We ran product invention workshops with the BBC, examining ways in which history could be explored and explained using digital media. In the course of these workshops, “juxtaposition” emerged as a key storytelling technique. The microbrief called “Dimensions” was expressed like this:
”We want to bring home the human scale of events and places in history. The Apollo 11 Moon walk explored an area smaller than Trafalgar Square; the distance between your WW1 trench and the enemy could only be as much as from your front door to the street corner.
Dimensions is a feature on websites that juxtaposes the size of historical events with your home and neighbourhood. You’re hearing about the span of the base of the Great Pyramids, or the distance of the book depository from JFK, or the extent of the Great Fire of London… Dimensions overlays this map on a satellite view of where you live.“
The site also had a simple content management system, allowing designers working for the BBC to quickly create and add new dimensions.
This responsiveness was used to great effect when the Pakistan floods occurred: the devastating enormity was brought home to visitors, and howbigreally.com was used as a communication tool by charities and individuals world-wide, sharing their knowledge of this event.
In its first 30 days, the website was visited 290,000 times (1.3 million page views), by 245,000 unique visitors. It received write-ups from major news outlets including the Guardian and Gizmodo.
This project is featured in the MoMA exhibition Talk to Me in NYC from 24 July until 7 November 2011.