Blogging is a great way to display your knowledge about a subject that interests you, for example, I have a music blog. So, as you can see it doesn’t have to be purely academic but if you are aiming to increase your employability it would be beneficial to write about something that links to your desired career path or industry. For example, the blog I created was very helpful in securing the role I have now and has provided me with some good connections in my field.
You may not have much experience in your chosen field, so blogging is a great way for you to establish yourself as an expert in your particular subject as well as display your passion and personality. There is never a bad time to start writing a blog. Though as a student I would say it is probably the perfect time for you to begin creating and writing your own blog.
This is all part of forming your digital footprint. A good blog can set you apart from the competition as it can show off several skills that employers are looking for such as social media skills and written communication. It gives an employer the opportunity to learn about you and your opinions before they ever meet you. It will also help you learn about things like search engine optimisation (SEO) or website customisation and maybe even writing some code. Self-improvement and personal development are not only beneficial to you, but employers will also value these traits. And of course, writing about a topic will inevitably help you learn more about that topic whilst developing your critical reasoning skills.
Writing and sharing a blog also provides a fantastic opportunity to network and meet new people. Engaging with your audience could potentially lead to all sorts of possibilities, ranging from job opportunities to collaboration on projects. If you are a research student, blogging is also an effective way to develop ownership of your research area and to connect to others in your field.
Name your blog
Once you have chosen your platform you need to decide on a domain name (the URL that you purchase), this could be your own name, or something related to the subject you have decided to write about. This could be someone’s first impression of you, so take some time to think before you decide. The name should be short professional and to the point. You ideally want a “.com”, “.net”, “.org” or “.co.uk”. If these aren’t available maybe re-think your domain name so you can use them.
You can use a tool like NameMesh which lets you enter 2-3 keywords and generate some available potential URLs. Be careful when choosing keywords as this will affect your search engine optimisation (how often your website appears in searches). Once you have selected your domain your next step is to look for the best price to buy it.
Selecting a domain provider / host
It is useful to look around as prices on domain names/hosting are always changing and there are many different deals available. Also bear in mind you don’t have to buy hosting from the same place you bought your domain.
There are a few things to consider when selecting a hosting provider. For example, to make it easier it would be helpful if the host provided something like 1 click WordPress installation. This makes the process much simpler sort of like a website installation wizard, there are just a few pages to click through where you enter some information. Then when you are done your website will be up and running on your URL and ready for customisation. Here is a guide for how to use WordPress and set up your site.
Installing WordPress for blogging
WordPress is one of the most common host providers and it is what the University library uses for their blog. Here is a quick guide to installing WordPress.
Writing your first blog post
Now your website is up and running, it’s time to write your first post. The first post should be introductory, you want to explain who you are and what you are writing about, and why you started a blog. Additionally, you need to decide who your blog is for (your target audience) and what you want to achieve by writing this blog. The rest is up to you just keep writing and have fun blogging.
We’ve been working to make borrowing books easier than ever.
Over the past few years we’ve been inserting RFID* tags into all our books. That’s many hours spent inserting tags and programming (we loved every moment of those stickers). Long story short, this means when you borrow a pile of books, you no longer have to find and scan every barcode in each book to check them out.
Our new self-issue machines can read multiple RFID tags at the same time as soon as you place the pile of books on the machine, making the whole process quicker and easier.
We’ve also made it possible to reserve on-shelf books. Just find a book you want via the Library Search and reserve it, whether it’s on-loan or on-the-shelf. If it’s on-loan it will be reserved for you when it’s returned. If it’s on-the-shelf, a member of library staff will fetch it for you and place it on the reserved-items shelf. You always get an email when it’s ready to collect. We’ve fetched 5,518 of these on-shelf books in the first trimester** alone!
* Radio Frequency Identification
** Trimester 1 was 27 September 2021 to 31 January 2022
Fake News is often linked with politics especially due to Donald Trump and the countless memes about “fake news” during his presidency. This association can sometimes be unhelpful as it narrows the focus of the issue. The term ‘false information’ is perhaps preferable as it can refer to a more diverse range of disinformation.
Most of what you read online may appear to be true but often is not. False information can include news stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.They can deceive people by looking like trusted websites or using similar names and web addresses to reputable news organisations.
