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Microsoft creates online version of sprawling AIDS memorial quilt

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The AIDS memorial quilt is now viewable online, thanks to a new project from Microsoft Research.

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Microsoft Research AIDs quilt
Microsoft Research AIDs quilt

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt has been around for 25 years, and over that time it has sadly grown immense — as people die of the disease, new panels are added to remember them. Today the 49,000 panels that compose quilt measure 1.3 million square feet and weigh in at 53 tons. It's so large that it's been split up into three parts in order to display at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — so to solve this problem Microsoft decided to create a digital version to be viewed online.

Teaming up with the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab, Brown University, the University of Iowa Digital Studio for Public Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NAMES Project Foundation, and more, Microsoft Research built a complete version of the quilt that behaves much like an online map. You can scroll around to see the quilt in its entirety, and zoom in and out to see the details of each panel. And if you're interested in learning more about the disease and the toll it's taken, the team has also built an interactive timeline detailing the history of AIDS over the past three decades.