled with this consideration of the particular, will be the consideration of how that story is best geolocated. Geolocation of stories may not always be literal. For example, in telling the story of an African American entrepreneur, should the story be located at the businessperson's house or the actual location of the business? Are there privacy considerations in plotting a personal residence? What if there were multiple business locations; which is the canonical one? In the end, the goal is to identify a physical location that helps to interpret the story by revealing its meaning, not necessarily to identify "correct" coordinates. Finally, the story works through a lengthy editorial process, with team members—graduate students, volunteers, and faculty—reviewing and adding to the entry as appropriate.

Below are more than a dozen guidelines that we typically share with new team members and project partners. These are listed in no particular order.

  1. Interpretive digital storytelling is not the same a creating an encyclopedia. Wikipedia exists. Partners who want to create encyclopedic knowledge should edit Wikipedia. And, indeed, many mobile apps use Wikipedia in its various guises to provide geolocated information for mobile devices.
  2. Interpretive digital storytelling is not the same as creating an archive of images, sound, or text. There are many digital archives that possess vast collections. We encourage our partners to add to these. But, we do not see Cleveland Historical as the same as those digital archives, such as the remarkable Cleveland Memory Collection in Cleveland.
  3. Start with a single core element: person, event/moment, place, or human voice. Emphasize that core narrative, build interpretation around it, and then make it discoverable through links, tagging, geolocation, and other informed strategies.
  4. Take a strong humanities perspective. Express a clear point-of-view without resorting to the voice of the omniscient narrator.
  5. Find sound. Collect oral history. Give voice to the past. We have conceptualized Cleveland Historical as a collection of stories. Build around such stories and collect them.
  6. Make videos as a way of providing a path through the story's materials.
  7. Web 2.0 and mobile has broken the barriers between scholars and communities. Use that to the advantage of the story, by building with the local community. Work with partners to develop and produce narratives. University students, K–12 teachers, 10th graders, community members, and professionals at cultural institutions can all become effective interpreters in their own right.
  8. Train community partners to become collaborators. Draw them into a project's conceptual approach. And, reward them for telling stories. Wikipedia is a model here—not the fact that anyone can edit an entry, but the fact that the Wikimedia Foundation has built a large army of committed project volunteers. Indeed, Cleveland Historical succeeds in no small part because half of the staff are regular volunteers, training and working with other members of the regional community.
  9. Humanities framing matters. Explore literature, art, sound, environment, architecture, and critical theory through your work. Oddly, the public finds these theories and ideas engaging, as long as they are not presented in a condescending and didactic fashion. In the case of Cleveland Historical, we advise the project team to find ways to make historical debates, ideas, and concepts transparent through primary materials, revealing the ways that history is being actively constructed and debated right in front of their eyes.
  10. Layers matter. Interpretation gains power through its connections to evidence and the real world. Reveal that evidence and allow users to explore and understand the primary materials. Persuade.
  11. Metadata, metadata, metadata. Think about tags, subjects, and other language (for search) that can help users navigate the content. Too little or imprecise metadata can obscure as much as metadata strategies that are too elaborate or overly precise.
  12. Consider your audience. Not every story or tour needs to be developed for every member of the public. The project collects stories; users find themselves in those stories. Construct stories and tours for audiences to the extent that it is necessary and possible.
  13. Build a context that deepens public understanding.
  14. Make your argument through tours and other connecting threads (tags and other metadata fields) that suggest physical routes, thematic routes, chronological routes, neighborhood or other place designations. Tours can be both formal and informal.
  15. Multimedia file quality matters. Large pictures load too slowly on 3G collections; small pictures are hard to discern. Poor audio quality or editing diminishes or obscures the power of human voices to tell stories. Poorly constructed videos undermine authority and user engagement. Users are accustomed to professionalism and use it to gauge quality. Adhere to editorial and formatting guidelines in the project documentation.

