In my job, I see what software lets people accomplish every day. With software, people are transforming the present, and pushing the boundaries of current limitations further and further out. People are using software to shape the future in many ways, from using software to save the lives of more premature babies and infants in places without electricity, to helping NASA study Mars.
But I am intrigued to see an example of software also being used to help us understand the past.
Recently, researchers in Virginia’s Jamestown, established in 1607, found four undiscovered burial sites of early settlers. This discovery gave us valuable new information about early colonists and life in what was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
While this announcement made headlines on newspapers and TV, those stories were only partially told, using two-dimensional images. For the “inner archaeologist” in many of us, there was much more to experience on the Smithsonian Institution’s website – a three-dimensional rendering of the burial site, available for all to view and explore.
To achieve this, Autodesk and the Smithsonian partnered to build the Smithsonian X 3D Explorer – a tool built exclusively to digitally showcase the Smithsonian’s most prized exhibits. Through the ingenuity of Autodesk’s software and the vision of the people who created it, the researchers’ work can be more fully viewed and understood by us all. People with an interest in early American history can experience an incredible 360-degree view of this amazing, new finding that gives even more clues into what life was like at Jamestown four centuries ago.
Our ability to use software to offer unprecedented digital access to historical findings is just one of the ways software is making learning and history reach far beyond the classroom. It’s inspiring to see researchers use software innovation to help us understand our past, as well as look toward our future. In the case of the groundbreaking 3-D Jamestown rendering, companies like Autodesk are helping future explorers develop a passion for learning and for seeing in different, entirely new ways – and providing us all with a way to better connect with our own history.
From uncovering the past to exploring the future, amazing things are happening every day with software.