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Nebraska: Where it Happened

I was looking at this Flickr photo by a Twitter colleague of mine named Michael Peterson. He’s often posting photos of locations that played a significant role in Nebraska’s history. Official historical markers, ghost towns, the remnants of churches, hospitals, barns and places all around us that are about to disappear all together.

It got me thinking about 4th grade Nebraska History units, and people around the state who are proud of their heritage, and people who are passionate about photography, and the ever growing number of geo-taggers and the amazing web based tools that we have at our disposal in 2010. How can we focus all of these things into a single, incredibly informative and highly entertaining package?

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a website that had elements of the following all combined in one spot:

  • A database that correlated Nebraska photos with geo-data
  • A beautiful (minimalistic) web interface that allowed you to view the photos by map view, or list view by county or region
  • A web interface that allows people to contribute (moderated) 1st person narratives or content
  • A mobile interface that allowed you to easily view the contents and/or contribute new data while in the field (+ iPhone/Android apps)

A person would not have to start completely from scratch, many ingredients/resources/models are already out there.

So anyway – I had this idea, and I do not presume that it is a unique one, but I know that I don’t have the requisite skills or the time necessary to pull it all off in the way it exists in my head. I’m throwing it out to the wind in the hopes that some folks out there might be able to pull off the creation of a site like this if a lot of people pitched in. Crowd-sourcing and all that.
And if nothing ever comes of it, I have a great list of resource links for the 4th grade teachers in Nebraska to use in their Nebraska History units.

Posted in My Thoughts.

13 Responses

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  1. Mike Peterson says

    Great idea. I love this….and thanks for mentioning me btw.

  2. Josh says

    I would be happy to lend the Connect Nebraska website, but I also wonder if this is something that we should pitch to the Historical Society? I don’t know their Board/members so I don’t know how it would go over.

    • cpultz says

      The Historical Society angle occurred to me also, but they seem to be focused on the curated collections side of things. I’m imagining a Flickr/Google Maps Mashup of creative commons licensed content. User contributed.

      I thought the Nebraska Memories collection was a good lead also, until I saw the work involved in getting something added. they won’t work with individuals, only county historical societies.

  3. Deanna says

    This is an awesome idea! I could see this in the 7th/8th grade level too. My own kids love picture projects so I know it would be a “hit” with classrooms.

  4. Mike Peterson says

    It would be a great Photo Safari for our Photography Club and/or my Digital Design Classes at OHS.

  5. cpultz says

    Mike – would it be an appropriate project for your Digital Design classes? The idea of pitching it to our (LPS) Information Tech Focus Program had crossed my mind also.

    • Mike Peterson says

      It definitely would be a great project for my Digital Design Classes-they would love it.

  6. Corey Dahl says

    I love it this idea! It has so much meaning. We all live here in Nebraska, we take pictures, we have stories. It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. Way to go Chris!

  7. bfitz says

    I like the idea. It seems that if we are going to tie together location data, photos, posts, etc. that we would really need to build off of core of data sources. We would need some local databases that housed the Nebraska site data that we wanted to maintain and then decide on which external sites like Flickr and Picasa that we might want to tie into. Most sites these days seem to publish GeoRSS feeds, so if our local database could expose a GeoRSS feed then our main site would simply need to aggregate those sources with some options for visitors to focus in on a point of interest and learn about it.

    • Chris says

      Love it. Love it. Love it.

  8. Michelle Baldwin says

    Count me IN.

  9. Carol says

    I think another layer you should think about adding would be some way in which you could cross-reference Nebraska history with things that were happening elsewhere simultaneously. My family is not from here and during the 4th grade history projects I cringe to think Nebraska kids might think everyone everywhere was living in a sod house in the 1860s. I also think an important layer would be the impact white Nebraska history had on Native American history. Our “heritage” was pretty much their downfall. The Homestead site in Beatrice presents a very good film which presents this point of view very eloquently. Cool ideas.

  10. cpultz says

    Carol – An appropriate comment for Columbus Day, I’d say! I would posit that your fear is probably closer to a reality. Speaking for myself, when I grew up learning about the pioneers on the plains, I did not have a worldly view. I could barely get my head around living in a sod house, let alone what people in other places were doing as they chose this life of hardship. I agree with you, we don’t do a good enough job of presenting alternative ideas. Unfortunately, this may be a symptom of teaching Social Studies for 30 minutes a day, 2 days a week.

    I love the idea of an “elsewhere” layer, but at this point we are having trouble getting the basics assembled. 😉 Thanks for contributing your thoughts!

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