TOTeM / Tales of Things

TOTeM: Tales of Things and Electronic Memory
TOTeM was a three-year collaborative research project which will investigate the potential for the technologies behind the ‘internet of things’ to be used to store memories in a digital form. By associating peoples’ stories to objects through the use of QR codes and RFID tags, memories can become attached to possessions, allowing others to read them and better understand their importance. The project aims to provide a social platform in which the value of an object can be increased through the attachment of memory, encouraging people to not to throw away items, but instead reuse and retain them.

Objects that are capable of telling a story themselves afford an insight into other peoples’ past experiences, and may transform a mundane object into an heirloom. Thus interrupting the cradle to grave cycle in which objects tend to have one life for one person as memories live on in a digital form.

The project team envisage the social benefits to include: encouraging inter-generational understanding, richer interpretation of diverse cultural communities and the fostering of a networked museum of social history. In addition, the project offers enormous scope for how auction houses and online stores can identify, track and add-value to objects that otherwise may be looked over because of a forgotten history.

The project’s outputs will include a website database of people’s memories, focussed workshops, talks and events.

The full site launched in Spring 2010:

Multiple blog posts here:

Partners: Edinburgh College of Art, Brunel University, University of Dundee, University of Salford and University College London.

Funding: £1.4m project supported by the EPSRC.