A year online

Bob Dylan Studio A Revisited
Bob Dylan Studio A Revisited

Next up in these reviews of the year is my year online. Rather than review particular sites or name one as the best, here is a list of some of the sites I discovered and/or enjoyed in 2015 – some new, some not quite so new, all well worth exploring. In alphabetical order…

  • BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource – Chances are you won’t be able to see the videos on this, because it’s restricted to UK educational institutions, but browse and be amazed – a huge number of BBC TV and radio programmes on Shakespeare, plus production stills, all ready in time for the 2016 celebrations. Technically, the site is just the start of something much bigger, in time…
  • Bob Dylan Studio A Revisited – Mix classic Dylan songs (well, two of them) or sing along to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. How much Dylan himself is aware that he is at the cutting edge of things digital I don’t know, but his name is.
  • Britain on Film – I need to comment more fully on the BFI’s Britain on Film site, but this collection of films (from the BFI and other UK archives) depicting 120 years of British life has been deservedly successful. The archive goes social.
  • Carpe Urbe – My former work colleague Nathan Ramsay blogs on his experiences in New York and beyond (from an Australian’s point of view). Observant, funny, and obsessed with fast food.
  • Catalogue Lumière – An illustrated and downloadable catalogue of the films of the Lumière brothers, 1895-1905, meticulously done. We need more film catalogues like this.
  • CharacTour – A database of film, TV, book and video game characters. Ingenious and funny, and though a bit biased towards the American and the popular (inevitably) it makes for compulsive browsing.
  • David Hepworth’s blog – The blog I’ve most enjoyed this year has been David Hepworth’s discursive commentary on all things related to popular music, culture, current affairs and more. Thoughtful, concise and frequent. We other bloggers need to take note.
  • Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema – Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen’s essential film encyclopedia from the 1990s is now available as an online database with an engrossing range of searching and filtering options.
  • Forgotify – Such a witty idea – site which gathers together all those songs on Spotify which no one has listened to as yet. Irresistible stuff, and of course as soon as you have listened to the neglected tune, it disappears from the site.
  • Firehose – Tara Calishain’s ResearchBuzz site, which gathers news on research, digitisation projects, social media and the like, is one that I check every day. Now it has the Firehose offshoot, which posts each news item individually. So useful.
  • The GDELT Project – I wish I had the technical skills to work with all these big data resources that are starting to appear. How about working with the data from 3.5 million books 1800-2015 processed from the Internet Archive and HathiTrust Book Archives?
  • Legacies of British Slave-ownership
    Legacies of British Slave-ownership
  • Legacies of British slave-ownership – A sensational academic research project which led to two compulsive TV documentaries and this database showing just how many people in 18th/19th century Britain had a stake in the slave industry. Family history research will never be the same again.
  • Local Web List – As part of my news archiving work, I’m engrossed in the great flourishing of community journalism or hyperlocal sites, which are reinventing what news is and who produces it. This is is a map-based index to the nearly 700 hyperlocal sites in the UK, though it’s an ever-changing phenomenon and virtually impossible to keep tracks on all of it.
  • London’s Silent Cinemas – Chris O’Rourke’s excellent research into the cinemas of London in the silent era has resulted in this great site, with map of over 700 cinemas, histories, background features and more.
  • News of the Week As Shown in Films – A great feature on Joe Thompson’s The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion blog – a weekly reproduction of a feature from the American film journal Motography with stills and descriptions of newsreels from the week one hundred years ago.
  • On the Wight
    On the Wight
  • On the Wight – Talking of hyperlocal sites (see above, this Isle of Wight site is a great example, which also innovated in a startling way in 2015 by publishing some automatically-generated news stories, an amazing coup for a semi-professional local news service. Robot journalism is here.
  • SHINE – This is still in prototype stage, but it’s a fabulous research tool, developed by the British Library’s web archiving team. It’s a search engine for UK websites crawled by the Internet Archive between 1996 and 2013, which you can search by word (which you are not able to do – as yet – when using the Internet Archive direct). Web archives are the future.
  • Six Degrees of Francis Bacon – Such a great idea, uncovering the social networks of 16th/17th century Britain, through use of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, some nifty coding, and a nod to Kevin Bacon.
  • Sounds of our Shores – A coastal soundmap of the UK in 2015, created by the British Library and the National Trust. Smartly designed, and so much more than just seagulls.
  • South London Art Map – A first-rate guide to the extraordinary proliferation of art galleries across South London, with maps and details of current exhibitions.
  • What Jane Saw – Clever site recreating two exhibitions seen by Jane Austen: the Sir Joshua Reynolds retrospective in 1813 and the Shakespeare Gallery in 1796.


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