As social media is a public platform, anyone can post anything without checking their facts. When we consider what is “fake news” there are two kinds of false information to be aware of – misinformation and disinformation.
Misinformation and Disinformation
This aims to shape and change people’s opinion by misleading them. A study from Indiana University classified misinformation as “false or misleading content including hoaxes, conspiracy theories, fabricated reports, click-bait headlines, and even satire.”
Disinformation can be spread in similar ways to misinformation but is intended to deceive rather than mislead. There are many reasons why individual social media or business accounts might do this. They may wish to increase their social media marketing effectiveness, boost online traffic, gain more followers, incite an emotional response, or create distractions.
Disinformation can be dangerous on social media due to the vast amount of information and readers’ attention spans.
Identifying False Information
Social media platforms are designed to retain users and get engagement not to distinguish between real and “fake news”. If you want to know if something shared by a personal account is trustworthy here are a few questions to consider.
Does the person who shared the post have an emotional or professional investment in these claims? If either, they might not be completely unbiased, but it requires some judgement on your part and perhaps some research.
Is this information reasonable?Does what they are saying sound believable. Perhaps ask some people you trust whether they think it is reasonable as sometimes our own biases can influence us.
Does it come from a reputable source? For example: University, Government or Scholarly articles, most mainstream Magazines/Newspapers, and published works from reputable publishers. Places like Wikipedia and online blogs are not necessarily reliable. Even more reliable sources may have a political agenda or their own bias, so you need to exercise your own judgement.
Business or professional accounts
This may not be as relevant as a student but when you go off into the working world these are things you need to be aware of. When you work for a professional organization where social media pages are tailored towards a particular audience there may be more motivation to fall into the categories of “fake news” to gain an edge. As well as the questions you’d ask of a personal account, you should also ask:
How it serves its audience? It should help its audience and advertise the business based on accurate information.
How it reflects on the business’s reputation or values? Should be trustworthy and reliable. Consider checking the reviews (not always reliable) or asking people who’ve interacted with the company.
Is this relevant to my clients? Our personal bias should not be involved.
If you are found to be using false information or “fake news” with a professional or business account can have serious consequences and possible legal ramifications. This is especially relevant due to the speed at which false information spreads.
How False infomation spreads
Combating Fake News
Combating “fake news” on social media is about understanding other users’ motives as well as the platforms intention. Social media platforms make money by selling user data to ad companies. This is why ads you see are often based on your interests or search history.
The news that appears on your social media feed is filtered based on collected data. So, now you are aware of can help you be more conscious of your own inherent bias as some of what you see may be based on what you are conveying about yourself online. Whilst false information on social media is probably unavoidable by thinking critically and exercising a level of curiosity for what you read you can help sort the fact from the fiction.
As this video shows any news no matter how riciculous can be spread and msilead people.
Born 1908, Philippa was a writer and the daughter of the English painter, Louie Burrell. Philippa spent much of her childhood travelling the world with her mother, as Louie tried to make a living by painting portraits for wealthy individuals. Philippa made friends easily and was often a hit with her mother’s wealthy clients. She appears to have been a strong-willed and resourceful woman, one who did not like to be tied down. She had many relationships, often with married men, each a ‘great romance’ lasting a short time before she moved on to another phase in her life.
Her life and loves are recorded in an autobiography consisting of three parts: The Golden Thread; The Horses & the Charioteer; and The Dance of the Opposites. But Philippa’s life and loves are also captured in the original letters that have survived and are held by Hull University Archives at Hull History Centre.
Inspired by Valentine’s Day, we’ve selected extracts from her letters of love and heartbreak, each giving a small glimpse of this intriguing woman’s life.
Sir Vincent Caillard
The earliest reference to a relationship in Burrells papers relates to Sir Vincent Caillard, with whom it appears she started corresponding around the time she finished her exams and left school. Louie had painted Sir Vincent and Lady Caillard in 1922, and it is during this period that Philippa must have first met him. Caillard wrote to invite Philippa and Louie to visit him in 1924, which they did, and in January 1925 he wrote to arrange a meeting with Philippa. A few months later, Philippa received a love letter from Caillard:
This correspondence appears to have initially lasted a year, with Calliard’s final letter to Philippa written in January 1926. A few later letters were exchanged in 1928 and 1929, but by this time, another man was in the picture.
