Fred Gruen – RIW

I’ve just done a biography of my dear old Dad for Wikipedia. He may or may not be resting in peace, but he’s now reposing in Wikipedia. For those readers of this blog knew him they might like to refine the entry and others may find it of some interest. He had a more exciting life than those of us in later generations.

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Robert Merkel
2021 years ago

Hi Nicholas,

while your father’s career certainly makes it completely appropriate for there to be a Wikipedia entry on him, this entry will probably get fairly severely edited for both content and tone.

One problem is that many of your personal and family recollections, unless they are documented somewhere else, are unverifiable as far as the Wikipedia is concerned. Anecdotes such as holding the cigarette for the Australian guard, will probably have to go unless they’re documented elsewhere; it’s great material for a personally-authored biographical sketch, but it’s not suitable for an impersonal Wikipedia article.

On a stylistic point, Wikipedia articles tend to be as dry as dust, trying to avoid interpreting facts as much as possible. This may make for slightly less compelling reading, but it also avoids a lot of arguments.

Might I suggest you post the original version on your own website, which can then be used as a secondary source for the Wikipedia article?

By the way, I’ve begun the editing process by adding Wiki links to other relevant articles (for instance, to John Quiggin, who has a Wikipedia biography). Other things to note include that Wikipedia likes subheadings (for instance, I’d probably add something like “early life and education”, “Monash years”, “the tarriff debate”, “legacy”, and maybe “retirement”, and images always lighten up an article, so if you have a good photo of your father that you own the copyright to and don’t mind making available, that would be good.

But thanks for adding the article, by the way. It’s fascinating to see the origins (well, at least, a major point in the history) of topics that dominated our political history for much of the 1970s and 1980s.

Andrew Leigh
2021 years ago

Trackback

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Sorry Andrew, we had to turn off html in comments again due to a spam deluge. We’re working on a new home for Troppo, where anti-spam measures will hopefully be more advanced and will allow full html in comments to be available.

Nicholas Gruen
2021 years ago

Thanks very much Robert.

I figured that there must be lots of people who do this, and am kind of heartened that Wikipedia would cut the bio back as it was something of a personal indulgence (in the context of an encyclopedia) though I don’t think there’s a problem with some of the more ‘human’ and interprative stuff. I’ll follow your suggestion and post it on http://www.gruen.com.au and also perhaps here at some stage.

Andrew Leigh
2021 years ago
John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2021 years ago

It was really nice to read this. I might try to add something about Fred’s contributions in areas like housing policy. Someone ought to write an entry on the Dunera also: a list of some of the more prominent passengers would provide a good starting point for further entries.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Nicholas

I’d love to see you post the entry about your father directly here at Troppo. Perhaps even a slightly expanded version, not constrained by any need to stick with an encyclopedia-like format or style.

One of the potentially wonderful things about the blogging format IMO is the possibility of exploring the divide/interrelationship between the personal and political, to the enhancement of both. Although there might sometimes be a danger of self-indulgence in that sort of approach, I think it’s a risk worth taking.

I’ve been too busy with the personal(and work stuff) recently to have time to write about it, but that doesn’t mean I just see Troppo as a haven for dessicated, impersonal intellectualised musings about law, politics and economics.

Tony.T
2021 years ago

The Dunera? What’s Bob Hoskins like then?

Nicholas Gruen
2021 years ago

I don’t know what Bob Hoskins is like, but the Dunera Boys mini-series made me cringe. All those fake European accents and sentimentality. Still, maybe I was too close to it.

Trying to remember the mini-series with what I’ve read of the Dunera since, I think it captured the internee’s joire de vivre quite poorly – by highlighting bits of folklore they thought would appeal to Aussies.

As I (dimly) recall, they made much of the Dunera Boys calling Australia ‘Goodonia’, something I find hard to believe and have never heard any Dunera Boy mention.