CyArk at TEDxWellesleyCollege

by Makenna Murray
May 28, 2014

Guest blogger: Makenna Murray interned with CyArk during the summer of 2013 and recently finished her final year at Wellesley College studying History and Art History. She is planning to go to get her masters in Historic Preservation following graduation.

I had the pleasure of interning at CyArk during the summer of 2013, and have since become a vocal advocate for digital documentation as a means of preserving a diversity of cultural heritage—from internationally celebrated sites to places with more local significance. After presenting on my fabulous experience with CyArk, I was approached to be the student speaker at the TEDxWellesleyCollege conference organized by my now former college. Of course, I accepted immediately!

The TEDx program offers the opportunity for anyone with “ideas worth spreading” to organize their own event based on the TED model. A group of incredibly committed students arranged for all of the TED permits, booked a location, fundraised and found an exciting group of great minds both from the Boston area and beyond. The official theme of TEDxWellesley was "Consilience," or the use of one discipline of study to further another. The work we do at CyArk is a perfect example of this principle, as we unite preservation, cutting-edge documentation methods and advanced archiving techniques to further the cause of saving the world’s heritage.

As the second person to present on CyArk’s work to a TED audience, I had big shoes to fill. I spoke about the urgent need for documentation not only abroad, but locally as well. In California, many of us believe the Missions are a permanent fixture on the landscape. We take their existence for granted, when in fact they face substantial obstacles. Situated along the highly active San Andreas Fault line, the centuries-old missions’ physical integrity is constantly at risk. But funding constraints and general apathy also contribute to the structures’ at-risk status. Our shared heritage should not take a back seat in planning for the future. Once lost, it is gone for good.

It was an honor to be asked to represent Wellesley College as the school’s only student speaker. I could not have asked for a better venue to share CyArk's mission of digitally documenting cultural heritage sites for future generations, and the experience of presenting was amazing. The intimate scale of the event made for a very fun audience. My fellow speakers were drawn from a wildly diverse, and complementary, set of backgrounds, from design and investment to biology and environmental science.

Presenting at TEDxWellesleyCollege provided a great opportunity to share CyArk’s work with a wider audience. I was incredibly encouraged by the wonderful questions, comments and site recommendations that listeners approached me with. Every time I have the opportunity to speak about CyArk’s heritage mission, people’s reactions are fantastic! They are enthusiastic to learn about the cutting-edge technologies being used in digital preservation, and everyone has a place near to their heart that they would like to see saved.

Watch Makenna's talk here!

Makenna Murray at TEDxWellesleyCollege
Showing a point cloud of Mission Dolores