Technological Considerations

Like any digital project, perhaps the most important technology question for mobile projects originate with the process of organizing, structuring, and hosting data. Our team chose to focus development around standards-based, open source tools (like Omeka) whenever possible in order that our content would be more usable, more extensible, more affordable, and more portable—an important consideration in a technological environment of frequent, rapid transformations.

Choosing an open-source content management system that your team can install, manage, maintain, and even program can dramatically reduce your costs and/or dependence on external organizations. Open source has the advantage of being tied to a broader development community, meaning that your project can benefit from the technical insights of others, working on their own projects and returning their work to the community. Open-source can also liberate you from proprietary software programs that only a very select few people can organize and manage.

As much as we recommend open-source tools, open-source software—like most software—comes with liabilities and technical barriers. The reductions in monetary costs are often transferred to the consumption of other resources such as expertise and time. Likewise, as open-source projects evolve and these software tools change (over their life), issues of maintenance and cost can become burdensome. Even the strengths of open source tools, such as modularity/extensibility, can become liabilities if not carefully leveraged. For example, while plugins can be empowering in that they enable an expedient route toward adding new features, such extensions do not always line up with the development roadmap of the main software. In our case, the upgrade to Omeka 2.0 was delayed until we could find the time and resources to upgrade required plugins that only functioned up to Omeka version 1.5. Such scenarios need to be accounted for for from the outset. The best practice is to minimize dependencies wherever possible.

In developing Cleveland Historical and the Curatescape framework, we chose Omeka as the open-source archival content management system for the project for the variety of reasons, some enumerated above. First, its adherence to web and archival standards meant that our project was connected to, and informed by work across a variety of fields. Likewise, as open-source software, we could use the insights of other programmers through plugins. We also liked that Omeka was relatively easy to use and widely used among cultural organizations, which helped to make the Cleveland Historical project more appealing from a curator's perspective. We also liked the customizability of Omeka. Of course, not all open-source content management systems are easily customized, but the ability to customize the archive, as well as its look and feel provided a great deal of control to our project, and to partners' projects. It is also worth noting that we also have avoided too much customization because that can be difficult for less technical partners and organizations to deploy. Significant customization can also make projects harder to sustain, with the emergence of new software versions, changing web browsers, and other technologies.

As we moved to build Curatescape and work with early adopters, we were surprised at the range of technical expertise possessed by partners. We had anticipated that most of the work in deploying the web-based aspects of Curatescape would be done by our partners. We quickly learned otherwise. In some cases, partners lacked a basic understanding of how the web works, and found it difficult to act on instructions for setting up hosting, domain name registration, account creation, and other seemingly mundane tasks. Many humanists possess sufficient theoretical understanding of technology but often lack the training (or suffer from technological fearlessness that prevents them from trying) to transition to more challenging technical arenas. As a result, we have come to recognize the need for extensive technical support services. Thus, we recommend project teams identify and cultivate some basic technological acumen as part of their projects, recognizing that these most basic of tasks can make the difference between success and failure, or at the very least between meeting deadlines and running over schedule/budget.

Social networks and social sharing are vital to contemporary digital life and should be included in every project. Indeed, not only are they omnipresent in the contemporary digital age, but mobile phones have contributed to their expansion. Indeed, social sharing is easier than ever with mobile because the devices' small size, portability, connection to the cloud, and ease of use have allowed us to engage in social sharing anywhere and everywhere. With this in mind, we recommend that mobile humanities projects embed social sharing into their work from the outset. But, exactly how will you integrate these approaches to knowledge development and interpretation into your project? Will you ask your community to make contributions, respond to images or sound files, or create "favorites"? Is social sharing meant as a way to build a community of mobile users, share knowledge, or interact with your project? Of course, addressing such questions cuts to the heart of many projects, but it also helps mobile projects to remain sharply paired to specific project goals, which is especially helpful given small screen sizes and minimal processing power.

