Tag Archives: Presidio

Presidio Miscellany

Cinzia, one of my fellow instructors for the Remixing El Presidio class, did a fun 3D model of the Presidio with Sketchup and Google Earth.  You can check it out here.

I’ve always found instructing rewarding, but this is a particularly fun class with great students who are really motivated.  It’s one of those rare instances where the students have started to take over the class and teach themselves and each other.  I’m excited to see the end results!

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I also had the chance to tour Lucasfilm yesterday.  I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, which was tragic, but I did get a photo of my pass.  I didn’t manage to retrieve the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, but I did see the tiny robots from batteries not included, and squealed with delight–something I promised myself I wouldn’t do.  I guess the 9 year old in me took over.

In other news, I’m hosting a World Archaeological Congress social networking night during the conference in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday night at The Duke.  If you’re attending WAC this year, I hope to meet you!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=18862190735&ref=mf

One last note!  I haven’t had time to check out the new iphone G3 release, but apparently I have to get one, and not only for the added GPS:

Wha??

Embedded Interpretation pt. II

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I posted on the Presidio class blog about how to construct your own memory map/interpretation. It works on the One Laptop Per Child laptops as well!

Here’s the link:

http://remixpresidio.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/using-flickr-to-geospatially-embed-archaeological-interpretation/

PS: If anyone can help me debug Mbedr, it would be much appreciated.

Embedded Interpretation

So, once upon a time, a naive undergraduate from the University of Texas applied for graduate school in archaeology.  She sent out a statement of purpose that boiled down to: “I want to be able to embed archaeological information in the landscape, and I want other people to be able to add to that information…on my cellphone.”

Three years later, that’s what I did.  There’s several ways to do this, and this is obviously a kludge, but it’s a start.  I’ll probably load the full documentation up to the Presidio field blog later tonight.

Presidio Memory Maps

For the next three weeks I’m helping to teach a class at the Presidio of San Francisco on digital documentation, cultural heritage, and interpretive trails.  It’s an intensive course, 8+ hour days for the undergraduates and more like 12-13 hour days for me.  For the first day, I had the students create memory maps using flickr and google maps to teach them how to use the tools, but also to teach them about free-associative narratives as a part of placemaking.  It worked well as an exercise, and it was interesting to see the different scales that the students used for their own maps.  I made one a couple of years ago ago about living in New Orleans, but I felt like I wanted to update it, so I made another one from Austin, linked above.

I’m also updating the official project blog, Remixing El Presidio, here:

http://remixpresidio.wordpress.com

Good fun, but I’m ready to have my hands in the dirt again!

Pervasive Play at the San Francisco Presidio

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As I mentioned in my SAA paper back in 2007, ubiquitous computing has great potential for interpretation and outreach in archaeology.  I’m very inspired by Jane McGonigal’s PhD on ubiquitous computing and pervasive play and have decided to test the viability of the format for education.  It’s always hard to make educational games fun, but when they work, it’s incredible!  Does anyone else fondly remember Oregon Trail?

So, I’ve attached my brief web description for the project.  I’d love to get feedback, if you have any to offer!

Pervasive Gaming, Education, and Cultural Heritage: Emplaced Interpretive Games at the Presidio of San Francisco

In a large, urban, technologically advanced metropolis like the Bay Area, how do people recognize and understand the cultural heritage they encounter in their everyday lives? This working group explores the connections between tourism, education, archaeology and technology in the interpretation of place.  With the ultimate goal of developing a pervasive game—a location-aware, augmented-reality public experience—set in the Presidio of San Francisco with its over 300 years of history, archaeologists, new media specialists, and other academics and heritage professionals will come together to bridge the present to the past.  Using social media platforms and ubiquitous computing, we will work to bring history away from the desktop, out of books, and into the world, adding layers of meaning to the landscape. This project encourages an active engagement in the curation and the creation of local history, and a case study for embedded interpretation of place. Working toward giving the Bay Area community a glimpse into the region’s history, this group will foster a local presence for academic and public cooperation, but will also provide access to the project through Flickr, Facebook, and a number of other social networking technologies to serve as a model for experimentation and implementation at other cultural heritage sites.  With the successful implementation of an educational game at the Presidio, we move toward being able to embed archaeological and historical interpretation in the landscape, enhancing the modern day experience of place.

