david hieatt

The History Tag - Open source idea

"Many of the great businesses of the next decade will

be about making information about our behaviors

more visible." — evan williams


I believe the best thing we can do for the environment is to make a product last longer. This led me to thinking that if something does last a long old time; it will be sold on one day or get handed down.


At that point the history of where it came from, what it did, and with whom, will all be lost. Currently, barcodes are not updateable. They do not serve a purpose after the purchase.


So my idea was to do 'A History Tag' (like a barcode but updateable from a website or app)  for those products that do last. Human interest being what it is we always like to know the story of something.


So for example, imagine a well-made bag with a ‘History Tag’. This will allow the owner to update its history on a bit of The History Tag website. What they have been up to with their bag: its best day, its worst, its journeys, its fun times etc.


And, if that bag is ever sold on one day, or passed down, then, that history will go with it. The new owner can get their phone to read the tag and its history, so they will know its  story.


The reason I like The History Tag idea is because people like to know the history of things. I like the fact that there's a reward for making something  last.  It becomes a badge of honour for the people who own it and the people who made it. And it’s nice that its usefulness takes time for it to reveal itself. Which runs against the current need for instant gratification, which may not be such a bad thing.


The History Tag will be an open sourced movement.


Never owned by anybody. Controlled by the community.


A badge of honour for making something last.


David Hieatt - 2010

( I spent the last 6 months thinking about this idea, but in the end decided it was best to give it away. More on what I am going to do tomorrow).


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Interesting idea, David.

I look forward to reading more tomorrow.

So it's a bit like this: http://hmdbag.tumblr.com/ ?

It's interesting that you use words like 'tag' and 'open source' as they could have both physical and digital interpretations.

I assume that is part of your idea?

That you could have a physical product like a bag with a physical tag (or RFID chip or something).

Equally you could have a [tag] attached to an idea or design. For example, I am assuming that the above image is the original which was re-interpreted for the howies 'Shop Local' bag?

Sort of like a Creative Commons licence linked to database that could show other ways in which idea/product has been used?

On the other hand I may be barking up entirely the wrong tree. In a different forest...

it's about longevity, and yup i see a database of products that are about longevity. both in terms of materials and craftsmanship and good design too.

Great thought David, now for more products that will last long enough to have a real history.

I'd love to see a more standardised mobile phones on the market, a timeless piece of design, well made, classless and affordable, rather than the seasonal models we're all currently using. If it ever happens a history tag will look great on the box.

I look forward to hearing more tomorrow.

reminds me of seeing those personal notes when browsing used books. you start imagining what other people were thinking about when they wrote it, why they picked this particular book, why someone would part with it, etc...

Can/does the recorded history start with the materials sourcing /labour/ manufacturing process. A true document of history then...

Well done David, good thinking

Lovely idea David. I love the idea that a product's story stays with it wherever it goes. Good for you.

Hi David

I have been spending some time recently with a small team of like minded people thinking about the same subject.

One of the overall themes that we came up with was to challenge the prevalent idea in fashion, to squeeze the culture of 'NOW' to an ever finer sharper point. In effect this is what fast fashion is doing - making culture narrower.

But if you start with a human need / insight, actually this is not where we feel most comfortable. In fact we live our lives in the past, present and future. Making the past, present and the future life of things the prevalent idea in fashion is the most human approach to our thinking.

Look forward to hearing more about the project,


I'm a really big fan of the story of things. I had a similar thought a while ago based on your hand me down bags and that iPhone that got famously released from the factory with pictures of a factory worker on it...


It can't be long before someone cracks this and it starts to get used in some really interesting places. Looking forward to hearing what you're up to next.

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