WHO IN AUSTRALIA LIVE!
originally published in Online
Currents December 2003 and reprinted with kind permission of the
publishers Enterprise Information Management Pty Ltd.
“Although individuals are
no longer regarded as the main influence in the making of history, as was the
fashion fifty and more years ago,” DH
Borchardt and Julie Marshall asserted in their 1988 essay Biography,
“people have retained their curiosity about the lives of individual
Australians of note.”
Who’s Who in
Australia, the leaping off point for
many wider business, historical and genealogical investigations, has served
this curiosity for nearly a century.
First published in 1906 as Johns’s
Notable Australians: Who They Are and What They Do, Fred Johns, the
original compiler, set out to "issue a popular work
affording a means of ready reference to the careers of notable living men and
women …who have rendered signal service to Commonwealth and State, or have
otherwise achieved distinction in national and individual activity."
Johns continued with the
painstaking task of producing subsequent editions until the day of his death
on 3 December 1932. The name Who’s
Who in Australia was adopted for the 7th edition of the work in
1927-28. From 1935 to 1988 it was
published by the Herald and Weekly Times.
A rival publication, also called Who’s Who in Australia,
published by the International Press Service Association, was issued from 1922
Johns noted in the preface
of the first edition that it consisted of “only verifiable facts, entirely
free from eulogy or flattery, comment or expression of opinion…It never has
been and never will be a medium to advertise any individual, his trade or
profession, or one in which a person is allowed to gratify his vanity to
spreading himself in print.”
Borchardt and Marshall note
adherence to this policy in their 1988 essay.
“Of the numerous biographical directories that deal with the
living…Who’s Who in Australia is the best known and most reliable.
A series of responsible editors has ensured, over the years, that the
criteria for inclusion would measure up to a national consensus regarding the
importance of those listed. Data
are supplied on a standardised form by those included and there seems to be
some check on details.”
The current publisher,
Crown Content, has now launched an online version called Who’s Who in
Australia Live! (WWIA), along with an online companion, Who’s Who in
Business in Australia (WWIB), following CD ROM versions of both titles
produced in the last few years. Crown
Content also publishes print and online versions of Margaret Gee’s
Australian Media Guide, Directory of Australian Associations, National
Guide to Government, The Australian Local Government Guide, and the
print and email newsletters Occupational Health & Safety Bulletin, Benchmarking
HR, Environmental Science Update, Business Law Update, Chartac
Accountancy News, Inside Canberra, Leadership Letter and The
In the early editions of
the work Johns acknowledged the difficulty of making selections. “To pretend
that it is perfect in perspective would be to claim the impossible.”
The honour role in the
early editions included names now firmly etched in our national memory: Jules
Archibald, Julian Ashton, George Coppin, Alfred Dampier, George Darrell, Henry
Lawson, Madame Melba, JC Williamson, Nellie Stewart and Ethel Turner.
Sports men and women, however, were notable omissions.
“I should have liked to include our notable cricketers” Johns
wrote, “but the domain of athletics has not been entered…in view of
fleeting popularity and for fear of invidious distinctions.”
WWIA no longer baulks at
gladiators and it now includes the likes of Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley,
Cathy Freeman, Brad Fittler, John Eales, Leighton Hewitt, Wally Massur, Ken
Rosewell, Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Sir Jack Brabham, Richie Benaud, Neil Harvey,
Keith Miller, Ian Thorpe and Lionel Rose. Aboriginal
leaders and artists include Galarrway and Mandawuy Yunupingu.
Business is represented by the likes of John Singleton, James
Wolfensohn, Kerry Packer and Rodney Adler.
Journalists and broadcasters include Phillip Adams, Piers Akerman, Paul
Barry, Maxine McKew, Paul McGeogh, Ray Martin and Kerry O’Brien.
The arts and entertainment community is represented by, among others,
Tina Arena, Robyn Archer, Margreta Elkins, Tommy Tycho, Geoffrey Rush, Cate
Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Rachel Griffiths, Simone Young, Billy Thorpe and
It is easier to be notable
in 2003. Out of 20 million
living Australians, about 13,000 – 0.065% - now appear in Who’s Who in
Australia. The 1906 edition,
beginning with an entry for William Abbott of Murrilla, Wingen, President of
the Pastoralists Union of NSW, included about 2000 people – or 0.005% of the
population. WWIA says it remains
faithful to Fred Johns's vision of representing "the personality of a
potent nation in the making." The
selection panel takes into
account positions of leadership, noteworthy achievement in the creative and
sports arenas, and contributions to the Australian community.
Omissions can generally be
attributed to the fact that some people prefer not to be included (a request
that is sometimes overridden by the selection panel) or because the task of
drawing the line is a tall order. There’s
an entry for Murray Rose, but not John Konrads.
One-Tel’s Jodee Rich is included, but not HIH’s Ray Williams.
Sue Masters appears as part of the media contingent, but not her
siblings Chris Masters and Roy Masters; Peter FitzSimons, Alan Ramsey and Paul
Kelly are also absent. There’s
an entry for Sydney Symphony principal cellist Nathan Waks, but not its past
and present concertmasters, John Harding, Michael Dauth and Dene Olding.
