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Project Critique

‘The War & Peace Diaries’ set out to look at how digital media can be used to influence how individuals are remembered and the role of digital media in interlinking the past with the present, through the dialectical framework of database and narrative. The story it subsequently aimed to tell was of a man, in his own words, trying to stay human in the face of a wider and barbarous series of events.

For Manovich (2001), the database depicts the world as unordered yet listed items, whereas with narrative, events create a linear flow of cause-and-effect. They are therefore opposing ways of representing the world. With this project, I have attempted to incorporate elements of both. The audio files are laid out in a table structure, allowing random user access to the events. It was authored in a Flash project file (.fla), which in itself is a collection of objects ordered only by the place in the alphabet of a file name. This is in contrast to a diary, which would typically be written or read sequentially in a paper book. However, it is entirely possible to take each event in order and listen to them as discrete parts of a wider story, giving the user a sense of linearity through the twin arcs of man and war. To take the user at the digital interface and imagine them as ‘autonomous agents whose behaviors can be constrained in a mechanical feedback loop’ (Drucker, 2005) and therefore be guided only down any one of a pre-determined set of experiential paths is a highly reductionistic view on how texts (particularly digital ones) are read.

The notion of remediation is a useful one here for looking at the role of digital media in how an individual is remembered. Bolter and Grusin describe it as ‘a defining characteristic of new media’ (2000, p. 45), whereby one medium is represented in another, offering new access to older material. A printed copy of Ted’s war diaries has been gathering dust on my shelves for many years – this project has given me an opportunity to bring the content to a new light, effectively rehabilitating the older medium. Bolter and Grusin propose that media are employed ‘as vehicles for defining both personal and cultural identity’ (2000 p. 231). This series of ‘mediated memories’ (Dijck, 2006) places members of my family (and by extension, myself) as part of a wider cultural framework.

This was also a rather over-ambitious project to take on within the time frame available to me. Consequently, there are a number of features and practices that I have had to leave out, such as including a broader range of content (copyright restrictions limiting the additional inclusion of video, I have not left enough time to add more text to the HTML wrapper), and deploying wider product testing (the web page doesn’t display the same in all browsers). However, for a first time authoring in a Flash environment, I am overall satisfied with the results.



Bolter, J D; Grusin, R (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Dijck, J V (2007). Mediated Memories in the Digital Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Drucker, J (2011). Humanities Approaches to Interface Theory. Culture Machine, Vol 12. Accessed from Culture Machine, 11/12/12

Manovich, L (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Further links

Bomb Sight Interactive map of the London Blitz.

J. Lyons & Co. - The Corner Houses Huge restaurants, where Ted often dined.

'There's No Precedent' One of Ted's novels, published in 1947.

Glaxo Glaxo, where Ted worked, was heavily involved in the production of penicillin during the war.

Media Sources


Diary readings Original recordings by Dominic Pates

Archive recordings All archive recordings were sourced (09/11/12) from the Community Audio section of the Internet Archive, and are all available under a CC0 universal public domain declaration.

1939 Wartime Radio

1940 Wartime Radio

1941 Wartime Radio

1942 Wartime Radio

1943 Wartime Radio

1944 Wartime Radio

1945 Wartime Radio

Diary content

Original author Edward William Pates

Copyright holder, series editor Michael Pates


Navigation buttons ‘House’, ‘People’, ‘Diary’, Microphone’ images all sourced from OpenClipArt.

Ted photos Courtesy of Andrew and Richard Pates

Relatives in Berlin Dominic Pates

Wartime photographs The following images were all sourced from Wikimedia Commons and were put into the public domain by the original owners, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (sourced on 10/11/12).

1939 Aircraft spotter on the roof of a building

1940 First mass air raid on London

1941 Firemen at work in bomb damaged street

1942 Over 500 firemen and women combined in a war exercise

1943 Spitfires over Biggin Hill

1944 Children made homeless by bomb raids

1945 Bombed London streets

Copyright Notice

Dominic Pates is the declared author of this multimedia work (hereafter referred to as ‘The War And Peace Diaries’). All non-original works incorporated into ‘The War And Peace Diaries’ have either been repurposed from public domain-declared works, or with the express permission of the original copyright holder.

Every effort has been made to provide correct and appropriate attribution for non-original works, as listed in the above 'Media Sources' section. If you are the owner of a copyrighted work that has been repurposed in ‘The War And Peace Diaries’ and you wish to contest the inclusion of said work, please contact the author at dominicpates[a]