The Wikipedia Conundrum

You’ve probably noticed how often the links in my posts are to a Wikipedia article. It’s like when you google and the search engine puts Wikipedia’s information in a fact box, or Apple’s Siri replies with it to answer your question. They’re an easy link to include to give you more information.  I know it’s not the highest scholarly source. Some articles don’t even cite quality references for you to verify. Yet there is no other free resource like it.  There are things you should know about Wikipedia itself if you don’t already.  Wikipedia’s noble goal is to eventually cover every knowledgeable topic in the world. This impossible mission has made it a top ten most searched website in the world.  But did you know Wikipedia was not the first online encyclopedia? Seven others attempted it first. And Wikipedia began as part of one of them, Nupedia.  Also, Wikipedia’s operation is unique. It works through a volunteer gaggle and without traditional advisory boards or editors. A contributors’ pool that is prompt, authoritative and effective.  But this force is shrinking while Wikipedia’s needs have increased. Its articles have grown in length. Plus it must also defend against the worlds vandals and manipulators. To revitalize it Wikipedia’s owner developed legal and technical ways to adapt its website and software to handle this. It created new editing tools and vetting procedures. And their automatic programs now reverse incorrect format changes and warn probable vandals they’re caught. These stiffer quality control measures reduce shams and hoaxes making things better for you and me, […]

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Internet Round Up 5

Again my internet surfing snared websites too good to keep from you. These turn up as I sleuth out information for blog posts. I’ve been saving them to post in one place. These popped up relating to life-long e-learning. And learning  about Medieval history, its people and its things are what we do in the SCA. The Medieval History section of Thought Company. This is a life-long learning website with 20 years creating educational content. Each section has its own ‘guide’ editor highlighting interesting topics and commentary articles. There’s a helpful Section Guide with their interests and an email newsletter for you to keep learning something daily. Khan Academy is a non-profit organization offering you personalized learning videos and an individualized dashboard so you can study at your own pace. Its intriguing Introduction to the Middle Ages is a perfect starting place for Medieval private study.  Academia.edu is for more scholarly research. It a way academics share research papers with masses of people for free. The company’s mission is to accelerate the world’s research. But it also allows them to monitor analytics impacting their research, and tracking the research they follow. Academia.edu is widely read attracting over 37 million visitors a month. Related Prior Post: Internet Round-Up 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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Internet Round Up 4: Armour and Illuminated Manuscripts

Morgan M.456   Avis aus roys Folio 34v, 1340-1360 A.D., Paris, France Manuscript Miniatures is not exactly what you think it is from its name. It is a medieval armor research source with insight through illuminated manuscripts.   The website’s intent is to make it easier to hunt for online digitized images from numerous manuscripts. A way to quickly view 15,000+ miniatures from 1500+ manuscripts of 15+ countries. It’s not a manuscript holder, so once you find an image you’ll want to verify its accuracy.  But that’s easy. By clicking on the picture you’ll find its source.  You can then verify its accuracy with the manuscript’s owner. Manuscript Miniatures has a tagging method that’s innovative. The labels are created by viewers sometimes with interesting spellings or descriptions. It’s also why you might find unique images included within a tag. As a scribe, you might not find illumination’s common term for things either. Its brickwork and brick pattern tags are what you’d call “diapering”. One of its best tags is ‘elephant‘. Its 75 images show Medieval people had little idea what an elephant looked like.  But there’s more for you here than illuminated manuscripts. From this web page, you can tab to other similar item categories with separate URLs like  Armour In Art, Effigies & Brasses, and Aquamanilia. Each offers similar ways to search. Its Effigies & Brasses’ Links also connect you to related external armoring information.  While this isn’t exactly a blog round-up, it is a work-in-progress webpage collection with contributions welcomed. And I thought […]

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British Library’s Own Internet Round-up

This may seem to you like cheating, but these are too good not to check out.  Cutting from a University of Padua diploma  c. 1465-79 They are the British Library‘s collection of blogs. A group of interesting, knowledgeable blogs all in one place. You could say they are its own “internet Round-Up”. One blog is perfect for SCA book artists. It’s their […]

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Cat Love

Llull’s Llibre de meravelles (BNF Fr. 189, fol. 283),   second half of the 15th-century You have my new cat Luna to thank for this blog post. I’m lounging with my tablet because she wants a nap. But this Luna-break gave me a reason to look up medieval pet cats. And so I came across a ninth-century poem about a monk’s white cat named Pangur Ban.  While the poem was written by an Irish monk it was found in a monastery near today’s Austria on Reichenau Island. In the poem, the monk compares his search for knowledge to the cat’s hunt for mice and the pleasure both get from their efforts. In the poem translated by Robin Flower the monk shows the fondness he had for his cat. He named it and called his pet a “he” not an “it.” So in peace our tasks we ply, Pangur Bán, my cat, and I; In our arts we find our bliss, I have mine and he has his. That is a person who adores his cat. “Pangur Ban” is a delightful poem relevant to us in the SCA today when you take joy in hunting for history’s knowledge. Aren’t you elated when you snare an elusive information tidbit? Don’t you want to show it off as a cat displays a trophy-mouse to its owner?  Related Prior Post:  Searching For Illumination Manuscript Humor  SCA Award Texts External Related Links: Cats as Pets in the Middle Ages Larsdatter on […]

