Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inlander Video on the History of Liberty Park

The Inlander is our local alternative weekly, and lately they have been producing local history videos. Below is the latest installment, featuring recent EWU public history grad Tracy Rebstock. Last year Rebstock researched the history of Spokane's parks for a series of stops for Spokane Historical. It is nice to see her hard-earned expertise in the subject being recognized in this video:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Google Don't Give a Shit. Maybe it Should

An update on my attempts to get Google to take down PhD in History, a Google-hosted blog that consists entirely of posts stolen from other history blogs, including this one. I filled out a form from here pointing to one of the purloined posts, the Ground Coulee dam one, and asked that the whole blog be removed. Instead Google deleted only that one post.

"Yes we host your copyrighted material. So?"
I went back and forth with Google, or an autobot at Google. I asked again that the whole blog be removed, they replied I needed to fill out a new form for each copied post. I pointed out again that the whole blog was copied and that filling out a 4-5 page form for each post was hardly practical. They replied again that I had to fill our a separate form and initiate a new request for each stolen post, and they are not going to do diddly until I do. And please remember that "we do not accept add-on requests."

I gave some thought to actually setting aside a few hours and filing a take down request for every stolen post. But what is the point? Clearly the blog PhD in History (and no I am not linking) is produced by some sort of software program. Others will follow, if they don't exist already. If I spend the time to get PhD in History, or at least all of its posts, taken down, a new blog will pop up in a day or two with the same stolen content. And Google will remind me that "we do not accept add-on requests."

In the end, this is Google's problem, not mine. If they want Blogger to become the platform of choice for a new kind of theft, who am I to criticize?

Also--despite the ink I am spilling here I don't really care all that much. This is a pretty obscure piece of theft and does me no real damage. Google and me--we don't give a shit.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, the Sincerest Form of Flattery

So I was trying to Google up some regional historical information and I found a great post at a blog I had not seen before--PhD in History. The post was excellent--bright writing, nice illustrations, and some good links. Though I had never visited the blog before, the writing seemed oddly familiar. Then it hit me-that is my writing! Those are my posts!

Image borrowed from here.
Some examples: Here is a post I wrote about the Grand Coulee dam. Here it is copied and pasted--images and all--to the offending blog. Here is another post from Northwest History, copied here. There are quite a few other of my posts copied at PhD in History. I am guessing that the posts not copied from my blog are stolen from other bloggers.

What is this? Some kind of aggregation bot? I don't see the point since there is not any advertising on the plagiarizing site. There is no author information at the other blog, or comments, or dates on the posts. Odd.

I am not sure if I even care about this very much. It is not like I am monetizing Northwest History content either, so maybe this is a case of no harm no foul? Just for the heck of it I filed a complaint with Google, and got back an auto reply that "we receive many such complaints each day; your message is in our queue." Also that they appreciate my patience!

Dear readers, have any of you seen this before, or have an idea what is going on?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sign Up Now for the Civil War Read In!

An innovative attempt to research the Washington Territory in the era of the Civil War is fast approaching, and we need more volunteers in eastern Washington! The training is on April 13, right here at the fabulous State Archives building in sunny Cheney. Details are below. We invite armchair historians, college students, genealogists, and really everyone to participate. Here are the details:

Join Washington’s Civil War Read-In!   

Democratic appointee James Tilton arrived in Olympia, Washington Territory in 1855, accompanied by his family and a young black slave, named Charles Mitchell. Mitchell fled to the Crown Colony of Victoria in September 1860, a fugitive on a tiny Puget Sound underground railroad. Here, the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, October 18, 1860, reprinted an article on the flight from a Washington Territory newspaper.

In 2013, hundreds of researchers will fan out across Washington State, visiting archives, museums and libraries to read the primary documents of our history, 1857-1871. We invite you to attend a training and to join the Read-In. Participants will read an assignment in newspapers, classic published histories, and archival material of all sorts. Join us to discover the forgotten Civil War experience in Washington Territory, and report your discoveries to make a permanent record – an on-line searchable database of Civil War-era citations, hosted by the Washington State Historical Society.

During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we in Washington know little of our own experience of the war. However, the war is not only of significance in the battlefield states, but also here in the far northwest, where settlers argued through the very same issues that tore the United States apart. As Washington State Historical Society prepares to launch a major exhibition, “Civil War Pathways,” in February 2014, we seek your help in learning more about Washington Territory during the antebellum, wartime and early Reconstruction periods.

Get involved!
  • Attend a training, January through May 2013
  • Take a Read-In assignment, in newspapers or documents
  • Spend a month of spare time, carefully reading and gathering evidence (AND you have two months to actually do the work….)
  • Document your reading in the project templates
  • Upload your results to the Project’s Omeka database, hosted online by the Washington State Historical Society

Here are the Civil War Read-In Trainings

Saturday, February 9, 10-4 Seattle
Wednesday February 13, 10-4 Seattle
Saturday, February 16, 10-4 Vancouver
Saturday, February 23, 10-4 Olympia
Saturday, March 2, 10-4 Tacoma
SUNDAY, March 10, 12-6 Walla Walla
Saturday, March 23, 10-4 Yakima
Saturday, April 13, 10-4 Cheney
Saturday, April 20, 10-4 La Conner
Saturday, April 27, 10-4 Seattle

We will build a searchable database from your work, which will be available to all researchers on the WSHS website. And we’ll also get all the readers together at the conclusion of the Read-In, to meet one another and celebrate this great accomplishment.

Curious? Interested?

Ready to sign up for a training? Have any questions?
Contact Lorraine McConaghy at