Mobile devices, interactive storytelling and how tourism can grab the iPod visitor

Sony Walkman (courtesy Mike Licht NotionsCapital.com at Flickr CC)Mobile devices aren’t new. I played music on a Sony Walkman decades ago.

What made it different from a boom box was that it created my own little sonic world – I chose what I heard and only I could hear it.

Mobile devices aren’t new, but what you can do with them now is extraordinary (and I don’t just mean smartphones.)

I’m back from my annual trek through one of the biggest tech conferences in the world, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas, and one panel’s use of mobile devices to structure a narrative story really struck a chord with me.

From my post about it on the Perceptive Travel blog …. Postcard from SXSWi: an audio tour like you’ve never seen before ….

“It’s sort of an audio tour plus flash mob plus live theater plus….well, AVAdventure is hard to describe, but I can see possibilities for setting up productions that could really engage travelers, especially the eternally bored and cynical ones.

Everyone in a participating group downloads audio files to their mobile devices – iPods, phones, etc. – and everyone presses “Play” at the same time, then follows the “script,” which includes live actors appearing at certain times in the narrative.

At SXSWi, presenters Adam Stackhouse and Kelley Quinn described their most recent project:  an adventure about American history run simultaneously in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia plus the National Mall in Washington, DC and a third set of participants online….The AVAdventures crew is currently working with Colonial Williamsburg on another project, and I think this is a perfect fit for the ongoing effort to paint history in rich, vibrant colors for visitors at living history museums.”

I can see a group of eye-rolling teenagers and their beleaguered parents all donning iPods to participate in an adventure crafted in conjunction with a history- and culture-rich town, and then seeing a lot less cynicism and a lot more wonder at the end.

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