About Nick

Nick is Executive Director on Historypin and CEO of We Are What We Do.

Historypin、日本上陸!

Kyoto, 2007, shared by AlphazackHistorypinは過去12ヶ月、その活動をさらに世界に広げています。ロシアのウリヤノフスク、南アフリカのケープタウン、そして台湾で、魅力的かつ充実したプロジェクトがスタートしています。そして、各地でプロジェクトを推進すると同時に、いくつかの主要な国では、現地の言語にWebサイトをローカライズし、プロジェクトを展開しようと計画を始動しました。

その計画を日本からスタートします。東京のブリティッシュ・カウンシルと共に、日本のパートナーと連携しに計画を始動しました。そして、今回、ブリティッシュ・カウンシルの協力により、一週間日本に滞在し、トークイベントやミーティング、そして地域でのフィールドトリップなどを行います。

日本でのプロジェクトを通して、文化、コミュニティー、テクノロジーなど様々な分野の人々とコラボレーションをする機会に恵まれ、とてもわくわくしています。様々な活動を通して認知症の人々を支援する取り組みも行っている富士通研究所とは、すでによい関係を構築しています。今回の来日を通して、さらに多くの人々と出会えることと楽しみにしています。

日本滞在中のイベントやトークなどの活動については、ツイッター(@nickstanhope)にて日本語と英語の2か国語でお知らせします。お楽しみに!

Historypin comes to Japan

Historypin has been growing all around the world over the last 12 months, with rich, fascinating projects starting up in places as far afield as Ulyanovsk, Cape Town and Taiwan. As we try and do more to foster and support these projects globally, we’re also working in a few key areas to plan substantial localisation and launch activity.

Japan is first on this list and we have been lucky enough to start working with a group of fantastic partners through the British Council in Tokyo. We’ve been really inspired by the British Council team’s support for our work and energy in organising a week of presentations, planning sessions and community visits.

We’re excited about the chance to work with organisations from across lots of different sectors, from culture to community to technology. We’ve already started developing a strong relationship with Fujitsu Laboratories who are close companions in the way they have brought together their several activities with a commitment to supporting people with dementia. We look forward to exploring that and many other opportunities with local organisations.

If you’d like to know more about the specific events and talks, I’ll be tweeting everything that’s going on (@nickstanhope) in English and Japanese.

You can explore Historypin in Japanese here.

Before it’s too late

There is always someone in the family that knows everything, who recognises every face in every old picture, who could tell you where they were taken and what the occasion was, who could narrate an old family film to within an inch of its life.

In my family, that person was my Great Auntie Jo.

I had some amazing experiences around old family and local stories with my Gran before she died a few years ago. Not enough, but they were important for us – a chance to understand each other’s lives a bit better, to compare stuff, laugh a lot and find out some secrets that weren’t for full family viewing.

A few weeks ago, I spoke on the phone to my Auntie Jo, a wonderful woman of well over 90, to say that I wanted to come and spend some time with her to talk through all the photos and videos of family, friends and the farming communities our family has always been part of. She was excited. We hadn’t seen each other for ages and she loved the idea of sharing boxes of old materials and a head full of memories. Like me, Jo wasn’t that interested in family trees. But, also like me, she loved a good story and every one of the things she had collected came with a story or two.

Earlier this week, Jo had a fall and died in hospital soon afterwards. I had never made my trip. Busy lives got in the way, seemingly more important things took priority.

As a family, losing Jo has been very hard. For me, it comes with some extra sadness. I never got that time with her and she never had it with me. Tragically, those boxes and boxes and photos will mostly only ever be pictures, rather than stories – Jo was the last person in the world that could tell you about lots of them.

For me, for my family, for our communities and our society, we lost the chance to understand more about ourselves through Jo’s memories, to feel more connected to places and people.

This is a loss that happens every day, hundreds of times over. Memories slip out of reach and are lost forever.

Historypin began with lots of positive experiences that inspired me and other members of that initial team to put something into the world that could multiply and aggregate those experience. This painful experience, of something urgent not done soon enough, can be put to equally good use I hope.

Introducing our new CTO

We’re very excited to introduce Mark Frost, who joins our London team as We Are What We Do’s new Chief Technical Officer.

Over the last few years, we’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic developers, planners and designers come into the team and develop a stream of successful digital projects like Internet Buttons, the Action Tracker and, of course, Historypin. In June, we set out to find someone that could lead this team to the next stage of strategic development and high quality delivery. In July, we bumped in Mark and, just on Monday, he started as CTO.

