Phil Gyford


Saturday 28 December 2002

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I decided the people and places footnotes at Pepys’ Diary needed space for annotations, just like the diary entries have. Some of the Victorian footnotes are less than useful. Previously, those pages were constructed using PHP, but I had the idea of using a second Movable Type weblog to store them. Then, each footnote could have its own comments and trackbacks. After I got my head round using MT as a content management tool for entries that aren’t date-based, it was nice and easy.

Once the new pages were live, I just had to change the links in the first diary entry to point to the new MT-generated footnotes. As that entry rebuilt I realised it was pinging each of the pages it was linked to… my brain clicked slowly… each footnote page would now have a trackback link to this diary entry… this would happen every time I linked to a footnote from a diary entry. Now, thanks to Moveable Type and its auto-trackback mechanism, every item in the footnotes would automatically list links to the entries in which the item appears! This was something I’d thought of doing when first developing the site and gave up as too much manual labour. I’m stunned that something so incredibly useful has happened almost accidentally. Now I’m understanding why trackback is useful, and I’m in awe.

It’s going to get, hm, interesting after a few thousand entries and trackbacks, but we’ll see how it goes…


Thankee muchy, Phil: you're right that the Victorian footnotes assume a historical knowledge (and, to be honest, a map of London) that's no longer extant. So, anyway, I was looking to see if the DNB was online, but alas not yet, and probably not until the new edition appears. Wikipedia would be worth automagic links if its 17th-18th-c coverage were a bit more thorough, though. The 1911 Britannica is online, but the OCR is pretty dubious...

Anyway, this has the potential to be a really astonishingly good resource for anyone wanting to know about the minutiae of London life in the 1660s. You've given me a true Christmas present, sir.

Posted by nick on 28 December 2002, 5:11 pm | Link

This is facinating stuff! I'm imagining reading a blog entry from 1661, and being able to see precisely where in London this chap was. As time goes on I can easily imagine all types of information becoming cross-indexed with all other available historical data, creating a kind of historical virtual reality, composed of all the bits and pieces of the day. In a sense this is the beginning of an historical VR - history and place becoming part of digital space. Imagine being able to pick a place and time in history and surf around to different locations nearby - old pubs, historical occurences, art, events. Imagine how much fun it will be to learn history by surfing through both time and space dimensions in history. Eventually this could be tied in with archealogical and other scientific databases, creating a fully compelling and highly education romp through history. Wow.

Posted by Paul Hughes on 3 January 2003, 4:27 am | Link

We used MT is a similar fashion here:

Posted by James Wynn on 3 January 2003, 4:10 pm | Link

So, can one leave comments on the Pepys diary, just like one does on regular blogs? (But then, hmm, would anyone really want to?) I just think comments are half the fun of blogging.

Posted by spacewaitress on 3 January 2003, 8:44 pm | Link

I did a search for "talk about sports" as I am looking for information on where Halifax Mooseheads players lived and the history about them and their culture. We have and have had hockey players from all over the world play with the local hockey team here in halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I am researching anyone who has played in the past and the present for the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team. As I was web surfing, going from one topic to the next I came upon your website as I was researching "first blog", as I thought about creating a blog on the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team. Anyways I found this website blog because of your text "the first diary entry" and I thus read your whole blog to see if you had any information on how to operate a blog. Anyways I did find some of your information useful and I thank you.
I will be back, as you seem to know what you are talking about, to see if you added anything new that might help me.
Anyways, good luck with your website.
Take care and God Bless
Steve A Halifax Mooseheads Hockey Fan

Posted by A Halifax Mooseheads Hockey Fan on 4 February 2004, 11:44 pm | Link

What does it mean by movable type is watching me, is that new technology? It is to technical for me.

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Some sites linking to this entry (Trackbacks)

New Background Info 'TrackBack' format
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In Movable Type is watching me Phil Gyford shows how The Diary of Samuel Pepys is more than just a
At 'From the Orient' on Tuesday 7 January 2003, 3:52 PM

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