Monday, 15 September 2014

Hamilton at the App Store

You know what I like? Apps. Specifically, history-themed apps. Also on the list of Things I Like are the Hamilton East Heritage Trail, and the historic buildings around the South End of Victoria St in Hamilton. With that in mind, it'll come as no surprise that I'm a big fan of the Historic Hamilton Walking Tours app, which Hamilton City Libraries released the other week.

Much like language-learning app Duolingo and university lecture app iTunesU, I think history apps like Historic Hamilton are important because they help demorcratise the information. As long as you have access to the App Store, you can learn French or listen to a lecture on English Lit or hear about your local landmarks, whenever and wherever it takes your fancy, without having to direct your inquiry through a probably costly or time-consuming third party. They also have the potential to give you some of the control over what information you're presented with - on iTunesU for example, I can skip half a semester of lectures to get to the one topic I'm interested in.

I'm less of a fan of the fact that said app wasn't compatible with my iPhone, but this could be more proof of my technological ineptness than of issues with the app itself. I do really feel that a historic resource like this one should be available in as many formats as possible so that no one is disadvantaged by lack of money and/or technological skill, but if you do possess the right technology the app itself is free to download and, I'm assured, reasonably easy to use.

I'd love to see more apps like this one. Imagine a guided tour of the shops on Pollen St at the turn of last century, or a leisurely route through town via the yellow Lions Club historical signs, or a GPS-guided tour of Thames' founders up at any of the cemeteries. All for free, all in your pocket, all with the potential to follow your particular tangents.

Kudos to the HCC Libraries' Heritage Team. I hope this app is the first of many, nationwide.

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