How should history be written? And when we do write it, whose voices should we hear?
Two of my colleagues and friends, Roy Rosenzweig and Michael Mizell-Nelson, both now sadly deceased, believed that we can only really understand the past if we listen to the voices of the too often faceless and nameless majority. It is, as Roy and Michael argued throughout their careers, the lived experiences of average people that often teach us the most important lessons of history.
And so, on this the 10th anniversary of the day in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, I want to say something about a group, tossed by the storm, whose voices are almost never heard in the many accounts of Katrina and her aftermath: Katrina’s children.
In the fall of 2005, Roy, Michael, and a team of collaborators at the Center for History and New Media and the at the University of New Orleans, began a digital archiving project–the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank–with the simple goal of capturing as much of the digital record of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, all three of which battered the Gulf Coast that summer. Stories, pictures, recordings, and just about anything else they could get their hands on found their way into the memory bank. [A nice overview here]
Among the 25,000 digital objects in the archive, you can find more than 8,500 individual stories. Over the past month I’ve been reading back through those stories–stories that are still being written and deposited into our collection. Along the way I found myself gravitating to accounts written by those who whose childhood ended abruptly on August 28.
I can’t claim to have read them all–there are 8,500 stories after all. But I have spent a fair amount of time searching the story collections, slowly narrowing my results to stories about childhood, high school, teenage life, and other keywords identifying those who were children that summer. My colleague and one of the people who really made this project work, Sheila Brennan, has done something similar in the ways that an advanced digital historian might, using topic modeling techniques to find patterns emerging across all the stories in the collection. [Read about Sheila’s results here.]
What did I learn about Katrina’s children by reading their accounts of the storm and its aftermath?
As you might expect, there were those who were not devastated by the storm. They had to evacuate. They lost some possessions. They missed some school. They came home. They rebuilt. They persevered. They went on with their lives. As one put it, “we were some of the lucky ones.”
But for so many of Katrina’s children, the stories of their lives after August 28 are of disaster, indignity, fear, loss, confusion, broken families, and the rootlessness that comes with the loss of home, possessions, and friends.
“I felt helpless. I felt numb the whole time.” [Full story]
“Katrina didn’t just take my house. She took my home, my childhood, and my mental state. The person I used to be was lost along with everything else.” [Full story]
My father “saw an elderly woman being beaten to death for a 6-pack of kiddie water.” [Full story]
“Not only did I lose my home but I lost my family. Katrina not only caused an uproar in the home but a divorce that should’ve never happened…Katrina caused pain and nights of constant cry. Katrina ruined it all; Katrina ruined me.” [Full story]
These are the voices of Katrina’s children–the ones whose lives were irrevocably changed by the storm. Were it not for the efforts of pioneering digital historians like Roy and Michael, and their many colleagues and collaborators who helped build the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, these voices would be lost to us. Of course, these stories represent a tiny, unrepresentative sample of Katrina’s children.
But for now, it’s what we have.
Ideum has collaborated with our partners to create a line of 42″ multitouch tables and walls using a new type of projected capacitive touch technology. The new multitouch screens are built with silver nanowire, which has a fast response time and a high level of fidelity. Perhaps most importantly, this very fine silver mesh cannot be seen – so it doesn’t interfere with the image on the screen. The 42″ multitouch screen product line is intended to be incredibly versatile. The hardware is tough enough to be used in the same public spaces as our larger tables, but small enough to be welcomed into homes.
The new 42″ screen is available in several Ideum models. The Presenter 42 is a multitouch wall, ideal for business settings and presentations. The 42″ Duet coffee table is perfect for home or lobby and lounge settings, where people can sit comfortably to interact with the table.
The Platform 42 and Platform 42 Drafting multitouch tables will be available in September 2015. The Platform 42 is a flat multitouch table that can accommodate a pair of people working together on a project or engaging in an interactive. The Platform 42 Drafting Table’s screen is oriented at a 30-degree angle, and is great as a workstation or an eye-catching display.
Last month, we posted about Ideum’s inclusion in the Albuquerque Business First’s Fastest Growing Companies award list as well as the New Mexico Flying 40. This month, Ideum is getting even more local press. On August 10, our CEO and Creative Director Jim Spadaccini was interviewed for the Albuquerque Journal. The resulting article provides a great history of Ideum, its founder, and how Ideum ended up becoming a New Mexico business. You can read the article in the Albuquerque Journal online.
In addition to that article, Ideum was also featured in the Journal for being one of eleven New Mexico companies to make the national Inc. 5000 list, which includes the top 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. The list is created each year by Inc. Magazine; this year’s Inc. 5000 list takes into account growth from 2011 to 2014. You can read the full Journal article about the Inc. 5000 here, and for the complete list visit the Inc. 5000 website.
As Ideum continues to grow, we also continue to expand our capacity to develop custom hardware and software. We’ve also recently expanded our facility, and made some improvements to our Prototyping + Usability Lab. With our 35+ team members, Ideum continues to create exciting and inspiring visitor and user experiences.
