The Mobile Revolution by Brandon Norris

Brandon Norris (Me) Spring of 2020 Photograph – taken with Google Photo Scan App
Same Photograph of myself but without using Google Scan, and using just regular smartphone camera (notice the difference in quality?)

Ladies and gentlemen,, the “Mobile Revolution” is upon us….or should I say, it has been upon us. You see, the mobile revolution is not a type of event that has come to pass like a holiday, or something. The “mobile revolution” is happening, even right now. As you can see above, the use of Google Photo Scan is popular as a photo app for taking better quality photos than your average camera photo. The introduction of new apps gives of technological improvements, advantages and opportunities, to not only the general public, but historians, as well. Mark Tebeau is a great example of someone who benefits from this mobile revolution, as a historian, Tebeau is an author of many articles and someone who has contributed a lot to historical museums over the web and also over various apps (Spokane Historical for example). Tebeau said in his article, “Listening to the City: Oral History’s and place in Digital Era” (2013), that by 2015, “eighty percent of calls would be over mobile phones and twenty percent of internet traffic would be over mobile device” (Tebeau, p.26). Seeing as how it is now 2020, and even my 4 year old nephew who can barely talk but knows how to Zoom call everyone in my contacts and search up Youtube videos, I wonder how dramatical these numbers have increased by? Anyways, what Tebeau has to say about the mobile revolution, is that “the mobile revolution offers tantalizing possibilities to archivists, historians, and curators interested in reaching broader public audiences” (“Digital Era,” p. 25). This is evident in museums like Spokane Historical, Intermountain Histories (Utah), and Cleveland Historical. The use of applications and its various features has allowed broader audiences to be more interactive with this history, and engage in it using all of their senses. The use of images, audio recordings, interviews, photographs and maps is all engaging material that the apps of museums use to help really “curate the story of a city” and is also “vital to understanding place and community identity” but it’s also engaging and makes history and research fun and interesting for the viewer ( “Digital Era,” p. 27). Text research has been a basic way for communicating data for many centuries, however Tebeau brings up in interesting point, as he argues that “often times text focuses on only one sense – sight – over the other senses” (“Digital Era,” p. 27). Upon reviewing some of these museums and their apps, I searched into the “Lost Apache” tour from the Salt River Stories website which is about the culture of the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Tempe metro area. Lost Apache is important to Phoenix, because it created a distinctive feel of the city and is part its cultural identity; especially for how Phoenix was in the 1950’s – 1960’s Its use of the location feature, and interactive map to illustrate where things are as if you were driving down Apache Boulevard, and the imagery and text details on each site, made for a very fun and engaging tou because you’ll seeing everything from the Goodwin Stadium, the Tempe Stadium, to the Neon Signs on the Tempe Mesa Highway, all the way down to the post-war Tempe neighborhoods.

Goodwin Stadium, 1950
Tempe Public Market – example of the Neon Signs
Tempe Tavern

The way that the Mobile Revolution allowed the public to access these captivating sites of history, culture and identity as well as giving historians the ability to give us that easier route of access is a great example of the beauty of Digital Humanities. However, Tebeau also address the sheer fac that “historians and humanists embrace techological trends, sometimes slowly” (“Digital Era,” p. 25). As tech trends fluctuate, how much more difficult will it become for historians to be able to pinpoint what types of apps, features and engagaments to use, in order to reach-out to a broader crowd?


Tebeau, “Listening to the City: Oral History and Place in the Digital Era” The Oral History Review 2013, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 25–35

2 thoughts on “The Mobile Revolution by Brandon Norris

  1. Awesome post! I found the fact that your four-year old nephew can work a smart phone probably better than me slightly scary though. Be mindful of typing errors but other than that, you did an outstanding job detailing some of the amazing things the Mobile revolution has to offer historians and the public.

  2. I enjoy your description of taking the Lost Apache virtual tour. You say that “Lost Apache is important to Phoenix, because it created a distinctive feel of the city and is part its cultural identity;” how do you think it impacts someone not from Phoenix? Is it a useful substitute for a visit, or is something of the cultural significance lost in the digitization?

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