What's a Spartak Trvana? Jonathan Wilson knows, and he's trying to find out more.
The Guardian's expert on European soccer (amongst other things) has been confining himself in libraries, watching the Asian Cup on dodgy internet feeds, and researching something. What he's researching is unclear, but if this image provides any clue, Behind The Curtain could be reprized soon (to the elation of the growing legion of football fans who can't get enough Wilson):
That is the 1975-76 squad photo for FC Spartak Trvana brought to you not because the Slovakian team won five titles in six years as the old Czechslovak First League entered the 1970s. What's cool about this picture is that Wilson didn't find it. All he had to do was post a seemingly random query on Twitter to turn his 11,000-plus followers into a legion of researchers.
Anybody know the first name of Horvath, who played for Spartak Trnava in the early seventies?
While I mentioned this seems like a research inquiry, this could also be the kind of randomness that jumps into Jonathan Wilson's head. Regardless, within 30 minutes he had a similar number of responses, some of them actually helpful. While some speculated Horvath's name was Stefan or Harold, a few respondents hit on Frantisek, providing proof.
Courtesy of @MundoAlbicelest (a very good follow, himself), Wilson was able to get that squad photo with a link detailing the corresponding names. He also got a link to the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation with information on the 1972-73 European Cup as well as a pointer to an old UEFA match report.
Perhaps libraries are still great and useful places, but given the responses Wilson received, I wonder if an author could research an entire book via Twitter. A question comes up, you tweet it, follow-up, and head back to Twitter with the questions spawned by the last tweet. You'd need a strong following and a lot of patience (as a lot of Wilson's respondents were wrong), but as a social experiment (Let's see if this community can write this book) the endeavor might be worthwhile.
Is the collective energy, intelligence and ingenuity of an internet community enough to displace (or at least mimic) the traditional research and writing process? And even if it could, would anybody take the project seriously?