In the wild west of the World Wide Web, if you compose a hilarious joke, provide a simple solution to a complex problem ,or break a major new story, it is almost certain that you will be plagiarised. Although intellectual property laws exist, they are inconsistently enforced because of the sheer number of websites where it occurs – a number that increases with each passing second. If you are lucky, and your re-poster is honest, you may discover how far your ideas have spread through a pingback, an automatically generated comment on your original text with a link to its reprint.
Although reprinting was the backbone of early 19th-century journalism, authors had no real way of discovering the fate of their quips or queries except through chance encounters with other newspapers. Nevertheless, whether prompted by honesty or a desire to establish authenticity, many reprinted articles contained an attribution. These ranged from the very specific to the frustratingly vague but with the aid of these unobtrusive breadcrumbs, the kind support of British Library Labs, and a helping hand from you, we can provide what Georgian authors could only dream of – an true understanding of just who was borrowing from whom.
Follow the links below to learn how news travelled across Britain in the early-19th century and how to identify Georgian attributions, whereever they may be hiding. Each section has a short introduction and a multiple-choice quiz to let you apply what you’ve just learned. Once you’ve completed all the tutorials, you’ll be ready to dive into Georgian Pingbacks!
Can you spot a by-line at fifty paces? Already know your post days from your closers? Then you’re ready to jump in. To contribute to the Georgian Pingbacks Project all you will need is an internet-ready device — a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone — and a few minutes of spare time. Follow the link below to get started! Continue reading “Get Started”
Georgian Pingbacks (part of the Scissors and Paste Project) is a collaboration between Dr M. H. Beals and British Library Labs and generously funded by the Enterprise Project Group at Loughborough University. It aims to create a database on attribution and copying in early 19th-century British newspapers and make this freely available to all users of these fascinating, if somewhat elusive, historical artifacts.
This site was produced in colloboration with undergraduate students from the Politics, History and International Relations department of Loughborough University. Without their hard work, this project would not have been possible: Will Dickinson, Alice Gilbert, Ollie Luhrs, Alex Mackinder, Pooja Makwana, Matthew McCulloch, Jonny Ord, Rachel Schaanning, Emily Stanyard, Gavin Tennant, Rebecca Thompson, and Hannah Whittam.