Critical Interactives

and other digital humanities projects hosted here

Augusta App

Finding Augusta: Habits of Mobility, Finding, and Governance in the Digital Era (Dartmouth College Press/Interfaces Series, March 2014) is interested in routine practices that define the mobile present. When digital technologies set places, persons, things, and information in constant motion, habits of locatability and navigation assume decisive social and political importance. While most discussions of mobile media treat them as tracking devices, freedom machines, or both, Finding Augusta argues that we should attend to the everyday habits of finding places, persons, and information that mobile media encourage and discourage. "Augusta App", the book's digital supplement, serves as a kind of laboratory for exploring the book's argument. It elaborates the two-fold figure of the traveling salesman:

  1. Scott Nixon, the historical figure, whose Augustas provide content and thematic for the application; and
  2. the Traveling Salesman problem [TSP], the computational model that informs the technical processes that make the application functional.

Read in tandem, the Traveling Salesman Problem and Nixon's The Augustas invite us to consider both the pervasiveness and the inherent instability involved in the routine work of finding and tracking. Ultimately, the project hopes to point in directions of possibility for living in-relation to each other, our mobile technologies, and the broader contexts of one or several populations.

It has been announced here and here that Nixon's film has been placed on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry.

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies has awarded Dr. Cooley the Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award for 2015 for Finding Augusta: Habits of Mobility and Governance in the Digital Era.

The selection committee's comments include the following:

    "Cooley's book offers an original and theoretically rich argument about contemporary mobile technologies, tracking, and our routine habits. The Committee was especially impressed by the Augusta iPhone app, which Cooley developed as part of the project and references extensively in the book. Through the use of GPS navigation, photo sharing, and QR code scanning, the Augusta app encourages users to reflect on their own everyday movements in relation to the theoretical and critical arguments that Cooley makes in the book. The app not only creates the possibility of community and enacts the book's argument in compelling ways, but also opens up possibilities for interactive scholarship. Heidi was a student of Anne's and we know she would be very proud."

The formal presentation of the award was made at the Award Ceremony of the 2015 SCMS Conference in Montreal on Friday afternoon, March 27, 2015.


Finding Augusta

Ward One

Ward One: Race, Urban Renewal, and Community Memories in Columbia, South Carolina is a location-aware mobile application and an accompanying interactive website that presents the story of the predominantly African American community in Columbia, South Carolina known as Ward One.

Using the affordances of both touchscreen and desktop interfaces, Ward One invites participants to understand the vibrant but insular world that African Americans created in the aftermath of Emancipation and the community that formed in the face of Jim Crow policies and segregation - in the shadows of the Statehouse and the University of South Carolina.

It asks them to consider both the local and national policies and politics that fueled urban renewal in Columbia, SC and elsewhere in the country. And it presents the personal accounts of those who were forced to relocate but who worked ardently to protest such acts of "progress."

Ward One mobilizes oral histories, local news footage, photographs, and other archival materials that serve as evidence of the historic place and its demolition, as well as the site's initial appropriation by the City of Columbia and the Columbia Housing Authority, and its subsequent acquisition and transformation by the University of South Carolina.

The mobile application features the repurposed facilities of Booker T. Washington High School where once Ward One teenagers went to school; the Strom Thurmond Wellness Center which stands where once stood the Celia Dial Saxon School; the Colonial Sports Arena, and other locations across what was once Ward One. The interactive website frames these local stories in the context of national urban renewal and tenement reform initiatives.


Ghosts of the Horseshoe

Ghosts of the Horseshoe is a mobile interactive application that endeavors to bring into view--literally, on mobile micro screens (iPads and iPhones at present)--the largely unknown history of slavery at South Carolina College. It deploys game mechanics (i.e., ludic methods), as well as Augmented Reality (AR) and GPS functionality to generate awareness of and questioning about what otherwise seems ordinary: a grassy space at the center of a university campus. It organizes content into distinct but overlapping themes: (1) architectural ghosts (e.g., razed outbuildings); (2) human ghosts (e.g., un/named enslaved persons); and (3) the historic Wall delimiting the Horseshoe grounds.