Rivers of History


Cradle of Civilization: The Tigres-Euphrates River Valley

Rivers of History



In our modern world, we sometimes devalue our rich legacies of storytelling, friendships and community.

It has been a great joy for me, in recent years, to reconnect with my primary school classmates and teachers at Hospital Hill School. Moreover, we have found it to be enlightening to work together to recount and document our rich cultural heritage and school community.

Anne Cutler’s article under the heading “Nairobi School” is a wonderful example of how small trickles of stories and anecdotes, evolve and grow into streams and then rivers of history. We can take this one step further, as I began to do when I was a graduate student at the Media Lab at MIT:


We can consider how present and future generations can access these wellsprings and rivers of history if that history were documented digitally. Just as in the Nairobi School article, where we have text, photo images and video, we could expand this methodology.

We can imagine all the participants in Shirin’s Library having their history documented in text, photo images and video. Moreover, we can imagine present and future generations then going “fishing” in these “rivers of history” and retrieving the text, photo images and videos from this virtual “river”.

The great civilizations of history began and were cradled along the banks of rivers such as the Nile, the Tigres and the Euphrates. The archeology and anthropology of those river civilizations are well documented through cuneiform and cloth and craft. How will our Digital Civilization begin?


Legacy of Civilization: The Fertile Nile River Valley

How shall we nurture and cradle the beginnings of our technological civilization?

How can we archive our cultural heritage and how can future generations access these archives?

These are the questions I invite you to reflect upon as you consider the concept of Shirin’s Library.