Mark comes from a perfect background for We Are What We Do, learning his trade in Silicon Valley and making his way through top roles at AOL UK, the BBC and Capital Radio Group. Just as importantly, Mark is passionate about what we do and about using technology and creativity to create products that can change behaviours and affect major issues. Definitely more importantly, he has a whippet and makes his own olive oil.

We can’t wait to get stuck in with Mark. Historypin, in particular, has reached substantial scale and complexity and our other work, as it grows and evolves, demands the experience and confidence that he brings and which has already started to rub off on the team.

We’ll get Mark on stage shortly – he does a great Dock of the Bay – and in the meantime, have a read of his profile on our team page.

Introducing our new Director of Historypin Australia

As Historypin grows and takes on different lives in different communities all over the world, we’ve been looking to get good people to lead the project in some of those places.

After putting down roots in San Francisco with Jon Voss, we are now very pleased to be able to launch Historypin Australia in the form of Dr. Sarah Barns, our fantastic new team member and territory Director.

Sarah has a very strong, relevant background in the digital, creative and arts sectors and has been part of a small group of pioneers exploring geo-web and location publishing in Australia.

Specifically, Sarah has spent the past five years experimenting with how the documentary histories of urban sites might be unearthed using location-based services, using a range of media including sound and radio archives, film, photography and maps.

This work has included the production of the ABC’s Sydney Sidetracks in 2008 and co-production of the wonderful Unguarded Moments for the City of Sydney’s Art & About Festival in 2011.

The arrival of Dr Barns (FYI very useful in a geo-spatial heritage emergency, not useful if you’re ill on a plane), comes in the wake of some really exciting developments down under.

These have seen over 25 libraries, archives and museums come on board since Historypin’s launch in July last year, including Museum Victoria sharing the largest collection of images to date via their new Historypin Channel and a close collaboration with the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, with whom we recently announced plans to launch the first national Historypinning campaign in 2013, with a year of events and activities planned across the country.

For more on the national campaign and Sarah’s progress in Australia, keep an eye on the blog and you can get in touch at sarah.barns@wearewhatwedo.org.

Thank you for listening

A big thank you to everyone that has come and listened politely and asked good questions at our Historypin talks over the last few months. They’ve been a great way of starting conversations with clever, creative people and we’ll be doing heaps more in 2012.

Some of the highlights…

Nick at TEDxLondon, London – organised by the fantastic Seeper, with around 1,000 people brought together at the Roundhouse in Camden around the theme of an “Education Revolution

Nick & Jon at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney – hosted by our fantastic partners at the Museum and part of our budding Australian Memory Project (more to follow)

Nick at TEDxNHH, Bergen – run by a dedicated group of student volunteers the Norwegian Business School and attended by a very bright bunch that all wanted Historypin stickers

Jon at the Smithsonian, Washington DC – a introduction to Historypin and LODLAM and available online thanks to the Smithsonian CTO Series

Funding Historypin

Saguin Emergency Money from World War II, from Historypin user ricksaguin.

Since the launch of Historypin in New York in July this year, we’ve been blown away by people’s response to it.

Everything about the project, from visits to the site, to institutional partners coming on board, to the impact of our local projects, has surpassed our expectations. All of this has made the team realise that we’re just scratching the surface of how quickly the Historypin community can grow and what it can achieve.

Behind all this growth is the killer question (and one that we get asked everywhere we go) – how is Historypin funded?

The full answer needs around 10,000 words and lots of diagrams, all of which is contained in our bigger planning document (e-mail me at nick.stanhope@wearewhatwedo.org if you’d like a copy of the public version).

The short answer is that Historypin, as a non-commercial project run by a non-profit organisation, We Are What We Do, has to be more entrepreneurial, rather than less.

Despite the interest, we will never take on venture capital investment and, despite the need for lots of sustainable income to cover growing costs, we’ll never sell advertising or put up a pay-wall.

What we will do is combine, on the one hand, traditional philanthropy and programme funding from Trusts and Foundations, with service delivery and product development for partners and users on the other. Through this, we aim to piece together a model that protects our core social aims and values while allowing the Historypin community to flourish, with more tools and features, better usability, more local projects, more work with schools and more support for institutions.

