January 09, 2009

Old Bailey Wiki

I have often, as probably you have noticed, used the Old Bailey website as a repositary of interesting information to supply material for posts: I hope that historians are using it in the same way for more proffessional work. Its incredibly heartening therefore to see via Early Modern Notes that a wiki has been started about the proceedings: it will add information on the trials, on who was there, what they were doing at the same time and at other points in their lives and other interesting material. If it succeeds, it could become an indispensible resource. If you ever find someone that you have some information upon in the Old Bailey online records, I suggest you go across and add that information to the Wiki, so that everyone can profit from it and use it in order to further their own research- this seems to me to be a really good idea.

Its also an interesting idea because it illustrates how the web can be used by academics. Beyond devising things that other academics can use- an important branch of the use of the web by academics- I'd personally like to see academics using the web more often. In history for example I think it can provide a useful way of academics engaging with a wider public- historians who wrote blogs could contribute to helping others to understand the subject. A blog like this in a way tries to do a little of that- but there are far better historians out there than me and quite often all I do is rely on the research of others and supply my own thoughts. There are some really good historical blogs of course- but it should be more mainstream within the historical community and other academic disciplines- there are some great blogs out there, but there is space for increase as well. As a new generation, we are told, makes the transition to the web- its important that this medium is used as a way of publically educating people to understand the world around them. Furthermore in the world of the long tail, the web performs a useful function where people who might be interested in a subject, but unable for geographical, employment or other reasons from accessing that subject normally, can access it through the click of a mouse and the movement of a cursor.

The world of academia should not be confined to a discussion within the ivory towers- but should look outwards.


Crushed said...

I sometimes see what the web DOESN'T tell you. I think we've got the stage where we think we can find all answers to everything on the web. But we can't- yet.

I troed one the other day, one I often try. It's to google Augustus I of Poland and see what comes up. Reason? Well, the reason is that if you look at a list of Polish monarchs you might wonder why there are Kings Augustus II & III, but seemingly no I. The reason is actually completely stupid. The King called Sigismund II Augustus, also counts as Augustus I. God knows why. But I keep testing to see if someone not knowing that could find that out online. As of three days ago, the answer was still No.

Gracchi said...

I doubt that you will ever be able to find out everything on the net- indeed I actually disagree with you slightly I'm amazed by what isn't on the net. In a sense my blog's about taking interesting stuff I read which isn't on the net in obvious places and writing about it on the net.