Postcard from SXSWi: an audio tour like you’ve never seen before

While attending the annual “Geek Spring Break” tech conference that is South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas, I sat in on a presentation about interactive storytelling using mobile devices.  For the rest of the conference, whenever someone asked me to name the most interesting concept I’d seen at SXSWi, I mentioned this panel.

It’s sort of an audio tour plus flash mob plus live theater plus….well, AVAdventure is hard to describe, but I can see possibilities for setting up productions that could really engage travelers, especially the eternally bored and cynical ones.

Everyone in a participating group downloads audio files to their mobile devices – iPods, phones, etc. – and everyone presses “Play” at the same time, then follows the “script,” which includes live actors appearing at certain times in the narrative.

At SXSWi, presenters Adam Stackhouse and Kelley Quinn described their most recent project: an adventure about American history run simultaneously in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia plus the National Mall in Washington, DC and a third set of participants online.  Several storylines were woven through the production (I cannot imagine the planning this must take) and certain things had to happen at certain times at all three locations.

The AVAdventures crew is currently working with Colonial Williamsburg on another project, and I think this is a perfect fit for the ongoing effort to paint history in rich, vibrant colors for visitors at living history museums.

Here is an attempt to describe what they do (direct link on YouTube) in the video below….and imagine all of that happening with some Ben Franklin-ish reenactors in breeches. Boggles the mind, but I’d love to try it.

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