Earlier this year the University of Southampton was approached by Lorna Franklin from the Hampshire Cultural Trust. The Trust had received Heritage Lottery funding to engage teenagers in developing an exhibition on how technology has impacted our lives since the 1970s. Managed by the Ashcroft Arts Centre, the exhibition is to be staged at Westbury Manor Museum, Fareham in August, and Lorna was looking for someone to run relevant lectures and workshops to help get them thinking about how they might tackle the topic.
I was put in touch with Lorna and developed a 90 minute session on ‘The rise of the Web’. I wanted to give them a broad of how the World Wide Web is developing and explore how we use the technology in our everyday lives. We covered significant milestones including the pre-Web network that was the Mundaneum, the Arpanet, Tim Berners-Lee’s influential paper: ‘Information Management: a Proposal‘, the significance of interactive games, as well as the importance of openness, relevant search and sharing knowledge. On the way we looked at Moore’s Law, the rise of Google, Wikipedia, and how the Web acts as a form of ‘social machine’ enabling people to use Web technology to improve resources (as in the current Open Street Map project aimed at improving post-earthquake relief efforts in Nepal).
I ran sessions at Fareham College, Barton Peveril College and the Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham and, I hope, sparked some interest in not just how technology shapes us, but also how we shape technology. I left all three groups with a task to create a timeline that highlights developments which they see as significant to the Web we have today – and I very much look forward to seeing the finished exhibition later this year.