The publication of “Fighting Nineteenth” realises a huge step forward in the presentation of military history to the public.
The book includes a unique CD-ROM ‘Research Disc’, an electronic publication associated with a regimental history – a first, worldwide. The book and the disc are also supported by a web site.
The disc provides over 340 pages of extra information, including the Master Nominal Roll, Honour Rolls (listed both alphabetically or by date of death) and a Gallipoli Honour Roll. The CD-ROM also features Battle Casualties, Recommendations, Awards, a Battalion Chronology, Photos, Medals and Maps. These are all presented in an interactive form on CD-ROM using the Adobe Acrobat Portable Document publishing solution.
This digital edition of the Research Disc series is a world first. Extensive searching finds no other computer-ready support disc, anywhere, dealing with military histories issued simultaneously with the print edition.
“It is the minute attention to detail, taking years of painstaking research by the authors that makes it all so special,” said Bede G. Ireland, producer of the CD-ROM.
The CD production was supervised by one of the founders of Australia’s digital publishing revolution, Bede G. Ireland, who with partners established Brigalow Digital Publishing and Digital Education Research & Development – the first Australian all-digital production house and research facility. Their claim to fame was being the very first Yellow Pages entry of a new publications category – ‘Digital Publishing’.
Not unfamiliar with the powerful benefits digital publishing brings to the world of papyrus and quills, Ireland says, “This electronic version was the only way to bring to life the colour and character present in the maps and many of the photos, as well as providing a very neat way of presenting a growing multitude of details about the men of the 19th Battalion. This quantity of information could never have made it into a limited run book”.
Speaking to one of the authors in 2010, Ireland found out that maps were needed, “Not being a cartographer, yet having a passion for and a family connection to the story through a great uncle, Pte Bede Henry Ireland (4448), I volunteered to give it a go – and the results support the narrative very well”, he says.
Never shy of trying new ways of presenting what is normally very dry and static information, he embarked on a series of about a hundred battlefield map compilations, 27 of which are on the CD-ROM, intended for personal and educational use.
Looking for sources of information Ireland came to the conclusion that no single map from the time could convey the many layers of activity that the 19th Battalion, as part of 5th Brigade (as well as many, many other AIF units) was engaged in.
“There are times where very scant evidence is preserved in official records of the Great War. Either the documents and records were never created, or someone decided it best that the future not know,” he conjectures, and went onto say, “I have no problem in using maps and materials paid for by the public via the Crown, which today are in the public domain, yet find it curious that institutional and community stewards of this heritage continue to build silos around access to it.”
“The true credit for the maps on the disc”, he says, “goes to those brave men who flew planes of cloth, glue and sticks and those observers who hung over the side of the cockpit with bulky plate cameras gathering pictures of the landscapes below. On the ground were the lab technicians with primitive field gear who processed those precious images on glass and the map-makers who pored over the smallest of details transferring them to what became trench maps. They invented the art and science of aerial battlefield reconnaissance and photo interpretation. To them, a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) was a pigeon with a tiny camera strapped to it!”
Selecting the right delivery format for the disc was a no-brainer says Ireland, with the decision coming down to a web-site-on-a-disc versus a lockable file format to protect the authors’ Intellectual Property, “The Acrobat PDF approach allowed the production of a highly interactive experience, albeit page-based, with a level of protection that the authors and contributors were comfortable with”, he said.
Overall, the Research Disc provides a natural extension from the analogue world of traditional black ink as print on paper to the digital domain in full interactive colour, with potential to expand the range of media as more materials become available. “The next potential step for a history like this is to have it produced as a talking eBook, and perhaps even with a video and educational gaming component to make maximum use of developing technologies,” says Ireland with an eye to current developments in social network media.
“It is social networking which will build on this foundation,” says Ireland, “where crowd-sourcing can provide the transcriptions of the volumes of war diaries held by the Australian War Memorial, which is the next step in this binary journey with my role to be a part of starting it.”
“By contributing using postal mail or the internet you can become a part of this AIF unit’s story, part of our history, a story of nation building on which the sun never sets – providing we as a nation know of and continue to hold high the value of their service and sacrifices.”
The Centenary Commemoration of the Great War 2015 – 2018 will be an opportunity to enlighten and inform new generations of Australians and New Zealanders (and the world) to what went on during those dark years and the social and economic consequences, some of which are still felt today. The past is not ours to deny, but to conserve and preserve so the future can decide. The Book and CD-ROM are now available from the stockists listed under BUY THE BOOK.