For Your Inspiration: Digitizing Nostalgia

Pine Point, Northwest Territories was a mining town that existed for 30 odd years, long enough for a generation to make its way through. A joint venture between the Canadian government and Cominco (the mining company), the townsite was built to service those working in the open pit mine. At its peak, it had a bustling population of 1200 residents. It had an airport, a hotel and no shortage of archetype characters. Residents went to school, formed bands, grew mullets, drank at the legion or anywhere they could. When the mine closed in 1988, so was the town. Most of it was hauled away, buried or burned.

"Welcome to Pine Point" is a NFB website documentary that tells the story of the town and it residents. Part memoir, part research project, part design piece, the story is put together by Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge, the creative team "The Goggles", responsible for such things like Adbusters Magazine.

You can flip through the site in about 10 minutes or a full hour to take in all the details, which where in lies the beauty of this story. It is a documentary on the challenges of capturing memories and documenting life; the evolution in photography and the vanishing custom of keeping photo albums (when was the last time you got a roll of film developed?) but also the shift in media that is being used to document history. With the creators background being in print, they admit that this was originally suppose to be a book but were convinced to make it digitally, into a sort of narrated scrapbook. They bring to life the story of Pine Point through a collage of pictures, graphics, video and audio. As opposed to being a more passive experience of flipping through a book, they have made it into an enriched visual, audio and interactive experience, allowing the reader to dig through layers and get deeper into the story.

"Welcome to Pine Point" is a great piece of design, stylistically it captures an era and structurally it looks forward to the next. Is this where books are going (the new incarnation of the coffee book)? Does a project like this reinforce the statement that "Print is dead", that print is evolving into new media forms in our shift on how we consume information?

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