Charles Fort Institute?

evilsprout

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#1
What the heck's happened to the Charles Fort Institute? It was such a brilliant idea, but the website doesn't appear to have been updated since 2000. Has it been scrapped due to lack of interest/funding?
 
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Anonymous

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#2
CFI

The last I heard, CFI was applying for charity status as an educational institution, but I suppose it never came to be...or is taking a while. Maybe they're dogged down in paperwork...
 

James_H

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#3
I was just looking at the website, and I was struck by the same thing - It talks about updates "very soon" but has just been left, like a giant ozmandias in the san-:rolleyes: It seems a little sad that the website and presumably the institute has just *stopped*.
If there were a charles fort institute i would most definitely visit it... wherever it was

(oddly enough, on this page: http://www.forteana.org/aboutcfi/logocomp.html, not only are niles calder and justin anstey named as having had they're designs rejected, but so is someone sharing the name of my former headteacher. the -my- mind boggles)
 
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Anonymous

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#4
CFI

I think the CFI will get completed, but will take time. And money. Perhaps if Bob Rickard received more £heque$ made out to CFI, we'd get there quicker?

I suggested a frog for the logo of CFI. Pretty much sums it up.

''We shall know an existence by its frogs!''- Fort
 

taras

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#7
I reckon when more people are ready to accept fortean studies as more of a science than a fun weird hobby then yea, it will come to pass.
 
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Anonymous

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#8
I wonder, though, when David Sutton took over the editorship of FT I note it said Bob Rickard was pursuing other "long term projects." I've been meaning to ask what these were.

It's a shame if this really has stalled because it's something I've thought for a long time would fly.
 
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Anonymous

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#9
Ian

Dark Detective said:
I wonder, though, when David Sutton took over the editorship of FT I note it said Bob Rickard was pursuing other "long term projects."
I think CFI is a dream of Bob's, so it should come to pass. I really, REALLY want CFI to come to be..it must!!

Tho, I do remember, Fort wanted no-one to follow him...

Eep.

Ian
 

Jerry_B

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#10
In the meantime, it would be useful to support the Fortopedia concept that's currently being worked on. More info here :)
 

Founder

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#11
*looks around, blinking*
Someone call my name? Ah yes, CFI. No dear Yithian, it's not dead and won't be as long as I'm breathing. We're in a Catch 22 - much time-consuming groundwork to be done and no money to pay folks for time and resources. Sure we can try without the funds but it will take longer ... oh, that's what we are doing.

Trouble is that after 29 years in the saddle, I'm a tired, grumpy old fart and I thought I'd have a break to recharge the batteries. In the meantime some of the people who were helping CFI admin ..er..vanished. So it ground to a halt.

A report was made to what CFI members could be found, but they were few as the membership list was one of the key documents that ..er.. vanished. Incorporation as a charity (worth it for benefits to fundraising) came to nothing as twice our applications never got past the fist scrutiny. (Guess we sound too subversive.) and the legal advice in both attempts swallowed most of the funds.

So the last plan was to continue as a company limited by guarantee and apply for charity status after we have a proven period of activity. Problem: difficulty in asking for membership fees on required scale as we have nothing to offer members..yet. In the meantime, the little funds left are eroded each year by having to file official tax returns. (So I was thinking of un-registering and continuing as a simple band of brothers.)

If we want to get things moving, we need someone to run the CFI website and make those needed updates...start growing the Encyclopedia Forteana.. and (the other big project) ..redesign the 'Fortean Studies' series. (One of my last acts with IFG was to get back the title rights to Fortean Studies for use by CFI.) Because of the problems in costs for the printed book form (never sold more than 100 but needed 300+ sales to break even) my notion of this is now as a series of monographs - undoing the 7 volumes so far into stand alone papers and adding new papers to the series. Free access to members but everyone else pays something (commercial usage pays more).

Wiki (what a stupid name) - yes I looked at that too. My scheme requires a team of editors (*looks at contributors to that thread*) whose job it is to maintain integrity of 1) the word list, 2) various topic areas (date, places, topics, casenames, people, organisations, ideas & theories, religions, mythology, link maintanance etc etc) As always, we must have quality control. It suits our ethos too to have discussions attached to these topics, so like Wiki, there must be a way for readers to add comments. (Although against censorship, we must ensure the project keeps to its purpose to inform and be accesible and to minimise flamewars). I'm suggesting the editors monitor their areas and moderate when necessary. The EncForteana's main entries will be written by specialists by request, selecting topics from the primary wordlist. Possibly the single most important editorial job will be crossreferencing and linking. We will also need a good search engine (i think wiki has one). Off the main entries will be submissions from readers etc, with expansions, corrections, commentaries, lists and whatnot. I have wondered whether entries should be flagged for a 'belief' rating (from believist and credulous to sceptical and sketptical) but mebbe that will be obvious.

Well, that's it for now. I just wanted to say that while CFI may have stalled, it is not dead. You know, I look at the enthusiasm, wit, erudition and vitality of your contributions to these threads and I think the future of forteana is in good hands. It is where is should be, in the hands of the folk who love it ... and that's loving without precondition.

Some of you contacted me when we were talking about putting the backcatalog of FT on CDs. While that is an IFG project, the CFI is ours. Mebbe a few of you demented souls can join me in making it work.

Skyward ho!

bobR
 

Jerry_B

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#12
Hey there Bob - I think the Fortopedia thing could lead into and onto the Encyclopedia Forteana, which I can tell is not dead (it just loves kipping on it's back and is pining for the fijords...). It might be a first stab into the whole area of developing a system of classification and reference - basic sketches at first, that in time lead onto more detailed stuff. The whole area of Forteana is so diverse that from the outset some sort of simple but efficient design is needed from the outset, which I think the wiki could cover.

The good thing about the internet and this message board is that it's become what it is by people getting together and applying their own time and knowledge, a labour of love. I'm sure this braintime could be used to make the Encyclopedia work. Just see us as something like the SETI screensaver ;)

If you want to add any opinions to the Fortopedia thread, that would be great. We're not trying to undermine the EF, but try and make an intial stab into the whole process of categorisation. I think the need for discipline is already there - you'd need it to get the wiki to work properly from the outset.
 

Yithian

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#13
Bob Rickard said:
Ah yes, CFI. No dear Yithian, it's not dead and won't be as long as I'm breathing. We're in a Catch 22 - much time-consuming groundwork to be done and no money to pay folks for time and resources. Sure we can try without the funds but it will take longer ... oh, that's what we are doing.
Apologies Sir. :)
 
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Anonymous

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#14
Uhm...

JerryB said:
... the whole area of developing a system of classification and reference...
Hmm...a Fortean super-reference would be ace, useful, and achievable...but as per this system of classification...hmm..

The underlying principle of Forteana is that the world cannot be contained or constrained into systems, laws or doctrines; Forteana brings to light the 'damned' lot that these systems exclude to maintain their integrity.

If Forteana were to begin a 'system of classification' is would commit the crime it itself deplores.

I'm all for referencing and researching Fortean phenomena, and I think the CFI, EncycFort and Fortopedia are excellent ideas. However. Forteans should not lose sight of the founding principles that Fort laid out.

If we start system-building, we will commit treason against Fort and his ideas and against ourselves, as Forteanas.

Ian
 
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Anonymous

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#15
Re: Uhm...

Iankidd said:
If Forteana were to begin a 'system of classification' is would commit the crime it itself deplores.

I'm all for referencing and researching Fortean phenomena, and I think the CFI, EncycFort and Fortopedia are excellent ideas. However. Forteans should not lose sight of the founding principles that Fort laid out.

If we start system-building, we will commit treason against Fort and his ideas and against ourselves, as Forteanas.
Good point, but i've been thinking about this a lot, the last few days, and I've been wondering about ways of breaking down Fortean 'phenomena,' into the actual inexplicable and bizarre events and occurrences, and into the narratives, the texts, that become phenomena in themselves.

Some phenomena definitely do seem to have purely, or partially, literary and textual roots. That makes them so different from actual physical phenomena and the attempts to interpret them, that there really ought to be some form of classification right there.

It is in the nature of any 'encyclopædia' that some form of classification must take place.

The real debate should be, "What sort of sub-systems of classification would be acceptable within a Fortean system?"

Does anyone know what sort of system Charles Fort used to collate his clippings and notes? I'll bet he must have used one.
 

Yithian

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#16
Re: Re: Uhm...

AndroMan said:
It is in the nature of any 'encyclopædia' that some form of classification must take place. [/i]
True to a point but an online encyclopedia can be far more '3-D' and intertextual than that. It need have no beginning or end and can make any connection between subjects and topics one wishes - like in a dictionary where a word is defined by other words which have their own entries also defining them with further words. Phenomena needn't be rigidly classified under one domain like 'psychical research' or 'chemistry' but could be asigned to a number of overlapping fields of investigation so as a search brings up all phenomena that may be relevant.

For example:

Phenomena:
Chimp born with two Brains predicts end of the world

File under
- Biological Abnormalities
- Evolutionary Research
- Eschatology
etc. (with no hierachy implied)

Obviously some taxonomical decisons are made here but they are far looser than usual. Could be very cool. :)
 
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Anonymous

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#17
Re: Re: Re: Uhm...

The Yithian said:
True to a point but an online encyclopedia can be far more '3-D' and intertextual than that. It need have no beginning or end and can make any connection between subjects and topics one wishes - like in a dictionary where a word is defined by other words which have their own entries also defining them with further words. Phenomena needn't be rigidly classified under one domain like 'psychical research' or 'chemistry' but could be asigned to a number of overlapping fields of investigation so as a search brings up all phenomena that may be relevant.

... Could be very cool. :)
True. Both Charles Fort and James Joyce would have loved 'Hypertext,' for similiar reasons.

But, computers also need some system whereby a reliable database can be built up, and the end-user needs some form of reliable navigation.
 

Jerry_B

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#18
Re: Uhm...

Iankidd said:
Hmm...a Fortean super-reference would be ace, useful, and achievable...but as per this system of classification...hmm..
The underlying principle of Forteana is that the world cannot be contained or constrained into systems, laws or doctrines; Forteana brings to light the 'damned' lot that these systems exclude to maintain their integrity.
If Forteana were to begin a 'system of classification' is would commit the crime it itself deplores.
Ian - if you look at the 'Fortopedia' thread, you'll hopefully see what I mean. By 'classification', I mean identifying main themes and ordering sub-themes within them. So someone could look up any given subject and find related themes within that subject. (This message board uses a pretty much similar system to seperate out different subjects). You have to have some order otherwise a reference will be unworkable.
 

Founder

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#19
Ian, Fort was never against classification as a tool ... he even used shoeboxes for files and had 30k topic heading himself. Its a map and territory problem. The territory - the complicated and interrelated nature of phenomena (not just fortean phenomena) is a weltter of cross-connections and inter-relationships. However when we accumulate thousands of pieces of info (datums, Fort called them) we need some method ( a map) or all enquiries will be utterly random and chaotic. (It's a nice thought but impractical for reseach etc). So as long as we dont confuse map with territory we will be ok. When we make inquiries into the encyclopedia (whatever form it takes) we need a method to refine our search and reject what we dont need ... so it has to come down to a good set of categories.

That said, we are forteans and will not regard categories in any final or restrictive way but as a starting point for enquiry. The others are right about the great advantage of hyper-linking .. and that is why I said special attention - not to say wisdom and intelligence - must be paid to creating the cross-references.

Typical of the problems we face with our unending monsoon of newsclippings is, say, Yithian's example (above) - i that case we would photocopy it the required number of times and file one under each subject. But more of this later.

bobR
 
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#21
Iankidd brought this point up:

The underlying principle of Forteana is that the world cannot be contained or constrained into systems, laws or doctrines; Forteana brings to light the 'damned' lot that these systems exclude to maintain their integrity.
And The Yithian put it better than I could:

True to a point but an online encyclopedia can be far more '3-D' and intertextual than that. It need have no beginning or end and can make any connection between subjects and topics one wishe
Androman said:

True. Both Charles Fort and James Joyce would have loved 'Hypertext,' for similiar reasons.
Exactly.

The beauty of doing this on the Web is that we can make these interlinks as dense as we like and the beauty of the Wiki is that having the widest number of people who can fiddle, correct, add and update the system becomes a fascinating study in emerging 'order' from what could easily be chaos - as anyone who has posted to a good Wiki usually finds out. People keep an eye on the recent changes and check the latest updates, pos. drop someone a note on stylistic issues and/or fix spelling or create a further entry based on that one. The more entries the more densely interlinked things can become and Wikis make it remarkably easy to add links between entries - in the Wikipedia (and a lot of PHP-based Wikis) to create a link to Charles fort's entry need be no more difficult than typing [[Charles Fort]] (or just adding the double squared brackets around existing text).

Anyway I think I have said my piece a couple of times now ;)

Emps
 

ArthurASCII

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#22
Hypertext linking is indeed a useful tool, but not I fear, the key to Mr Rickards problem.

If this information is to be useable, it needs to be searchable. In order to be searchable it needs a taxonomy.

Without a taxonomy, any search will result in multiple, irrelevant "hits".

Has any work been done to produce a list of taxons (Mr fort's shoe box dividers might provide a start)?
 
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#23
Arthur ASCII:

If this information is to be useable, it needs to be searchable. In order to be searchable it needs a taxonomy.
Indeed and that is what JerryB has started over in the other thread and it would be interesting to know about Fort's take on Fortaxonomy. It is important for 2 reasons:

1. While a Wiki is searchable having clear sections and subsections will make it easy for people to browse - I find the Wikipedia isn't really browsable this may be because their subject area is too wide but I'd imagine it would be possible to pick ideas up from other encyclopedias. They appear to have sidestepped this and allowed the structure to fully emerge from the content. Having a smaller area of investigation gives us the chnabe.

2. It allows us to sketch out a general framework before it goes live so we have a reasonable idea of where everything goes and people can then start fleshing out the stubs of entries or spinning off new entries, etc.

The beauty of hypertext in general and the Wiki in particular is that entries/subjects need not just exist under one section and we can get a better feel for the interconnectedness and we don't have to sweat about how to classify specific subjects if they appear to have relevance to two or more areas.

This is why I said the work is not in installing the script but in:

1. Skething out a general structure.

2. Developing guidelines for formatting and adding entries.

Emps
 

oll_lewis

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#24
With a computerised encyclopedia one can use a frame work that thows up a standard page with 'slots' that pictures and text fit into from a database. It's surpriseingly easy to make too as I made one useing visual basic and microsoft access as a computing project for a level and got told off that althogh my program worked fine it wasen't compicated enougth for an a level project.
Another really useful feature of databases is that one can simply pop up a catorary feild into the database and have a search engine search that for a relivent catagory, displaying all the results (with links) in a 'slot' on another standard page, this negates a nead for a taxanomic clasifaction to navigate the encyclopedia manully(as in efect you can use a saved search line as a link), cuts down on site maintinace as link to a new article nead not be added to every relivent topic as the search engine creates the pages from infomation from a saved databse and also, if the database feilds are designed properly won't belch out a load of irelivent hits like a web search engine such as google dose as it would not be searching the whole article.

So there's not really a taxonomy problem to solve (If you understand what I'm trying to say... it's not the easiest thing to explane without diagrams and examples and in anycase there are people on this MB a lot better at programing than me who will hopefully be able to explane what I'm whittering on about better).
 
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Anonymous

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#25
Ananova

How about modelling the EF on Ananova?? their news is subdivided into some quite wonderful catagories...Showbiz quirkies...Heartwarmers...Rocky relationships...Bad taste...Unlucky...Quirkies video report...
Iraq aftermath...Celebrities...Technology
Science and discovery...Royals...Lifestyle
Surveys...Politics...Lotto...

How about something like that??

Maybe I'm coming around to this catagorisation idea...just so long as, as Bob said, maps and landscape don't blur into indistinguishment..

Ian
 
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Anonymous

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#27
Fortean tabloids

Lol, well, something halfway between tabloid and Sourcebook then, eh?

THREE BREASTED WOMAN might be a Fortean tabloid title?

Ian
 
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Anonymous

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#30
So where are the New York and London clubhouses? Where is the library stocked with dusty old tomes of occult lore? Where is the drawing room with its high backed leather seats and cigar lounge where one can discuss the arcane and pass the port? Where can one get a CFI tie, pocket watch and a central meeting place for all eminent Forteans on both sides of the pond?
Let's get this done, people. Anyone know an eccentric billionaire?
 
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