The WWIA offers four search
options: People Search, Full Text Search (on any part of the biography),
Variable Search (with Boolean operators), and Education Search (on the
education field of every biography).
The use of People Search
generally leads to the person you are seeking, although apparent omissions
sometimes compel experimentation. Clive
James, for example, does not attract a hit using People Search and Full Text
Search, but ‘James, (Clive) Vivian Leopold’ is retrieved using Variable
Text Search. The same difficulty occurs with ‘Norman, (Greg) Gregory’,
‘Gosper (Kevan) Richard Kevan’ and ‘Greig (Tony) Anthony William’.
Crown Content is planning to address this glitch before the year is
If you want to find names
associated with particular themes, occupations and other concepts, WWIA does
not provide the range of choice offered by, say, Marquis’ Who’s Who on
the Web, which has 13 search criteria, including last name, first name,
middle name, city of mailing list, occupation, gender, age, geography, college
and university, degrees, year of graduation, hobbies and interests, political
affiliation, religion, and keyword search.
However, you can work
around this limitation by using the full text or variable search options in
WWIA, an approach that sometimes produces unexpected results.
The word ‘librarian’ in
the full text option produces nearly 70 names, including those no longer
earning an income from the profession – such as Rhonda Bignall (CEO, St
John’s Ambulance), Alison Crook (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Resources, Monash
University), Neville Davis (Surgeon), Janet Turner Hospital (author), and Judy
Maddigan (Speaker Victorian Legislative Assembly).
The word ‘information’ produces 130 hits, including retired Sydney
University Librarian Harrison Bryan and the gardener, Don Burke.
A search on ‘journalist’ produces about 40 hits, including Paul
Barry, Ita Buttrose, Jennifer Byrne, Ian Chappell, Max Cullen, David Marr, Ray
Martin, Molly Meldrum, John Pilger, Steve Price, Bud Tingwell, Jim Whaley and
Michael Willessee. Maxine McKew
and PP McGuinness, however, appear in a list of writers, not the list of
If you are organising a
talk on the subject ‘beauty’, why not invite those apparently connected to
this term in WWIA - Richard Bonynge, Ita Buttrose, Hugh Jackman, Clive James,
Bert Newton, Toni Lamond and Stan Zemanek?
There is currently no
consist of the familiar elements: name, honours, educational qualifications,
career highlights, family details, publications, awards, committees,
recreation and hobbies.
The length of the entries
varies considerably, based on the achievements and preferences of the subject,
among other factors. Ian Thorpe,
possibly the youngest entry, has what appears to be the longest entry of about
70 lines. Gough Whitlam, with a
string of foreign awards like the Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the
Republic of Italy and the Greek Grand Commander of the Order of Honour,
occupies double the space of both Paul Keating and John Howard, who have about
20 lines. Pat Dodson has five
give hints on personality. In
WWIA, we find that Michael Kirby’s recreation is work, Paul Keating relaxes
by swimming as well as listening to Mahler, John Pilger satisfies himself by
‘swimming, sunning, reading and mulling’, while Pat Dodson, Mick Dodson
and Gough Whitlam have no apparent recreations.
If you are feeling the need for a fishing or golfing partner, WWIA will
produce a long list of prospects.
The new field of work
ethic complements career highlights.
Composer George Dreyfus’s motto is “life is too serious to be taken
seriously.” Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Prue Goward, works
on the assumption that “if you make a rational case you can’t lose.”
AMA past president Kerryn Phelps urges us to take risk: “feel the
fear and do it anyway.” Director
of Learning at the School for Social Entrepreneurs in London, Cheryl Kernot,
says “structural reforms are the most meaningful.” And artist, poet and
playwright, Rod Milgate, operates on the sensory: “in art as in life, an
awareness of the intense and undeniable interrelationship of things.”
Photographs have also been
introduced. There are just over 1,000 photographs at present.
John Howard, Mark Latham, Russell Crowe, Rachel Griffiths and
Roger Woodward have one, but Paul Keating and Bob Hawke don’t.
Crown Content says that everyone
in Who's Who in Australia has been invited to send in a photo. New ones
are added every week. It expects
to ask people featured in Who's Who in Business to submit their
Given the reputation of
WWIA and its method of compilation, we can assume that errors are minimal. One of the few appears in the entry for Jørn Utzon, which
gives the dates of his first association with the Sydney Opera House as
1957-1973 instead of 1957-1966 and does not yet acknowledge Utzon’s new
contract with Sydney Opera House beginning in 1999. Crown Content has already
taken steps to rectify this.
Who’s Who in Business in Australia
WWIB has over 24,000
biographies, 8,000 companies and listings of 12,000 key staff.
Company entries include,
when known, contact details, company and Australian business numbers, Internet
address, bankers, auditors, solicitors, insurers, number of staff, turnover,
trading and brand names, parent company, activities and key staff.
Entries on individuals are
in the same format as those appearing in WWIA, although the level of detail in
many entries, for obvious reasons, tends to be more sketchy.
