Wednesday, August 06, 2008

No Mission, Just Pointless Wanderlust.

"So, what is the point of your Blog?", someone asked me recently. I have been asked this question a few times over the years and I never know how to answer. I normally come out with phrases like "it's Sudoku for the innumerate" or "it's better than dying", but this time I was tempted to be honest. "There is no point", I replied, "It's pointless, and that is its true beauty". Later I thought about having a Mission Statement and incorporating it into the new Header, but I am not on a mission. A mission implies that you know where you are going, that you are travelling in order to get somewhere. If my Blog travels, it travels for the sheer joy of travelling. It has a serious case of wanderlust : pointless wanderlust. And that is how I found "Pencils of Light". As I have said all too often, one of the great joys of being around at the moment is that more and more digital content is becoming available. For the digital wanderers amongst us, the sun is always shining and the fields are always green. Like the traveller of old who would send back postcards telling of the exotic and wondrous places they had visited, these Postcards From Nowhere can occasionally tell of some of the fascinating digital destinations waiting to be discovered. The "Pencils of Light" website is hosted by the National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh Library and consists of a digital reproduction of two albums of the Edinburgh Calotype Club, the first photographic club in the world. As such, they are among the earliest photograph albums ever assembled. They contain over 300 images by a group of pioneering Scottish photographers working in Edinburgh and St. Andrews. The photographs, taken in the 1840s, provide a marvellous insight into life 165 years ago. It is not a vast resource, nor is it the kind of thing that will keep you absorbed for days. But, for a gentle browse on a quiet, grey, Wednesday morning, it is ideal.

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