By Priya Chhaya and Reina Murray
A little more than a year ago, the two of us were tasked with surveying the role technology plays in historic preservation. Over the course of many subsequent hours of planning—and cups of coffee—we tackled this broad subject. We ultimately decided to focus on two distinct applications of technology in preservation. The first is the documentation of historic places and the management of the resulting historic resource data. The second is telling the stories of old and historic places, which increasingly involves the use of innovations like social media and virtual reality.
As we pulled together materials on this subject—for a conference track supported by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, blog stories, webinars, and this issue of the Forum Journal—certain fundamental questions emerged about the role technology plays in preservation. When should we adopt new technologies? Is new always better? How can we best use new tools to complement and enhance our tried-and-true methods of saving places? In short, how can technology best help us do our work?
This issue expands on some of our conversations from the past year and digs deeper into the role technology is playing—as well as the role it can and should play—in our work. The authors delve into the latest documentation techniques and inventory managements systems, talk about what to consider when adopting new technologies, and examine the role of social media in inclusive storytelling:
- Preservation Technology: Opening the Field to New Possibilities by Priya Chhaya and Reina Murray
- Making Sustainable Technology Choices by Tom Scheinfeldt
- A Different View: Using Drones to Document Historic Places by Terry Kilby and Belinda Kilby
- Virtual Reality as an Agent of Preservation by Ross Tredinnick, Erica Gill, Kevin Ponto, and Destinee Udelhoven
- The Arches Heritage Inventory and Management System for the Protection of Cultural Resources by Annabel Lee Enriquez, David Myers, and Alison Dalgity
- Social Stories: Digital Storytelling and Social Media by Jessica Marie Johnson
- The Challenges and Opportunities of Technology in Preservation by Luke Pecoraro
In addition to this issue, we recommend checking out some of the other technology content that Forum has produced in the past year.
As you read this issue, we encourage you to discuss your experiences with technology transforming preservation on our new networking platform, Forum Connect. What are the challenges of the swiftly changing technological landscape? How have you worked to meet these challenges or adapt to them? Register for Forum Connect to join the conversation!
Priya Chhaya is a public historian and the associate director of publications and programs at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Reina Murray is the GIS project manager for the National Trust.