Advance, Advance! Advance?

An open plan office with some then modern technology.
Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR4031/5/1155

How’s your memory? I must admit as I get older mine gets worse. On occasion, a great blank wilderness lives where I should be reminded to do something. Clearly, this cannot go on! Many things to do, and all that.

Technology, then, has been employed as a solution. Whenever there’s been a spare five minutes, we’ve1 been playing around with spreadsheets to trigger emails when updates are needed, or things need to happen with the website. And with the occasional comedic result (setting the spreadsheet to email every minute with the name of half of a famous children’s comedy duo was maybe not my wisest test as to whether the triggers worked!) we have success! Things I, or others, need to do three years in the future will now send a prompt.

A dial-up past

So, technology, ain’t it great. And things change so quickly, what I took for granted are now just so passé. Back when we used a phone line and pictures loaded ever so slowly, increasing the anticipation of what was to come, this seemed a major change from a world of text heavy documents interspersed with a line drawing if you were lucky – and yes, I appreciate archivists and more reading this will throw their hands up in horror at this point! At that stage, who would have thought we’d end up with a picture gallery of nearly 10,000 images to browse? And that’s before we get into the videos and audio files we can stream.

But it’s wise to remember that this technology is motivated by a human face in the background. It’s people that make the site come alive. Even the automated reminders are reminders for very human tasks – those reminders are there to help the fallibility of humans (me!) but at the end of the day, social, family history and more besides is all about the people, isn’t it.

And technology can help us to broaden our reach.

1 I need to pay tribute to a colleague who wishes to remain nameless!