bytes of history: uploading history to the internet
- a personal view.
Presented in conjunction with NSW History
Shoalhaven City Library, Nowra, 2.00pm Friday 8th
gifted his first surfboard in 1966, graduated
University of Sydney in 1972, became a
mattress-maker in 1975, and began composing and uploading
his web-site on the history of surfboard design in 1999.
An example of antiquarian history, www.surfresearch.com.au has been
archived annually by the National Library of Australia
since 2013 and currently comprises 11,000 files at +400
work was initially based on a significant collection of
surf-craft and surfing publications, but its scope has
expanded, principally influenced by James
Hornell's seminal Water Transport- Origins and Early
Evolution (1946), and further
developed at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum in
some comments on the
philosophy of history, the
illustrated presentation examines the basics of formatting of web page,
content versus design, print versus digital media, copyright
in the 21st century, the democratisation of knowledge;
and a brief overview of the history of surfboards.
The work of
J.S. O'Sullivan, Kenneth Clarke, and Jacob Bronowski is
noted, and references include the works of Leonardo da
Vinci, James Cook, Charles Gold, Katsushika
Hokusai, R. M. Ballatyne, Duke
Kahanamoku, Frank Gurrey, Willard
Bascom, Lindsay Lord, Ben
Greenough, and Homer Simpson.
I'm Geoff, this is the home-page of my web-site, this is one of my
surfboards, and these are some of my books.
O'Sullivan's A Most Unique
Ruffian (1968) recounts the trial
of Frederick Deeming, a serial killer
who murdered one wife
in England, but was hung for a
second in Melbourne in 1892.
the time as being Jack the
Ripper, forensic investigation in 2011 of what was
thought to be Ned Kellyís skull, revealed it
was more likely Deeming.
was my Modern History teacher 1968-1969 for the HSC.
He would regularly bring his
reference books and copious
hand-written notes to class to
work on the book, and he was
inspirational in my love of
A landmark in television
documentaries, Kenneth Clark's
Civilisation - A Personal
by David Attenborough for
It was broadcast,
in conjunction with the book's
publication in 1969, with
Clarke presenting an antiquarian history
of Western art, architecture and philosophy since
the Dark Ages; demonstrating his
deep appreciation, and love, of beautiful things.
Clark's focus on Western art and his
acknowledgement of the genius of
certain individuals (White Dead
Males), while valuing a society that makes their
existence possible, is arguable and has prompted significant
However, his marvellous use of the conditional, A personal
view, in allows him enormous latitude to pontificate
across a diverse range of themes and subjects.
Please note for today's presentation I
have stolen Clarke's sub-title, and also that
surfboards are basically a carved sculpture, something like
a work of art.
|Following the success
of Civilisation, Attenborough commissioned The Ascent of Man,
presenting the "personal views" of
over 13 episodes
broadcast in May-July 1974, preceded by the publication of the
Expanding on ideas initially expressed in The
Commonsense of Science (1951), Bronowski's
personal view was expansive
and ambitious, an attempt to
create a philosophy for the twentieth century- a
modern alternative to all established religions
His philosophy is reflected in his Polish-Jewish-British, and
sometimes American, culture; and in his experiences
as a mathematician, biologist,
historian of science, theatre author, poet,
inventor, humanitarian, parent, and lover.
Richard Dawkins noted on
Jacob Bronowskiís incomparable Ascent of Man.
He should have won the Nobel Prize for
Literature. No scientist ever has. Why not?
(3:44 PM - 14 Jan 2017)
thesis is that man does both art and science; my
work attempts to examine the art and the science
of surfboard design and of wave riding.
Like Clark, he
recognises genius; the work of Charles Darwin,
acknowledged in Bronowski's clearly
optimistic title, of crucial
And like Clark, and Thomas Edison, and Homer
Simpson, he is in awe of Leonardo
da Vinci; but notes with regret that his notebooks of scientific
research were undiscovered for
centuries, and only found way past their use-by-date.
published (obscurely), the profound work of
lay undiscovered for 30
years; these examples supporting Bronowski's
the ascent of man is
conditional on the democratisation
Bronowski is fascinated by tools, for both science or art,
from hand axes to computers; and at the dawn of the computer
revolution, the broadcast featured extremely advanced computer
He is also filmed sitting in front of the now ubiquitous
screen and keyboard; in 1974 Bronowski could have only vaguely
envisioned the potential power of millions of these machines
linked together, and their impact on the democratisation
I bought my first
computer in 1998 and immediately began searching
for stuff about surfboards on the internet.
After six months, I learnt a fair bit about the
internet, but found nothing about surfboards that
I did not already know.
I then began my first attempt at a web-site; this
disaster was followed by a first edition,
successfully uploaded in late 1999 with
considerable assistance of Thomas Mance of Berry.
