Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Deep and Wide

Nina Lindsay sent in a comment to the last post, ereader day, filled with the yearning sense of possibility for what e-devices possibly could do. Just this morning, Mary Ann Cappiello forwarded an example of one kind of interesting use for something as familiar as a smart phone:  “Strawbery Banke, the living history museum in Portsmouth, NH has a new phone app to provide visitors with a multi-modal tour. Here’s a link to a sampling in You Tube:  and the article in today’s paper about it:

and of course the other day I posted the new digital history project I’m working on with the National Parks Service. So lets add these together. Right now many adults and some teenagers/tweeners have smart phones that have GPS, audio, and can handle still images as well as some video or animation. What this means is that we can now deliver experiences not descriptions. Just as the old museum audio tour asked you to press 123 to hear some well-spoken insight in that particular painting, now the world is our advent calendar. Any place — the Village in Manhattahn; the Left Bank in Paris; the Mall in DC — any National Park — any apartment — can be a kind of museum triggered as a visitor walks through it. We can look at any one place across time — here is the building now, here is what was there before, and before that, and before that — Street Across Time, but experienced in real time as we face that particular street.

A historical novel set in that street is just what it always was. A history book exploring some era or individual goes far deeper than any device. Books do what books do best. But we take devices with us as we go out into the world. The books go deep. The devices go wide. I love it.


  1. I love that – the world is our advent calendar.

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    thanks, now all we have to do is do it

  3. That all sounds awesome but a little voice inside me wonders (as a non-iphone or GPS owner) how those on the outside–typically the economically disadvantaged–can be kept in the loop on these technologies. But then again, I guess that is always the question isn’t it…

  4. Marc Aronson says:

    Vicky: I agree that you have raised a significant concern. I began to address it in today’s post, but I will return to say more when I know more.