Introducing @TroveAirRaidBot

Newcastle Morning Herald, 17 March 1943, 1

I've remixed Trove Air Bot 2 into a new bot: Trove Air Raid Bot. As the name suggests, this is picking up a different subset of Trove Newspapers articles to @troveairbot, namely those relating to air raids, which it then tweets, one every 30 minutes. In fact, that's the only key word, or rather phrase, it searches on: 'air raid'. And it's clearly picking up a coherent population of articles. There are Zeppelin raids:

(Unfortunately I forgot to update the greeting text to reflect the new topic, so the first tweets say 'aviation' instead of 'air raids'.)

And there are Gotha raids:

There is civil defence:

Civil defence in the 1950s:

Mock air raids:

Mock air raid precautions:

Sybil Thorndike's memories of performing during a raid:

Air raids as a metaphor for mess:

Air raids as a yardstick for deaths:

The preservation of air raid shelters as Thatcherite 'latent fascist patriotism' (with a bonus! dismissive review of the Twin Peaks pilot):

And so on, and so on.

I originally made @TroveAirBot for fun more than anything else, but I've come to value the serendipity factor: I find lots of interesting research topics, or at least snippets, from its tweets. So, since I'm currently working on the German air raids on Britain in the First World War, I thought it would be useful have a more specific bot trawling through Trove for me. Of course, @TroveAirRaidBot isn't quite that narrow, as it uses the full chronological span of Trove Newspapers (though I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to restrict it, if I wanted to). Equally obviously, Trove has Australian newspapers, not British ones, but then Australian newspapers frequently reported on air raids in Britain (and elsewhere). I think @TroveAirRaidBot will be of great use to me as a research tool. And if not of use to others, then at least of diverting interest.

I've also made a new avatar for @TroveAirRaidBot, based on my standard alternate, meant to suggest a cloud of bombers blotting out the sky. The header image, and the photo at the top of this post, showing Gibraltar during a practice air raid, is from the Newcastle Morning Herald.1

The code is here, or you can see it embedded below. (Reminder that virtually all of the code was written by Tim Sherratt, not me!)

It's virtually identical to Trove Air Bot, though I might change it in future. It would give a fuller sense of the 'air raid' as a cultural object in Australian history if it were to search all of Trove's collections, including images, journal articles and book, though newspaper articles would always dominate that search numerically. Certainly, there might be a further specalised Trove news bots in future. (An aerial theatre bot? A UFO bot?) Keep watching the tweets...

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  1. There's a much higher resolution version here. []

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