Lieutenant Harold Clements
In 1928, Philippa and Louie travelled to Delhi, where they met Lieutenant Harold Clements of the Gordon Highlanders. Just a few months later, they were engaged. However, this relationship was not to last either. In May 1929, Clements returned home to Ireland on leave from the army and Philippa took the opportunity to break off the engagement.
Clements last letter to Philippa was sent in September 1929.
Lieutenant John Gage
Next, Philippa met Lieutenant John Gage of the 4th Hussars whilst in India. Gage was a devorcee stationed in Meerut. She quickly fell in love and the pair became engaged.
This time, there appears to have been concern about the suitability of the proposed marriage. Louie and Colonel Gage corresponded on the subject, both expressing their relief when the engagement was broken off and their belief that it would have been a disastrous marriage. Letters between Gage and Philippa survive for the period January to October 1929.
After the initial flurry of romantic entanglements, Philippa’s relationships seem to have subsided, at least for a few years. And then, in September 1936, Philippa attended the Forth World Theatre Festival, held in Moscow and Leningrad. It was here that she met the conductor Vladimir Shavisch.
Despite Shavisch being married with a daughter, the two began a relationship. But Philippa began to feel trapped by the situation and returned to London to escape.
A few years later, with the threat of war looming, Philippa made the decision to go to Berlin in 1939 to immerse herself in what was to enfold in order to further her writing. Whilst trying to find a literary agent, she became acquainted with Adolf Kohler, who was head of an office established to give advice to foreign visitors. The pair grew close, and Philippa’s relationship with Kohler ensured she was kept informed with how the war was developing. Through his efforts, she was able to board the last Warsaw to Paris Express before the outbreak of war. After passing through Paris, Philippa arrived in London on 31 August 1939, where she received a letter from Kohler:
For the next two years, he continued to write. After a gap of several years, he writes again in 1947 to give an account of his actions during the war, denying having any link to the Nazis, and describing a prevailing sense of collective guilt in Germany. But the relationship was long dead.
Major Gordon Hannan
Philippa’s next great love developed in December 1943, after meeting the married Major Gordon Hannan. She fell in love with him whilst undertaking war work at the Newport headquarters of the Bristol Channel Ports.
In 1945, Philippa suffered a nervous breakdown and Hannan arranged for her to be invalided out of the army. After the war the pair returned to London and he began divorce proceedings. But the relationship eventually fell apart, with Philippa moving to Kent and Hannan returning to his wife. Their correspondence, which begins in 1943, ends in 1947.
In 1947, Philippa published her book ‘He was like a continent’. It failed to raise any interest but spurred her to write a play, titled ‘The Brothers’. Attempts to persuade a renowned scenic designer, Gordon Craig, to produce the play resulted in a brief relationship in 1950.
The letters exchanged between them were eventually stolen when, in 1976, Philippa attempted to sell them through Sotheby’s. However, photocopies of the letters survive in the collection, along with an account of the relationship.
Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar
In 1951, Philippa attended the last night of a PEN Club Congress in Edinburgh, an organisation concerned with freedom of expression. At the congress dinner, she was accompanied by the prominent lawyer Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar, whom she had met some time previously. In him, Philippa found the partner that she had been looking for.
Their relationship endured until his death with meetings and weekly letters.
Fantastic Study Resource
Aside from helping us to understand one person’s personal relationships, this collection provides us with an opportunity to study key historical events and periods through the personal experiences of people who were there.
The literary evidence of the Burrell’s movements around India in the 1920s and 1930s can help us explore questions relating to the experience and operation of colonialism. Surviving letters from the period of Philippa’s stay in Berlin (just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War) can help us to understand some of what was happening in Germany in the 1930s. They can also tell us about the experiences of people trying to move around Europe at this time. Finally, records of Philippa’s time in Russia during the 1930s offer us the opportunity to glimpse what life was like inside Soviet-era Russia.
The incidental details and occurrences recorded in casual letters are not usually included in official reports and releases. Details such as who was at a particular social gathering or political event, what leisure activities were undertaken, and what sights and sounds were experienced can generate a contextual picture of a period or place that would otherwise be lost to us. This is why letters can be such a useful resource to any researcher.