One month on

We’re a month on from the end of our launch week in the US and some big things have been happening.

Some of the headlines…

Just over 1 million people have visited the site since the launch on July 11th.

USA, UK, Russia, Hungary and Canada are the top five countries for visitors.

15,000 have downloaded the Historypin Android app, launched on 11th July.

51,000 have downloaded the Historypin iPhone app, launched just a week ago on 15th August.

17,000 are registered on Historypin.com.

51,682 pieces of content have been pinned.

Loads of you have been writing about us

Mashable, Good, TIME and the New York Times are amongst the lovely people who have written about us.

New partners

60 archives, libraries and museums have come on board since July and started to share their collections and some are using Historypin to solicit help in identifying forgotten places. See what’s going on in Brooklyn, New York City.

Universities are using Historypin to recreate snapshots of their campuses over the decades and engage their alumni and news agencies are using Historypin to revisit events in local history, gather recollections, and document how things have changed.
Some of our favourites things that have been going on in communities….

A fantastic inter-generational event at Billericay School in Essex, UK.

Loads of stuff going on in Reading (Berks, UK) in the run up to the launch of our first full on local Historypin project.

A dedicated Historypin month by the brilliant Culture Themes.

A great 3-day intergenerational workshop with Magic Me in Tower Hamlets – see some of the photos and stories that were shared and pinned.

More details on all of these to follow – watch this blog for more info.

And a shout out to some of our favourite pins and pinners…

Kiama Library, Australia
Realbadtaste
magnetha
South End Historical Society, Boston
binarydreams

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to making these stats so impressive, we’re hoping every month is going to be this exciting.

Global Launch of Historypin

Nick’s speech at the launch of Historypin at the Museum of the City of New York on Monday 11th July, 2011.

A year ago, my non-profit organisation, We Are What We Do, launched a beta website that experimented with the ways that technology could help people come together around historical content, more often and more meaningfully.

A year on, we have the full project to offer up to you– Historypin.com, the Historypin Smartphone app and an international roll out of our local Historypin projects, our collaboration with libraries, archives and museums and our education programme.

But, before we show you these, I’d like to tell you a bit about where this idea came from and why a organisation like ours, a social behaviour change organisation, would set out to put something like this into the world.

Starting with a picture

I’m going to start with a picture. This is my gran on the right and my great auntie on the left.

Before my gran passed away, a few years ago, we spent time with some old pictures. It makes we wish I’d done it a bit more often and a bit sooner, because it was the best time we had together. This is my gran working as a land-girl in the summer of 1943, the year of Germany’s surrender at Stalingrad and the defeat of Italian forces by the Allies, but mostly pretty calm in the Leicestershire countryside. My gran loved this photo. Just after it was taken, a young man drove past the road behind and, so taken was he by these pretty land girls, he crashed into the ditch. Gran was pretty pleased to tell that she had some devastating looks in her day.

So, what about this area and that road? Well, the road is now pretty big and full of trucks, but I found out that at one point people were able to sit beside it. Or learn to ride a horse on it. And, later, drive leisurely down it with an early camcorder peering through the windscreen, in August 1960.

All of these pieces of content represented conversations – with my gran and family, with neighbours, with local people who had lived there a long time. All of our team had similar things to share, not just about their family, but about their local area and the places people in their lives had been. As we reached further out, into the communities we worked, we found the same potential in this content everywhere – often untapped or undervalued.

Bringing people together

This is what Historypin is all about – conversations, relationships, understanding. Little ones, across different generations, over garden fences… and bigger ones, across cultures and societies. They all help us get a better understanding of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

We Are What We Do sets out to collaborate with millions of people to overcome some of the challenges society is facing: closing gaps, growing networks and increasing social capital.  We believe that conversations, relationships and a better understanding between people is a pretty good place to start.

Historypin 2.0

Here is a tour of the new site and a summary of the new Smartphone app.

Getting other people involved: local projects

And beyond the tech, Historypin is ready to roll out its local projects, institutional partnerships and educational programme all over the world.

Local Historypin projects see our team join forces with some key local partners to create a network of organisations, associations, archives, schools and colleges and launch a big call to action for everyone in the area to dig out their history and reach out to friends and neighbours to do the same.

Together, we set up a number of local spots to participate, where people can scan, pin and record stories, and curate an exhibition, using some great digital tools to bring the evolving communal archive to life.