Moving beyond simply sharing content on Facebook or Twitter, we recommend a variety of social strategies for projects as a way to jumpstart thinking in this area. First, and most easily, projects should create "channels" on task-appropriate social media sites (like YouTube, Facebook, or SoundCloud) to repurpose content and to enable more discovery of a project. More importantly, we also recommend that the mobile humanities move beyond merely sharing interpretive content toward a full consideration of how social sharing can contribute to the humanities interpretive frames and stories being developed. How can we involve crowds in the interpretation of data or stories, following some of the best examples of this work being done in broader digital projects? How could we engage audiences using mobile phones or tablets in the field into authors, editors, or contributors to our mobile interpretive projects? Of course, there are many administrative and editorial challenges that have not been fully worked out in humanities-based interpretive projects (as opposed to archival endeavors where they are more thoroughly proven.) Do you allow the community full access to editing, like Wikipedia? How do you staff such endeavors? What other mechanisms might you use for collecting stories? As will be discussed later, with Cleveland Historical, we have developed an approach to "community sourcing" that involves community members directly in content creation as team members and contributors. This has enhanced both our public engagement—one of the goals of Cleveland Historical—and also the quality of our interpretation. Even so, the cost—in terms of time, especially—has been significant.

Among the most frequent questions directed at us regards the distinction between native apps and web apps and which of the two is a better approach. Native apps are only available through the various app stores and must be downloaded directly to the device. Native apps are built using proprietary programming languages (Objective-C, Java, .Net), tend to be faster, more integrated into the phone, and have richer features than web apps because they have direct access to the phone's operating system and device APIs. Web apps, while comparatively slower, are built using the open languages of the web (HTML, Javascript) and thus have a lower barrier to entry and lower maintenance costs and can run on almost any device without specific intervention. Native apps can be found in app stores and result in the placement of an icon on a user's phone. Web apps tend to be less discoverable and most users do not understand that they can also be "installed" on most phones to move them out of the browser and into the home screen or app directory.

With the rapid proliferation of mobile devices, it becomes nearly impossible to create and support apps that will function on all phones all the time. In this regard, a web-based approach makes the most sense. Any phone with a modern web browser can run a website that is properly designed using modern techniques like "mobile first," "responsive design," and "progressive enhancement." Any project with a web dimension should consider this (that is, an integrated, modern, mobile-friendly design) to be a baseline functionality. Transformation of sites into installable web apps and/or transmission to native client apps should usually be considered a secondary "nice to have" consideration. In fact, building a mobile optimized website might be all that a museum or scholar needs to enhance an existing project, especially one with a modest budget. From a curatorial perspective, mobile optimized websites can be just as effective in deploying interpretive strategies, making them well worth considering.

In terms of the technological approaches, we would recommend addressing this technological problem as you would any other—by referencing the project's overall goals, audiences, and identities, as well as budgets. When we began work on Cleveland Historical in 2010, for example, we chose to build native apps for iOS and Android, with a conventional static-width website, adding a dedicated mobile templates shortly thereafter, before finally converting to a modern unified responsive design. We have thus taken a hybrid approach in the project's develpment, incorporating some of the benefits of native apps, while also making sure that Cleveland Historical was optimized for the mobile web and could be accessed on any device. And, indeed, one of our efforts with Curatescape has been to bring responsive design to all projects' websites, allowing them to work differently and more effectively on various phones and tablets of different sizes, as well as the desktop.