Web-Sites from 2000.
My first decision was to pay the hosting fees
myself, with no commercial advertising or trading,
and my work would be freely available online, potentially
This gave me full
editorial independence and, I hoped, as it was for
personal research only, may side-step any issues of
copyright, especially using images.
Second, with my potential readership
completely unknown, I would just write about
whatever I considered interesting or important.
Thirdly, for the (first) title of my
work, I stole Pods for
A web-page appears
on-screen, something like a printed page, with text and images but formatted in
An ordered collection of
web-pages linking from a home-page
together to make a web-site.
I do not read, write, or
speak html; this page is put together in Seamonkey
Composer, the text and the images formatted in
simple invisible tables and between horizontal
Web-page design (the way it
looks) has seen incalculable changes in technology
and fashion, and how a web page-looks is considered
immensely important; by web-page designers.
Despite their protestations, content rules.
In Composer, I chose a light background, dark text,
and arial as the font (sans serif, and at the top
of the menu).
Each page has a basic menu in the head and foot, the
site expanding tree-like through a series of menus.
These elements remain, but over time there have been
many adjustments to the formatting, notably the
change of title after registering www.surfresearch.com.au,
this title also stolen.
Other major changes were the use of Hokusai's
wave (public domain) in the header,
adding an accreditation to the foot,
and formatting the text for Easy
Screen Reading (ESR), where each sentence takes a
new line, and paragraphs are indicated by a space.
The digital page, unlike a sheet of paper, is not limited in size, quality or cost.
As the amount and quality of the content is not
confined by the economic strictures of the
publisher, or the demands of an editor, and it is
possible for the web-page composer to record, and
store, almost anything of relevance that they encounter; with just a chance that,
although obscure today, it may have significance in
Furthermore, website's do not have usually
have a publishing deadline, the
content can always be adjusted or changed, and the
work is opened-ended and may not ever be competed.
Here, each entry or chapter, appears as one page,
and I always scroll down.
Printed images are reliant on the quality of the
paper, the ink, and the press; and subject to the
whims and fashions of the designers.
My images are scanned large, cropped, re-sized to
72-96 dpi, and the height (mostly) adjusted in
multiples of 50 pixels.
They are meant to be accredited and appear, unlike
in many books, adjacent to the relevant text.
Despite my reservations about copyright, I have only
had three requests for photographs to be removed; on
the other hand, several photographers have expressed
Introduced in 1710, copyright
policy has reached a new level of
controversy with developments in digital
technology; it is unclear what the situation will be
by the end of the 21st century.
Up to this point I have made several comments on
stealing ideas; in 1983 Bob Dylan observed Steal
a little and they throw you in jail, steal a
lot and they make you king.
reached critical mass around 2006 when my
work was accredited by Sydney's
Museum, later acknowledged in
History of Surfing in 2010, and
by the National
Library of Australia
For Bronowski all moral
decisions are grey, and it is virtually impossible
to envision their eventual impact.
A web-site can link between web-pages, like turning the pages of a book,
or from menus (initially on the home-page), similar
to a table of contents.
They can also link within the page, to alternate
pages within the web-site, and externally to the
pages of other web-sites, a feature exploited most
effectively by Wikipedia,
Started in 2001, it now has over 5 million
articles (in English, but less than 300,000
articles in Norsk), and is an outstanding
example of the democratisation
I spend hours creating menus and file-names for
pages and images, I am acutely aware that most
readers will access the site from a search engine.
And, if they find what they are after they may not
be aware of other associated information, for
example a search for montagu
My work was initially based on cataloguing my
surfboard collection, however in most cases
determining a actual date of construction is
difficult, usually an educated approximation.
I decided to list the boards from my first board;
starting from 000000001,
the master-base with potentially up to a million
The entries are then listed chronologically in the Catalogue, with a
separate list for small boards (paipos), and these lists
also appear as images of the board templates, with the
images to scale.
Scrolling down, presents an overview of the
evolution of surfboard design.
There is also a separate alphabetical listing surfboard
manufacturers, surfboard fins, and (scrolling across) portraits of surfers and
One day, when playing with a bunch of my boards in
the backyard, I had a revelation- that surfboards
could only come in three distinct templates; either
that have more area in the nose, or in the tail, or
they are roughly equal.
Later, I was only mildly surprised to find that, six centuries earlier, Leonardo
had the same idea.
The history section is
messy and inconsistent- some entries are merely
skeletal, others are extensive.
The source documents reproduce
accounts from books and magazines related to my
research; these were initially prepared by scanning
the images and formatting the text with OCR,
but now a huge amount of material is now available
The separate section for newspapers was
began by printing sections found on microfiche in
the State Library, however this has become far
easier with access to Trove
References include an
alphabetical listing of books, magazines, film,
and links to some external websites.
