From the trenches to the World Wide Web: a digital experiment at the Pays de Meaux First World War Museum

The article looks back at the museum’s project to plan, implement, and launch a Facebook page for a fictional First World War soldier, Léon Vivien, recording his life in the trenches over several months in 1914 and 1915. Today’s web surfers can comment on his posts, thus playing an active role in his narrative. The unusual experiment highlights the value of digital mediation for heritage collections as a way of reaching broader and younger audiences, especially the new generation of digital natives. The museum reached out to this new audience via social networking, which then brought many new visitors into the museum to add a further dimension to the initial virtual experiment, which is no substitute for direct contact with the actual items in the collection.