Putting Technology To Work for History


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hear about here logoVictor Cardona, an attorney who lives in Guilderland, has developed a way to blend the capacities of smart phones, geolocation technology, and podcasts into a new tool for promoting history.

HEAR about HERE features brief historical descriptions of historic sites and buildings that can be accessed with a smartphone with HEAR about HERE’s app. Just tap the screen and a narrator’s voice comes up with a description based on that spot on a Google map. It is meant for tourists and anyone interested in history.

Cardona has started with Albany but is branching out to other Capital District communities and beyond.

The narratives are provided by expert historians. For instance, SUNY Albany history professor David Hochfelder, Albany City Historian Tony Opalka, Colonial Albany scholar Tricia Barbagallo and others have provided narratives. I have also provided a few. The narratives are short descriptions of the sites or buildings and their historical significance. “The world around us is full of hidden historical gems,” says the enterprise’s website. “Our mission is to tell you all about it three minutes at a time.”

In an article by New York State Writer’s Institute Director Paul Grondahl in the January 31 issue of the Albany Times Union, Cardona, who grew up in Albany, said “I heard family stories but there was so much Albany history that I never heard about… I thought it would be cool if a tourist was walking downtown came to an interesting site, pushed a button on their cell phone and could listen to a story about the history that took place on that spot.”

You can listen to the narratives that have been posted so far by going to the site.

HEAR about HERE is imaginative. It has immense potential to link people with history via mobile technology. Its success will depend on contributions from historians and Cardona is actively working to develop the project. Paul Grondahl’s article notes that anyone interesting in contributing history content to the site can contact Cardona through site itself or via email, mail @ hearabouthere.com.

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Bruce Dearstyne

About Bruce Dearstyne

Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne served on the staff of the New York State Office of State History and the State Archives. He was a professor and is now an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies and has written widely about New York history and occasionally writes about New York history issues for the “Perspective” section of the Sunday Albany Times Union. Bruce is the author of two books published in 2015: The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State’s History (SUNY Press) and also Leading the Historical Enterprise: Strategic Creativity, Planning and Advocacy for the Digital Age (Rowman and Littlefield and the AASLH). He can bereached at dearstyne@verizon.net.

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