The Forever Project: Harnessing Digital Technology to Scale Personal Experiences


6 min

In the heart of the digital age, the importance of preserving and sharing stories, especially those with historical significance, cannot be understated. The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, the UK's sole institution dedicated to the lessons of the Holocaust, has pioneered "The Forever Project" to ensure that the testimonies of Holocaust survivors are accessible to future generations.

Origins and Impact

The journey began with the innovative "In The Room" initiative. The Centre's mission was to safeguard and disseminate testimonies, narratives, and artefacts from a select group of survivors. Digital technology breathed life into this vision, with The Forever Project serving as its beacon.

The project showcases 11 survivors, each filmed over five days, answering questions about their lives and experiences. This wasn't just any footage; it was captured in 3D, powered by machine learning, ensuring an immersive experience for viewers. Originally conceptualized for auditoriums, it now allows audiences, especially children and adults, to witness and interact with survivors in 3D. This initiative has touched countless lives globally and has been featured in prestigious locations like Westminster Abbey and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Recognizing the challenges faced by survivors in sharing their testimonies, especially in schools, The Forever Project evolved into a browser-based online experience. This digital shift ensures national access to these invaluable experiences, complemented by in-class sessions and teaching materials.

The Power and Potential of Digital Technology

The Forever Project is a testament to the potential of technology in:

1. Preserving Stories: Ensuring that personal and historically significant stories are kept alive for future generations.

2. Reaching Global Audiences: Breaking geographical barriers by transitioning to online platforms.

3. Enhancing Interactive Learning: Using 3D video and machine learning for a more engaging learning process.

4. Adapting to Needs: Demonstrating flexibility based on changing circumstances.

Broader Applications

The principles behind The Forever Project have vast potential:

- Oral Histories: Indigenous communities can preserve their traditions and stories.

- Veterans' Testimonies: Soldiers can provide first-hand accounts of wars.

- Space Exploration: Astronauts can share their unique space experiences.

- Medical Testimonies: Patients can share insights about rare diseases or conditions.

- Artists and Craftsmen: Renowned creatives can share their processes and inspirations.

- Environmental Testimonies: Individuals in climate-affected areas can share their experiences.

- Historical Events Witnesses: Witnesses of significant events can provide personal accounts.

In essence, The Forever Project underscores the significance of leveraging technology to ensure that vital chapters of human history and the personal stories within them remain accessible and unforgettable.

Author: Katya Samotoi