Specialists, ‘tradition bearers’ and other authority figures are integral to any folk tradition, and the development of digital devices and platforms has enabled the emergence of a new – and very different – generation of such figures. Via various websites, disparate participants can come together online to discuss specifics, ideas and theories. There now exists a huge number of chatrooms, discussion forums and social media on which to discuss any detail of folk arts, be it (e.g.) instrument making, histories of tunes, the correct ways to perform a dance, titles, or historical information. While potentially combative, these discussions can ultimately lead to the construction and dissemination of knowledge about a tradition. Online discussion is a way of ‘crowd sourcing’ information and history. Within folk traditions active in England, this could be:
- a musician asking the title of a tune on their timeline on Facebook;
- a lengthy academic discussion of the origins of the serpent in West Gallery music on a dedicated forum;
- identifying members of a rapper group from an old photograph on twitter;
- creating new costumes based on examples on Pinterest; comments on style and origin of a dance shown on YouTube.