Category Archives: tips

A Word about Wikipedia

When I was a LIS student I wrote in my dissertation about the evils of Wikipedia as a source of information even though – like most of us I suspect – I use it all the time. However – again like most of us – I would always verify it against other sources if I was using it for something significant.

This week at work the Power of Wiki was brought home to me. Big Time.

During a presentation on the forthcoming Club History which as Archivist, I have helped research, but which I had to miss, a Club member stood up and said something like ‘why have you included nothing about ‘X’, when everyone knows he was a member?’ ‘X’ I might add was a very famous figure in Military History.

This flummoxed the author who confronted me the next day (the publication has already gone to press by the way)and I demonstrated by showing him the Membership Lists for the relevant period, that ‘X’ was never a Member. Somewhat puzzled by the assertion (as no-one has never mentioned to me that he might have been), I checked to find the source of this rumour and….perhaps unsurprisingly, found that it was in a Wikipedia entry on the Club which cited as its provenance a British Tabloid Newspaper article. You know the sort: ‘past members include….’

I quickly edited the article (the first time I have ever done anything like that), but realised that this may be too late as for some, various myths have probably already become ‘facts’.

The moral of this is: take control of Wikipedia before it takes control of you. I intend to learn much more about how to edit articles on there so that we can get the Club’s official version of events which after all we have spent a year researching, out there, so that years hence my successor will not have to face such an uncomfortable scenario.

Wikipedia is a wonderful concept but, it is only as good as the Wikipedians. Or, if you want to put it more bluntly: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

A few of my favourite blogs

kath2Some of you may have read the Guardian article recently about how we’ve all gone ‘retronauting’ mad, sharing old photographs (and if you haven’t you should, so I’m linking to it here!): http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/13/retronaut-photographs-vintage-pictures-twitter-historyinpix-indiahistorypic-nostalgia-history

I am not going into the socio-politico-economic reasons behind this, but I thought that, as we are all in our own ways, working with the History of London, I’d share some of my favourite photo-related blogs with you (in no particular order).

Having said that, this is probably my favourite: ‘The Gentle Author’s Spitalfields Life blog, which includes a daily feature on an aspect of that area’s rich history, complete with photographs and interviews. http://spitalfieldslife.com/ The author, who likes to keep their identity a secret, is also to be found on Twitter @thegentleauthor.

Another London blogger I like is London Mush on Twitter, who posts lots of old 35mm slides of London past.

A similar Twitter blog – London Life aka @Rima1731 is also worth following for the photos.

And finally – with my East India Club hat on, I must give an honourable mention to @IndiaHistoryPic without whose daily dose of Indian life, my EIC Library would be a less colourful place.

Do you have a favourite Twitter account or blog, you want to share with us?