These are being tested very successfully in the UK and will be arriving in the States imminently (for example, in NYC, we will launching a project in Harlem shortly, working with this very Museum [ed: the Museum of the City of New York] and have another project planned in East Palo Alto, California) before spreading around the world.

Working with libraries, archives and museums

From the beta phase of Historypin we already have over 100 partnerships with libraries, archives and museums. We plan to get a lot more involved and have exciting plans for them.

In January 2012, we will launch a full set of tools and services for institutional partners. With these, partners will be able to make massive contributions of content to Historypin, embed Historypin so it can feature on their own sites, create unique experiences on the site and the app for their institutions in the form of Historypin Channels, and get support from a global network of Historypin Interns.

Across all of this, we are making big commitments to integration with other sites and linked and open data – institutions should be able to share their content as and how they choose, without having to duplicate the work. Also very exciting, are our plans for crowd-sourcing meta-data and we’ve been working with Brooklyn Museum on a pilot that has seen 100s of images pinned in their rightful place and date, after having little information on them before. We will scale this up later this year, allowing any content owner to put a challenge to the crowd’s wisdom.

Our Education Programme

Finally, our educational programme. We’re currently collaborating with Stanford’s Spatial History Lab to develop research and study tools that we will launch in early 2012. We are also creating more schools’ resources to help teachers use Historypin to bring history to life in new ways.

Who knows where it will take us

Most importantly, for every avenue we explore, others will open up – this project is open, collaborative and will be based on 100s, hopefully 1000s of partnerships that can help shape the future of Historypin.

So, where are we going with all this?

The simple answer is content – images, video and audio clips pinned on every street, in every building, across and between every village, town and city – layers and layers of it – and getting more and more accurately placed in space and time.

Around these pins, a rich web of stories and recollections, inter-woven with other types of memory – diaries, letters, records.

We are creating a global, digital archive of the people’s history, used and added to everyday by millions of people.

Within all this, we’ll also ensure that Historypin stays true to its roots, as a child of the not-for-profit organisation, We Are What We Do. It will remain non-commercial, collaborative, grounded in communities and able to communicate with massive, mainstream audiences.

Non-commercial

As a non-commercial project, we take absolutely no ownership of copyright when content is shared and protect it to the degree that users choose. Also, access to content will always be free via the site and app.

Collaborative and Populist

People will use Historypin, if it grows as we hope, in different ways, to different ends. They will create narratives, impose judgements, introduce political opinions – it will be another platform to get your version of history in the ongoing fight for our memory.

So, we will always aim for a larger and larger mass of participants, adding more angles, rounding edges, greying black and white – getting millions, or even billions of contributions.

A big part of this is a creative and technical challenge that there must be something extraordinary about the Historypin experience – even when presenting, as it mostly does, the ordinary activities of day-to-day life – because we’re competing for time and effort in a world where a user only has to be disappointed for a second before they’re watching skateboarders crash into walls on YouTube.

This creative and technical challenge also extends to make sure that as layers are added to layers are added to layers, that the content is still searchable and meaningful. Millions of pictures are taken every day, thousands hours of video are recorded – can we help make all of this usable, browsable, mashable source of history?

Also, we must keep a distinction between subjective and objective contributions, close to the historian’s distinction between an historian primary and secondary sources.

Of course, nothing is truly objective, but recordings- photographic, video, audio… and further back, transcriptions and illustrated recordings are at least measurable in their date and location (even if they are not currently known and need to be debated, tested and improved by the crowd) and show an undeniable snapshot of history, which is why this content is “pinned” to the map.

Meanwhile, narrative – stories, recollections, memories, diaries, letters, are more subjective and are not necessarily “pinnable” to a specific point in time and space.

These can surround pins almost infinitely. Essentially, we will defend a distinction between what the world looked and sounded like and how those sights and sounds were perceived.

There will be challenges in all this and there already are in fact – we are already 50,000 contributions in. So these principles will be stretched, unpicked, refined, added to.

We have to work hard to remain a canvas for the recording of history, as it has happened and as it unfolds – full of narrative but never becoming a narrative in its own right – never imposing its own lens or drawing its own conclusions.

We need you

So, this canvas needs you. We need participants and partners, 100s of them, 1000s of them. And, ultimately, this evening is an invitation to become part of this. Talk to us this evening and please keep the conversation going. We look forward to you becoming part of our work and us becoming part of yours.

Thank you very much.

Nick