In part, Curatescape's development has responded to the present state of the technological environment and the challenges faced by many mobile project directors. First, we used a proven open-source archival software tool, Omeka, as the project's content management system. For the web version, Curatescape involves a series of plug-ins and mobile-optimized themes. We've made these themes and plugins freely available on Github, as part of our contribution to the Omeka ecosystem. Anyone can download (and modify) and deploy this theme immediately for their project. Deploying Curatescape native apps, however, involves the allocation of real staff time and resources, so there is a modest cost for implementing iOS and Android apps; even so, those costs are significantly less expensive than industry averages for comparable applications. Moreover, adopting a Curatescape + Omeka solution allows a project team to develop and deploy its own distinctive project, rather than implementing their work on another organization's branded platform (such as with History Pin, Layar, Field Trip and other services). This is invaluable for a variety of reasons related to administration, funding, and discovery. Deploying a unique project allows project teams to raise funding from within their organization, to build partnerships across institutions, and allows for easier discovery of interpretive content. Indeed, this is particular important in public and crowd-based projects that project teams have to sell to communities and partners, seeking "buy-in," either literal or figurative. Additionally, given the development of the semantic web and the technical infrastructure of the "linked data" web, we see a future in which aggregating data and interpretive content (not just archival objects) will become increasingly easier, allowing project teams to share their work with other projects near and far.

Managing Projects: Audience & Community Engagement

Looking toward the future, as well as the near past, should underscore the import of effective and adaptive project management strategies. Indeed, our work in building Cleveland Historical, with its digital roots reaching back to the early days of the 21st century and a hand-coded HTML website on the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Over the years, our lab's work has evolved and developed iteratively. And, building Cleveland Historical has been a dynamic and shifting endeavor, quite unlike publishing in analog forms, in which the book or journal article is the outcome and embodiment of years of work. Our projects have been cumulative and iterative, transforming with the technology. As a result, we recommend that project teams working on mobile endeavors, just as with digital projects more generally, develop a plan for management, maintenance, and continued development, including collecting and analyzing user data. Among the most pertinent management issues are those related to content management, design, content development, funding, and marketing. However, we would suggest that the most critical values possessed by successful projects are those that are conceived of as being dynamic and iterative. Indeed, the digital humanities are far more performative in character than many other acts of scholarship because of the continued give and take between audiences and project curators. And, indeed, thinking about audience is the appropriate place to begin any conversation about managing and developing a mobile interpretive project.

Mobile project teams should begin their project by considering what audiences and communities they are seeking to reach in building their project, and why and how mobile helps them to accomplish those goals. Of course, mobile devices are rapidly becoming the standard way that people access the internet, and we should surely be cognizant of this in developing digital projects. We can do this by using responsive web design, which alters the look, feel, and functionality of a website based on the device through which a user accesses the web. Even so, we should ask ourselves about audiences, how and when users might access our mobile projects, and how (or even, if) using mobile devices can enhance the outcomes of our project. For example, with Cleveland Historical, we imagined local communities, historical organizations, tourists, and students as our primary beneficiaries, as well anyone interested in history. Likewise, we have sought to use mobile to connect and reconnect our audiences to the historical landscape. We hope that using Cleveland Historical in the landscape will allow users to engage the landscape and gain a deeper understanding of place, either while they are actively exploring the landscape or even after a walking tour in which they reflect on their experience of the city's built environment. Also, though, we anticipate users—including especially students—exploring and discovering historical stories that take them from their couch into the landscape to explore and develop a richer understanding of interpretive history. Also, based on observation of users' behavior, we have come to realize that for many users, Cleveland Historical has become a way to virtually explore the city from the comfort of their couch.

If defining an audience is the first step in building a project suitable to a mobile project's interpretive strategies, other considerations will include both technological and management strategies. From a technological perspective, project teams have to work through a host of details including whether you want to deploy a native app, a web app, or merely build a mobile optimized website. Will the project's installable app include large amounts of data or will it query a database hosted on a serve in the cloud? What sorts of content management systems are out there for managing mobile projects? Is it best to build something from scratch or adapt another platform to the project? The answer to these questions, as with many technical problems in the digital humanities, is "it depends." It depends on project audiences, goals, and budgets. With Cleveland Historical we deploy mobile apps for iOS and Android and a website optimized for the mobile web because we wanted to reach the widest possible audiences, both in the landscape and on desktops and tablets. Each interface provides a different user interface that is suited to its particular technical environment, and designed to help users discovers stories. The user interfaces especially emphasize their geographic location on a map. More important to Cleveland Historical was our commitment to using an existing open-source content management system as the backend for the apps and website in order to keep our costs down—both in short-term project development and long-term maintenance. Most critically, though, we believed that building an app around a proven content management system could help us make Cleveland Historical extensible to other places at very low cost or no cost—which generated CPHDH's Curatescape framework.

