When do our everyday tools become artifacts? Computers, iPods, iPads – these devices are such a part of our everyday lives that we sometimes fail to see how they’ve evolved and developed over the years. They say you have to get out of the river to see the water; With the panoramic pool of the information age swirling around us, we’ve forgotten how to take a step back and look at how social media and information technology have changed and shaped us as a society.
In an effort to anthologize our digital history, the Centre for Computing History launched a Twitter campaign hoping to raise Â£1.5 million to renovate their computer museum. Earlier this week, the museum tweeted an open letter to the Twitterspehere, explaining their cause and asking for funding. Within one hour, the museum had raised Â£1,045.29, just Â£1,498,954.71 short of target.
The museum, which is located in Haverhill, Suffolk, currently displays outdated computer software, but hopes to obtain enough funding to update and expand their collection, adding more recent and state-of-the-art developments. The museum wants to provide interactive software to engage younger audiences, like talking robots and BBC Micro machines.
Twitter has generated most of the funding, and no tweet was as significant as the one picked up by Neil Davidson of Red Gate Software. @computingmuseum asked why the Twitter world cared more about @charliesheen than their social cause. When Davidson read @computingmuseum ‘s online plea, he gathered a Â£20,000 sponsorship package from Red Gate and Arm Holdings, which has accelerated the project from an start-up charity to a full-fledged social cause.
Jason Fitzpatrick, a member and patron of the computing museum, says his business model is based on Charlie Sheen’s: after watching the star explode the Twitter world, Fitzpatrick decided to try and use the social media platform to affect positive change. He figured if he could get people to care about social history as much as they cared about Charlie Sheen’s public breakdown, he’d have enough money to fuel his project.
With the changes in social media unfolding rapidly before our eyes, it’s a good thing that Fitzpatrick and those behind the computer museum project have paused to capture the effects and artifacts. What’s more, it’s important to track the history of our information generation if we’re ever going to understand how we got here. If the project becomes fully commissioned, the museum itself will distinguish itself as an architectural landmark in the history of social media.
To donate, or to get involved, visit http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/pages/13891/twitter.