25 things week 6: wikis

The 15th thing was to use Wikipedia – specifically the random article link – and to blog about it.  I’m still staggered by the coincidence – my first “random article” was about Nara – archives buffs, that’s a place in Japan rather than the National Archives and Records Administration.

Beware of deer

Beware of deer

So here are the coincidences: I visited Nara in 2007 when Choral visited that country, and really loved it (both Japan, and Nara). Next week our friends from the Osaka Symphony Chorus, with whom we sang Britten’s War Requiem on the evening of Hiroshima Day in 2007, will be visiting Huddersfield to sing with us (for a complete contrast, the martial Judas Maccabaeus, if you’re interested).  And finally, apparently Nara is celebrating its 1300th anniversary during 2010!

We were amazed both by the heat, and the age of the Shinto shrines, including Todaiji the world’s largest wooden building. Plus the deer wandering everywhere.

But the highlight of the visit was the Koshi-no-ie Residence or Naramachi lattice-work house (which isn’t in Wikipedia…).

Main reception room in the lattice work house

As I’m not a Japanese speaker or writer I haven’t been able to find whether it has an official website (the nearest I got was here).  The pictures and video (1 minute) here don’t do it justice at all!  This spring’s cherry blossom reports can be found here.

Anyway, The Thing is I also looked at the discussion tab – had never noticed that before (I’m not a huge fan of the view of wikipedia as the collective wisdom of the world).  Lots of discussion in 2005/6 about the origins of the name 奈良 “Nara” and whether it’s a Korean loan word, and commentary involving transliteration/translation and comparison with the Japanese and Spanish versions of Wikipedia as well as the extent to which original research, citations and conspiracy theories can/should be included in the entry.  There’s even a copyright breach!  Quite a few of my current research interests there then.  Maybe there’s more to this wikipedia thing than I thought 🙂

And Another Thing: Wikipedia’s current events includes “Children in India gain a legal right to a free education.”  Good news!

I guess I should have said that the 16th thing was about contributing to a wiki and to blog about whether I think wikis are useful tools.  Well, yes & no.  Certainly for work purposes they have potential – for example, Your Archives from The National Archives “where you can share your knowledge of archival sources and British history”.  (However I’ve managed to crash the 1891 census street indexes so I guess they’re useful tools when they work.)  Maybe still a bit early to gauge the impact of this wiki on cataloguing, accessibility, “stakeholder attitude” and generally archives 2.0 – although I was surprised to learn Your Archives is 3 years old this month!  TNA readers, what evaluation of Your Archives have I missed?

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