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Remembered Today:

Lives of the First World War after the freeze


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On 04/10/2019 at 09:53, George Lee Temple said:

The result is that, what was becoming a really useful source, is now a shadow of its former self.

Agreed - see also my previous post.

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24 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

Too right it would!

Keith like you and others I am very disappointed with IWM LOTFWW as it now stands

As a member of the public who worked as a quasi-Volunteer and worked on thousands of Life Stories to various levels over four years with dozens of documents attached, mined for hundreds facts and entries for my family alone [and the many more for the rest] I am horrified by the current output by IWM - it does not deliver.

I entrusted my research to their keeping, for public view - not so available now :-(

Enormous amounts of data that had been input has been lost - I feel that I seriously wasted all my time [hundreds of hours] and I would think the official Volunteers and many other people feel very let down

I feel cheated and feel the wider public has been robbed of what was promoted as the No.1 WW1 database project by IWM

Amongst annoying quirks the timeline display is remarkable in attributing events - even to after a man's death, and yet those events cannot be found elsewhere

Sub-units below regimental level have been lost, as have dates of service etc.  etc.  etc.

The old database used for original input held all the available data even if not looking 'pretty' at least it was functional

I am now rather ashamed I 'advertised/promoted' LOTFWW to my friends and relatives - it has not delivered and has made me look an idiot!  That's certainly how I feel now.

IWM - I would like that old 'ugly' style data entry/database back for all, as it was much more effective - Please!

What to do next to try and revive this project and its output to the wider public???

 

     My dear departed next door neighbour, a WW2 army sergeant (The Buffs, No 4 Army Commando,Raiding Support Regiment) had the robust answer vis a vis the Chairman of the IWM Board- "a size 11 boot up the jacksy"

    Funding is the problem- IWM hoped to roll over the project as an income earner after public funding came to an end. Without such funding, it is dead in the water. I think it should have started from scratch and added only what came through from volunteers. It bit off too much by listing everyone who served, thus it became a massive white elephant in that it merely regurgitated information freely available elsewhere-or flagged up as a come-on for pay-wall systems. We are now enetering a long period of sad decline as many other useful sites of the centennial years will slowly go dark and the information lost. But the loss of so much volunteer effort will not affect the P and L of these institutions such as IWM- no-one with CA or FCA after their name is going to care one little bit.

   As they say in The Eye-"Triples all round"

Edited by voltaire60
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3 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

it merely regurgitated information freely available elsewhere-or flagged up as a come-on for pay-wall systems.

In some ways it did - and in others it did not - I contributed much info off personal documents which are not publicly available - now lost only in my persoanl archive.

What a waste - so much lost -so sad

 

4 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

We are now enetering a long period of sad decline as many other useful sites of the centennial years will slowly go dark and the information lost. But the loss of so much volunteer effort will not affect the P and L of these institutions such as IWM- no-one with CA or FCA after their name is going to care one little bit.

Yes - I, and others, feel very well worked over.

:-(  :-(

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   Right- here is a possible solution:

 

   The full Lives of the First World War  database should be handed over by IWM to tThe British Library for preservation in it's electronic records archives.

Frankly, I do not trust IWM to keep the electronic version-or,if it did, to make any real effort to make it available to researchers.

   It may not solve access but it would ensure preservation- I think we are looking at two problems here.

The vision conjured up by a professional historian of the skip full of Army,Navy and Air Force lists at Duxford does not inspire much confidence.

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29 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

The full Lives of the First World War  database should be handed over by IWM to tThe British Library for preservation in it's electronic records archives.

Frankly, I do not trust IWM to keep the electronic version-or,if it did, to make any real effort to make it available to researchers.

   It may not solve access but it would ensure preservation- I think we are looking at two problems here.

I too am rather concerned about IWM and its access & retention habits

Preservation and Access - Yes, the two main issues

A possible route suggested

If IWM were to offer - would the BL accept? - Two more potential issues to address first!

How do we get that set up?

Edited by Matlock1418
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52 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

It should be straightforward-BL is the copyright depository for the preservation of spent databases. Exactly what it was set up to do.

I don't know if you know the answers, but ...

How is that initiated? and ...

And what are the potential access arrangements?

[Not wanting to rush IWM but I would like access to the data deposited one way or another!] 

Edited by Matlock1418
corrn
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On 28/07/2018 at 07:22, chaz said:

.... the boffins that design web sites have cost as their main governing priority. if a monkey could write a web page it would be employed for peanuts over any one of our knowledgeable members just covering their costs.....

 

 

The boffins like to make sure there is plenty of future employment built in: a fully finished product means your contract comes to an end and you have to find another one.  Continual tweeking at least ensures a nice retainer and degree of "hold" over the client.