With the challenge of defining audience comes the questions of how to collaborate and interact with public audiences, as well as how to build a core group of users. Collaboration is a key element of the digital humanities theory and practice, and, like all digital endeavors, we must consider exactly who, how, and to what degree external communities will become part of the interpretive humanities endeavor. Should our project use crowdsourcing strategies to engage the public in helping to solve research, interpretive, or factual issues? If so, how will our project maintain its connections to those publics, and what might this mean for the tools that we've adopted? If we choose not to crowdsource, how exactly will our projects engage public audiences? Will we allow user comments, social media interaction, or some other formulation for interacting with external communities? There is no reason to think that because they occur on smaller, more portable, device that mobile projects should be more or less collaborative or extensive than other digital projects. Not surprisingly, how we answer these questions can shape a project significantly.

With Cleveland Historical, we saw the building collaboration as critical to engaging a public humanities audience that include the broader regional community of Northeast Ohio, including especially university students, local community groups, and K–12 teachers, as both a potential audience of users but also content producers. This has been a slow and labor intensive process that requires constant training, public events, and outreach, including especially face-to-face events. Building a mobile application, or digital project for that matter, does not mean that audiences and communities will automatically find the project on the app store or on the web. To the contrary, building a community of users takes time and effort. Our team has focused on building audiences and partnerships through the work of humanities interpretation itself, by training collaborators and building a community of users simultaneously. Building a collaborative mobile project can occur in multiple ways. Project leaders can develop multi-institutional partnerships as the basis for the project or, alternately, building those partnerships in an ad hoc fashion around particular initiatives. Leaders can also develop a interpretive strategy that involves the community in producing content. Likewise, project initiators can create public events that involve their audiences. A similarly important strategy is to build a user interface that draws the public into your mobile project, creating ways for audiences to discover project apps and content and to call them to action, first through downloading or using the app and then through inviting them to become regular users and contributors. Each of the strategies emphasizes the ways that mobile projects explode the formal boundaries between scholars or curator and community, and it is incumbent upon project teams to recognize that mobile is changing how we interact with our communities. Three examples of how we used unorthodox strategies to both promote Cleveland Historical and build interpretive content reveal the creative ways mobile projects can and should think about audience. First, with Cleveland Historical, we transformed teaching and learning history into something that happens both inside and outside the classroom. We have invited students—both university and K–12 students—as well as teachers, librarians, and community members to partner in building and using content. Our public history, urban history, and regional history courses became vehicles for students to develop projects that explored important research questions that were coupled together under a broader themes—much the same way that stories and tours are conceptualized in Cleveland Historical and Curatescape. Students conducted primary source research, identified archival items, explored secondary themes in the scholarly literature, and compiled their results into collections of documents, essays, and short interpretive stories. This work, presented to the community and published on a course blog, was submitted to the editorial board of Cleveland Historical for publication. Students are named as authors, and indeed about 75% of all the work that appears on Cleveland Historical originated in a University or K–12 classroom.

We extended our work from university students to K–12 teachers, neighborhoods, and institutional partners through workshops, grant programs, and events. Our team involved K–12 teachers through institutes designed to help them teach history more effectively and to expand their professional development. We invited teachers to help us figure out how Cleveland Historical could best fit into K–12 classrooms. Some teachers trained their AP students to develop content for the app. Others use it as a "textbook" for their courses, in one case transforming old-style "webquests" into virtual and real scavenger hunts through Cleveland's neighborhoods and treating the city like a living museum. We invited communities and institutional partners to explore some of the same ideas. This resulted in community training events and also community development corporations assisted our team members in building interpretive narratives that could be used in neighborhood walking tours.

