IVAN SMITH – SALUTING AN INTERNET HISTORIAN (February 23/06)

The next time you have some time to spare, boot up your computer, go to a search engine and type in Nova Scotia History Index. Left click and then sit back and enjoy a trip through one of the most extensive websites devoted to Nova Scotia history to be found on the Internet today.

Maintained by Canning historian Ivan Smith, the website touches on so many aspect of our history that describing it in a few words is impossible. Hence my suggestion that you take a look for yourself. But first, make sure you have lots of free time; the site is massive, detailed and to me mindboogling, to use a cliché that’s fitting.

For a look at an event that shaped Nova Scotia history, you can go directly to the section of Smith’s website devoted to the Seven Years War. On your search engine enter Timeline of the Seven Years War. Smith tells me that in creating this site he had in mind the target audience of “a student in junior or senior high who is doing a class project on Nova Scotia history.”

That he was immensely successful was obvious when less than two weeks after his posting, the Seven years War Timeline was in the top ten for hits in North America. To put this in perspective, there are literally hundreds of thousands of websites (according to Google) that will be reported to anyone looking for information on the Seven Years War.

Also impressive is the fact that Smith’s historical website is now a decade old and counting. “I overlooked a notable (to me) anniversary last Tuesday,” Ivan Smith wrote recently. “The uploading to the WWW (Worldwide Web) of the first page of my first website (on) February 17, 1996. The website has been in operation continuously for 10 years, hosted all that time by the same service.”

That service, Smith said, was originally named Beverly Hills Internet and later became Geocities. In 1999, Geocities was purchased by Yahoo (for the unbelievable sum of $3.57 billion) which is still the host of Smith’s website.

The Anniversary of Smith’s anniversary came and went unnoticed by the general populace, but it should have been marked. When it comes to personal websites devoted to Canadian and specifically Nova Scotia history, his website undoubtedly is the leader.

As is typical of Smith, he is modest about his accomplishments. He wrote me recently, for example, and told me there were other Kings County websites that have been around longer than his and should be recognised. “The early history of the Internet in Kings County deserves to be preserved, and I’m a small part of that history,” he wrote.

Once you log onto the Nova Scotia History Index and look at its contents, you’ll see that Smith’s claim to only being a small part of that history is an understatement. I dig around a lot on the Internet looking for historical information; and frankly, wherever I wander out there on the web, most trails eventually lead back to Smith’s History Index. And no wonder. I have yet to find a site that covers so many aspects of Nova Scotia history. And the amazing thing is that, like the Internet, the site is constantly growing and changing.

As I suggested, check it out for yourself. Once you do I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Ivan smith on his efforts and wishing him a happy 10th anniversary.

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