The world was very different in 1997. Google didn’t yet exist, and the poor benighted users of the fledgling World Wide Web had to rely on Yahoo, AltaVista and Excite to search the few websites that existed. Amazon had not yet reached the UK- instead readers actually had to visit bookstores to buy books. And the only social networking going on happened at cocktail parties.
The Scran database appeared on the Web on this day 21 years ago, though it had been in existence as a project for a couple of years prior to this. Funded by the Millennium Commission (i.e. the National Lottery), it sought to digitize Scotland’s cultural heritage for the first time. Scran was able to showcase material from many different museums and collections, big and small, and pre-dated most museum websites in Scotland.
Since its first days, Scran has continued to adapt and grow. We introduced Pathfinders, collated groups of related materials, usually from different institutions and linked by specially-written text; we developed Stuff, where users can save their favourites, group them in Albums, edit and manipulate these and share them with other users; and in recent years we introduced Contribute, allowing users to upload their own materials to Scran.
In recent years we’ve become a service of Historic Environment Scotland, which means that we now have access to a huge tranche of new images, and our digital offering can supplement the physical places that HES manages, such as Edinburgh Castle, Duff House and Fort George. There are plans afoot to develop Scran further, along with HES’s other databases such as Canmore, Britain From Above and NCAP, so watch this space. And here’s to the next 21 years.