 

As for this whole project it seems to be another half-hearted effort, and locking it up is simply a way quietly dropping it when the interest in the Great War is no doubt expected to have tailed off.  

Edited by 2ndCMR
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I will endeavour to speak with someone later in the week at BL.  Frankly, I don't trust IWM to preserve the full Lives system anyway,regardless of problems of access.

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2 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

I will endeavour to speak with someone later in the week at BL

Thank you - that would be useful start to explore I think. :-)

The data now held, but beyond beyond public access, at/through IWM LOTFWW is quite great I think

The irony is that if they had left the original database with its admittedly clunky access, but just frozen it for new material, then accessing the existing data would have given much better access than now.

They just wanted to go for a pretty product and it has now ended up being more clunky and un-useful and a very poor tribute to the many Volunteers and members of the public who contributed so much time and information for free - and especially to those who served in the FWW

And has kept so much theoretically available info from the following on wider audience.

Such a shame.

In hope ...

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David_Underdown
On 04/11/2019 at 16:21, voltaire60 said:

It should be straightforward-BL is the copyright depository for the preservation of spent databases. Exactly what it was set up to do.

It's the copyright library, but e-legal deposit does not cover databases as such.  I believe the web archive side may have crawled the original version of the site.

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55 minutes ago, David_Underdown said:

I believe the web archive side may have crawled the original version of the site.

Sorry - ???

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Keith_history_buff

I did come across one instance of a LOTFWW profile on the Wayback Machine a few months back. I have been unable to see this from my browsing history, however.

Unfortunately, all that it showed was the page header, with name, image birth and death dates. There was data presented on four tabs on LOTFWW, but none of this was showing for the individual concerned, which seemed to indicate that the web crawler had not scraped this data.

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19 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

web crawler had not scraped this data

I have no idea what this means!

:-/

 

All I have had recently from IWM was:

"Thank you for your enquiry and I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed with the new Lives of the First World War website.

Since the launch of the new website, there have been reports of issues and glitches that our team are continually working on to resolve. Due to the high level of content that is held on the website, this can sometimes take a little longer to correct and therefore we appreciate your patience in this matter.

The website is currently undergoing updates which will mean that the submitted stories of your relatives will display in chronological order as originally intended. As this work is on-going I apologise that I am unable to offer an exact timeframe as to when all updates will be completed, however I hope this will offer some form of reassurance that your contribution is important to us and is being attended to.

Please accept our apologies for how you feel your contribution has been treated and we do hope that when the website updates are completed you will be impressed with the final result"

 

As my enquiry was not really about "submitted stories" but access to all data = Not filling me with encouragement or confidence - now/near future/ever

I think IWM need a very serious 'nudge' before all the hard work of many and much extra data are lost/inaccessible

Once this UK parliamentary election is over I am going to get onto my MP - I suggest other interested parties could do the same.

To what effect - time will tell.

I have to live in hope.

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1 minute ago, Keith_history_buff said:

Here is the data for Arthur Leyland Harrison on the Wayback Machine.
https://web.archive.org/web/20171201030533/https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/6890238

The link quoted above didn't open fully so I, and I suspect others, can't see a proper compare/contrast of this with the other link but that's the old style header - which used to allow much better access for all Life Stories and content the tabs gave access to allow addition of evidence and facts.

The newer link version has the horrific timeline for those of you who dare to look. ;-(

I'd be more than happy to get the old version back - for all the LS at the LOTFWW freezing, rather than the poncy new version that is currently proving very much more than inadequate.

Would have been much better if they had spent their remaining money on upgrading the old version rather than creating a new style! imho

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Keith_history_buff

As per my prior post, I did say that only the header was captured.

 

44 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

I did come across one instance of a LOTFWW profile on the Wayback Machine a few months back. I have been unable to see this from my browsing history, however.

Unfortunately, all that it showed was the page header, with name, image birth and death dates. There was data presented on four tabs on LOTFWW, but none of this was showing for the individual concerned, which seemed to indicate that the web crawler had not scraped this data.

 

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I know - I was just acknowledging - and having another gripe! ;-)

Living in hope! [the alternative is too depressing to contemplate}

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Keith,

I'm having a senior moment and cannot find one of my examples to compare. Could you remind me again  what has disappeared, please? Is it the extra images I loaded other than that I selected as profile ? Is it the Stories' that I loaded ?

 

Charlie

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Keith_history_buff
On 28/06/2019 at 14:16, Keith_history_buff said:

The PDM site is now live. I guess there are the following questions to be asked of the PDM – an emulator of the legacy LOTFWW platform, albeit using static data, and with functionality limited to the presentation of the data, and a data search capability.