The Appendix includes a
glossary, and anything else that does not fit in
the other sections.
This is a copy of my first surfing book, a
Christmas gift in 1970 and one of the worst
examples of editing ever published.
A Pictorial History of Surfing by Margan and
Finney is actually two books mashed together,
with Ben Finney's The
Sport of Hawaiian Kings (1966) inserted
in the middle of Frank Margan's history of surfing in
The text is continuous,
with no chapters or headings, and the
excellent images rarely appear adjacent to the relevant
Generally found without
its dust jacket, it was widely known as the
()Based on his masterís thesis in anthropology
in The Journal of Polynesian Society in 1959
Gold: Catamaran surfer, Madras, India, 1800.
Rev. Isaac Taylor :
Surf Swimmers, (Sandwich Islands),1830.
known image of Hawaiian surf riding.
Ballantyne: The Cannibal
Islands - Captain Cook in the South Seas, 1880.
A. R.Gurrey:The Surf Riders of Hawaii,1913.
First surfing book, Centenary
Surfing Beaches of Sydney NSW, 1930.
O'Sullivan: A Most Unique Ruffian- The Trial of F.B.
Personal View by Kenneth Clark, BBC TV series and book,
Bronowski: The Ascent of Man, published 1973 and BBC TV series
Ascent of Man(kind)
Phillipa McGuinness: Copyfight,
Katsushika Hokusai: Under the
wave off Kanagawa, 1825.
Hunter S.Thompson and Ralph Steadman: The Curse of Lono, 2005.
James Hornell:Water Transport-
Origins and Early Evolution,1946.
Lindsay Lord: Naval
Architecture of Planing Hulls,1946.
MacGregor: A History of
the World in 100 Objects, 2010.
Tom Blake: Hawaiian
Reprinted in 1983
as Hawaiian Surfriders 1935.
Jack Pollard: The
by Duke, others include 1st World Champion Midget Farrelly.
Willard Bascom:Waves and Beaches,1964.
Ben Finney: The Sport
of Hawaiian Kings, 1966.
Based on his
masterís thesis in anthropology with articles
in The Journal of Polynesian Society in 1959
Duke Kahanamokuís World of Surfing,1968.
Jeff Carter: Surf Beaches of Australiaís East Coast,
Nat Young: Book of Surfing (1979), History
of Surfing (1983-2008),Surfing Australiaís East Coast
(1980-3), Fundamentals (1983-93), Surfing and Sailboard Guide
(1986), Autobiography (1998), Surf Rage (2000).
World Magazine, June
Anderson and Shane
McTavish and Little Red, Maui,1967.
John Witzig, signed by Bob.
Tim Dela Vega: 200 Years of Surfing Literature, 2004.
Australian contributors includeGeoff Cater, South Coast, NSW.
Days- A Surfing Life, 2015.
Pulitzer Prize for
Frederick Deeming was a serial
killer; murdering one
wife in England, he was hung for a second in Melbourne
the time as being Jack the Ripper, forensic
investigation in 2011 of what was
thought to be Ned Kellyís skull, revealed it
was more likely Deeming.
The author was Geoff
History teacher for
the HSC in 1969.
A landmark in television
outlines the history of Western art, architecture and
philosophy since the Dark Ages.
subtitle, A Personal View by Kenneth Clark,
reinforced the subjectivity of his work.
Bronowski was a Polish-Jewish-British, sometimes
American, mathematician, biologist, historian of
science, theatre author, poet, inventor, humanitarian,
parent, lover; and a philosopher.
was published in 1973 and televised in 1974; his prodigious
aim was to create a philosophy for the
twentieth century- an alternative to all established
religions and philosophies.
the book/telecast illustrates his central thesis: that
man does both art and science.
was , some
could say outrageous-
online edition of the Ascent of Man
(2016) has been produced in respect of Jacob
Bronowski's observation that cultural
advancement has been conditional on the
democratisation of knowledge (page ?).
Rev. Isaac Taylor : Surf
Swimmers, (Sandwich Islands),1830.
Illustration by the
earliest known image of Hawaiian surfboard
The Ship, John Harris,
filmmaker and author, Jeff Carter settled locally at
Foxground in 1962,
later turning his property into a wildlife sanctuary.
Are libraries obsolete? :
volume an argument for relevance in the digital age /
Mark Y. Herring.
Historian's Great Big Book of of Conditionals.
historian will be thrilled to dig into this extensive
compendium of slippery words and phrases to get you off
the hook from ever having to say something definite.
Those looking for something more exotic than the
familiar and well-worn around this time, possibly,
at some point, perhaps, it could be
the case, likely, it has been
suggested, occasionally, and some have
expressed the opinion, will be sure to find
inspiration somewhere in its 355 pages.