WWIB has extra search
features, including searches by company, people, category, full text, variable
text, education and company activities.
A list of 450 categories
serves as a guide to the range of companies in the directory and to current
gaps in particular sectors. The
structure and terminology of the categories list need more work.
The arts, for example, are represented by several alphabetically
separated categories - architecture (3), arts (12), creative arts (2 entries),
performing art venues (1), and services to the arts (20), - a small proportion
of companies in the sector. The
20 companies listed in Services to the Arts include the Victorian Arts Centre,
but not the Sydney Opera House. There’s
one library listed under ‘Libraries’ (National Library of Australia), one
organisation under ‘Libraries, Archives and Museums’ (Art Exhibitions
Australia) and 5 entries under ‘Museums’ (Australian Centre for the Moving
Image, Australian National Maritime Museum, Australian War Memorial, Museum
Victoria and National Museum of Australia).
Over 200 business and
professional associations are listed, including the Victorian Wine Industry
Association, Australian Bankers Association, Hairdressing and Beauty Industry
Association, the Hop Growers Association of Victoria and the Australian
Information Industry Association, but not the Australian Library and
intends minimising this patchiness by increasing the number of companies from
8000 to 17,000.
WWIA costs $495, including
GST, for a single user subscription within Australia and up to $845 for a 5
user licence. An ‘IP office access’ subscription, allowing unlimited users
per site, is $995 and an ‘IP library access’ is for $495. The hard copy
sells for $195.
WWIB costs $995 for a
single user and up to $1995 for 5 user access and IP office access of $1995.
An IP library access subscription is $995. The hard copy, in two volumes,
sells for $395.
The online versions of WWIA
and WWIB give extra value to organisations with limited shelf space and in
need of superior search options. Some
financially impaired libraries will continue to be satisfied by the cheaper
printed editions. The online
marketplace is shaped by back file building, expanded linking, integration,
simplified access points, customised packages, partnerships, mergers and
budgetary pressures. Based on a
glance at other online biographical products, future value, online
possibilities and commercial prospects for WWIA would appear to revolve around
the following issues.
Inclusion of more people
like the Web-based International Who’s Who, published by Who’s Who
Historical Society on behalf of 70,000 members, are built on a strategy of
maximising membership in exchange
for an online listing and other benefits.
Who’s Who in Australia has a different purpose and a
reputation based on selectivity. Although
the online environment helps overcome the limitations of the print format,
provides flexible ways of manipulating information and encourages fresh
thinking, Crown Content has no current plans to substantially increase the
number of entries in WWIA. Information
on more people is likely to be produced from the way it packages WWIA with Who’s
Who in Business in Australia and its other products.
Inclusion of dead people
Who's Who provides the lead on the retention of entries for deceased
people in the form of its online obituary section.
The inclusion of such entries in WWIA would certainly add value to the
product and increase the attraction to the online version without increasing
the effort required to maintain and develop it.
Although Crown Content intends making available an archive
of some 13,000 additional biographies from WWIA editions published since 1990,
it seems unlikely that they will add entries from earlier decades.
It is doubtful that an
investment in retrospective conversion would increase sales. Moreover, it is
anticipated that the
Australian Dictionary of Biography will cater for this type of interest
when the ANU makes it available on the Internet as a free relational database
at the end of 2004.
Some biographical sources -
such as American National Biography Online and Gale online biographical
online titles - have links to archival and library sources, magazine and
newspaper articles, bibliographic citations, and internal hypertext links. The
Australian Dictionary of Biography has off-line links to a biographical
register containing references to an
expanding list of over 300,000 individuals and is planning links to PictureAustralia, the
National Bibliographical Database, the Register of Australian Archives and
Manuscripts, Australian Public Affairs Full Text and the Australian
[in the UK] is included in Xreferplus’s integrated digital library of 120
books from 23 publishers. Marquis’ Who’s Who on the Web offers
simplified access to its 20 titles and 1 million biographies published in Who’s
Who in America, Who Was Who in America, Who’s Who in the World,
and its suite of similar publications.
Crown Content intends
protocol procedures to the information already available in WWIA on the Australian
honours system, order of precedence, Nobel Prize winners, Australian and State
Government ministers, judges, ACTU officers, foreign diplomatic corps in
Australia, Australian representatives abroad, and Order of Australia
it has no immediate plans to add other features. There is probably little to be gained from packaging its
suite of products with those of another publisher or system vendor.
Stronger business incentive may come from the provision of Web-enabled
single step searching across Crown Content’s full range of directories and
newsletters and for packaging its online access to meet a range of business
and library situations and budgets.
DH and Marshall, Julie. Biography in Australians: A guide to
NSW: Fairfax, Syme & Weldon, 1987 (pp 153-160).
correspondence with Peter Conway and Ben Graham, Crown Content, October
National Biography Online http://www.anb.org.
Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au
Who’s Who (published by Europa) http://www.worldwhoswho.com
Who’s Who (published by Who’s Who Historical Society) http://www.internationalwhoswho.com
Who’s Who on the Web. <http://www.marquiswhoswho.com>
Who in Australia http://whoswholive.com.au