Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crowd-sourcing the whole of human knowledge

Oh, wondrous messages from the internet! Well, not exactly like that. I do love the spam that I get that wants to help strengthen my sword. I always want to reply, "No, thank you. I already have one. It's very nice." (Visconti grip, German point. And yes, after hot-gluing myself to a blade while trying to act as my own armorer, I buy them prewired.)

Sorry. I digress. 

Sometimes the internet is wondrous, though. I started a short story the other night, and as I was writing, lines from "The Cruel Sister" kept running through my head. I know the ballad reasonably well (enough to know it's also "The Bonny Swans" and "The Twa Sisters" and Child 10), but I asked twitter for other versions. 

And people were amazing: they recommended versions I knew and loved, versions I'd forgotten I owned, and versions I'd never heard or heard of. One person recommended the English Folk Dance and Song Society Archives. This morning, @TheEFDSS got in touch with me on twitter - the person in their marketing department who runs their twitter feed had put together and collected a search for me, for all versions in their archives! And promised to put me in touch with a librarian if that wasn't enough.


So thank you @NaBean and @MaginifKat and @AnassaRH and @9andhennepin and @tembrooke and @TheEFDSS (and also everyone who passed my question along, whose names have been hidden from me by twitter). You lot are amazing. I will write you the best short story inspired by "The Cruel Sister" that I can.

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