Firstly, I think we should all congratulate George Auckland and his team for breathing new life into the 1984-86 Domesday Project. I have met George several times and have been privileged to hear him to speak at conferences, and have never failed to be moved by his knowledge, modesty and vision. George can now add Domesday Reloaded to his significant achievements. Domesday Reloaded is a “full extraction of the community disc - This is the material which has been published online as the centrepiece of the BBC “Domesday Reloaded website.”
The significance of the original BBC Domesday Project should not be underestimated in the history of audio visual learning. Undertaken in 1984 and first published in 1986, Its mission was to capture a snapshot of life in the UK by combining geographical information with cultural media, data and statistics. In some ways this can be seen as a forerunner of today's crowd-sourced interactive media. A collaborative venture between the BBC, schools and the general public, two laser-vision data discs contained over 80,000 images, OS Maps and professional video footage. Its scope can be gathered from this detailed promotional video. Unfortunately the combination of the high cost of hardware and its technical complexity meant it was never able to fulfill its true educational potential. It is not surprising that many of those concepts would re-emerge later, facilitated by Internet based platforms.
My initial reaction was excitement and elation, the first thing I did was to look where I grew up and read the comments, most from schoolchildren, some I knew. Judging by the Twitter stream resulting from a search on “Domesday.” I was not alone. “Memories” is the recurring theme, and the stream is littered with anecdotes of personal involvement or recollections of a place. Very interestingly quite a few folks suggest that Domesday extended their vision of the possibilities of IT, especially in relation to learning.
At the time I was a, (young), ICT advisor with Bradford LA and privileged to be able to run a Domesday project with local schools who would “borrow” one of our systems for a month, (we had both the BBC Master and RM PC186 driven players). The schools set up projects using the kit and evaluated their potential through teacher feedback and students work. Sadly it is unlikely any of that still exists.
Following the live Twitterstream, as I write this; I am amazed by the number of tweeters who have identified, and are already sharing their original contributions the project. A thread running through the tweets is an unbridled craving for this type of resource. It will be interesting to watch, over the coming months, how this project brings people together.
Domesday Reloaded once again offers great opportunities learning and I am sure schools throughout the land will already be planning projects based on Domesday.
Children (and adults), can engage once again engage with the country we live in and compare our lives then and now through contributing to the site.
It is pleasing to hear that future of the original community content, plus the updated site will be assured by the National Archive as stated in this BBC news item
“The revised Domesday archive will finally be closed to new contributions in November, at which time it will be handed over to The National Archives Future generations will be able to access this unique snapshot of life in Britain online for as long as the Internet keeps working.
Part 2, will look at the wider implications of Domesday.