If you want to stay safe online you should always be on the lookout for scammers. Phishing is a form of social engineering attack or scam often used to steal user data, such as login details and credit card numbers. It often occurs when an attacker, masquerading as a trusted entity, possibly your bank, social media, or service provider tricking you into opening an email or message.
This video discusses many of the common examples of Phishing such as mass e-mail Phishing (often just referred to as Phishing), Spear Phishing and Smishing.
Other forms of phishing
Often included as part of e-mail phishing this is something to be wary of when you are on any site. Most legitimate organizations use HTTPS instead of HTTP because it is considered safer and establishes legitimacy. If it’s posing as a site you already know, search for that site on a separate tab and compare the URLs to see that they match.
For example, the address for Canvas, if you clicked on a link and the address began withHTTP rather than HTTPS it could be unsafe:
They may also use hypertext which is a “clickable” link embedded into the text to hide the real URL. When checking the link make sure that it’s in its original, long-tail format and shows the whole URL, double click on the URL so the full format shows.
Search engine phishing
Sometimes known as SEO poisoning or SEO trojans, is where hackers work to become the top hit on a search using google or other engines. If they get you to click their link, it takes you to their website. When you interact with it and enter sensitive data, they have your information. Hacker sites can pose as any type of website but are usually banks, PayPal, social media, and shopping sites.
This is when you may receive a call on your phone maybe claiming to be your bank or government authority demanding your details or payment with a threat of legal action if you don’t comply. This is to create a heightened sense of urgency that may make a person take actions against their best interests. This can also happen online as well maybe you will get a message, or a warning pop-up often on unsafe sites as previously mentioned, you should not click on these links.
Prevention and protection against Phishing
The best protection is awareness and education, if you are aware and careful you will likely never fall victim to this scam. Don’t open attachments or links in unsolicited emails, even if the emails came from a recognized source. If the email is unexpected, be wary about opening the attachment and verify the URL.
If you do fall victim to phishing, you can protect yourself through Two-factor authentication (2FA) which adds an extra verification layer when logging in to applications. 2FA relies on two verifiers: something you know, like a password and username, and something you have, such as a smartphone or credit card. If you lose one layer of protection or your phone is stolen, 2FA prevents the use of compromised data or credentials, since one verifier will not gain you entry. You may also sometimes have a third verifier something you are which is either a fingerprint, an iris scan, or a voiceprint.
Other methods of protection against phishing include frequently changing your password and not reusing the same password for different applications. So stay safe online and don’t bite when phishers come phishing.
So, what is meant by your digital footprint, well whenever you use the internet you’re leaving a series of digital footprints. These footprints are the lasting impression of all the activities you perform online. Your digital footprints can be seen by others, particularly if you are using social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Sometimes these footprints can be hidden, such as your order history on Amazon, your PayPal purchases, or your searched terms on browsers like Google or Bing. Although most users on the internet cannot see these particular footprints, they are still lasting impressions about you stored online. Therefore, you need to ask yourself if you trust every website and service that you use to keep your data secure and use it appropriately.
Though it is impossible to have no footprint if you use the internet, there are ways to reduce your footprint. This video explains what your digital footprint is and how to reduce it.
All the information that you share online contributes to your digital identity. Your identity is made of what you share online, however, it may include things you didn’t consciously share. For this reason, you need to carefully manage your online activities and curate your online identity.
Many individuals form multiple identities online. Sometimes this is to keep personal, business, and/or study in separate digital spheres to stop personal issues from blending into professional spaces. Others construct online identities as pseudonyms to isolate their true selves from their online activity. This can be to protect personal information about themselves, to hide something they think is embarrassing, or to cover up criminal activity.
Having multiple identities online in most cases (with the exception of criminal activity) is completely fine and often the services people use online encourage this. This doesn’t mean making yourself a completely different person online is okay for example Facebook encourages people to connect with friends and family whereas LinkedIn encourages people to act professionally and connect with colleagues and business professionals. This leads people to act differently on each service, creating unique identities for each service. This kind of isolation is useful as it ensures what you share is appropriate to the audience. However, just as you may be creating your own digital identities, you need to be aware that other users are also doing the same.