Climbing Trees

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So we finally had a full day of archaeological outreach at the Presidio, where we were able to work through our full program with a group of kids. At times I’ve been pretty tired of outreach, and wanting to get back to archaeology proper, but being able to interact with these kids was actually pretty amazing. They were a class from Hunter’s Point, which is a notoriously bad part of San Francisco and they were all scrappy as hell, even at the 4th grade level.

During the first part of the day, we take them on a small hike on one of the trails through the Presidio. We try to get them to imagine what it was like without all of the trees, which are only there because the US military planted them. It’s hard to do, to say the least, because they’re huge, imposing eucalyptus trees and their leaves and seed pods cover the ground. There’s also some Monterey pine and cyprus mixed in, which are closer, but still not quite right.

One of the kids noticed that the National Park Service has been trimming the lower branches of the trees and asked me why the trees “were all pointy like that”. I told him that they had been trimmed, but it was kinda nice, because they leave about two feet, which makes the trees easy to climb. I got a blank stare. I had to ask, “um, have you ever climbed a tree?” Only one out of eight had, and only once. My heart broke, just a little bit.

All-in-all, it was a good day, and we were able to convey some information about the Ohlone and the Spanish colonists at the Presidio, but I think the sunshine, big trees, and getting dirty (we made mudbricks, of course!) were probably the most valuable parts. I told them that the Presidio is a national park, that they owned it and could come back at any time. And while I couldn’t officially condone it, I told them that the trees were perfect for climbing.

Presidio Comics

More Presidio education comics posted. I’m not sure about the last one–should I just leave the thought balloons blank?

Click to enlarge the prints; there are four in all.

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PS: I did not actually participate in this dig and am slightly baffled by the methodology, but that’s neither here nor there.

Mudbricks, pt. 2

It was a dark and rainy day at the Presidio.

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Perfect for making mudbricks, right?

Our mix was made from the backdirt from the Cabrillo College excavations over the summer, water, and some dried grass. We left out the sand, as the dirt is already very sandy. Ideally we would have dug down to subsoil for more clay, but the back dirt is there, so we thought we’d mix a trial batch.

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It was way too wet.

The directions say that you should be able to remove them from their molds in 15 mins-1 hour. Ours took…2.5 days.

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Not bad though, and now we have three more in the molds. I intend to make proper wooden molds soon (1/3 vara x 2/3 vara, for those who like to count in archaic Spanish measurements, or roughly 11″x22″). Hopefully I’ll get the mix right by the time the first school group arrives.

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Californios at the Presidio

I was looking through Barb Voss’ excellent dissertation on the Presidio, and was struck by a particular footnote:

“I wonder, however, how the Californios – almost none of whom had ever been to Spain, and who rarely met non-clerical Spanish nationals – understood and defined “Spanishness” amongst themselves; I can only assume that it had little reference to actual practices on the Iberian peninsula and rather was constructed in reference to ideas and symbols of elite behavior. Leo Barker has pointed out to me that in the 1820s and 1830s, elite officers in the presidial community – such as Guadalupe Mariano Vallejo – were avid readers of Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire, and that these readings were undoubtedly influential in shaping their perceptions of European lifeways and values” (Voss 2002:161).

It’s so easy to think of the early colonists of Alta California as part of the Spanish hegemony, when in reality they constructed their own identities less as “Spanish” than as “not-Indian”, even though many were mestizo–along the many axes of racial, sexuality, and class identities.

Reading Voss’ dissertation was pretty intimidating–I hope I can come up with something even partially as good.

So, yes, I’m still commuting over to the Presidio twice a week, sharing seats with the hip young nerds that work at Lucasfilms. While I have certain tasks I need to complete, I still can steal time to riffle through the archives, read the gray literature, and hassle my friends who are processing the artifacts from the summer field school. Yesterday, in addition to reading Voss’ dissertation, I pawed over the 1868 coastline map of the Bay Area and compared it to a 1910 version, then google maps. We all know that a lot of the area is built on infill that is in trouble if there’s another big earthquake, but to have it graphically laid out in front of you is still pretty amazing.

Oh, and lest my previous sunny day photos have painted too pretty of a picture, here’s a more typical day at the Presidio:

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Cold, foggy, windy.