The years that followed 9/11 brought books and DVDs memorializing the tragedy; now the iPad and iPhone are proving themselves as powerful interactive tools serving in the same mission.
Documentary filmmaker Steve Rosenbaum released the film "7 Days in September" in 2002, but he told us that, in 2006, he revisited the subject. "I kept feeling like I'd only told half the story. I'd created the world's largest archive of 9/11 videos, but the story of how the country and the site re-built was important, maybe more important."
He donated the educational rights to the footage to the 9/11 Memorial, but began work on his website, and on the iPad app, 9/11 Memorial: Past, Present and Future, which we demonstrate in the above video.
Jonathan D. Woods/msnbc.com
Steve Rosenbaum, author and curator of The 911 Memorial: Past, Present and Future, at his office in New York.
The iPad app brings a way to reach an audience that a linear film just can't pull off — but there's a cost. "The disadvantage [of an app] is that you don't control how people enter, exit and explore the story," says Rosenbaum. "If you're an author with a strong point of view about the conclusions you want your readers to take from the story, then the lack of control can be frustrating. But for me, it was exactly what I wanted readers to have. Control of their journey. So they can explore 9/11 from their personal point of view."
Speaking of points of view, another app developer decided that the best starting point to talk about 9/11 was to have people take pictures in and around Ground Zero, and then add in the ghostly rendering of the Twin Towers. The app, 110 Stories, is currently on iPhone but soon to be released on Android. When you point the phone's camera at the part of the New York skyline where the World Trade Center would be, they appear, with the correct proportional dimensions.
"I'm a lifelong New Yorker, in love with the city skyline and obsessed with the lost iconography of the Twin Towers," says developer Brian August, on his website.
But it's not just a photographic trick: Once you take a picture, the app requests that you upload your story, so that you can share in the memorialization of the lost buildings, and the greater tragedy of which they are emblems.
In order to offer his app for free, August reached out to crowdsourced funding community Kickstarter, and in three weeks raised nearly $28,000, enough to cover the development costs.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum also has an iPhone app, created last year but updated for the 10th anniversary, called Explore 9/11. Its main purpose is to guide users on a tour of Ground Zero, providing at each stop on the walk a voice and photo explanation of the tragic events. It also provides a timeline of the events, and a social feature for users to share images.
Though these apps serve to bring the memories of 9/11 back to us in new and innovative ways, they both look beyond the violence and sorrow of that day of violence, 10 years ago. When you explore them, you may also come away with a sense of hope towards the future.
"I don't think of the work I'm doing now as documenting the tragedy," says filmmaker Rosenbaum. "I look at the photographs I'm shooting, the video I'm recording, and the words I'm writing as an important part of witnessing and documenting the process of returning the WTC to New York and our visitors."
Apple App Store links:
- 911 Memorial: Past Present and Future - free for iPad
- 110 Stories - free for iPhone
- Explore 9/11 - free for iPhone
More tech and science coverage of the legacy of 9/11: