The 9/11 Digital Archive: A Tribute to the 9/11 Disaster

The September 11 Digital Archive,, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, , consulted on February 16, 2020

The Library of Congress inaugurated the 9/11 Digital Archive in 2003. The archive is a virtual smorgasbord of materials related to the events of September 11, 2001. It contains thousands of items: newspaper articles from before and after the event, pictures taken by families in front of the Twin Towers just days before the disaster, poems written in honor of first responders and fire fighters, personal compositions written by people who were effected by the events of 9/11, oral histories, news clips, and much more. In total there are over seventy thousand items in the archive. The archive is not purely scholarly, but rather acts as more of a digital home for the memories of those who experienced 9/11. As their about page states, ” The September 11 Digital Archive uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and the public responses to them. “

The design of the archive is simple, but it works. It is divided into different collections (for example the Anniversary Collections or the Audio Collection). Also, a visitor to the archive can browse the items without having to chose a particular collection; all text submissions, oral histories, videos clips, and photos will be mixed together, instead of being separated into different collections. Interestingly, the archive also has links to additional collections complied from outside sources, and a crowd sourced collection open for visitors to the digital archive to add their own memories of 9/11. Browsing through this collection, a visitor finds memories that are only a few sentences long, and these are usually not composed by those who participated in the events first hand, but instead by those who experienced the events from their T.V. screens or even half way across the world. This is significant, as it reminds the visitor of how far reaching 9/11 was for the American people. The archive also has the usual archive search option and an about page describing how the archive was compiled as well as a staff page thanking the team that put together and currently oversees the archive.

The audience for the 9/11 digital archive is extremely diverse. It is meant for all people who remember the events of 9/11. It is not merely limited to those who participated in the events first hand. This is evidenced by the sheer number of items in the archive, as well as the different kinds of submissions; many of which are written by or submitted by ordinary Americans who experienced 9/1 1. These submissions, as noted above, range from oral submissions to simple text submissions. However, all the submissions offer insight into how Americans viewed 9/11, both then and now.

The archive, as mentioned before, has a simple layout. However, it has a unique history in that it was the first digital archive to be accepted into the Library of Congress, thus helping to insure that it would be preserved for posterity. In 2011, the archive was moved to Omeka, where the website was relaunched on a more stable platform. This fathered the project team’s goal of preserving the archive and these memories forever.

The original team that put together the 9/11 Digital Archive is made up mostly of archive and meta data experts from George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media as well as historians, investigators, programmers, and web designers from City University of New York Graduate Center and John Jay College, City of New York University. Today, the project is overseen by a team from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. The 9/11 digital archive has also attracted many influential partners such as the Library of Congress and The Smithsonian Institute which have helped to preserve and grow the archive. Additionally, visitors to the archive can make their own contributions thus adding their voices and their stories to the it..

The 9/11 Digital Archive is a simple, well organized, and meaningful archive that successfully catalogs the emotional turmoil felt by a nation and its people during one of the most tragic days in its history.

A Screenshot taken by the author of the 9/11 Digital Archive’s Home Page, taken February 16, 2020 | Screen shot taken by author

An Unsinkable Demo: The Titanic Honor and Glory Team’s Masterpiece in the Making.

Titanic Honor and Glory overseen by Vintage Digital Revival LLC January 19, 2020.

Titanic Honor and Glory is an in-development video game that seeks to take its players back in time to explore the most famous ship in the world. In the third and final demo, players play as a British Board of Trade inspector who arrives at Harland and Wolff Shipyard prior to Titanic’s sea trials and just days before the beginning of her fateful maiden voyage. The player has free roam of a small section of the Shipyard where they are free to explore the beautiful scenery of Northern Ireland, gaze at the stunning Titanic that looms majestically in the background, and even explore parts of the shipyard itself that is littered with evidence of Titanic’s impending voyage. As the Board of Trade inspector, the player can navigate through a literal maze of coal cars, paint-making shops, and privies in order to find the right way onto the gangway that leads to Titanic’s first-class entrance. However, it is onboard the Titanic where the demo shines most.

The player can wander through a small portion of the interior of Titanic which has been meticulously and beautifully recreated through in-depth research and a game development software. As the player moves from one exquisite room to the next he/she can read brief descriptions of each room and some of the decorations in them. They can admire the beautiful wrought iron glass domes of the Titanic’s grand staircases (Yes, there were two: One fore and one aft), walk through the first-class reception room (of which there were also two: one for the dining saloon and one for the restaurants), marvel at the French walnut paneling in the exclusive A La Carte Restaurant, and trek down Scotland Road to the sweltering Boiler Room No. 6 and the Utilitarian Third-Class dining saloon; all the while learning the purpose of each room and Titanic’s interior layout. This demo offers, without a doubt the most accurate and realistic depiction of Titanic ever made for any platform in history.

However, the demo has its limits. It is, after all, a demo and is not designed to offer the full game experience. In the full game players will be able to explore every inch of Titanic; from the grand dining saloons to the smallest closets. Also, the players will be able to play a story mode with a murder mystery story in the final product. The demo does suffer from cringe dialogue from its lead character. For example, at one point he proclaims himself as the most handsome man on Titanic! Additionally, there are some stiff looking seagulls that follow you around the shipyard. Nevertheless, this demo offers just a sliver of what the final product will be, but more importantly, it is a testament to the passion of the developers.

The audience for the Titanic Honor and Glory demo is diverse. Titanic is, after all, the most famous ship in the world, and anything to do with the vessel always garners significant attention. This demo is no exception. It certainly has plenty of content to offer causal fans of the movie or those who are familiar with Titanic’s story but want to know more. However, it is unique in that it aims to educate in a fun and interactive way by allowing players to explore the Titanic itself. Additionally, the demo offers something special for Titanic enthusiasts and historians. It is the most accurate depiction of Titanic ever made. The lack of photographs of Titanic’s interiors has made it difficult to determine how Titanic really looked, especially when compared to Titanic’s older sister Olympic with whom she shared many similarities and differences, but thanks to the remarkable research and sheer dedication of the Titanic Honor and Glory team historians and enthusiast will have a truly unique tool that will help answer some of these questions in the most detailed and accurate way possible.

The Titanic Honor and Glory team have used the Unreal Engine Four to bring Titanic back to life for their game. Unreal Engine Four is one of the best game development softwares out there designed to offer a truly immersive and life-like experience for gamers. As one walks the halls of Titanic in this demo you realize that she lives again in this game; As real to you, as she was to those who sailed in her 108 years ago. What this demo has accomplished and what the Titanic Honor and Glory Team are still working to accomplish is truly special. There have been a lot of Titanic games, but never one that is so dedicated to accuracy and indeed to history as Titanic Honor and Glory.

One of the most important components of DH is the corroboration between members of a project team and their community. The Titanic Honor and Glory has worked for years to foster a large and devoted community. Their online presence is impressive with their youtube channel having over 200,000 subscribers and some of their videos having over one million views. More importantly, the Titanic Honor and Glory team has consulted with leading Titanic historians like Ken Marschall and others as well as descendants of survivors to create as respectful and authentic a Titanic experience as possible. Their development team is diverse as well, drawing from all parts of the United States and some of their consultants are also from the U.K. and Europe.

Titanic Honor and Glory is a masterpiece in the making. Their team’s dedication to historical accuracy and detail in their game will make this game an unforgettable experience.

An image depicting a parlor suite on board Titanic with its ornately carved wood work and period appropriate furniture with fireplace and mantle
A rendition of Titanic’s Empire Style Suite rendered by the Titanic Honor and Glory team and released March 14, 2018 | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons