[WikiEN-l] Trivia and popular culture sections

Andrew Gray shimgray at gmail.com
Sun Feb 26 21:24:33 UTC 2006

On 26/02/06, Peter Mackay <peter.mackay at bigpond.com> wrote:

> > Don't get me wrong - I think Hooke's *research* is a titanic
> > achievement, he was probably the greatest experimenter of his
> > age, and that was probably the golden age of the
> > experimenter.  But much of the verifiable detail is things
> > like "Mr Hooke was asked about the progress of the lenses,
> > and stated that they required further polishing but would be
> > ready soon" or words to that effect.
> Detail that might be, but it is not what most people would call trivia in
> the accepted sense. If the material he used to grind the lenses was the fine
> ash produced by burning pieces of the True Cross, then that would be trivia.

The thing is, if we have seven hundred pieces like that it's "an
article in immense detail". If what we have is simply one line,

"* On [[14 January]] [[1687]], Hooke recieved a letter from Humphrey
Grafton of Cambridgeshire, enquiring after the 7s. 4d which he had
sent for a copy of Hooke's treatise on optics"

added because someone's great-to-the-n-grandfather was an
astonishingly uninteresting gentleman of Ely who occasionally wrote to
scientists, well, then it's trivia. If the writer was Newton or Pepys
and Hooke wrote a blistering reply, it might even be vaguely
interesting trivia.

A lot of these trivia entries would be perfectly fitted into a
comprehensive biography of the subject, or a book-length study... but
they don't neccessarily belong in an article which should, at most, be
a few thousand words.

- Andrew Gray
  andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

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