Today a new blog goes public: the London Algebra Colloquium records now live on WordPress.
These records were kept by Karl Gruenberg for many years; he passed them on to me, and I put them on the web, on one of my own pages at Queen Mary. Now I am coming to the end of my time as archivist, and the job has to be passed on.
It is not a good idea to keep them on a university page. First, university IT administrators are less than keen to allow outsiders to have editing rights over pages in their domain, for various reasons, not all to do with their natural paranoia. Second, the increasing centralisation of universities’ IT support is bad news for the reliability of websites. After a massive failure of our departmental pages a week or two back, they were down again last night and this morning, and I was unable to post details of a seminar. Better to avoid being under their control if possible.
Transferring the files has given me another chance to browse them. In colloquium number 500, on 27 April 1978, Professor K. A. Hirsch (one of the most frequent contributors to the Colloquium) spoke about “Algebra in London over the last 25 years”. I would love to know what he said; but this is not in the records. (Abstracts date only from 7 October 2004; Rob Wilson was the first speaker whose abstract survives.) No such historical survey was attempted in number 1000. It is likely that Colloquium 1500 will approximately coincide with the 75th anniversary; how will this be celebrated?
A couple of other evolutionary changes are the increasing informality in speakers’ names (as the preceding paragraph suggests), and the changes in punctuation (we no longer write Q.M.C., for example).
There are a few things which the new archivist(s) might think about; you might like to make further suggestions.
- It would be nice to have a better search facility; the default provided by WordPress only lists the files containing the search term.
- MathJax could be introduced, and the files edited to use it.
- Finally, and most important, there are a (very) few gaps in the records; the longer these are left, the harder they will be to fill.
Anyway, the files are there; happy browsing! And good fortune to the blog, and all who manage it.