Over on Luke McKernan’s supreme, early and silent cinema blog The Bioscope there’s an essential posting of links to ‘Lost sites’, a list of vital web resources on the subject of silent cinema that are no more. Although the seeming impermanence of the Web can be a problem for scholarly activities on it, such as archiving, many such ‘lost sites’ can still be found via the Internet Archive and its ‘Wayback Machine‘. But one needs to know what to look for, and this is where The Bioscope‘s posting comes in. McKernan lists nine such sites as an initial guide to lost early and silent cinema resources (including sites on Italian early cinema, the Lumière brothers, and Muybridge). He adds that,
Archiving the Internet is becoming a subject of increasing concern. The Internet Archive leads the field, of course, but the UK Web Archiving Consortium is building up to the day when every UK website will be archived as a matter of legal deposit. For those intrigued by dead sites in general, take a look at Ghost Sites of the Web (these are sites that still exist on the Web, but which have been abandoned).
While I’m on the subject of The Bioscope, I should mention that this blog is also very deservedly celebrating surpassing 150,000 visits since 2007, a remarkable achievement, but unsurprising considering the truly unrivalled wealth of scholarly and other resources that The Bioscope opens up for its readership. Dr Luke McKernan is Curator, Moving Image at the British Library, and has written on early cinema, newsreels, film propaganda and Shakespearean cinema. His current areas of research include early colour cinematography and children’s cinema-going before the First World War. What is particularly wonderful about his contribution to online film scholarship is that he exhibits a so-far unparalleled enthusiasm (I would say) for making a very large part of his scholarly work available to anyone who wishes to access it electronically, at the same time as being in a great position to do this, as a national library curator. He runs two further, excellent scholarly websites on early and silent cinema: Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema and, on the subject of his PhD thesis, Charles Urban, Motion Picture Pioneer.
I enjoyed reading a summary posted on the British Film Institute website, a while back, of McKernan’s contribution to a series of talks at the BFI entitled ‘Researchers’ Tales’, in which he spoke about setting up The Bioscope. You can read the full talk he gave in a pdf download available HERE. Or, read a nice (html) summary of the talk HERE. Here’s the conclusion he reaches, about the value of web scholarship, in the summary version:
The web is not only an unmatched research tool, but an outstanding means to publish research, to engage with not only one’s established research community but to reach out to other disciplines and new audiences. The tools that now exist, such as blogs, enable us to ask new questions of cinema history and to construct revitalised means of conveying understanding. If you know something, there is no excuse for not publishing it, sharing it, and collectively contributing to a greater body of knowledge.
Film Studies For Free takes its film scholarly-blogger’s hat off to the inspirational Luke McKernan.