It’s a rare experience to see a living artist participate in an interactive that your team has created about that artist’s work! Ideum recently designed and developed the Warhol / Wyeth Interactive Photo Kiosk with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in conjunction with their exhibitions Warhol’s Nature and Jamie Wyeth. We were excited to learn that not only are Crystal Bridges visitors enjoying the activity, but that Jamie Wyeth, one of the featured artists, actually used the interactive photo kiosk himself.
Artist Jamie Wyeth tries out Crystal Bridges’ Ideum interactive photo kiosk.
When Crystal Bridges visitors approach the kiosk, they choose from among several virtual backgrounds, all based on the work of either Andy Warhol or Jamie Wyeth. A RealSense camera detects the visitor, whose image appears on the screen. Visitors capture their image, then choose styles to apply to it, adding themselves to pictures reminiscent of the works of one of the two iconic American artists. After their image has been captured and the styles applied, visitors can email their picture to themselves and/or publish it onto Crystal Bridges’ Tumblr page for the activity. You can even find Jamie Wyeth’s image from the kiosk on Tumblr.
Video courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum.
Ideum, working closely with Crystal Bridges, designed and developed the application and created all of the art for the backgrounds and styles. To learn more about applications Ideum has developed, visit our Creative Services page.
Warhol’s Nature and Jamie Wyeth will be on display at Crystal Bridges through October 5th. To learn more about these exhibitions at Crystal Bridges, visit their website.
In October of this year, the Botanic Garden at the Albuquerque BioPark will be opening a new BUGarium – a building with a series of exhibits devoted exclusively to insects and other bugs. A few of us at Ideum recently got a peek behind the scenes.
Ideum is currently designing and developing an interactive for the new BUGarium that will allow visitors to “Be the Bug.” When they approach the Ideum Presenter 65 touch wall, visitors will choose from among three very different bugs. Once the visitors choose their bug, they will be presented with a life-sized mirror image of the bug which tracks and replicates their own movements using a Kinect sensor. After a few seconds admiring themselves as a giant bug in the “mirror,” visitors then take on the role of the bug and “fly” to forage or hunt for their food. The activity will be motion-based, so visitors will really get a feel of what it’s like to “Be the Bug.”
On our field trip, we got to know a few of the critters on which the interactive bugs will be modeled, as well as a few other future BUGarium inhabitants. The “Be a Bug” interactive will debut in October 2015 when the new BUGarium opens. We are very excited to be working with this great local institution as they expand their educational offerings and facilities. To learn more about interactives Ideum has designed and developed, visit our Creative Services page.
Ideum builds two of the world’s largest production-made multitouch tables: the Pano and the Colossus. Both tables have been installed in high-traffic, well-known museums and organizations. Both are incredibly rugged and built to last. And both lead to very social interactive experiences. But each table’s form factor makes it ideal for specific applications.
The Pano has a 100″ long screen and up to 40 touch points, so 8 people can comfortably interact with the Pano simultaneously. It is available with either 2 HD screens or 2 UHD 4K screens – which come together to create a unique 8K experience. The Pano is equipped with a powerful workstation perfect for museum exhibits, visualizations, simulations, and other processor-intensive tasks.
The Colossus is an 84” 4K UHD multitouch table designed for busy public spaces. Its bezel-free glass top is impervious to interference from light and supports up to 100 touch points for multiuser interaction. The Colossus uses projected capacitive touch, the same touch technology used in popular tablets and smartphones.
Where Are They Now?
The Pano has been installed at the Telus World of Science in Vancouver, where it currently displays an Ideum-developed exhibit about the electromagnetic spectrum. Panos have also been installed at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Liberty Science Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as several other museums, visitor centers, and universities throughout the world.
The Colossus has made an impressive debut, with its first several installations all being in Smithsonian museums. The first Colossi were installed at the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. The next installation for the Colossus was in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, where it has become a hub of The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire exhibit. That table features the Ideum-developed Cusco Experience, a 3D model of the Inka capital that incorporates a variety of media. The next stop for Colossus will be at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum next month, where it will feature an Ideum-built experience in which visitors will design modules for an international space station.
Form Follows Function
Which table is best for your future project? Both tables can display a large amount of content, support a high level of interaction, and accommodate a group of people for a social experience.
The long, linear form of the Pano makes it ideal for viewing change over time, as in the EM Spectrum exhibit or other timeline-based applications. The Pano is also great for paired interaction, since one user can easily pass content from one side of the narrow table to the other. And for getting your visitors moving, kinetic activities that require dragging objects the length of the long table are an ideal solution.
The form of the Colossus is great for displaying spatial relation-based content like maps and 3D models, as in the Smithsonian NMAI Cusco Experience exhibit. The Colossus is also ideal for creating multiple individual stations around a central unifying image, such as the upcoming Air & Space Museum exhibit will include. We’ll share more about that project next month!