Check out this site for some more useful tips on managing their digital footprint.
Looking to be inspired for our January Hull University Archives blog, we started browsing online content for January anniversaries.
It turns out there’s a huge number of food and drink related celebrations; there’s Chocolate Brownie Day on the 8th, Hot Tea Day on the 12th, Hot and Spicy Food Day on the 16th, Gourmet Coffee Day on the 18th, Cheese Lover’s Day on the 20th, Chocolate Cake Day on the 27th and Croissant Day on the 30th!
This got us thinking about a small collection of household recipe books contained within one of Hull University Archives’ collections….
The Hotham Family
The Hotham Family of Scorborough and South Dalton represents part of the Yorkshire landed gentry. Pedigrees from the collection suggest the family’s roots lie in the 12th century, possibly beginning with one William de Hotham who lived c.1100-1166. Originally associated with Scorborough, the family relocated to South Dalton after a fire destroyed the old family home in 1705.
As with many such families, their lifestyle and the size of their household necessitated the appointment of various housekeeping staff, including a cook who would have catered for the family’s daily meals and evening entertainments.
Lady Frances’ Recipe Books
Amongst the records left by the family, there are several recipe and medicinal books belonging to Lady Frances Hotham.
Lady Frances married into the Hotham family in 1816, bringing her own mother’s cookery and nursing books with her, and beginning her own recipe books to help her manage her new household. These records provide us with a history of cooking stretching back to the mid-17th century.
The books contain recipes for preserves, biscuits, sweet and savoury pies, stews, cakes, and drinks. They also contain recipes for medicines purporting to cure gout, fever, coughs, and even hair-loss!
With such fascinating resources you could carry out some really interesting research projects; anything from trends in cooking, to a history of traditional home remedies.
Back in 2015-2016 a few of us at Hull History Centre used Lady Frances Hotham’s recipe books to create ‘History Bakers’.
The basic premise was: choose a recipe (so many options!), decipher it (the writing could be quite tricky), work out the measurements (Imperial to Metric, and some we’d never heard of!), source the ingredients (including some uncommon items), try to discern a method (scant details provided in many instances), make the recipe, and report back on the results. We shared the bakes with our colleagues and reflected on our experiences using social media.
It was such a popular campaign that we thought we’d share some of our attempts in this blog (please forgive the repurposing of content!)…
Curry Powder, c.1860 [U DDHO/19/8]
Written by Pete Dixie, Archives Assistant
The recipe for the curry powder is quite simple but shows some of the spices that were available to well-to-do households in England as far back as the Georgian period.
And to my method: The spices were ground together in a mortar and pestle, then dried in a warm oven for about 20 minutes. Easy. Too easy. So, having made the curry powder, I decided to use it to flavour some vegetable samosas.
There are plenty of recipes available on the internet for samosas. I picked one that took my fancy and replaced the recipe spices for my History Bakers curry powder. First, I boiled three small potatoes and a cup of frozen peas to make the vegetable filling. Next, I fried the onion in a tablespoon of oil adding the whole spices, the ground spices and the grated ginger chilli and garlic. I then added the potatoes, which I had broken up with a fork, the peas and herbs and continued to fry the filling for about ten minutes. Finally, I made the pastry with chapatti flour, which was better in taste and appearance than ones I had made previously with plain flour.
After resting in the fridge for half an hour (the pastry not me), I rolled it out and cut it into approximately six-inch circles. I then cut the circles in half and made them in to cone shapes, which I filled with the samosa mixture before deep frying them in oil for about five minutes until brown.
They came out really well, but the spice mix was very mild. I had no complaints from my taste testers, though several noted the ‘pleasant but mild’ spice.
Prince Albert’s Pudding, c.1860 [U DDHO/19/8]
Written by Claire Weatherall, archivist
Although the book from which this recipe comes is dated 1860, some of the recipes, like this one, have earlier origins. The original recipe is thought to be by Eliza Acton. It first appeared in ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’, which was compiled in 1845. This recipe shouldn’t be confused with another Prince Albert inspired recipe for Plum Pudding. The Prince Albert Plum Pudding also appeared in Eliza Acton’s recipe book under the heading ‘Christmas Pudding’.
