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The page proofs of The Book of Hiram have been checked through, and hopefully all the little printing gremlins caught and corrected. I've indexed it and checked out that the index entries match the pages. (a delightfully tedious but very necessary job!). Chris had finished doing the drawings and he's sent them off, so at last the whole thing is away to the printers and I'm looking forward to getting my first bound proof copy soon. (If you want to order your own pre-release copy of The Book of Hiram then click here.)
The first time I get to see all that work of writing turned into a real book never loses its thrill. I'm looking forward to opening the big jiffy bag with the Century logo on it, and taking out the first pristine copy. (New books always smell so good) When I get to do that it will mean all the hard work of production is finished and I can look forward to the fun of getting out to the bookshops for a chance to meet and talk to the people who make the slog of writing worthwhile, you the readers.
Once I know the details of where I going to during the launch I will put them on the website. I've already booked three or four Masonic talks at West Yorkshire Lodges during May and June and so will get a chance to share some of technical detail of my latest Masonic researches with Brother Masons..
Random House say that they are planning some bookshop talks so I also hope to get a chance to meet other readers in different parts of the country.
Now those jobs are done I've got to get down to the job of finishing off constructing the new Website that I am soon going to open at Bradford University. I think you might find it interesting too!
A few years ago I discovered that the J B Priestley Library has quite a bit of Masonic material scattered about its special collections, and I have also been collecting old rituals myself for many years. The big problem with paper copies of ritual and such material is that it is extremely hard to search, and some of the original copies can be very fragile. (Yes I know I can wear white gloves, but that makes me look like a Freemason, even when I'm only having fun researching in the library) Anyway, to make this type of old material useful and also to make it easily available for other interested people I decided to turn it all into HTML and create a personal website on my own computer to enable me to search it.
As my electronic collection of Masonic material began to grow I realized I was creating a useful research and preservation tool for fragile material. Material which was in great danger of being lost to the general public. I mentioned what I was doing to Jenny Finder, the librarian at the School of Management where I lecture, and she suggested that I offered the material to the University, noting that Glasgow had done something similar with its collection of material relating to Adam Smith, the economist. So I approached the University with the material, and they were pleased to add it to our academic resources. The only provision the University put on the arrangement was that I must make sure that the code fully complies with the standards of University's Webmaster.
Not too big a problem, but one I have to get right. If you think some of the penalties in these old rituals are pretty strong and might smart a little (ie. like having your tongue torn out by its roots, your throat cut across and your body buried in the rough sands of the sea whence the tide does pass twice in the course of a natural day) then you want to meet our webmaster in a bad mood :-) He can do far worse things, like freezing your internet access and blacklisting you!
So this means that I'm doing a lot of route and path checking, making sure that images can be found from central points and that clickable links really work. When I think its all ok I'm going to take it into the Computer Centre for the Most Extremely Worshipful Webmaster to inspect and then it can be spooled up to the main server. We're aiming to have it available by the time the book becomes out in the shops, which Century tell me is 1st May.
I hope that this new archive, I suppose that it's really a scrapheap of discarded Masonic ritual, will prove interesting and perhaps if any of you reading this have older rituals than those I've recorded then perhaps you might like to let me have copies to add to the site. As far as I know there is no other public Internet archive of old Masonic material and much of the paper-trail is decaying and becoming lost. This new electronic archive will keep the material in good condition and more importantly easily accessible for any interested browser.
If you have any old Masonic document which might be suitable for this website than you can contact the me, or one of the Special Collection Team at the University about adding to the collection by clicking on the contact button for web content.
Meanwhile I must get back to checking out some more links and menus, can't risk incurring the penalty of having my network connection torn out by its roots, my power lead cut across and my hard disk buried in the rough contents of the rubbish skip, which the dustman empties twice in course of a natural fortnight!
Once you have clicked through to the University server you can bookmark the site for future access and if you register yourself on my website mailing list I'll email when I add new sections to the Web of Hiram.
The link to get to the Web of Hiram is http://www.bradford.ac.uk/webofhiram Enjoy!