 

To what extent does the emulator functionality (i) match the legacy platform (ii) fall short of the legacy platform, and (iii) improve upon the legacy platform in relation to 

  1. Presentation of the textual and visual data
  2. Ease of navigation around the site
  3. Ability 'to access and research' by means of its search engine, and any facilities to capture and download data


I was talking to an IT Developer friend about this at a Xmas party. He said that the new portal may not be to everyone's taste, given the diversity of the user base. He did raise an optimistic point, though.
 

He did say that if the back-end data was published via an open licence, via an API, this would allow those members of the general public, with the inclination, to build their own tailored “Geoff's Search Engine”. Whilst it's good for others to use, it's especially good for a junior developer to have such handiwork in their portfolio. (I am not an  IT Developer, but this sounds plausible to me.)
 

The one fly in the ointment is just how long it will take for this - access to the data via an API or similar - to become a reality?


The big disappointment has been that what should have been a simple job - migrate the data to a new platform that emulates the look and feel of the old one - has failed in a number of ways.

To date, everyone I have spoken to is disappointed with the new style timeline. They put in effort to add images that were linked to timeline events. They added stories, associated with dates, so that the history of the individual concerned would be embellished.

A lot of effort was put in by the volunteers to flag duplicates, so that if two or more profiles existed for an individual, you could tell at a glance from the search results which was the active profile. That differentiation has been omitted. It is a function which should have been brought across. Likewise, it would have made sense to allow search filters to include/exclude merged profiles. Similarly, if "last updated" vs "created" had been captured, then future searches could have filtered out those profiles that were not worked upon during the centenary.

The marriage duration flaw, which was immediately picked up during the May testing, has been ignored for reasons that have never been explained.

Similarly the loss of "to" and "from" dates for addresses and military service is a concern. People like myself spent a lot of time poring over service records, to type in this important data.

The rationale for doing all this:

Quote

IWM has made a commitment that Lives of the First World War will be an interactive platform available to the public throughout the four years of the centenary, and that the permanent digital memorial will be saved for future generations.


The fact that some of the data has been omitted, and that the existing data does not currently emulate the presentation of the original look and feel brings into question how "permanent" the crowdsourcing activity is. It raises questions about future crowdsourcing projects - how do you know that the content and format of what is contributed will be retained?

In its present form, it is half-finished. It is good to read that the IWM will be updating the timeline, in order that stories will be appearing, but it seems odd this has not been communicated elsewhere. They really do need to get the existing setup changed, so that all the data is correctly captured, duplicates are marked as such, and that the timeline emulates the look and feel of the original version, otherwise there will remain a loss of goodwill in relation to the Lives of the First World War crowdsourcing project, and it will tarnish the reputation of the IWM if unaddressed.  


 

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4 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Could you remind me again  what has disappeared, please?

Stories that you typed up as "Stories" seem to have been uploaded and appear available - but often repeated several times! [not the worst glitch but indicative of a gremlin that should have been found/should be found and sorted]

However military details such as sub-units e.g. companies, platoons etc and dates of such service seems to have gone off the listing under details/military etc.  

Other glitches on some LS I have recently seen incl. all siblings having been given a middle initial that matches that of their first forename. e.g. John Smith becomes John J Smith - which can be very confusing and misleading don't you think = To be fair that after raising it with IWM some weeks ago I couldn't find an example today [not where I thought I had seen this glitch anyway]

Undated lifetime events are place on timeline after death etc. etc. - bizzare!

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Keith_history_buff
14 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Keith,

I'm having a senior moment and cannot find one of my examples to compare. Could you remind me again  what has disappeared, please? Is it the extra images I loaded other than that I selected as profile ? Is it the Stories' that I loaded ?

 

Charlie


Hi Charlie,

The "to" and "from" dates for military service and addresses have not been migrated across. The marriage dates have been botched.

The big thing for most people has been the new style timeline. If you look at the George Wroe example on this thread, you can see that it has changed radically.

I have asked the IWM to provide the missing data. They are saying it is unlikely that they can do this, for cost reasons, and anticipate a further response in a month or so to my FoI request. If they have plans to bring it across to the PDM, then this would negate the need for the data request, but there has been nothing formally communicated to indicate that the missing data will be added to the "permanent"? digital memorial. 

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5 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

They put in effort to add images that were linked to timeline events. They added stories, associated with dates, so that the history of the individual concerned would be embellished.

 

6 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

A lot of effort was put in by the volunteers to flag duplicates, so that if two or more profiles existed for an individual, you could tell at a glance from the search results which was the active profile.

 

6 minutes ago, Keith_history_buff said:

loss of "to" and "from" dates for addresses and military service is a concern. People like myself spent a lot of time poring over service records, to type in this important data.

Just to pick a few of your excellent examples [not excellent from IWM!!!} you added whilst I was typing my weedy effort

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