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Did twitter save bletchley park?


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Bletchley Park is the historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during World War II and birthplace of the modern computer. The work carried out there is said to have shortened WWII by two years, saving possibly 22 million lives.

The Park is now a museum, with a 26 acre site, many exhibitions and working rebuilds of machines such as the Colossus, a forerunner of today's computers, invented to mechanise codebreaking. The museum is staffed by a 75% volunteer workforce and is grossly underfunded compared to its historical importance.

Dr Sue Black visited Bletchley Park in July 2008, and she was so appalled at the state of decay of this important site that she started a campaign to get the true historic value of the site recognised and to save it from being lost to the nation. She sent a letter to the UK broadsheet newspaper The Times signed by 97 eminent UK computer scientists, which was published and highlighted in BBC television and radio news broadcasts.

Following traditional media coverage, a blog was established, and then social media (particularly Twitter) used to great effect to raise awareness and support for the campaign. Campaign efforts have received national coverage on television, on radio, and in the press and have contributed to the Park recently receiving £4.6 million funding from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund.

In this lecture, Simon Greenish, Director of Bletchley Park, will describe the history of Bletchley Park from the Domesday Book through to the present day and gives an insight into its fundamental contribution to the ending of World War Two.

Dr Sue Black will describe the campaign to save Bletchley Park, exploring the effectiveness of traditional vs. social media, highlighting how the use of social media has contributed greatly to campaign success. Since the Saving Bletchley Park campaign started, visitor numbers have increased, along with public awareness of the contribution of the site to world heritage and the history of the computer.

This public lecture is part of the Computer Science Athena Swan initiative to promote women in science.

Published in: Education, Technology
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Did twitter save bletchley park?

  1. 1. Did Twitter save Bletchley Park? 7th March 2012
  2. 2. Content A Brief HistorySimon Greenish - Previous CEO Bletchley Park Trust How Social Media Helped Bletchley Park Dr Sue Black Future Plans Iain Standen - CEO Bletchley Park Trust
  3. 3. A Brief History• Arguably one of the most important sites of 20C• Codebreaking in WW2 made huge impact on outcome of war• First operating computer Colossus developed to break high grade German code -electronic age started at Bletchley Park• Story kept secret until 1975• Struggled to survive 1992 - 2010• Now recognised as a site of truly international importance
  4. 4. The Mathematics of Enigma• Set-up from code book• 3 rotors from 5 = 10 choices• The order = 6 choices 6 x 10 = 60• Ring settings – 26 x 26 x 26 = 17,576• 17,576 x 60 = 1,054,560• ‘Stecker board’ with ten leads: 10 from 13 (26/2) = 150,000,000,000,000• 150,000,000,000,000 x 1,054,560 =• 158,184,000,000,000,000,000:1• Chances of winning the National Lottery?• ~14,000,000:1
  5. 5. Army & Air Force Huts 6 and 3
  6. 6. Naval Huts 8 and 4
  7. 7. Block A
  8. 8. Colossus – January 1944 onwards
  9. 9. Why did Germany never realise?• UK “need to know” basis – 30 people with full knowledge• Compartmentalisation of Bletchley Park – BP workers did not know• No action taken unless it could be explained through other means
  10. 10. Visit of HM The Queen accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh – July 2011
  11. 11. The Challenges• Trust inherited 70 buildings – many large and in poor condition• Inadequate funding – huge operating and maintenance costs• The need to increase profile
  12. 12. How Social Media Helped Bletchley Park Dr Sue Black
  13. 13. Photo by @Jemimah_Knight Photo by @Documentally
  14. 14. Photos by @Documentally
  15. 15. Photos by @Ade_Oshineye
  16. 16. The Future
  17. 17. Project NEPTUNE 2012 - 2014
  18. 18. Block CDetailed Views
  19. 19. §The Huts – With and without bomb blast walls
  20. 20. Vision In the 5 -10 year timescale Bletchley Park will become a world class museum and heritage site, renown throughout the world for its key role in theSecond World War and its position as the birthplaceof the modern computer. It will be experiencing the levels of visitors anticipated in the current HLF business case (~ 250,000 per annum) and its operating costs will be self – sustained. It will alsohouse facilities that continue to place Bletchley Park as much at the heart of technical innovation today as it was in the Second World War.
  21. 21. What *you* can do........3. Talk to people about Bletchley Park and encouragethem to visit (only £12 for an annual pass)5. What are you good at that could bring attention orfunds to Bletchley Park? Organise a fundraising eventfor us?3. Follow @bletchleypark , @BParkCEO and@Dr_Black on Twitter, search term #bpark4. Let’s Build a Bletchley Park for the future thatrecognises the international importance of the site
  22. 22. Did save Bletchley Park?  Any Questions? 