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Twitter has its merits Ð pity about the name

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Date Published: {J}

How are your hostages doing? You just have to feed them and give them water and stuff, it isn’t hard. And yet I killed a few hostages this year. Getting a driving licence for example.

Getting more exercise too. Though on the bright side, those pretty much cancel each other out. I didn’t really get a single thing I planned to do in 2009 done – but on the other hand I did do a lot of things I didn’t. I learned to row a boat this year.

Trivial perhaps, but great too. I learned how to use a sauna – a real, wood-fired one. I learned a lot of good exercises for the spine – the back pain I was getting last year is entirely gone now. (All right, I injured my coccyx and now it hurts to sit down, but that’s completely unrelated.)

I got to spend a lot of time with small children and eventually realised that I should stop thinking about how to talk to them and just talk to them.

These are things I didn’t expect to learn this year. But enough of me.

What was 2009 for the rest of the world – what was it the year of? Obama presidency. Lisbon Treaty. Swine flu.

Important things happened, the world changed in a lot of ways. Yet I think the biggest thing of 2009 was Twitter. Social networking systems in general reached critical mass, but it’s Twitter that fascinates me most. Not least, because it seems inexplicable.

Why would someone want to send a message no longer than a text to a web page? You can already send text messages to your friends, and those have the advantage of being private. You can already publish things on the web, and that doesn’t have a 142-character limit.

Twitter seems to combine the worst features of both. I freely admit I didn’t get it when it first came out in 2007, but I wasn’t doing it right. I was sending Twitter messages (‘tweeting’) from my phone, but receiving them on it too.

So the apparent benefit was getting pointless and frequently inane messages from friends around the world, at all times of day and night. This quickly became irritating, and I wrote it off.

But as Twitter grew, the way people used it evolved. The genius of the shortness became apparent. Sure, anyone can write a blog. But who’s going to read it? I rarely bother to read Livejournal posts if they go beyond a paragraph, even when they’re by friends who write entertaining and hilarious stuff.

But I will voraciously read short messages. You can take them in almost at a glance, and the next one could be something good. (Interesting thing to note is that though you can make posts as long as you like on Facebook, people tend not to.

More and more it’s morphing into an (overcomplicated) rival to Twitter.)

It’s become a place where you can make a remark that your friends may be interested in, or crack a joke, or let people know your plans – a universal message board. This was one of the very first uses of computer networks of course, but in 2009 it finally became part of everyday life.

Shame about the obligatory stupid name.

Richard.Chapman@Gmail.com

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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