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July 16, 2016

Sitting down on a Point of Interest

WE HAVE ON-BOARD maps that guide us to Points of Interest (POIs) and handheld maps that show starred POIs that follow us as we upgrade phones and browsers. Today, I sat down on a POI from 1942, read supporting documentation about the POI (see photo below and my Northern Ireland photoset) and recorded some thoughts about the whole process that I hope will cause my five year old son to retrace my steps when he inherits my POI dataset as part of his family heritage.


Five year old Dylan will probably remember two things about today's POIs. He will probably remember Archie and his grass airfield pointing downhill to a flat beach demarcated by six inch thick concrete chunks. And he might remember the beach that used to be criss-crossed with those pieces of concrete, back when the sand was RAF Greencastle and home to heavy bomber aircraft during World War II.
Remants of RAF Greencastle

My uncles in Iowa operated heavy equipment for the US Army when they completed tours of duty overseas, although they did not join the forces in England during the 1940s. Thousands of Americans spent years in County Down when fighting alongside Allied troops between 1942 and 1945. You can see traces of that activity around several POIs I have pulled into my personal collection.

The most obvious features are straight and narrow roads. Those paved strips are remnants of civil engineers who laid down roads that connected functional areas along the shortest possible lines. Authentic local lanes curve with hedgerows, streams and cattle paths.

You can see the POIs in old photographs showing shopfronts, cars and local faces. I can see facial features of my first cousins in many of those 1940s black and white photos. I saw POIs alongside coastal trails, next to workhouses, and etched in the details of the small harbours dotting the Mourne coastal route. Time may erode some of the memories freshly inscribed in my mind but when that happens, I hope I will be able to dial back into my personal timeline and rewind bits of photostreams, audio recordings and blog posts that give greater meaning to the POIs I have created in my personal life. I hope our two children can walk me through the POIs they saw during our week-long discovery of Northern Ireland.

My first week in Northern Ireland

+++ Bernie Goldbach teaches digital literacies in his role as a lecturer of Creative Media for Business at the Limerick Institute of Technology.


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