AdVintage is an iPad app which guides users in discovering print advertising over nearly two centuries of Australian history, with data drawn from the National Library of Australia's Trove database.
Why is this important? William Feather, a noted pre-war American publisher, once observed, "The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men — the man he is and the man he wants to be." Non-inclusive language aside, he had a good point. Advertising speaks to the people we aspire to be. Seen this way, trends and themes in advertising can tell us a lot about who we were, who we are, and how we've changed.
Trove is an incredibly rich store of Australian history. Among a huge array of digitised print material are tens of thousands of historical print publications, such as newspapers and magazines. These contain literally millions of advertisements, each digitised and processed for text content. This provides a terrific opportunity to hear what advertising throughout history can tell us about Australia. What's needed is an innovative, fun way to dive in and begin discovering.
AdVintage is all about discovery. Where traditional "search apps" give users a clear start and end point, AdVintage is built to encourage exploration and discovery. It encourages questions. How have health concerns changed over time? The role of women? Attitudes towards work, home, family, and society? The iPad is a perfect device for this kind of casual discovery. Technically, AdVintage employs some powerful, custom techniques to encourage this kind of exploration - most notably, an innovative grid-based system for fitting ads of all shapes and sizes onto the screen, dynamically constructed and filled in real time as search results are returned. Under the hood, the app constantly retrieves new content in order to stay ahead of even the most inquisitive user.
AdVintage. Whiter whites and brighter colours, guaranteed.
AdVintage uses the Trove API. It is an iPad app developed for iOS using XCode. You can play with the app on the App.IO Beta here.
- Remote Participant