Title:PhilaPlace to AnyPlace: Building a Reusable Community Platform for Mapping and Sharing History
Authors:Matthew Fisher, Kim Sajet, Minda Borun, Stacey Mann
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

Just as personal and collective memories imbue artifacts with significance, so it is with place. Launched in January 2010, PhilaPlace is a collaborative and interactive community-oriented Web site that connects stories to places across time throughout Philadelphia's neighborhoods, creating an enduring record of collective heritage. Through the integration of two open source solutions-Google Maps and Collective Access collections management system-PhilaPlace supports a rich feature set that facilitates an interpretive mosaic of historical records as well as stories, photos, and video shared by ordinary people of all backgrounds.

This paper focuses on the potential of current open-source technologies, advances in GIS mapping, and increased access to archival and community-curated content to situate and visualize the history of a place in innovative ways. The PhilaPlace platform affords a rich opportunity for closer inspection and evaluation as a potentially viable model and reproducible platform for broader application within the museum and historical center world (AnyPlace).

Our evaluation focuses on an iterative design review of not only the technological design solution but also the project methodology. How might the open-source solutions and institutional partnerships for PhilaPlace inform an AnyPlace approach to mapping and interpreting place-based historical narrative for neighborhoods in other towns and cities? Do evaluation results support the use of this methodology and platform as a reusable model, and what value does such a platform bring to the audiences who engage with it? Also included in our discussion are the lessons learned in developing PhilaPlace, in particular issues of sustainability, institutional capacity, and the changing pace of technological innovation.