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The Domesday Project

Does this phrase mean anything to anyone? It would probably mean more if you were at school in the mid 1980s.



The idea of 'The Domesday Project' was to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Domesday Book by collecting together a huge resource of census info, maps, images and local history recollections on laser discs.

Schools would typically have a special Domesday Project machine (based on a BBC Master computer if I remember correctly) to be wheeled out in lessons. This was before most comprehensives had more than a handful of computers.

Problem was that the format for the laser discs was LV-ROM. Heard of 'LV-ROM'? Possibly not, because pretty much nothing else was ever produced in that format.

It took teams from the Universities of Leeds and Michigan to develop emulators at the start of this century to access the data - because computers and drives capable of reading the data barely existed. Even then, it proved impossible to extract the images and videos (probably issues with codecs...) Luckily, someone found the original analogue films used to record the pictures and videos so that they could be re-digitised. The emulated version was somehow made to work on a Windows PC and then put on the web. You can see it here, hosted by the BBC:
http://domesday.domesday1986.com/
...or rather you can't, because it's no longer online and the link doesn't go anywhere.

Apparently there are plans to have an emulated Domesday Project up and running at Bletchley Park.

This is information collected in my lifetime, much of it by people of about my age and (for now at least) it's gone. Makes you think about proprietary 'standards', doesn't it?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
skordh
Jul. 31st, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
We had the Domesday Project discs at school, and I did play around with it, but I can't remember ever finding it interesting. How sad. I'd like to have another look though!
philmophlegm
Jul. 31st, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Living where you do, you may soon find it easier than most of us...
parrot_knight
Aug. 1st, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
http://www.domesday1986.com provides a little background, and explains why the BBC-hosted site has disappeared.

I remember the Domesday project, though I didn't contribute anything to it. I followed some of Michael Wood's tie-in series Domesday, and have the book somewhere.
louisedennis
Aug. 1st, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
I'd heard about the Domesday project thing.

In a more general way it makes me worry about the rush to digitise - we're just not good enough yet at migrating data as formats evolve, proprietary formats just complicate the issue further but I worry that there is a more general concern and we just don't really know how to curate data ATM.
chainmailmaiden
Aug. 3rd, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
My class surveyed part of the Newcastle Town Moor for it.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )