Bragdon, Marc. “Practice and Preservation Format Issues.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Online.
The practice and preservation article discussed at length file formats and standards for digital archiving. It talked about file formats that have gone out of date and explained the origin of TEI standards. It mentioned “PDF and PDF/A are not formats that digital humanists normally employ for capturing and distributing literary texts or other genres.” However, we decided for the sake of our own preservation project to use PDF because it preserved the look and and simulation of the feel of the actual pulps, which would be lost eternally as the pulps pages continue to disintegrate. Bragdon pointed out, “understanding the strengths and weaknesses of PDF is important if for no other reasons than its prevalence on the web and gauging its place relative to the use of other more accepted formats for digital humanities.” We found that the PDF was smaller, since we do not have a hosting server to put large TIFF files on. Bragdon also pointed out that on most archiving sites there are no plugins available for displaying PDFS. I found this part of the article to be somewhat out of date as now you can merely throw a PDF onto an FTP server and link to it because most browsers support PDF display. A very important limitation and strength of the PDF format was pointed out by Bragdon:
PDF also currently supports interactive features, such as hyperlinks, and the inclusion of metadata and XML markup for describing document structure, semantics, and layout. A PDF file may be either image or character based. For example, a book may be scanned, producing a series of TIFF images. These images can then be transformed into PDF images and wrapped into one document. Like TIFF or any other image format, individual characters are neither differentiated nor encoded in image PDF. This means that the text cannot be manipulated or even searched unless optical character recognition is first applied to the document. (Bragdon)
The article provided an example of how to integrate SGML into standard HTML pages, and the ways in which it differentiates from standard HTML by numbering . I discovered, with my own execution of this, that the wordpress style text editor would not allow me to save these tags and that only standard html would work. The article was also useful for the other examples it provided of archiving projects in process currently: ECO.
Crane, Gregory. “ePhilology: When the Books Talk to Their Readers.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Online.
This comprehensive volume spans a variety of topics in the area of the digital humanities practices. The ePhilology article turned attention to the early use of digital archiving for Greek literature long before the modern internet age today. These endeavors provided us with the Perseus Project as a great example of archiving which furthers studies within the Humanities. The article also gave valuable information on how to provide content and how much content in typical posts (200-210 words), although outdated because the volume was published in 2008 (371). I found the most interesting aspect of this article to be the point that higher funded institutions make sure lower funded institutions are not provided access to certain archives, even for alumni. Crane pointed out how traditional publications were considered prestigious, but also how Wikipedia is changing how research is conducted. A few questions which arose from the approach of this article were: Is what we are doing with traditional scholarship impactful to the world? How does digital media do more/enhance or detract from scholarship? It also brought to the light the complex ways in which texts talk to each other, as Crane describes it as “Books interacting to create new forms of publication” (43).
Crane’s article pointed to the Philology, the “love of language,” and the importance of digital resources to the different disciplines within the Humanities, such as Linguistics, religious studies, language and history (16). I liked how Crane defined Philology in the opening lines of this article,
Philology brings back to life the words of languages no longer spoken. While literally, ‘the love of language,’ philology includes not only linguistics but philosophy, history literary criticism, the history of science and technology, political science, economics, art, archaeology, and every other discipline relevant to the world that these texts describe. Of course, philology must, in tits fullest form, engage fully with the material record: museum collections and archeological excavations not only serve to illustrate topics within the text but also provide independent windows onto the past from which we may survey views very different from those we glimpse in the texts alone. Philology is thus not just about the text; it is about the world that produced our surviving textual sources and the tangible impact that these texts have had upon the worlds that read them. (16)
It begins with talking about the Greek project and the relevance of digital archiving to the study of many dead languages. How we could literally be students for the rest of our lives if we are studying Sanskrit (17). Crane successfully showed how our research brings us to the crossroads of inter-disciplinary work and how that enriches the Humanities rather than detracting from it. However, as we explore digital mediums and methodology for archiving we run into “the great challenge for the rising generation of scholars” which “is to build a digital infrastructure with which to expand our intellectual range” (17). Crane mentions the Google Books and how this might open up possibilities for researchers to access media, opening up new ranges of studies within the Humanities (18). This brought up the idea of who our audience is for the Science Fiction website? Is it other scholars? Authors? Is it readers of SF? Or is it another students and academics? How should we design our content to meet the needs of these audiences we are designing for? Also, when we have found an answer, how might we keep those methods within the guidelines of the already set up standards within the industry preserving and archiving currently?
Hodge, Gail. “Best Practices for Digital Archiving: An Information Life Cycle Approach.” D-Lib Magazine. 6.1 (2000) Web.
This article discussed a more theoretical approach to digital archiving and how the digital is secondary to the real world. There are certain measures of documentation that are taken down when a project begins: location, instrument type, and measurements. I appreciated the point this article made on the importance of paying attention to “issues of consistency, format, standardization and metadata description” (Hodge). Because of our lack of hosting at the moment we can only insert limited amounts of metadata to images. However, when we have the full version of the site we will be able to optimize this so that search engines will find the content we are developing. This article looked at approaches that leave digital archiving open for expansion as a “Life Cycle Approach.” Hodge mentioned specific standards used by other organizations,
HTML/SGML (Standard Generalized Mark-up Language) is used by many large publishers after years of converting publication systems from proprietary formats to SGML. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a richly encoded SGML format that is used as the archival format from which numerous other formats and products are made [Boyce 1997]. The SGML version that is actually stored by the publisher is converted to HTML. PDF versions can also be provided by conversion routines. (Hodge)
The article broke down on a larger scale into sections headings such as “Hardware and Software Migration” and “Preservation of the Look and Feel,” touching on the main issues preservationists and librarians face. This issue is even more important to our pulps project as many of the pulps out of the 1930’s are falling apart and did when we took them out of their packaging. Hodge pointed out “manual creation of metadata is a huge impediment to digital archiving” because of how time consuming it can be. This can be a huge progress blocker because at the moment we cannot insert metadata into our site.
Hunter, Karen. “Digital Archiving.” Serials Review. 26.3. (2000): 62-64.
This article provided a great view into the challenges that one university faced for their archival projects. The questions Hunter addresses in this article were helpful in gauging our own goals for the pulp project:
What should be archived?
In what format?
How many copies of the archive are needed?
Who holds those copies?
What is the access to the archive and who controls that access?
How does licensing affect archive building?
What can the scholarly community afford?
Because Susan and I were searching through Special Collections for issues that had little or no attention drawn to them, we ran into issues of licensing and control over access. We had to ask if posting content that might be under copyright might be a problem. Susan conducted research on a few authors to see if they had any living family members and copyright infringement might be an issue at a future date, so as to set up the project with the goal for expansion. We also had to address the question of “What should be archived” which appropriately was Hunter’s first question on her list. Hunter’s conclusion words our efforts perfectly, “Those of us who are spending large chunks of our professional time on the topic know that it will require a lot of trust and good-faith effort to continue to move things forward. It is too important and too expensive to be left to chance” (Hunter).
Latham, Sean. “The Rise of Periodical Studies.” PMLA. 121.2 (2006). 517-531.
“The Rise of Periodical Studies” article mentions the move toward digitizing 18th and 19th century publications. Latham mentions how these movements define and shape the “rise of an intellectual public sphere” (519). The article shows how certain projects are designed for certain types of academic audiences, which I found interesting since we must keep in mind who we are designing the science fiction website for. He mentioned the Spectator Project in 2000, which is older, and how the project aims to not just present a text but “interpret” it also (519). This was not our goal in the pulps. We instead aimed to illuminate selections from the pulp. However, even the act of illuminating conveys a message about which selections are more important than others as what Latham referred to as “cultural objects” (519). Latham also mentions the importance of providing a “whole text” when archiving, rather than partial or inaccurate records. This article also optimistically mentions Google Books as a project that might provide extra resources. In the end, Latham’s article is useful because it reminds us that we are not just preserving these texts, but in a way “remaking them” as we reshape, scan, assembly into PDFs, or even exclude pages (521). Latham also provides several important points of departure for digital archiving:
Latham gives specific points of interest for periodicals specifically which could be adapted for the pulp magazines or any other print media we decide to archive in this project.
