Friday, July 01, 2011

A different Ulster McIlroy (ie not Rory) - Technology and tradition

#alttext#They are strange bed-fellows at first glance, but there is no doubt that today's technology has proven its potential to open up deep rivers of tradition and history. I can't remember how many times I have text-searched the eBook editions of The Hamilton Manuscripts and The Montgomery Manuscripts. and GoogleBooks are marvellous online library resources. GPS and satnav have helped me to locate some very obscure historical sites over the last few years. The obvious challenge is that the speed of change makes it impossible to 'future-proof' anything - just remember that 18 months ago the world had never even seen an iPad. And a few years before that telephones were only used for talking to other people. Now a special type of barcode can be included on an interpretive panel, and when photographed by a smartphone it launches a specific webpage which tells you the story of the place you're standing in, in words, pictures or even video. Things like this just weren't possible a few years ago. We are not going back to letterpress printing. Technology isn't the future, it's the present.

In that context, it's great to see that the Ulster-Scots Language Society's new reprint of Archibald M'Ilroy's The Auld-Meetin'-Hoose Green (first published in 1898) is available both as a printed book and also as a Kindle edition. M'Ilroy's The Humour of Druid's Island (published 1902) is one of a very few books which have made me laugh out loud. Well done to Derek for championing M'Ilroy over recent years (at least to anyone who would listen!) and from what I hear there are other voluntary and self-funded projects in the pipeline which will combine to put M'Ilroy back on the map.