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Free JSTOR For Your Use

I’m so excited. While I may be behind the times, I just found out I can now read free articles on JSTOR, Up to six a month. I use to only be able to afford this by driving to my local university library where I paid for an economical annual membership. But it was worth it because it had JSTOR’s digitized issues of academic journals. The only other way to afford this was to be a college student or professor.  Sorry, I neglected to tell you, JSTOR is short for Journal Storage and is a digital library founded in 1995. It has improved since I last used it because it now includes books, primary sources and full-text searches of 2,000 journals, with older domain content free. Try it. But use Google Scholar for your topic first to see what Medieval academic stuff turns up. Then access it using your monthly six free reads. See what interesting nerdy stuff you can learn.  Related Prior Post:  Wow! Scribal Research Has Changed

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Resource Mining

One trick to learn when doing SCA research I call “Resource Mining”. It is more fun than saying you can “get resources from the Bibliography” of the book or article you’re reading.  A bibliography is a list of books, articles, speeches, private records, diaries, websites, and other sources an author used when writing a paper. You may find it at the end of an article or non-fiction book. Sometimes it’s called Works Cited or Works Consulted. These lists are useful for the person who creates it because it gives credit to all the authors cited works. It also makes it easy for the enquiring readers to find the source used, but also to later researchers and curious people who are following similar paths. Think of bibliographies as time-saving and access keys to your SCA explorations. Works cited in bibliographies may include more than books, articles, and websites. They may list professional journal article abstracts or summaries that are hard to find or expensive to acquire. The abstract or summary may have just enough information for your SCA project. Or give you a strong reason to seek out the full source. Resource mining is even better when the bibliography is annotated.  In an annotated bibliography each listing gives you its content and value, clues to whether you should read it. If you read a listing that describes the work as “ground-breaking” or otherwise amazing, it’s a clue. It may give you an overview of the source, critique it, or comment on its […]

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How To Find The Source Of Undocumented Online Images

Unidentified Pinterest Image You know those lovely illuminations you find on Pinterest when you search for scroll inspiration. Your perfect source but it has no manuscript information. There’s a way to find the source using the image. It’s called a “reverse image search.” This technique is called “a reverse image search.” It analyzes the image contents itself comparing  its colors, shapes, and textures with a known sample. It does not use a picture’s associated keywords, tags, or descriptions.   This helps you because you don’t need search terms or keywords. It saves you guessing at words that may not be related or use people’s fuzzy labeling.  It helps you find images related to the sample or its popularity. It may also discover any altered or derivative works. To reverse image search using Google Chrome: find your chosen internet image  right click on it  click on “search Google for image” It’s simple, really. You can try it on the above Pinterest picture.  What did you find? When I did it Google found more than 5 sites to check plus several computer-designated similar images. One interesting enough to explore further. While not something you’ll use daily, it is another research skill for your tool-kit. A handy tool for those pesky undocumented manuscript images. Related Prior Post:   How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

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How To Search For Illuminated Manuscripts Without Getting What You Don’t Want

There’s something I neglected to include when I posted about searching the internet for illuminated manuscripts. I left out telling you how to exclude something you know you don’t want, like Pinterest or Wikipedia items. It’s simple. You can eliminate things from your search by putting a minus before the term of the things you don’t want. Any word you google immediately preceded by a “-” sign excludes those items from your search results.  Specifically, you type a space before the minus sign and none between the minus sign and your excluded things. When I search for illuminated manuscripts without “Pinterest” I enter illuminated manuscript -Pinterest.  If you tried that link you’ll find the results come up under Google’s option “All”. If you click on the “Images” header you get this. Or just start your search on Google’s “Images” page. You can also exclude multiple items, but each term must include a minus sign immediately before it. Try illuminated manuscript -Wikipedia -Pinterest. Or possibly this, illuminated manuscript -French -Pinterest. And don’t forget the space just before the -. Omitting Pinterest boards may be important to you because not all image collections are well verified. Some board owners are better researchers than others. It’s your choice, but using the – operator will reduce your search clutter. Related Prior Post:  How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

