Anne Frank, the iPhone app
There was her smiling face, one of the most iconic faces to emerge from the Holocaust, sitting by the Facebook and Twitter icons on my iPhone.
Earlier this month I found myself waiting in an hour-long line outside the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Antsy, I decided to download the free “Anne’s Amsterdam” app that was advertised outside the museum.
A quick download from the iTunes store and — Voila! —“Anne’s Amsterdam” was installed on my home screen. The app, which came out in May, is a GPS driven application that takes its users to 30 different sites around the city. Among the sites are the city’s Jewish quarter and the location where Anne Frank attended Jewish school in 1941 — once Jews were banned from mainstream schools in Amsterdam.
Through the app I learned that my hotel was a mere 560 feet from Anne Frank’s Jewish school. Once I arrived there, an informational tab with photos popped up on my iPhone’s screen. I learned:
“Anne is well known as a funny girl who likes to be the centre of attention. Anne gets on well with all her teachers. Only her math teacher, Mr. Keesing, is cross with her for a while because she always talks in his lessons. Her punishment is to write an essay entitled ‘Quack, quack, quack said Mistress Chatterback.’”
I was impressed by the app’s many historical insights, photos and videos about its iconic subject. And yet, I found myself a bit unsettled by it. Maybe because it turned Anne, a little girl forever perched on the cusp of womanhood, into just something else to digitally consume.