Introducing ‘Platform to platform: an investigation into audience engagement with digitised archives and its transformative impact across different online formats’

Lorna Lloyd and Bethany Ray

World War II diarist Lorna Lloyd (left) will be voiced by her great-great niece actor Bethany Ray (right) in a new podcast series, to be released in May 2022

A new project will be hosted by the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University from February until July 2022. Platform to platform: an investigation into audience engagement with digitised archives and its transformative impact across different online formats (P2P) was recently selected as one of the latest projects for support of the AHRC-funded Creative Informatics small research grants scheme.

P2P comprises two phases. Phase 1 centres on the recording of a non-fiction narrative podcast series based on the diary of Lorna Lloyd, a young woman who lived in Malvern at the start of World War II. Contemporaneous news content will be added to Lorna’s diary entries at key points in the narrative. Phase 2 will be an evaluation of audience engagement with the podcast series following its launch at a public engagement event, provisionally planned for Tuesday 24th May 2022 in Malvern. The evaluation will address two key research questions:

  1. What are audience modes of engagement with digitised archive data sets that have been transformed into a podcast series?
  2. How can creative industries (notably heritage and cultural education) use this knowledge of modes of engagement, and its impact and value, to attract new audiences in meaningful ways, and to generate data-driven innovation?
Bethany Ray in A Christmas Carol

Bethany Ray on stage in A Christmas Carol, 2018

The P2P project team members are all based in the School of Computing at Napier: myself and Dr Bruce Ryan in the Centre for Social Informatics, and Dr Iain McGregor of the Centre for Interaction Design. Colleagues from the BBC, the British Library, and the Malvern Museum of Local History are also lending their support to the project.

The part of Lorna in the podcast series will be played by her great-great niece Bethany Ray. Bethany graduated with a first class degree in acting in 2019, and in 2022 will turn 25 – the same age as her great-great aunt Lorna when she started chronicling her life under the conditions of wartime Britain in September 1939.
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