I’m a lover of historical tales. In recent weeks I’ve been devouring countless historical podcasts. Listening to adventures of travellers lost (Amelia Earhart) or the epic journey of highwaywoman Mary Bryant from Sydney to West Timor in only a 6-foot boat in the late 1700s is the stuff of magic, bewilderment and enlightenment. References to these podcasts are at the end of this post.
Did Amelia and Mary consider they would make the history books at the time of their adventure? Or expect that their letters, diaries or journals of associates or friends become public record for any one to view. Or inspire countless novelists, playwrights or screenwriters? No, probably not.
History I’ve realised is not only in the distant or recent past. It’s right now, and we all play a part.
The State Library of Queensland recently put a call out for digital materials from businesses, organisations and membership bodies that detail how they are adapting to the momentous change brought about by COVID-19. The British Library is also collecting stories from the public on how the pandemic has affected them. Records likes these become a public record of social change, mobilisation and psyche on a massive scale – a goldmine to researchers and social scientists in decades or centuries to come.
As a new manager, I find myself contributing to history in my own small way every day. As is normal with UX designers, my team members come from different backgrounds – one being an ex-engineer and toy designer; the other, an ex-creative director from print. Over my 20-some years of experience in digital and web, it’s difficult to accurately place where I was or what I was doing when I acquired a little nugget of information that I now take for granted – how a front end developer thinks, or those universal design patterns that have grown and evolved right alongside the web.
A little nugget that makes me stop to realise, that my team has not had the same journey as me. A little nugget, that can now be paid forward to help them widen their field of reference.
And isn’t that what history gives us; a wealth of lessons of study to expand one’s perspective or to suggest that there are different alternatives to any challenge.