As our partners began to use Cleveland Historical for neighborhood walking tours and community events, we evaluated how users were using the apps during events. Our observations revealed much about how mobile projects work and do not work. First, we discovered that a startling number of people still do not have smartphones, though we should not have been surprised by this. Approximately 50% of all Americans own smartphones. That means that the other 50% don't. Most smartphone users come from younger demographics. The demographic for neighborhood walking tours skews a bit older than average (at least from our observation.) Second, we discovered that many people did not know how to use their smartphones, not realizing what a QR code was or how it worked in the landscape. We had to improvise and provide on-the-spot training. Third, and perhaps most interestingly, many users enjoyed using the app during their walking tours but also reported wanting to go to Cleveland Historical later for more information and to discover other neighborhoods. Our experiences, over multiple tours, confirmed the importance of providing paper tour brochures for those without smartphones. Postcards, posters, and window clings with QR codes helped alert people to Cleveland Historical, but the QR code was not necessarily an invitation to download the app, reminding us that we have to continue to develop strategies to invite people to use the app in the landscape. And, finally, the events themselves—and especially the human contact associated with them—proved to be among the most effective ways to build audience.

As our team has worked with the community to build interpretive content and users, we have been struck by how performative the digital humanities are. In much the same way that teaching is an act of planned improvisation, or delivering an excellent lecture depends on excellent performance skills, so too the digital humanities requires careful planning but deep and engaged performance. Indeed, we consider each time a mobile user interacts with the apps he or she is engaged in a performance that we've helped orchestrate. When we think about design, we ask ourselves about audience, technology, and the particular interpretive goals of a story or a tour. How will users discover a story? How will they engage it and respond? Thus user design is one of the most critical managerial and technical issues. This is especially true in mobile environments, as smaller interfaces force us to adopt new strategies. As we've worked to extend Curatescape, we've been evaluating how users engage the apps as a way of building a design that is as thoughtful as our interpretive strategy.

Collecting user analytics has already proved beneficial to our conceptualization of the new user interface. For example, it revealed to us that geolocating stories on the map was not always users' first choice in navigating content and neither was search. Users appear to enjoy being led by our curatorial team, as well as discovering serendipitously. As a result, we continually make small adjustments to the user interface. We also have added a "View Random Story" button, and are exploring other modes of discovery for the next iteration of Curatescape, including discovery avenues informed by algorithms that weigh popularity, similarity, and recent browsing activity.

Similar considerations should also pertain to our evaluation of content. Indeed, we should be cognizant of the challenges involved in balancing engaging storytelling against rigorous interpretative expression. Of particular note, partners asked for an enhanced ability to express the research that underlay story development, including bibliographic citation and more effective linking. Even though this information added a deeper layering to stories, it sometimes tended (as in the case of bibliographic materials) to overwhelm the primary content. Similarly, while allowing partners to include inline links in their stories reveals an important dimension to modern prose, it entailed overcoming some strange technical issues involving how HTML links interact with native mobile apps. Thus, this balancing act—between ease of use and functionality, between simplicity and detail—will remain a challenge for Cleveland Historical and other Curatescape projects. In fact, in many respects, it reflects the broader challenges of the humanities in adapting its interpretive strategies to emerging formats.

It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of user design interfaces or interpretive strategies unless a project rigorously collects and evaluates data. Few humanities-based mobile projects appear to engage in such evaluative practices, which appears to be true of the broader digital humanities field. Indeed, we should demand better collection and evaluation of user data in all projects—making it a critical element of our professional endeavor. Curatescape includes user analytics that track (non-identifiable) user experiences on mobile devices in a way that complements the rigorous data that we already collect about visitors to the project website. Additionally, as we modify Curatescape for indoor use, we'll be conducting rigorous user studies (with NEH funding). Our users can teach us much through their explorations of our interpretive stories.