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SCA Award Texts

Scribe lettering. Recently I was asked to create text for an award scroll. It’s something I like doing and use to do often. The common awards are based on period charters and patents of arms. The period inspirations are not actual awards but often legal documents giving land or other rights. They sound very lawyerly because they were legal documents then. […]

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SCA Curiosity And The Internet Medieval Sourcebook

I’ve been hunting down my favorite online medieval sources. Some time since I composed my last text the Internet Medieval Sourcebook received a new look. In fact the whole Internet History Sourcebooks Project (IHSP) has been updated. It’s new and improved. As someone in the SCA, if you haven’t found the IHSP yet you are missing out on heaven. The IHSP is a website with troves of ancient, medieval and modern primary source documents. It also has links to maps, secondary sources, bibliographies, images, and music. It was created in 1996 as a textbook alternative. The IHSP is located at the Fordham University History Department and Center for Medieval Studies. Its editor is Paul Halsall, and Jerome S. Arkenberg is the contributing editor. The IHSP is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented without advertising.  The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a humongous collection requiring constant updating. In addition to the large individual collections of the Medieval, Ancient, and Modern Sourcebooks, the IHSP also includes separate Sourcebooks on African, Byzantine, East Asian, Global cultural interaction, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, LGBT, Science, and Women’s History. While many sources would help if you were doing persona research I particularly like ancient or medieval legal sources for writing scroll text. The great thing about the revised format is the search box found in the upper right corner. Through it, I found specific useful search entries: charters, patents, Burgundy, scribe. Additionally, the IHSP include a Brief Citation Guide. This is a great help if you plan to enter a […]

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Searching For Illumination Manuscript Humor

While waiting to leave for an appointment the other day I decided to see what funny and weird illuminated manuscript stuff I could find with Google. This is a fun time suck that must be used sparingly or it will make me late to my appointment. British Library’s Harley 7026  f. 16  These handmade devotional books often had margins filled with tiny pictures called “marginalia.” While not all were weird many had pictures of bawdy whimsy, fanciful animals, political satire and even sexually explicit jokes. Seen through our modern eyes they appear outlandish because we’re not used to seeing lurid detail displayed in holy books, especially from a distant time we think was conservative and proper. Immediately I hit paydirt with three posts on io9.Gizmodo a popular weblog.  Bizarre and vulgar illustrations from illuminated medieval manuscripts by Vincze Miklós General medieval weirdness mostly. Why do knights fight snails in illuminated manuscripts? by Lauren Davis With this writing, I found an interesting link to the British Library’s manuscript blog post Knight v. Snail Are these the dirtiest manuscript doodles of the Middle Ages? by Cyriaque Lamar  Those led me to this Spanish post. There are lots of medieval paintings of knights fighting giant snails and nobody knows why. by Matías S. Zavia Amazingly I thought some of those too odd to include in an SCA scroll. While I still had time I returned to my google search and clicked on these. Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval […]

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The Astonishing Digital Public Library of America

I had no idea there was anything like the Digital Public Library of America until I saw it referenced in the Biblliocraft book I bought several weeks ago. It’s fascinating what I uncover with it. Now I’m hooked.  DPLA is a gigantic digital storage locker I can paw through to search, explore and discover enticing items to use or read for fun. It is a discovery tool. With it I’ve found public domain and openly licensed books, images and other content stored in US archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions.  I love how it finds items I didn’t think to look for like when I used its home page search tool to find “illuminated manuscripts”. I amazingly netted 3,341 results from 62 contributing institutions. That kept me busy a very long time.  To decide my best plan of attack I can click to arrange them by relevance, alphabetically or date. They’re listed in sections divided by term, location, language, institution and more. The items are listed with bibliographic information and include a picture if available. DPLA has a help page with videos about using it and other information. You find it on the topmost bar. There are also a searchable timeline and map pages. The map search for “manuscripts” returned 1,139 results visually displaying their 28 locations. That tells me how far and where I can go to see the actual entries if I want.  Its exhibitions page tells stories compiled from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. […]

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Unique Bibliocraft Book Find

Yesterday I went to my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. It’s so close to home, I’ve walked to it. I always check out their $2 sale section.  This time I found something unique. BiblioCraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Jumpstart Creative Projects, by Jessica Pigza. I bought it just for giggles, without looking it over. Was I surprised. As a SCAdian and a scribe, I’m well aware there’s amazing wealth in libraries. I thought I’d become an expert in searching them and online. This book’s author is a librarian and she beats my ability hands down.  Pigza’s book tells how to develop projects based on library resources, just like we do in the SCA. It’s intended for all creatives whether hobbyist or professional, basicly anyone in the SCA.  For us Part I may be the most important. In it Pigza tells how to find and use what libraries’ have to offer, online or in person. From the library’s branch, research, or special collections; to how to find the right library for you; to how to plan a library visit the proper way; and how to search. There’s amazing information there. Part II includes 20 projects inspired by library resources. While these projects are not historic recreations, the resource information within them is relevant. I was excited to read Pigza even includes stuff on illuminated manuscripts, penmanship, the history of type design, bookplates, decorative book bindings and the art of heraldry. Topics a scribe might […]

