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The Spark Blog

An occasional series of thoughts and reflections on the role of narrative in organizational change, branding and knowledge work

The value stories add

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The BBC reports that Oxfam is trying out a mobile phone scheme that lets customers discover the stories behind second-hand goods it sells.

The scheme is called Shelflife. This video explains how it works.

Shelflife uses technology developed for a project called Tales of Things and Electronic Memory (Totem), a collaboration of academics at five UK universities. Totem has built a database of more than 6,000 objects which have been linked to their stories with tags.

Each Totem object has its own Twitter account, and tweets are sent out automatically to an object’s ‘followers’ every time its tag is scanned or new information is added to its story.

Emma Joy at Oxfam is hoping that the pilot will prove that items with stories are more valuable and that it will establish the monetary value of a story.

Andrew Hudson-Smith, director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London and a contributor to the Totem project, makes the point that: ‘Second-hand goods are essentially meaningless, but when they are tagged we give them meaning.’. ‘We want to make every Oxfam shop into an interactive social museum.’

You can read more in a posting in Brilliant Noise’s blog: Brilliant: Oxfam’s Shelflife and giving objects a story.

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