It has been a long enough time since I’ve been here, in my own personal blog domain that I actually had forgotten my password to get in. I hold my hands up, I have taken the foot off the gas in terms of the upkeep of this site. I suppose that happens when family commitments come into play. Some of my ideas on here need some attention (the solving of a historic 19th century family murder project for one). Nevertheless, I’m here today to try to shed light on my own ‘digital dark age’.
Taking my lead from my good friend and historian Kieran Fitzpatrick (@KFHistor, for all the twitterati out there), and his two part essay on ‘How to Deal With The Digital Dark Age’ in Scoláire Staire editions Vol 2., Issue 1. and Vol. 2, Issue 4. I have decided to tackle that very issue and see how I can apply it to my own research. (incidentally, you can find an article I did for that same excellent publication right here as it forms some of the basis for what I’m attempting to do next: http://issuu.com/scolairestaire/docs/vol2iss3issuu)
Now, I’ll be the first to admit to not being very ‘techie’ (I actually had to look up the word that I’m not, such is my familiarity with modern technology), so I’m jumping in at the deep end so to speak.
I have just signed up for a “Digital Environments: Working with Multi-Media in the Arts and Humanities” course to enhance my skills and to bring my chosen research to a different level. My research has centered on agrarian groups and co-operatives which sought to escape the sometimes cruel cogs of the machinery of capitalism without embracing socialism (a difficult balancing act indeed). So far I have focused upon groups in Britain and Ireland, but as is usually the case, the deeper I delved the more I discovered in relation to other groups which had similar aims.
The majority of the groups I have looked at came to prominence in the face of economic decline in their region. It may not be surprising to know that in the past in face of severe economic stagnation people (mostly rural) turn to religious teachings of some description to seek answers to their predicament. Now, this is not a theological project by any means. It will focus upon the social aspect of religious teachings in terms of relationship to the capitalist system as it was at the end of the nineteenth century, right up to the mid twentieth.
What I have found is that many groups around the world took inspiration from church teachings on accumulating wealth and property. This manifested itself in community co-operatives and agrarian colonies, and I have found that many of them have similar stories, similar beginnings, but different endings. What I have discovered is that they took inspiration from the same sources, and from the fact that others out there were doing as they were, although there appears to be little in the way of exchanges of ideas. What is missing is a definite connection between the groups, which so far I have found spanned the continents of Europe, the Americas and Australia and Oceania.
The task which I am setting myself (if I ever master the technology) is to set up an interactive world map, which can display the stories of each of the groups I have looked at, against what was happening economically and politically in their geographical locations which may have contributed to their foundations and eventual decline. I also want to look at the common themes which run between them, problems and successes, hopefully resulting in a more complete view of disparate groups which tried to carve out a niche for themselves in a rapidly changing world in such a similar way.
I think I have my work cut out for me. If anyone has any advice, it will be gratefully received.