The sort of ideas that come to me at 1am: a deeply detailed, historical, world census 2014
Drifting to sleep, maybe asleep and resurfacing to wakefulness my mind was flitting around from idea to idea, from memory to memory. What I remember and was left fully awake with was two things: Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' stuck in my head and the notion that it ought to be possible to create a deeply detailed census of the entire world population at a point in the past, provided that point was recent enough to be reached by many genealogists, but not so recent that the world population was in the billions.
Now, the more recent a point, the more accurate the data and the greater the likelihood of living descendents, but also, the more daunting the project (due to the number of individuals described) and thus the less likely of enticing participants to join in the grand adventure.
As interested as I am personally in the year 1600, I know from my own genealogical and historical research that it is distant enough to be problematic. Jumping forward to 1750 would give an estimated world population of 700-825 million people. Or, by other estimates, of 629-961 million. That's a lot, but not an insane number of nodes. For example, using the former range, it's about the number of articles in Wikipedia in Chinese or in Portuguese.
1750 has also got the inspirational benefit of a big anniversary coming up within the probable lifetime of the participants or their children—300 years in 2050.
So, how to begin?
Infrastructure is vital. It must be incredibly robust and flexible. It must have profound internationalization support. It must allow for advancement and diversification separately of its data storage, software interfaces, and human interfaces.
Data will come in in many forms and must be clearly associated with its source, so that later conflicts on details can be weighed based on their respective supporting data.
Detail will vary wildly from broad guesses of total population in a country to general counts of categories of individuals (e.g., heads of household, taxpayers, members of the military) to detailed nodes about a specific person (both the famous and the genealogically derived).
Eventually, participants will no doubt be interested in assessing the relationships between individual nodes, thus it would be helpful to be able to retain data details (e.g., membership of an individual in a particular tracked category such as "the 12th regiment of Lord So-and-So's light horse", or "household at 123 Elm St, Anytown, New York, USA", or "inventory of the slave ship blah-de-blah", or "signatories of proclamation X".)
Such detail nodes will, of necessity, be much greater in number than the number of individuals alive because merger of them as applying to the same individual will be a more gradual and difficult process. This is a vital factor in infrastructure design.
It's used by some sources as a baseline year for the end of the pre-industrial era; rather nice as a stake in the ground for pushing back our knowledge of individual human participation.
The population of North America is only about 2 million, thus forcing U.S. participants to think about the world outside their borders (which I think is always a good thing). It also makes an enticing early goal for "near complete description", which is the best I'd expect we can hope for in any region.
Sweden begin taking a census in 1749, one of the very few countries doing so in the mid-18th century, and is thus a logical target for another "near complete description" goal. Conveniently, it's also a good country for online project participation with its highly tech-savvy population. The 1750 estimated populations of Sweden (which I'm presuming refers to its territory then, not its smaller borders now) 1.7 million or 1.78 million. (Pleasantly for me, it's also where I am pretty certain I have personal genealogical data for 1750. Been a while since I was working on my paternal grandmother's line, but I recall it going back that far and farther thanks to the good data there.)
Iceland is also promising for early population data and participation.
Now, what haven't I considered yet?
Thought which came to mind after I went back to bed:
Every part of this idea needs further definition, but particularly the area around what defines a counted individual. Chronological confirmation of someone with a citable source is a big part of it; that is, an individual for whom we have a specific record of them being born, dying, marrying, becoming a parent, or otherwise being specifically one of those alive at some point during the year 1750.
However, those records may actually be less evocative of human experience than the categoric description associated with what I'm calling, for lack of a better term, 'unmatched individual details', or 'unmadeets'. Whose story would you be most interested in, the confirmed individual "Mary Jane Smith born 1750, later the mother of Winifred Harding", or the unmadeet "one of 350 purchased slaves who rebelled on the ship King David at 5a.m. on May 8, 1750"? Which says more about what was going on in 1750?
Oh historians, you crack me up 2012
“...some historians have linked the vagrancy problem with demographic changes, above all population growth and migration. It is true that migration was one step down the road to vagrancy, but whether by the time of their arrest most vagabonds were migrants is doubtful..."
- A.L. Beier, Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560-1640
One step down the road! *snork*
It's stuff like this that gets a writer through edit after edit, though many if not most of these in-jokes must be cut by the final version.
Sooth, transcrybing Elizabethan documentes again, I see where cometh myne uncommone straunge misspellinges & tendencie for trailing Es.
Turtles all the way down... 2012
Meta moment in a cafe researching Elizabethan servants (on 5/26): Conversation at next table rises in outburst “Even the maids have maids!”
'Domestic Servants in Elizabethan England' rises again 2012
OMG academic libraries are so frickin' excellent. I'm back at UCSC's McHenry Library 25 years later updating & expanding my senior thesis.
Why is Google Books good for scholars/writers? Because books don't have complete indexes. Combing a 750 pager for keywords by hand is slow.
in Tokyo 2006
[Pretty sure these are all photos taken and captions by Dinah, despite coming from Joe's Flickrstream]
sights of Washington D.C. 2006
man on rearing horse, cannons, nuclear weapons protester, White House, big phallic symbol
these sprawled guys are a bit more like the real lions I saw in Africa than the usual doorway fare...
Dedicated To Art
?Renwick Gallery? Can't remember where this was...
The DAR would not approve
my reflection among the names of the dead
Vietnam War Memorial
"Dad" says the card beside a small box
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Ah, pity this washed out. It was a note to friend listed on the wall, recalling good times together - "that deer hunt in 1964" - and saying "I miss you."
Freedom is not free.
Korean War Memorial
cherry buds, tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial
Washington, D.C., tidal basin, Washington Monument, cherry buds
the tidal basin & the Jefferson Memorial and one enthusiastic cherry tree
Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.
No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally it is the greatest menace to our social order.
I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work. More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.
To the right of this fine idea a group of park rangers, black & white, cleancut & long-haired, were working to clean the fountain and laughing and talking together as they did so. Good work.
Roosevelt's support for the arts, expressed at his memorial
We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.
I HAVE SEEN WAR
I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.
I HATE WAR.
The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.
That's a cute little statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, first U.S. delegate to the United Nations, on the right.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear
Jefferson Memorial, cherry buds
tidal basin, Washington, D.C.
I really liked this tree.
Washington Monument from the mysterious little bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial
Strange little laughing guy on the mysterious bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial
I asked a park patrol guy and googled, but can't find the story. Anyone know?
Tasty wine with dinner: MacMurray Pinot Noir 2003
Yes, that MacMurray. Fred MacMurray's ranch, apparently.
Dickensian Dinah 1984
[Photo from December 1984, photographer uncertain.]