Fishing for data

 

Reading ”The Complete Bad Angler” by Philip Storey  I was reminded so strongly of my youth on the banks of a lake in Nottinghamshire that reminiscence almost got the better of me. My fellow commuters must have considered me nutty as I laughed my way through the journey whilst reading these excellent stories and anecdotes. It might be twenty years since I read the Angling Times or caught a live fish, but this splendid book brought it all back the good, the bad and the absurd. Fair enough that this is a compilation of stories Storey wrote for the Angling Times, fair enough that it does not really fit the genre I was searching to review, it turned out to be a work of genius. Fishing might not be everyone’s idea of a use of time and money, but for those of us who have tried, it is a Zen like pleasure. You might think that this type of compilation book is self-indulgent, being that it has been published before. Perhaps it is like the “Best of” albums that yesterday’s hit artists release as a swan song to a dying career in the business of show. Compilations of historical information also has its place in the world and my stumbling around the available works led me to read and enjoy The Knights Templar: A Very Brief History by Mark Black.

Clearly Mark has a passion for writing this series of history ‘essays’ and this is a very informative narrative. These old knights have captured so many stories, films and column inches that somehow there should not be anything new worth discussing. Perhaps, then, it is the manner of the discussion that becomes important. The destination is always the same, but the journey is different each time. The narrative missed revealing its sources but this gripe should be because this would only to capture a better feel of the effort. Black has written about several other historical figures and I suppose this could be the anti-compilation approach: dismantling a history book into pastiches for the masses. Whichever it is, I enjoyed the read and saw a few more names and dates that I will relearn once again when reading the next interpretation of this history.

It is noteworthy, to sum up this short piece, that information gathering in the information age is very much like sitting on a bank and fishing for data and information. We catch these slippery bits with our ever increasingly complex systems and store them in the cloudy keep nets only to tally up a final compilation at the end of the day. Whilst some data are so exciting they stand out alone, others are best released and there is always the one that got away.

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