The Annalist

2 Feb
My bedside reading for the past few months has been the “Black Company” series by Glen Cook. It’s a kind of gritty fantasy about a band of mercenaries with an 800-year history. One of the reasons that they are able to maintain continuity over that kind of time period is that one of the roles within the company is “annalist.” The annalist is basically the company’s historian. He documents where they are, who is employing them, and what they are doing.

But its not enough to just have a history. You have to be able to apply it in a meaningful way to your current situation. And the Black Company does this. The leader of the group, generally referred to by his title as “The Captain”, often reads the selections of the annals to the company in the evenings. And he doesn’t just read them, he tries to draw meaning and inspiration from the experiences of the past.

Assuming you have made it this far, you are likely wondering what the point of this particular ramble is. Well, I think that online communities, and in particular, social curation afford us the opportunity to draw inspiration from our collective histories and wisdom. Unlike, the Black Company, we don’t have to rely on a single individual to collect our experiences. Community platforms give us all the means to contribute our observations, and to discuss the experiences of others. Like the Black Company, we can use these capabilities to build up a body of knowledge about ourselves, our interests, and our professions. And by continually revisiting it, discussing it, and applying to our current situations, we keep that knowledge alive — maybe even for 800 years!

And just in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve outed myself as a complete geek by refering to fantasy novels (this post), Star Trek (Jan 17), and Dr. Who (Jan 4) in my recent blog posts.


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