Friday, October 22, 2010

Design Project




View Sellersville, PA in a larger map

This was for a class project, which allowed me to learn more about my community. The point of project was to incorporate media into a tour of any given location - in this case Sellersville, PA.

I came up with several different communications methods for this walking/driving “tour” of Sellersville and Perkasie. One could be the use of a cell phone where you could call a toll-free number seen on a sign of any kind. It could be the sign for the park, a bridge, playground equipment, street sign, or on the wall, anywhere. When you call, you will hear a recorded list of different stories to listen to—either a history of the general location, a story of the specific spot you are standing in or anything that relates to the location where you are.

Another idea for a communications method would be podcasts that are downloadable for the tourist who has planned ahead to take this trip. There would be a separate podcast for each location and I chose this medium because they can be paused and listened to later if the listener needs to stop it for any given reason. The podcasts would be a narrative of the location’s history and place in the community. With the podcasts, you as the tourist will receive an itinerary of things to do at each location, like a list of performances at the Sellersville Theater, community activities at the Menlo Pool, the library, and the hours of operation at the Carousel, and snapshot of the menu at the Washington House.

Another idea is something I “borrowed” from what museums and zoos do, which will be primarily at the parks. There will be a stand with a picture of the place from when it first opened or other activity that happened there in past, a speaker, and a button you can press to listen to a brief description of the exact place you are standing or looking at.
This “tour” is primarily for people who have planned this trip ahead of time. If people are in the various locations where the recorded messages are, they will learn about the tour from a brief introduction or conclusion saying something like “if you would like to learn more about this tour please stay on the line or visit our website at the following…”

In the podcasts, the narrator will point out the trigger points, but in the use of the cell phones or story stands (as I am calling them) they will be visible to everyone in the park. The latter are supplemental to the narrative podcasts, but also stand alone stories for those who are not on the tour. The idea of this is to have something that is very random. Or it can be very planned out, yet different than the last trip. The trigger points are placed somewhere that can be visible to anyone and everyone in that immediate location in order to have maximized participation, which will most frequently be random because of curiosity. This is meaningful because it increases participation from community members so they can learn more about the place where they live. It also increases participation from people who may be just visiting, which increases meaning because they’ll then learn about a community that is different from theirs.

Navigation Instructions:

1) Start at Druckenmiller Park, watch whatever game(s) may be going on and if there isn’t, play your own game. If you have young children with them, let them play on the playground. After a half hour maximum, get in the car and drive to the next location.

2) Park at the Sellersville Theater where you can listen to each communication device and attend a performance if there is one taking place.

3) Walk next door to the Washington House and order lunch or dinner, preferably after listening to the narratives or stories. If there is a show at the theater, you can enjoy a meal before going onto your next location before or after a show at the theater.

4) After the Washington House (or a second trip to the theater), walk across the street to the gift shop and take a look around while interacting with the communication devices. Participants may or may not purchase something.

5) After the gift shop, you need to drive to the next location, which is the shopping center. This isn’t as important as the other stops and you don’t need to actually visit the stores, but can if you want to. It’s just a convenient location to park your cars and listen to the rest of the narratives. The shopping center is across the street from Lake Lenape Park which you can walk to.

6) Based on the narrative podcasts, take the tour around Lenape Park. Walk over the bridges to Menlo Park and take the rest of the tour or walk back to the car and drive around to the specified location. (stop at Dairy Queen for dessert if you want)

7) Arrive at Menlo Park and take the tour. Once the narrative is completed here, either walk or drive to the next location—Menlo Pool and the Carousel. If it’s a Sunday and it’s open, take a ride on the Carousel. If the pool is open and it’s hot, take a dip if one-time visitor’s are allowed.

8) Spend some time in the park/playground, especially if there are children involved and also be sure to visit the library where additional information can be found on any of the locations in the tour.


The narrative would be difficult to write without doing some significant research about each location on the tour. I do have a small narrative written as a part of the map. Each location has a short caption, picture, and some even have a web-link for those who want to learn a little bit about each location before making the decision to take the trip. Like I mentioned before, this is supposed to be a narrative tour, but inevitably there will be random participants once the cell phones signs or story stands are put in place. The narrative will be very fragmented because participants will be interacting with the location in order to fully experience and understand what the narrative is about.

This interaction definitely leaves room for chance or improvisation because you as the listener will not have the same experience as the narrator. Instructions include things like “now go to this location and watch the show if there is one.” Seeing a show is pure chance, especially at the parks. It’s the outdoors, nothing is the same from day to day in a park. There is definitely more than one story available to be told. There doesn’t have to be more than one story, but it definitely adds to the feel and history of the location.

This experience is more than just one. It’s at least one full day, if you spend sufficient time at each point on the map. Hana Iverson talked about things that could be experienced by people all over the world. Eventually, participants could be from all over the world once the map becomes more interactive. The goal is to make the map completely virtual eventually, but it definitely takes away the experience of actually being at the specific spot. Significant elements are hearing the sounds of the parks, riding on the carousel, reading books in the library, swimming at Menlo Pool, playing on the playgrounds, eating at the restaurant, and viewing a performance at the Sellersville Theater; things that wouldn’t be the same viewing online. Like most everything in life, participants have to physically experience each part of the tour to get the complete understanding of it.

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