Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Did Twitter Save Bletchley Park?

I've just come out of a fascinating talk by Dr Sue Black and a couple of guys from Bletchley Park, talking about the campaign to save it from terminal decay, and how social media helped.  I'd heard about Bletchley Park, of course (and a visit is on my to do list), and knew of the crucial role it played in WWII, but I wasn't aware of the true scale -- 10,000 people working there during the war, and over half of them women.

One point that fascinated me.  Sue talked of meeting one of the people who broke the code on some of Hitler's personal communications -- and how talking to him about this made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.  I think we forget how (relatively) recent much important history actually is, how much of it is in living memory, or only one remove. We talk of the "six degrees of separation" between co-existing people.  But it's often a similarly surprisingly small number of links to what we tend to think of as the fairly remote past. Patrick Moore talks of having met Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong.  I've shaken hands with someone who worked for Marie Curie. 

But back to the talk.  We were asked at the end, do we think Twitter saved Bletchley Park?  Well, as Sue said, it's not Twitter, it's all the people on Twitter, who tweeted and retweeted, signed petitions, and raised funds and awareness.  It wouldn't have happened without them.  Twitter is just ("just") the technology that enabled them to do this.  Crowdsourcing is powerful, but I think it's safe to say that without Sue's input specifically, Bletchley Park would not be where it is today.  Kudos.

No comments:

Post a Comment