As you can see from the photograph of the recipe, there isn’t much by way of method. So, I improvised by using the ‘measure it out and chuck it all in a mixing bowl’ approach. There was no measurement for the cinnamon and mace so I ‘guestimated’ half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of mace. Not being able to find mace whilst buying the ingredients I had to substitute it for ground mixed spice, which I already had in my cupboard.
Once the ingredients were mixed, I buttered the pudding basins. I divided the mixture in two, as I only had small basins, and layered the bottom with candied peel. Next, I added the mixture and then came the actual cooking process.
And it is here that it might have gone a bit wrong. After three and a half hours of steaming the puddings on an electric hob they still hadn’t cooked through. I decided to finish them in the microwave (not historically accurate I know but it was late and I wanted to sleep). Unfortunately, they came out overcooked and quite dry.
Colleagues were very polite and tasted my attempts. All who were brave enough to taste the pudding noted that the flavours were great. One colleague made the helpful suggestion that custard might help with the dryness issue!
Baked Apple Pudding, c.1820 [U DDHO/19/5]
Written by Verity Minniti, archives assistant
I chose a recipe for Baked Apple Pudding, which dates from around 1820. As you can see from the picture of the original recipe, there is limited advice for the modern cook on the exact method of preparation.
Consequently, I did some further research and found other contemporary recipes for Baked Apple Pudding online. These really helped when it came to the cooking! As no type of apple was specified, I decided on Granny Smiths. I thought the sharp taste of the Granny Smiths would be a good balance to the sweetness of the pudding. Also, I discovered that cooking apples hadn’t been developed by 1820. The number of eggs in the original recipe also alarmed me a little. When looking at similar recipes it seemed that 6 eggs was a standard amount. So I decided to use just the 6 eggs and not add a further 3 whites.
Having seen other recipes suggesting serving the pudding in a ‘pastry dish’, I chose to bake some of the mixture in a pastry case and some in a normal glass dish. Having also needed to estimate the oven temperature, I was pleasantly surprised when both attempts turned out rather well!
All in all, I had a great time cooking the pudding, even if there were a lot of fingers crossed hoping it would turn out ok! Oh, and all at Hull History Centre seemed to enjoy eating the puddings.
Gingerbread, c.1777 [U DDHO/19/2]
Written by Verity Minniti, archives assistant (she really loved this campaign!)
To celebrate the Hull Fair and Bonfire Night season, I thought it would be only fitting to make some gingerbread.
I selected a recipe in a book dating from around 1777. This particular example caught my eye, as it was very different to the gingerbread recipes I had tried before.
As you can see from the picture of the recipe, this gingerbread contains black treacle, cream and brandy! The recipe was fairly detailed, considering it’s age, and provided me with clear weights for each ingredient. I even had a something of a method to work with!
However, I still had to estimate the oven temperature, cooking time and amount of flour. Luckily, my estimations were correct and the gingerbread turned out really well. However, colleagues were disappointed that the cooking process had evaporated the alcohol from the brandy… probably for the best!
Over to you…
Think these resources could help you with your studies, research or learning development? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat or to make an appointment to use them at Hull History Centre.
With just a few days to go, we’re starting to get that Christmas feeling at Hull University Archives! So we’ve been looking through the collections for references to Christmases past. These are some of the things we found…
Send a card
To get us started, here’s a Christmas card printed by our University for the year 1946. The ‘Donald’ who sent this card was a former student, so we can presume that these cards were available for purchase in much the same way Uni branded merchandise is sold by the Student Union today.
Receive a card
A much more visually interesting Christmas card from 1868 next. This one was sent to William Mortimer Baines by his son Henry Verdon Baines.
Order the turkey (or nut roast!)
A slightly left of field offering here, perhaps relating to Christmas dinner…. This is a draft agreement stating the terms under which Henry Southerne was able to rent a house and land in Everingham from John Rushworth. As well as paying a monetary rent, Southerne was responsible for providing Rushworth with a ‘fat hen’ every Christmas. Not something your modern student landlord asks for!
Deck the halls
Whilst we are on the subject of land ownership, this letter is an extremely contrite apology sent by Lady Constance Lawley of The Villa, Escrick, to Mrs Baines of Bell Hall on Boxing Day. It appears Lady Lawley trespassed on the Baines’ land in order to collect ivy to decorate her house for Christmas, scaring their game in the process.