Understanding audience responses to the apps and their interpretive content provides what is arguably the best vehicle for considering more mundane aspects of a mobile project's management, including such issues as marketing and funding. Marketing is critical and can be expensive. The best marketing strategies, as we've already implied, are those that develop organically from your project. However, with Cleveland Historical, we also implemented traditional strategies (including hiring a dedicated PR firm) as well as targeted social media strategies. One of our favorite strategies has been to distribute printed postcards, and we've also handed out t-shirts with the Cleveland Historical logo. These have all raised public awareness and build users. But, they have not been as effective as tours, community projects, and teaching endeavors in building awareness and audience. Finally, in terms of budgets, building mobile projects is expensive, not just from a technical standpoint but from the perspective of implementing dynamic interpretive strategies. These costs, as well as technical considerations, have placed mobile projects largely beyond the budgets of scholars and small humanities organizations. It is this concern that we have sought to address with the development of Curatescape, making the web components free and the deployment of native apps for iOS and Android available at a minimal cost. Our goal has been to allow curators to deploy mobile projects with relatively modest technical costs, allowing them to focus their energies on funding the development of content.

There are many fundraising strategies, but our team would recommend against charging users to download their mobile application. Relatively few people pay for mobile applications, and if they do pay, they would expect to pay only $1 or $2, the typical price point for the vast majority of apps. Not only does this reduce the number of apps downloaded, but it generates relatively little income. For example, subtracting commissions or costs associated with the Apple App store or Google Play, for a $1 App would yield less than $0.70 in revenue per sale. If each of the 13,000 people who downloaded Cleveland Historical had paid for the app, the project would have netted less than $10,000 far less than the amount spent on the project to date. Projects are better served seeking support for the endeavors in other ways.

With Cleveland Historical, we have raised money to build content for the apps using a variety of strategies. We've written small grants to allow us to fund the development of interpretive content for neighborhoods. We've also worked with local community development organizations to create custom tours that align with their public events, a mutually beneficial arrangement. We've also worked with university grant programs and schools to find ways to fund interpretive work developed by teachers and students. In each case, we've been able to raise the funds through which the community interprets its own history, develops deeper historical understandings and a sense of civic engagement, as well as contributes to a broader regional initiative. Indeed, these funding mechanisms have contributed to our core marketing efforts, as the community has "bought in" to the app through funding the development of content and through individuals becoming involved in developing its content.

Curatescape and Mobile: Where next?

Mobile technologies will continue to evolve, and our work will seek to respond to technical developments in whatever manner helps us meet project goals. For example, We are seeking to continue to build out the Curatescape framework, allow humanities curators to "publish" their work through multiple technological channels, emphasizing multiple ways to discover interpretive and multimedia humanities narratives. Included in this effort will be electronic and print books derived from the stories developed for the mobile settings. Likewise, we are exploring alternatives to Google Maps—and geolocation more broadly—as a primary mode of discovering. At the same time, we are considering how to create a version of Curatescape that allows users to experience indoor and other close spaces where a conventional map is not available or appropriate, in an effort to improve users' experiences of museum collections. Our goal is to find additional ways for users to discover and pursue their interests, as well as find new interpretive materials. Additional strategies seek to enable more serendipitous discovery and empower users to collect, curate and share content. Finally, we are exploring ways to connect content across the various Curatescape projects, in hopes that users might discover new places, stories, and ideas through interconnecting and aggregating content from multiple projects. More broadly, we expect other humanities based app developers to develop projects that utilize gaming techniques, near field communication, and perhaps even the semantic web to develop unique user experiences that move us toward richer humanities curation in mobile environments.