Did Twitter save Bletchley Park?

The pivotal role of Twitter in saving Bletchley Park is to be highlighted in a public lecture at the University of York.

Bletchley Park was the top secret code breaking HQ in WWII ©Wikimedia commons; Image credit: Magnus Manske

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 the war by two years, possibly saving 22 million lives.

Yet despite its historical importance, when Dr Sue Black visited the park, now a museum, in July 2008, she was appalled at the state of decay it had fallen into, and started a campaign to save it from being lost to the nation.

In a lecture at the University’s Ron Cooke Hub on Wednesday, 7 March, Dr Black, a Senior Research Associate at University College London, will discuss how the use of social media, particularly Twitter, helped save Bletchley Park.

She will describe the Saving Bletchley Park campaign, exploring the effectiveness of traditional versus social media, highlighting how the use of social media contributed greatly to campaign success.

Since the 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. Recently the Park received £4.6 million funding from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dr Black will be joined by Simon Greenish, Director of Bletchley Park, who will describe the history of Bletchley Park from the Domesday Book through to the present day.

The event is part of the Computer Science Athena Swan initiative to promote women in science.

Professor John Clark, from the Department of Computer Science, said: “Computer Science is very pleased to have Dr Black, winner of the British Computer Society's inaugural John Ivinson Award, as its external Roundhouse public lecturer for 2012.

“Sue’s skill and energy in campaigning for Bletchley Park are deeply appreciated. She has a habit of making things happen. In this case she utilised social media to raise awareness of the historic value of Bletchley. People have their opinions on social media; some love them, some dismiss them. Her talk will demonstrate what their determined and imaginative use can achieve.”

“Did Twitter save Bletchley Park?” takes place at the Ron Cooke Hub, on the University’s Heslington East campus, on Wednesday, 7 March at 6.45pm. Admission is by free ticket only, available from www.york.ac.uk/tickets, email publiclectures@york.ac.uk or telephone 01904 324466.



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