Our Friend the Computer

The BBC Domesday Project

October 18, 2022 Our Friend the Computer Season 1 Episode 12
Our Friend the Computer
The BBC Domesday Project
Show Notes

Back after a summer break, Camila and Ana delve into a project they discovered at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge when Camila was visiting Ana in London. Called the BBC Domesday Project, this was a mid-80s attempt at an interactive survey of the entire country with data collected largely by school children. With the data contained on two Laserdisks and only accessible via specialised hardware, the system quickly suffered from a serious case of Digital Obsolescence. While a 2000s project called Domesday Revisited worked to save the data and create an emulation of the software, the book it was based on (the 1086 Domesday Book) has continued to be accessible as a printed book for 900 years.

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Main research for the episode was done by Camila. Ana audio edited.
Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)

“BBC: Domesday Project - 1985 1986.” Youtube, uploaded by Daniel Garcia August 14, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn0oFJU5pxM 
— “The BBC Domesday Project - Panel Discussion.” Youtube, uploaded by The Centre for Computing History March 23, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZA8LRgv1iw
— “Digital Domesday book unlocked” BBC News, December 2, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/2534391.stm
— “Domesday Project” The Centre for Computing History. http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/domesday/
— Evans, Claire L. ‘Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet’. Penguin Putnam Inc, 2018.
— Mackenzie, Iain. “Domesday Project reborn online after 25 years” BBC News, May 12 2011. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-13367398
— “Newsround - BBC Domesday Project Feature - November 1986.” Youtube, uploaded by The Centre for Computing History July 30, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMh1FqvleH8