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Domesday around the Beeb

Alex Mansfield | 13:18 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

There's quite a lot of programming around Domesday Reloaded over the coming weeks. I thought some might like to have a run down of what's planned...

This morning BBC Breakfast and the Today Programme both gave Domesday Reloaded a mention, News/technology wrote a useful piece for us, and later this morning Rory C-J did another quick chat on the BBC News channel.

Radio 4's considerable range of coverage gets going this afternoon at 4.30pm on Material World when Tim Gollins, Head of Digital Preservation at The National Archives and George Auckland, formerly of this parish, will be talking about... digital preservation.

Saturday Live this week will be featuring the first of their pieces about changing spaces on Saturday morning, and then at 8pm Archive on 4 tells a lot more about the history of this project. Michael Wood presents, and from the 1986 team, Andy Finney, Ruth Rosenthal, Mike Tibbets and Peter Armstong contribute.

But if it's stories from your area you're looking for then listen out on Monday to local TV and Radio from your area. Some magnificent accounts of 25 years of change near you, wherever you are, have been surreptitiously researched and recorded over the last few weeks, ready for your enjoyment from Monday onwards...



  • Comment number 1.

    I remember Domesday well. I worked in the library at the Department of Education and Science and we were quite excited about getting a copy, so that ministers and HMI and officials could see it and use it.

    It was all very clever but once you tried to use to for anything useful (like accurate information retrieval) it became really annoying. Not only had a teacher's dispute rendered the local information full of large gaps in record, but what was left was eclectic at best and full of errors. The other data had its moments, but in the end it the whole thing seemed to be a demonstration of what was possible rather than a useful information tool. However, I do recall that once you got inside the gubbins and fiddled about with the data it did get better.

    As I recall the DES's set-up mysteriously disappeared during the move to the Department's new buildings. Some men in overalls came in, removed the system (plus a TV), and left. The technology was never seen again...

  • Comment number 2.

    I would like to add some information, but the D block I need does not exist. Where our town is there is no clickable block, though there are blocks in the surrounding area. The map shows but the area is not shadowed.

    How do we create a block where none exists?

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Disappointed that the video content isn't visible outside the UK. I remember this project well as a child and would love to see what's happened since then, but I can only visit the web content... Sad...

  • Comment number 5.

    While I heartily welcome this project being completed by the BBC, I'm disappointed that Adrian Pearce hasn't had a mention from Auntie.

    On Breakfast this morning it was announced that the domesday data was online for the first time. Mr Pearce would probably disagree, if he were still with us, as since 2001 until his death he was working on the same project on http://www.domesday1986.com/.

  • Comment number 6.

    This is great, the lack of access top the material has been very sad since I can imagine schools (and others) using this as a great resource. I hope there will be (scope for) lots of mash-ups.
    I cannot locate on the site some essays that were non place-specific. I remember this because some large chunks of a research study we did on the effects on unemployment had been put on the original videodisc, on one such essay. I would be amazed if this were the only social science and geography that was captured in this way. Some of this would be of great historical interest too, since it was greay lietarure that has not been preserved electronically to the best of my knowledge.

  • Comment number 7.

    My area isn't on a Block either nor is the area where i was born...both are very rough areas ha so winson green/ black patch Smethwick is missing too (it has a prison in it) so is it a case of its a bad area lets not go there? interseting all the same.

  • Comment number 8.

    @Ghost1972, The areas that are not filled in are largely due to schools not taking part due to disputes with Teachers Unions going on at the time.

  • Comment number 9.

    A group of villagers took on the square that included our two tiny villages in 1986, and we are thrilled to see the project on line. All we have had for 25 years is one print-out we did at the time. New viewers should know that all the squares were available, and whether anything was written depended on people deciding to take on a square and freely give of their time to gather the information and write it. Nobody in our villages had a computer then and we had to do the typing at the local school. Many schools wrote about the square the school was situated in.

