T’internets in 2001 – get a blast from the past!


Take a look at Google, January 2001. (H-T)

I was still a PhD student. I had a website, but it wasn’t at this domain and it was a bit rubbish. (All static HTML and barely a drop of CSS in sight! Here’s the granddaddy of today’s site, believe it or not; it looks even worse than it did then. For whatever reason the archive version isn’t loading the background image and so it’s showing the background color, which is clashing nastily with the header. Why I thought that bgcolor was a good idea is anybody’s guess.)

And I didn’t have an internet connection at home. (My grey brick of a laptop didn’t even have a modem.) Fortunately, the university facilities were pretty good. But how did I cope?

A search for early modern resources. Interesting to see what’s still going (although it might be at a different address these days) and what’s defunct or disappeared altogether.

(Which sorta reminds me of the really important piece of news this week: BÉRUBÉ’S BACK!!!)

Spoofing teh Internets


The Internet is now in Handy Book Form!

It’s quite funny too. Mac devotees should check out the Schmapple store.

All products available in these shades:
1. Incredible White
2. Fantabulous White
3. Virginal White
4. Snow White
5. Cyphocilus White
6. Black

(They just forgot to mention that Black costs you an extra 200 quid thank-you-very-much-suckers.)

Also, there probably ought to be some mileage in spoofing WordPress these days. I luv my WP, but is it really necessary to get quite so excited about a new version quite so often? (The last one was in May; there seems to have been a new security update every other week ever since, which doesn’t help that ennui-y feeling.) Is it really that thrilling, Matt dearest? I’m personally raising a shaggy eyebrow at the breathless announcement that they’re dropping a feature (combined link and post categories) that they only introduced nine months ago (and it broke my theme, dammit). And you know, I just can’t get that excited about tags. Am I really the only person left in the universe who doesn’t feel the slightest urge to randomly tag every conceivably significant word or phrase or idea in every bleedin’ post I write? Pfft.

On the other hand


Apparently Elton John wants to Just Say No to the entire Internet. The source is the Scum, so he probably never said anything of the sort, but can any of us even begin to imagine the idea?

(I’d be out of a job, for a start.)

Life without the blogs, news, music downloads, youtube videos, recipes, LOLcatz, and other assorted things that cheer up your day?

Without Google on hand to answer all those troubling little questions that you once had to trudge to the library for (and if you got that far you probably wouldn’t find the answers anyway because you wouldn’t know where to look)?

Without all your favourite places to spend money at the click of a mouse? Without IMDB? Without email?

Without all your online library catalogues, electronic journals, primary sources?

Without my website?!

The Strange Death of Bookmarks?


Seriously – I realised earlier today that I hardly ever use the Bookmarks folder in my browser these days, except for the handful I keep in the quick find tab straight above the browser screen and an even smaller handful of others. I’m far more likely to go to the Google bar and look for websites that way. For blogs, I mostly use my own blogroll, and for research-related stuff I’ll probably start by searching EMR. (What’s the point of having a website if you don’t use it?)

It’s funny how your computer use can gradually be transformed without you really being aware of it. In the B. F. (Before Firefox/Before Feeds) era, just three or four years ago, I relied heavily on my IE Favourites folder. I hardly ever add anything new these days, but I still have hundreds of links in my FF Bookmarks folder going back years (I’ve always kept transferring my old bookmarks across to new browsers and new computers, out of habit). Half of them are probably dead. (There’s an entire folder of blogs from around spring 2004, most of which are by now part of the ancient history – and legends, in some cases – of the blogosphere.) When I first hosted a carnival, I put all the interesting posts I found in a bookmarks folder. Now I just right-click and ‘Send Link’ on the page and email it to myself.

What changes in other readers’ internet habits in the last couple of years have crept up on you without you even noticing?

Weekend reading


The Toynbee convector “is a kind of dialogue with, or interrogation of, a half-forgotten and rather unfashionable master”, Arnold Toynbee, primarily through his own words. There are a lot of ’em.

Harvard is introducing teaching reforms.

Russell Jacoby isn’t impressed by a book on consumerism. My mate Natalie is more positive about a book about how eevil Tesco is.

Tulipmania, a myth. Which is no fun. Bah to historians.

Andrew Marr has been trying out ebooks. Is the paper book dead yet?

And another good game: favourite opening lines of novels.

Nearly forgot: Professor Korncrake has been liveblogging (well, nearly) the medievalists’ shindig, Kalamazoo. Almost makes you want to be a medievalist…

Weekend reading


For those thinking of taking it up, the Guardian has a guide to doing family history. (Anybody who wants it is welcome to my paper copy, since I’m not likely to use it…)

Digital history in the 21st century, from Dave at Patahistory.

Germaine Greer is entertaining on why Mary Shelley really did write Frankenstein.

Never mind that Foucault fellow, it’s time for some Antonio Gramsci, on the 70th anniversary of his death.

Another link that got lost in my drafts folder: Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

And maybe some good news for independent bookshops.

I nearly forgot to link the first Military History Carnival. In my defence, I was a bit poorly this week.

Sunday reading


The first book event at The Long Eighteenth, a discussion of Michael McKeon’s Secret History of Domesticity, has been highly successful: it started with several fine posts and has been enhanced by a thoughtful response from the author and a follow-up discussion, not to mention lively conversations in comment threads. (Once it’s finished, I’ll try to post a full set of links, but for the moment it’s all on the front page: it starts here). Indispensable for anyone interested in the 18th century.

Anyone with interests in the Tudors and without access to the ODNB, meanwhile, will want to visit Holbein: behind the portraits, which the ODNB has set up to complement Tate Britain’s exhibition Holbein in England. There are 35 biographies, freely available until January.

If you’re thinking of a trip to London to take in the Holbein exhibition, you might want to visit something very different while you’re there: Kinetica, the UK’s first kinetic art museum, has just opened its doors in Spitalfields. (Channel 4 news report, which may be Windows-only.)

For Americanists, the latest issue of Common-place is up.

Those interested in modern Irish history need to know about the County Waterford Image Archive, which has several thousand photographs dating from the 1890s.

And sad news for social historians: Arthur Marwick has died.

Sunday browsing


I’ve just noticed the BBC’s UK Local History Legacies website. Lots of yummy goodness.

I don’t tend to pore over the Guardian’s Face to Faith column, but yesterday it profiled Thomas Helwys, a founder of Baptism and early 17th-century champion of religious liberty. (And no, there isn’t a happy ending.) His writings are available from the Baptist Library Online.

Which leads on quite neatly to notices of the 200th birthday of John Stuart Mill: plenty to read here. Although it’s not quite what you’d call light reading for a Sunday afternoon.

Some Scandinavian coolness: Finland won Eurovision (watch it…). Norway is the richest nation in the world. Denmark is holding a Renaissance Year. And Sweden’s just finishing up an International Science Festival. (Iceland + medieval bonus: Njal’s saga.)

And if only Geoffrey Chaucer had written the Da Vinci Code

MONDAY UPDATE: today it’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday!