Enhancing Know Your Place

enhancingKnow Your Place is an online digital map of Bristol created by Bristol City Council. Originally conceived, and still used, as a tool for planners to view historic land use, Know Your Place allows the public to to explore your Bristol neighbourhods through historic maps, images and linked information.

One of the central strands of the Know Your Bristol project is enhancing Know Your Place by helping to facilitate the addition of crowd-sourced content. This content will add a ‘human’ or ‘community layer’ to the map in the form of photographs of places or objects, stories and sound recordings uploaded and linked to particular places by volunteers. While some of this new content may come from attics, lofts and tucked-away boxes of people’s homes, some will consist of already existing-archive material that has been digitised but not yet linked to a place. For example, the Vaughan Collection held by Bristol Record Office consists of around 8,000 digitised postcard images of Bristol, but is not easily accessible and shareable. Part of the Know Your Bristol project will bring together community volunteers to research the postcards at Bristol Record Office and upload their findings on to the Know Your Place Map.

Uploading of this content to the map not only makes the content much more accessible, but begins to tell different stories of the city. The selection of what to upload, be it people own photos and stories or those already held in archives and the choices of which physical sites to link content to, are not innocent practices. They are practices imbued with the lives of those that chose them. The enriched re-mappings of the city that will be co-created through this process thus tell a story of the present too – they reveal what we deem ‘important’, what counts as ‘heritage’ and as ‘valuable’ history. Where this process of selection, mapping and history-writing has traditionally been done by professional historians and cartographers, through this project we open it up to much wider participation. What would the historical geography of Bristol look like if written by all of us? What would it tell us about the past and how might this re-imaging of the past begin to re-shape the present?