Herb's Research Diary
April 1995 marked for me that important turning point in our lives that the pioneer generation of Internet users will long remember. That was the month that I first gained access to Internet, through
one of the faculties at Chiang Mai University (the Faculty of Engineering, if I remember correctly). It was a "backdoor" way online because at the time the Thai government still limited access to Internet to a few of its own agencies. It soon dawned on me that Internet radically changed my access to the "outside" world; and I celebrated the Email Revolution by writing HeRD, short for Herb's Research Diary, entries. The initial list of recipients included only 11 individuals, but by the time I finally gave up on HeRD, in April 2000, I was sending it to over 60 people. Whatever the stated purpose of the diary may have been, its real purpose was to give me an outlet for ideas that kept popping up an almost daily basis as I engaged in Thai church history research.
For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the diary entries, which seemingly struck a responsive cord among some of its readers. Eventually, however, doing twenty entries a month became simply too much of a burden. I was running out of things to say, in any event. The newness of the Net and the excitement of being in all but immediate touch with people around the world had also worn off. So, in April 2000, I gave it up, but it didn't take too long before I began to miss doing HeRD. I missed it enough so that two years later, in March 2002, I put out my first issue of HeRB, initially using the same method of sending it out to a list of recipients. HeRB soon led to herbswanson.com, so that it is fair to say, I think, that this website is the ultimate fruit of HeRD.
Whether successfully or not, I generally tried to use HeRD for "playful scholarship" rather than "serious scholarship." It was a place for important thoughts and trivial ones. Somewhere in my readings, I was profoundly struck by the observation that the German philosopher Nietzsche conducted his philosophy as a series of "thought experiments." He did not bother with trying to make his individual experiments consistent. I like that idea. That's how I saw and still see the individual HeRD entries; they are little thought experiments.
In any event, like numerous other of my writings, this website is a fitting "final resting place" for HeRD . I trust that those of you who take the time to look at the entries will still find them useful. If nothing else, they contain a good deal of raw material for the study of the church's past and present in Thailand . Other than correcting typographical errors, when I see them, I have not changed most of the entries at all; they read here just as they did originally. After some thought, however, I have obscured the names of most of the people who corresponded with me and to whom I replied in subsequent HeRDs. Having their names permanently displayed on a website was not part of the original "contract," and it is best to not have their names appear here now. For the first four years (1995 to 1998) there is an index to the entries for each year found at the end of the year. Enjoy!
Ban Dok Daeng