  • Comment number 10.

    I greatly enjoyed Sat 14th May's 8pm Archive on 4 with Michael Wood and colleagues from the 1986 team, Andy Finney, Ruth Rosenthal, Mike Tibbets and Peter Armstong. I was the coordinator of the data collection team for the Community Disc, then known as Phyllis Gove, now Dr Phyllis SantaMaria.

    Our team had a coordinator in each of 130 Local Education Authorities including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Working on this project was an amazing and rewarding insight into UK education and community groups at their best. One HMI (Her Majesty's Inspector) cited Domesday as 'instant curriculum development'. 'The BBC got schools to do what we'd been urging them to do for years: get out into the community, do field work, record local history.'

    I then worked with 5 groups in the UK, including NE Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland, to develop resource booklets on how to use the Domesday discs in the curriculum. The group in Northern Ireland especially appreciated the BBC 'coming over the water' to work with them in those troubled times. I remember vividly the pride that a young pupil in Northern Ireland had in demonstrating his ability to use the Domesday disc as he had had literacy problems previously. It made learning come alive for him to use a computer for real.

    I also had the privilege of demonstrating the Domesday discs to the Queen and Prince Philip on the Isle of Wight in 1986 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the departure ships that took the first settlers to Australia.

    I have since worked on interactive multimedia projects in the corporate sector and with an EU and UK-German projects. I am now working with microfinance and enterprise development in Africa, Central America and the UK. We use technology for working with entrepreneurs at the grassroots in the slums of Nairobi and a highland town in Guatemala. (www.microfinancewithoutborders.com)

    My involvement in Domesday inspired me to continue to work with education and enterprise at the grassroots, using technology to make learning and connectivity come alive.

    I still have the handwoven tapestry of the original Domesday logo which I commissioned one of my Guatemalan Mayan friends, Reina Icu Cutzal, to weave after she had visited us on the Project in 1985.

  • Comment number 11.

    Going_Digital wrote:

    @Ghost1972, The areas that are not filled in are largely due to schools not taking part due to disputes with Teachers Unions going on at the time.


    Does this mean that if they were not filled in then, information cannot be input now?

  • Comment number 12.


    Yes it means that they can not be filled in on Domesday Reloaded at the moment. From what I know of the aims of the reloaded project it is primarily to make the original data available and to provide a contrast of then and now rather than trying to fill in the missing information. Obviously if there was no original data there is nothing to contrast with now.

  • Comment number 13.

    We were able to view the Doomsday project recently at the Computer Museum at Bletchley Park. They have set up a Classroom of working BBC computers, and have a working disk reader and set of Doomsday disks. Our local schools were involved, and spoke about a road project which was halted, leading to the road to nowhere.

  • Comment number 14.

    Interesting that the data from the original slides were lost, not all of them were. If you were lucky and completed the SAe then your slides would be returned to you along with an indication of their selection or not. I still have the original slides stored very carefully in the box they came back to me in. I have searched but none are on thewebsite as they are on the National disvc not the community one. I remember that slides were preferred as they were easier for the original team to replicate.

    If hindsight had been a wonderful thing, all the selected slides should have been not reurned but handed over to the National Film and Television archive in Bradford. That way they would have been preserved. However the archive may not have been established then

  • Comment number 15.

    @virtualfang (comment 14), There is an empty box labelled 'Domesday Slides' in the BBC Archives. It would be interesting to see how many people still have the slides, probably not many as they would have mostly been sent to the schools I image and the pupils may have never taken them home or have long been thrown out. If a significant number of slides were returned to the schools that somewhat reduces the possibility of ever recovering them.

  • Comment number 16.

    I remember 25 years ago interviewing village personalities with my class from St. Peter's Ruddington. A very educational time as they learnt many new skills. I wonder if any of the class remember? The days of the BBC B computer!!!!
    There are many changes in the village and I will take some new photos and add them with comments.


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