And I don't mean by watching reruns of the Flintstones.
In my last post, I mentioned that my work for Time Traveler Tours & Tales is only one of my jobs. I also work in collections at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. The site is famous for being one of the only museums in the country that has a live paleontological excavation on site. And here's the thing:
I love paleontology.
The Tar Pits are in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. The attraction boasts the legacy of what happened during the Ice Age (1.8 million years ago to 11,700 years ago): that's when asphalt “seeps” trapped millions of plants, insects, and animals over the years.
Our team excavates chunks of these asphalt seeps to get a unique snapshot of the environment and biodiversity of one place at one time. It’s an immensely important resource to not only paleontologists, but also to climate change biologists.
My colleagues are working on excavating a huge block of tar right now, and it’s unique because they have to dissolve or clean away the tar to get to the bones, rather than chip away at rock like most fossil excavations. The bones aren’t fossilized because the tar preserves them. Some of them look brand new. Even wood preserves here at Rancho La Brea!
Once my colleagues excavate the material, identify it all, and clean off all the tar, they give the bones to me to process it into the museum’s permanent collection.
The most frequent animals I work with tend to be Dire wolves (Canis dirus), of Game of Thrones fame, and Saber-toothed cats (Smilodon fatalis). I am professionally trained to write numbers on every bone, write (yes! hand write!) the information into a catalog book, and database it.
After that, I use special materials and methods to find each bone a home in our collections space. The large bones usually just get a box, but small animals, such as rabbits or rodents, require foam, vials, and small labels.
My jobs with TTT&T and La Brea aren't a surprise to any of my friends or family. I always felt a strong connection to history. My very first “chapter” books were Laura Ingalls Wilder and any type of historical fiction that I could get from the library. My curiosity was insatiable. I read through the entire dinosaur section of the library, then picked up the first book in the next shelf. It was Lucy, by Dr. Donald Johanson. I was sold: from that point on, I wanted to be a human paleontologist.
I was determined to connect with Dr. J in the pre- social media age. When I was 12, I called information to get his number and talked to his wife. I told her that Dr. J was my hero. A few months later, I received an autographed National Geographic and an invitation to see his lecture at a local university. I walked right up to Dr. J and he remembered me!
“I am honored to shake your hand,” he told me. Even since then, he has always been supportive of me in my journeys with time-travel. I’m sure I’m not the only kid he’s inspired.
My role at TTT&T fulfills a complementary role for me: that of becoming a steward of transmitting information to a new generation. I am confident that a kid is going to use In the Footsteps of Giants during their time exploring Florence, and it’s going to flip the switch in them, too.
Books changed my life in the 80s and 90s. Our mobile apps are going to change lives in the same way now.
What place or time would you like to experience as a
Time Traveler Tour?
Click "comment" to the right and let us know.
Thanks for reading!
Museum Liaison & Community Manager
Time Traveler Tours
We all know the thrill of being involved in a worthwhile project. Even better if it’s groundbreaking. Better still if you’ve got a foot in the door from the beginning.
I’m talking about my role with Time Traveler Tours and the part I’ve played in the development of our coming Story Tour to Florence:
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS:
MICHELANGELO, THE MEDICI & DAVID
It’s now on its way to the app stores (!) and Sarah is on her way to a much-needed vacation. So we thought it a fine time to share the serendipity that brought me to the team, first as Museum Liaison and now Community Manager.
It began with a chance meeting between two strangers on a train.
One of them was Sarah Towle, Founder of Time Traveler Tours & Tales (TTT&T); the other was Rachel Dewan, an archaeologist at Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE), an advocacy group I've been writing and editing for as a volunteer these past several years. The train was bound for Athens and the two strangers just happened to step into the same car. They just happened to sit on the same bench. They just happened to strike up the conversation that would change my life. Both being passionate about culture and committed to turning history on, they totally clicked. Rachel took Sarah’s card and passed it to me. I immediately reached out.
You see, my passion is museums. It always has been. But in order to pay the bills in such a flooded industry, I’ve been working as well in eLearning using new technologies. I knew I could bring all my skills to use at Time Traveler Tours. Lucky for me, Sarah agreed. And now the favorite of my three jobs is working as her right hand, though she is in London and I’m in LA; though we’ve never actually met except via Skype!
My role with TTT is ever-evolving. It started with my interviewing museum professionals, as TTT Museum Liaison, about the use of audio tours, apps, and other technologies to enhance exhibit spaces and experiences.
I heard over and over about their budget constraints and concerns regarding insufficient technical support. But I also heard over and over confirmation that they need what we are proposing, that we’re on the right track. This was very affirming.
This research led to my lecturing on User Experience Design (UX) to Museum Studies students at the University of Washington – a highlight of my work with Time Traveler Tours. I loved showing off our Story Tour design and discussing the mission and goals of our educational tourism start-up. I loved being able to show future museum curators that there is more than one way to communicate their passion for history, culture, and art. I loved hearing from these young people how we might tweak our design to make it even more effective.
The past several months, I’ve played two additional roles. I rolled up my sleeves to join the rest of the team as we assembled the creative assets – text, audio, illustrations, and high-context games – for our proof-of-concept app and wired them together to form the singular product you will soon be able to hold in your hand. For me personally, this meant copy-editing and beta-testing the app, again and again.
But more importantly, I’ve recently assumed the role of Community Manager. I now plan our social media strategy with Sarah and execute our outreach on a daily basis.
