Information Technology for Masonic Research. W/Bro Paul H Riley Dale Abbey Lodge No.5603 Province of Derbyshire England. Research Tools. Books Catalogues Databases Internet Search engines. The world in your living room.
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Information Technology for Masonic Research W/Bro Paul H Riley Dale Abbey Lodge No.5603 Province of Derbyshire England
ResearchTools • Books • Catalogues • Databases • Internet • Search engines
The world in your living room In 1965 you could visit 10 Masonic libraries across the world in about 50 days In 2003 you can find the same information in about 50 minutes ...providing the internet connection is working… and assuming someone put the information there in the first place
The Internet: statistics • Truly world wide • 182 countries in 1998 • Virtually all countries now • Phenomenal growth • 100 Million users in 1998 • 600 Million users in 2002 • 100 Million machines connected • Strong aid to Masonic recruitment
Needle in a hay stack • The internet can answer most questions • Provided you can find the answer • It also gives you right and wrong answers • Fact, opinion, propaganda and downright lies • With very little training easy to use • Search engines find answers quickly • Certified sites ensure information accuracy • Discussion groups bring like minds together • Apathy keeps away most antagonists
Internet The linked society From any page on the internet, you can get to any other page in less than 17 clicks Any person in the world can find any other person in six hops Key sites link to others, it is encouraged Discussion groups enforce netiquette Bad behaviour is punished
The Internet: a tool for research? • Search engines • www.google.com • Good all-rounder for popular sites • www.altavista.com • Broad and Specialist research • www.yahoo.com • General purpose • Specialist sites: info and links • www.grand-lodge.org • www.derbyshiremason.org • University of Sheffield • Ritual
The Internet for fun • Words • Pictures • Animation • Video • TV Just a click away
The internet: Friend or Foe? • Thousands of Masonic sites • For and against the craft • Internet masonry is here to stay • Contains our ritual including secrets • Derbyshire provisional web site • 700 pages, 2000 internal and 150 external links • On line since 1999 • 6581 visitors up to 29 March • Many compliments • In all that time only one minor negative comment • Attracted many new candidates • Younger members suspicious if not on internet
Classification of Masonic Knowledge • You can’t beat reading a book • In my view an Internet screen is sterile • When researching I like to read the right book • Access to catalogues vital • Getting to the library to select a lecture • Problematic when you are working • On line databases allow you to quickly find what you want.
Catalogues • The more comprehensive the indexthe more useful the library • The internet provides capability for common indexes • Need text based and database searches
Relational databases • Reduce storage space • Speed up searches • Allow more than one person to use • Enable more accurate searches • Can give access to information that is • on line • In a book
Database design Most librarians recognise good database design practice; they have been doing it for 100’s of years • Identify the entities • Subjects, classes, author, location • Arrange into rows and columns • Index using key field • Remove redundant data • Provide pointers to where info is stored
Database implementation • Computers • help speed up searches • Require extra care in setting up catalogues • as they are dumb, you have to be unambiguous • The key is to separate into processes • Inputting • Searching • Retrieving
Database example Derbyshire Masonic library
Summary • Books • Can snuggle up to in bed • Take long time to find and research • Internet (web sites) • Needed to attract modern masons • Fantastic tool for gaining information, good and bad • Needs balancing with accurate information • Search engines • Good for unstructured information • Do not retrieve all site information • Needle in haystack problem • Data-bases • Highly structured • 100% reliable if designed correctly • Difficult to share across organisations • Data-base driven web sites • Best of both worlds
Vision for Freemasonry • A wealth of accurate information promoting freemasonry in Great Britain • Books on-line • Discussion groups on-line • Encouragement of Masonic Research and interest in Freemasonry A step too far?OrInevitable for survival?