Lasmana, Viola. “A Time of Opening”: Literary Practices in the Age of New Media and Digital Textuality.”
Lasmana discusses the emergence of new digital medias that shape both communication and how we experience and engage with society around us (70). She argues for the introduction of media into the traditional practices of literary studies as a “supplement” to reading and writing that “use the pen and paper” (70). She theorizes,
If writing is itself already an artificial representation of natural thought, how do we define or understand forms of thought expression and writing using digital technology? How different is digital writing from writing with the pen and paper? (72)
Her argument related to our pulp project and how we plan on presenting the pulps as an experience to website viewers. It also related to the way in which we think about the project being incorporated into the classroom as a pedagogical technique. How might we better prepare the material we are creating for use in a classroom outside of the individual website user in their private space? How might we also make the material interactive?
Lavagnino, John. “Digital and Analog Texts.”
Lavagnino provided an extremely useful theoretical treatment of what digital and analog mean, when each medium should be used, and how both have been used. His article is extremely interesting because he claims the neuron is digital when he says, “the neuron is digital because it either fires, or doesn’t.” He compared humans to the digital world in which we have created and discussed structuralist methodologies origins or similarities to binary. With this view, the art objects being preserved by conservationists, are no longer art, but become data when they are transferred to digital. This argument applied to our pulp project because it looked at the transfer of analog to digital, what is lost and what is gained. It also made me wonder about how methodologies are agreed upon for archiving practices. This becomes a system of imitation, rather than the interpretive process mentioned by Lavagnino. A few questions Lavagnino draws attention to are: “To what level of detail do we copy? How exactly do we need to match the typefaces? Does it need to be the same kind of paper? Do the line breaks need to match?”
Morrison, Aimeée. “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Online.
The Blogs and Blogging article mentioned the origin of the blogging sphere and its emergence in the mid 1990s. In 1999 blogging software was created for the first time. Morrison mentioned blogging as a new pedagogical technique being incorporated into academia, and brought to light a few very important aspects of providing content on a web platform: topics, date, who posted what, categories, commenting, embedded content, commentary, and photo media. It also mentioned that traditional posts should only be 210 words. Morrison pointed to created more value in blogging by provided annotated bibliographies and this turned my attention back to print and how annotated bibliographies change as print is no longer available or even the accessibility of finding a certain version of a certain book in order to track down a source. This article also showed how the web sphere could be used as a platform of communication within a classroom with the popularity of professors and students utilizing the blog in the classroom (373). It also mentioned a few great examples of communities or projects to turn to as examples: technorati and BROG (Weblog Research on Genre).
Wernimont, Jacqueline. “Whence Feminism? Assessing Feminist Interventions in Digital Literary Archives.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. 7.1 (2013) Web.
Wernimont provided a great starting point for me to think about the preservation project Susan and I are working on in Special Collections. She presented the great issue of creating an archival group surrounding women authors, something Susan and I considered;
What is at stake here is access not only to the texts, but also to the intellectual paradigms that situate women’s writing as transformational with respect to canon and as central models of textual genres. Access, as a way of sorting through data, is also a way of valuing texts. Perhaps, then, I could use a metric that balances presence and access to assess digital archives. But how, I wondered, should I think through the value of plenty and that of particularity in feminist terms? (Wernimont)
This article also launched my research into TEI standards, XML, and also the concept of what we were doing in special collections. It brought attention to the complexity in selecting different items to archive and how that shapes the identity of a collection. These decisions also shape future researchers perceptions of periods, objects, and society. We saw this article in action as Susan and I worked through the pulps and made decisions on which stories or covers to highlight. We found that a lot of our attention was drawn either to famous writers such as Lovecraft, or risque covers of women out of the 1930’s.