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Searching for Easter Week in Illuminated Manuscripts

Happy Easter Everyone. With Easter and the Holy Week before it I wondered what medieval images I could find about them. I expected there to be an illuminated manuscripts image bonanza and nerdy trivia, but first I needed find how to search for them. As usual, Wikipedia provides a place to start.  Holy Week is Lent’s fifth and last week and the week before Christian Easter. It also includes Friday of Sorrows, a solemn remembrance day for the Virgin Mary, and the Friday before Palm Sunday. It is memorable for Jesus crucifixion. While this information is known by many, when searching Google for anything it is important to have proper terms to avoid unrelated, possibly even offensive items. I began with “Friday of Sorrows in illuminated manuscripts” because I did not know that phrase and was curious. I found nothing by Google. That’s rare, but it happens. Moving on and changing topics I used Google and found numerous beautiful examples of “crucifixion in illuminated manuscripts.” (Of course, I found some extraneous items too.) Crucifixion by Meister des Rabula-Evangeliums  That netted me the earliest illuminated crucifixion. Intriguing because it is a long lasting first. It is in the Rabbula Gospels, a 6th-century Syriac Gospel Book and one of the finest Byzantine illuminated manuscripts. I also searched for “Holy Week Illuminated Manuscripts” and found Thomas Stone’s book collectors blog “The Books in My Life” posting in 2011 about Holy Week-Collecting Books of Hours. A relevant post for scribes on Books of Hours.   British Library’s […]

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Finding Sexy Codicology

I’m a Medieval manuscript search addict. I’ll admit it. This time I found the sexy way to find inspiration and information on digitized manuscripts. It’s Sexy Codicology  I’m nuts about its enlightening blog posts and newsletters, which is how I first discovered Sexy.  SC is an independent project that dives into digitized manuscript collections to find beautiful or intriguing illuminated manuscripts to share on social media. SC has over a thousand followers on its Pinterest board, a Sexy Codicology Youtube channel, a Twitter account, and an SC Facebook page with over 11,000 likes. They are also on Google+ and Tumblr. Sexy was started in July of 2013, by  Giulio Menna and Marjolein de Vos. Their team is spreading interest and access to the world’s illuminated manuscripts. They are also working with the collectors to make high resolution viewing technology operate consistently between digital collections. This will improve remote research between sites and provide artists greater access. Giulio Menna is dedicated to western medieval manuscripts and the challenges of digital humanities to develop new ways to access digitized material. He began the handy searchable digitized manuscript map (DMMapp) linking over 300 digital libraries with 20,000+ medieval manuscripts that can be browsed for free. It can also be accessed via an app. If you love medieval manuscripts as I do and also have my passion for new technologies to access them you’ll love Sexy Codicology. It is spreading the illuminated manuscript word around the digital world and bringing the dusty old manuscripts into today’s light.  Prior Related Post: How to Google for Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

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The Stalking Scribe

M. Rolf in stealth mode. I’m a skilled stalking scribe, researching the recipient’s SCA persona and related interests. It scares me how adroit I’ve become. Facebook made this easy. I can snag scroll motifs from the recipient’s photos. Pictures of pets, garb, crafts, family. I no longer have to sneakily talk with their seneschal or friends about their interests. Things […]

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How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

Calontir‘s current Monarchs, Logan and Ylva, are Norse-Viking and the scroll they want me to do is for a person with a 14th century Western European SCA persona. How do I blend those two? I started by asking Google. Trolling for manuscript images with Google is helpful if you know the way it searches. Its search results are based, in part, on a priority rank called a “PageRank”, a way Google measures a web page’s importance.  The first image(s), if any, are from the entered search term(s). After the most likely items, the search engine hunts for individual terms in your request. (This applies to text as well as images. Right now I’m looking for images.) For example, entering “14th century Norse illuminated manuscript” Google first provides images and the first two are Viking style boats in 14th-century manuscripts. Spot on for my search terms.  The next image Google provides is an English 14th-century illuminated manuscript. A ball-park result, 14th-century. But there’s a problem here. If the person asking for the search doesn’t know or doesn’t follow through with calling up the original image, it’s possible to misinterpret the results. A Viking boat image in a 14th-century manuscript fits, but a pretty, English manuscript that doesn’t have Edda prose or similar is unsuitable. The next image takes you to a list of 14th-century illuminated manuscripts at Wikipedia. Interesting to know what other manuscripts of the time look like, but less specific than my request. The last images […]

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