Dispatches from the fated luxury liner, swallowed by the icy waves a century ago.
Titanic Calling, the app, has its origins in a book published by the Bodleian Library, Titanic Calling: Wireless Communication During the Great Disaster. As the credits say, “Both the book and app tell the compelling story of the 1912 tragedy from an often overlooked angle—the role of wireless communication.” True enough. Every standard history of Titanic summarizes, paraphrases or reprints the fateful Morse code message sent by the unfortunate vessel: “CQD de MGY Position 41.46 N 50.24 W Struck iceberg, require immediate assistance.” The app places this distress call from Titanic (whose code name was MGY) against the backdrop of a stunningly detailed map of the North Atlantic that is especially striking when viewed with the iPad 3 retina screen. It shows the deep ocean, continental shelf and various landforms, with the ship’s position changing relative to a timeline that runs over the terrifying 14-hour period from collision to the rescue of some 800 passengers. This extremely well-executed graphic conveys at least one fact that words alone might not sufficiently emphasize: namely, the surprising number of ships passing in the vicinity of Titanic on that cold night of April 14-15, 1912. Only a few of them, of course, responded, as the Morse code messages at the screen's bottom show. Pop-ups give details on them, such as the facts of the Carpathia, which took on some 800 survivors—and “details” is just right, for readers learn the color of the funnel, tonnage, number and kind of a given ship’s engines, and number of staterooms and cabins. Morse code dits and dahs form the soundtrack as each message slowly appears, letter by letter. A small gallery of photographs accompanies the timeline; at only half-a-dozen images, it’s too small to be of much value and instead leaves readers wanting more. But that’s a job, apparently, for another book, app or combination thereof.
For Titanic completists and old-school wireless buffs, a thing of much interest. Others, though, will find the app overly narrow in scope.