Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Civil War Time Machine

Today on History Matters, I would like to welcome a guest blogger who is attempting to engage people's interest in the past through unique and innovative means....

First off, a big thanks to Jared and to History Matters for including me on today's edition of the blog. 

When I was in the first grade my parents took me on a camping trip from our home in New Jersey to Gettysburg, PA.  I palled around with the little southern boy in the campsite next to ours over the course of the weekend and I distinctly remember him telling me that, “My favorite General is Robert E. Lee,” to which I replied, “Mine’s Ulysses S. Grant.”  Typical first grade banter.

A Civil War junkie was born.  Soon I was staying up late to watch Patrick Swayze’s magnum opus North & South miniseries with my mother on our betamax machine and begging my parents to buy me toy soldiers in obscene quantities so I could re-enact Pickett’s charge on the kitchen table.  Somewhere not-so-deep inside me that same little boy still exists.  

More recently, I created my own Civil War tour company based in Washington, D.C. and I decided to direct my life’s passion towards a concrete goal: the creation of a new type of guidebook.  An electronic, fully interactive ebook that can take visitors back in time as they tour hallowed battlefield ground and neighboring historic sites.  A book that, once completed, could be made available for download on any iPad.  A time machine on a tablet that can create an entire network of tour sites and historic interest areas, stitched together with the latest technology and capable of engaging any age group or interest level.

At least that’s the vision I have for the new E-History Guidebook project that my company is developing, and the good folks at Manassas National Battlefield Park are going to give us the chance to prove that it can work. 

Our culture is digitizing itself.  The pathway Americans have into our shared history is transitioning away from dead tree books and museum lectures into a complex network of smart apps, e-readers, online libraries, twitter feeds, and virtual tours.  For all the proud history nerds out there who, like me, think of themselves as "keepers of the flame," we need to make certain that this new technological wave can be harnessed in a manner that both honors our past and engages a whole new generation of people to their American story.  I know that these guidebooks are a step in that direction.   

To that end, I’d like to introduce myself to you today as Aaron Killian, an aspiring builder of time machines.  I’d also like you to meet my company, and to learn more about the revolutionary product we are creating.  I would also humbly ask you to consider contributing to our fundraising effort and joining our cause.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my inner child is telling me that there’s a Civil War uniform coloring book sitting on the bedroom floor that’s in serious need of attention.  

A screen shot from one of Aaron's newest Battlefield Apps.

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