Attend a service
Order of service for Christmas services held at the Church of the Holy Sacrament, Arras, on the Western Front in 1917
Write thank you notes
After the presents come the thank you notes. This one is from a daughter to her mother thanking her for the gift of a writing pad and fountain pen. The daughter would grow up to become a successful author.
And finally, a mix of Christmas cheer and bah-humbug in this memorandum from former University of Hull librarian Philip Larkin:
On behalf of the University Archives team, we hope you have a restful Christmas break and we’ll see you in the New Year!
Understanding how the digital world has changed society over time is something that I think more people should know about. As this will be the last post before Christmas, I thought it would be interesting to see how digital advancements have changed our lives, not just at Christmas but every day. This is where I get to let my former history student out and look into the past to see how the digital world has changed and developed.
Where it all began
Despite what you might think Christmas was not celebrated widely even as recently as the 19th century. It was only near the end of the century when it became an annual celebration that started to spread across the whole world. In England, this change can be attributed to Queen Victoria, who married the German, Prince Albert in 1840. Prince Albert introduced some of the most prominent aspects of Christmas along with his influence in embracing emerging technologies. These influences then pushed England into the first Industrial Revolution.
1840 marked the end of the mechanical age, which began in about 1450. It was also the beginning of the electromechanical era, which continued until 1940. Many new technologies emerged during the mechanical and electromechanical eras. For example, Telecommunications, which became important for sending handmade postal cards for Christmas, started in the electromechanical era.
Christmas past, present and future
Since then, transformation, adaptation, and the influence of important technological advancements have reshaped not just Christmas but our whole world. I thought it would be fun to view this like the ghosts of past future and present from Charles Dickens’s timeless tale, A Christmas Carol, quite appropriately published in the 19th century in 1843. Now we have just looked at the past and how it all began, so let’s now move into the present.
How has Christmas changed?
Handmade Christmas cards used to be quite a common practice but have now been replaced by commercial cards, and by e-Cards when the Internet became a key aspect of society. Another evolution is also how people send Holiday Greetings via video. With video becoming widely used and accessible with the advent of smartphones.
In-store shopping replaced homemade gifts with all sorts of things one can buy. The Internet has made possible what many consider a shopping dream with online shopping and next-day home delivery. Christmas shopping is a few clicks away. There is even an option for sending a Christmas gift card by email, for those late shoppers who ran out of time. You can also play some Christmas songs on Spotify, have some hot chocolate, and online Christmas shopping has most of the traditional elements without the crowds.
Technological gadgets are the most wanted Christmas presents expected by both adults and children. There are rarely handmade gifts, like in the past. Mobile communications made it easy to send text messages and WhatsApp friends and family around the world. Video calls make it possible for family members to join from anywhere in the world.
Twitter and Facebook have also influenced Christmas making it even easier to send a single greeting with a photo of the family tree nicely decorated to hundreds of people simultaneously. With just one click a Christmas greeting can reach thousands of people.
Though some may complain about how technology has changed us as a society there is no denying the benefits. Postal delays are less of a problem as many receive digital greetings in perfect time, paper-free. Technology has made it possible to bring families and friends together in times when travelling was not an option. Video calling and chats allow families to virtually be together at the Christmas dinner table when members of the family live scattered around the world.
How we can use these developments now and in the future?
Technology has also allowed us to be more creative in different ways. We can still create our own cards but in an easier and more efficient way and we have better ways to plan what is quite a hectic time of year. Below you can see how you can easily use digital software to create a Christmas card. In addition to this, there are also digital planners you can use which can help you plan out your Christmas.
You will notice all these developments also have a usage outside of Christmas, shopping, communication and creation amongst many over things has never been easier. We can plan ahead and organise our day which is helpful for a student or in the workplace and digital creation can be used for projects and presentations. We can also easily talk to family and with fellow students or work colleagues. Also, the internet whilst being useful for shopping has created so many benefits when it comes to studying and working. Almost every day of your life as a student and when you go into the workplace involves some use of the internet.
This is a very exciting age to be living in and it will be interesting to see what developments come next.