This last has really surprised me. When Sarah first asked me to take it on, I was reticent. As a Gen X/Millennial “in-betweener,” I GET social media, but I never felt the inherent connection to it that younger folks do. But I’ve really started to enjoy it.
I appreciate being able to promote the content of bloggers whose work resonates with ours; to advertise exhibits at worthy museums; and to see our following grow each day. I find myself opening our Twitter account in my spare moments just to see who has come into our space. It’s delightful to watch TTT&T emerge as a leader in the eLearning and edTech spaces and to know that I’ve been a part of making that happen.
Now my role comes full circle again.
Once the stores have approved IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS and we have the finished product in the palm of your hands, I get to go back to my contacts in the museum world to offer our services as “developers of innovative educational programming solutions at an affordable cost.” I get to take the mission of TTT to the next level and help #TurnHistoryOn!
The success of our Kickstarter led to the development of this app, which is sure to lead to the growth of a creative venture that solves a problem and caters to a need in a fun, groundbreaking way. Whether you’ve contributed to the campaign, read our newsletters, followed us on social media, or are planning to bring IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS with you on your next trip to Florence, you’ve all been a part of this journey. Trust me when I say that your contribution is very much appreciated among all of us here atTime Traveler Tours & Tales!
Join me in raising a glass... to you!
Museum Liaison & Community Manager
Time Traveler Tours
Are you a museum professional interested in learning more
about how we can help you turn history on?
We're one week away!
All the creative assets are completed and loaded into the app; all the pages are designed; all the buttons added; all the images are hotspotted. Everything is wired together. Three rounds of beta-testing have brought excellent changes and primed the engine.
All that's left is to write the App Store Meta Data. But here's the rub: I'm hopeless with metadata.
Metadata is "data that describes other data." And that's the kind of definition that just makes this already very tired head spin. More to the point: It's keywords and other snippets of information that make it possible for you to search for and locate a specific document in the intertoobz.
But here's why it's important to our process right now:
The app stores are uber-crowded places. As of June 2016 there were 2 million apps in the Apple app store and 2.2 million in Google Play. That's a lot of apps vying for your attention. Yet neither store offers developers many options for search. ou get your TITLE and 100 characters of KEYWORDS, including the commas that separate them. That's it!
The description is not searchable, but a compelling one with a great headline is the only way to grab potential users' attention and keep them there... once they've found your app.
Please Help me Hack this!
It's easy to think of the obvious search terms, like Michelangelo and Florence and Tour. But that's going to bring up a lot of choices, and being brand new, ours is not likely to rise to the top.
We need some unique ones. It only takes one or two. And I need your help!
Please read our app Title and Description below and offer any keywords you can think of in the comments to the right. Help us get this app not just to the store, but positioned in such a way that it might be discoverable.
THANKS! I look forward to your sage advice!
* * * * *
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS: MICHELANGELO, THE MEDICI & DAVID
by Time Traveler Tours, LLC
Horrible Histories meets Pokémon Go in this Time Traveler Tour to Florence.
Everyone knows Michelangelo. But did you know he once hid in fear for his life? That mystery frames the story of the Italian Renaissance and is the basis of this multi-media mobile Story App by Time Traveler Tours.
Discover Florence – the city that invented western art – through the eyes of one of its true geniuses with In the Footsteps of Giants: Michelangelo, The Medici & David.
The collaboration of award-winning author Mary Hoffman (Stravaganza Series and David, The Unofficial Biography) and new media publishing pioneer Sarah Towle, In the Footsteps of Giants: Michelangelo, The Medici & David promises to please eager tourist, history buff, and armchair traveler alike. Its groundbreaking format weaves world-class storytelling together with voice-acted narration, archival illustrations, video, and gamification to bring the history of Florence and the Renaissance to life in the home and school, the city and museum.
It's the perfect companion to your next visit to Florence.
Time Traveler Tours are story-driven treasure hunts to historic places. They combine the traditional power of narrative with the magic of the touch screen to create portals to the past. They put the story back in history on interactive devices in the palm of your hand. They #TurnHistoryOn.
In the Footsteps of Giants takes you to 16th century Florence with the master sculptor, Michelangelo, as your guide. You’ll walk the streets Michelangelo walked; see the sights Michelangelo saw. You’ll time-travel to an era remembered for one of the greatest creative explosions ever – the very reason people flock to Florence today. You’ll meet the mighty Medici and discover through Michelangelo’s eyes why they wanted his head.
★ Listen and/or read along as Michelangelo transports you to his Florence.
★ Feel as if you are there – an eyewitness to history – as you learn how he came to carve one of the most iconic sculptures the world has ever known: The David.
★ Engage with Michelangelo’s city through treasure hunts, challenges, and other immersive activities.
★ Interact not just with your device, but with your companions and, most importantly, the glories that surround you, all the while gaining a deeper understanding of the time and place in which Michelangelo lived – and nearly met an untimely end.
What better way to learn about the past than to immerse yourself in it?
Whether in Florence on the ground or in your imagination, visit these historic points of interest with the master and his contemporaries:
- The Duomo
- Casa Buonarroti
- Piazza della Signoria
- Bargello Museum
- San Lorenzo Church
- Medici Chapel New Sacristy
Did you know that while in hiding, Michelangelo covered the walls of his cramped quarters with sketches? Did you know they would go undiscovered for 446 years?
Find out all about this – and much, much more – with
In the Footsteps of Giants: Michelangelo, The Medici & David.
In every tale published, every app produced, and every tour mapped out,
Time Traveler Tours #TurnHistoryOn.
Our mission is to ensure that no one says, “History is boring!” ever again.