I’ve always been interested in mobile phone photography/video – after all I did basically do my Master’s Dissertation on Instagram – and I’m particularly interested when it’s used as part of a bigger project.
So I was fascinated when I read about this initiative by the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network to create an interactive map of disappearing parts of the British Coastline by crowdsourcing mobile phone photos from volunteers, uploaded via an app to a central database.
Geographically, parts of the UK are just falling into the sea, and this project is partly designed to map where that is happening, and to keep a record of how the coastline looks right now. But it’s not just about the natural sections of the coast, but the manmade stuff that is also being lost.
I volunteer with a fantastic charity that takes young people offshore sailing – The Rona Sailing Project, so I’m very familiar with a fair amount of the south coast, and the many buildings and fortifications left over from the World Wars. They have a certain grandeur to them, and an enormous amount of history, but aren’t generally considered important enough to preserve in the way that older architecture is. If anything, people seem very happy to let it all crumble away. But even if the country as a whole doesn’t want to keep these (and I do understand why, to many they are a reminder of a terrible time in British history, plus a lot of people do find them ugly) it’s still imperative for future historians that we keep some memories of what existed where and why. In this day and age, photos are in many ways the quickest and easiest to store pieces of information that we have.