The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #124638   Message #2753556
Posted By: Young Buchan
27-Oct-09 - 08:40 AM
Thread Name: The Curse of Digitrad
Subject: The Curse of Digitrad
'Everybody knows' that Davey's safety lamp saved thousands of miners' lives. Well, except that I believe that in many pits the death rate went up after the introduction of the safety lamp; partly because people had too much confidence in it and stopped taking sensible precautions, but mainly because mine owners started to open dangerous areas of the pits which previously they had stayed out of since to work them with the old lamps would have inevitably led to an explosion.

'Everybody knows' that the Digitrad is a mega-wonderful invention which can answer innumerable questions on folk song in the blinking of an eye. And, like the Davey lamp, it probably is – provided you use it properly. Yet time and again recently I have seen people using it as a club with which to batter unsuspecting mudcats.

Someone writes in for the words of song X. Immediately there is a reply. If they are lucky the reply informs them politely that the song is in Digitrad under the title of Y. If they are unlucky they get half a page of abuse for being a lazt bastard, wasting everyone's time, and destroying another electronic tree, by writing in without first consulting Digitrad under the titles of Z,Q and æ. Then other people see this and think, "Oh well, if it's all there in Digitrad there's not much point in my sticking in the version I know, is there? And I'm certainly not going to check all the DT versions out to see if they've got the one I know."

Surely as a FOLK medium we should be interested in as many variants as possible. If a person writes in for words they may just want a single copy of the standard words; but equally they may be really keen to see several close but different versions. I have a nightmare vision of a collector going round to Harry Cox's woodshed and asking if he knew a song about Geordie Lukely only to be told, "Don't come round here asking me to waste time giving you my version when you haven't tried looking it up in the Bodleian Library's broadside collection yet."

By all means refer people to Digitrad. But giving a full version, even if it turns out in some cases to be a duplicate, is much more helpful.