In a few weeks I will be heading to Gettysburg College for the annual Civil War Institute. Some of the most memorable experiences are spent on the battlefield walking with guides that have thought deeply about how to interpret historic landscapes. There is a short list of historians and guides who have mastered the ability to leave visitors with a meaningful and even transformative experience.
We sometimes forget, however, that most visitors to places like Gettysburg do not walk the field with such a guide. In fact, I suspect that most visitors walk the battlefield with little to no preparation. I admit that I enjoy snooping in on these conversations when walking Gettysburg and other sites. It is with this in mind that I am sharing this video of “Ryan and Cynthia’s recent visit to Gettysburg.
One of the things this video highlights is the extent to which social media has come to shape the visitors’ experience. My question, however, is whether this reflects something along the lines of the typical visitor experience.