For those of you interested in what exactly I’m doing, you’ve come to the right place. As I mentioned in my About Me section, I am currently a PhD student in Digital Humanities at Maynooth University. While I have a vast range of interests within DH, the primary focus of my PhD research is on the Digital Scholarly Edition, specifically regarding the use of the book metaphor.
The Digital Scholarly Edition
What’s a Digital Scholarly Edition”, you might ask? Well that’s an excellent question, and depending on who you ask, you’ll probably get different answers. I suppose one of the easiest answers is the one stated by Patrick Sahle on his website a catalog of: Digital Scholarly Editions. He begins by defining the scholarly edition as: “A scholarly edition is the critical representation of historical documents”. He then goes on to define the digital scholarly edition as more than just a digitized version of the scholarly edition but rather a digital implementation of a scholarly edition that, if printed, would result in a loss of information or interactivity necessary to the edition.
There are hundreds of digital scholarly editions floating around the world wide web (after all, there have been DSE’s nearly as long as there have been websites). Some of them were created nearly 20 years ago, whereas some of them were created quite recently (I myself worked on a DSE that was launched in June of 2015). The interesting commonality that exists amongst many of these editions is the implementation of “the book metaphor”.
The Book Metaphor
So what is the book metaphor? Well, for the sake of my research, I’m referring to all of those little UI elements we are so used to that attempt to mimic the physical book. Whether it be a table of contents, an index, footnotes and endnotes, moving pages, etc., I am interested in exploring ways to escape these metaphors. The book as it exists in print has many limitations, especially when it comes to the visualisation and extrapolation of data. For starters, it is bound by it’s physical representation on the page. It is forced into a static format and has thus adapted certain tools (such as the index or footnotes) in order to convey further information. And those tools work very well in the analogue. In the digital, however, they can be improved. And that is where I aim to take my research—finding new ways to present data in the digital scholarly edition that not only allows us to read the text in new ways but also allows us to interrogate differently (and hopefully, more efficiently).
The Stuff I’m Up To
So if any of this interests you, please feel free to keep any eye on my work. I’ll periodically post updates here. Whenever I speak at a conference or publish a paper, I’ll try to remember to make a new post in a relevant section. I’ll also occasionally blog about my research, and you can read about my struggles and hopefully shed a few sympathetic tears. And if you want to reach out me to me, catch me on Twitter or use my contact form to send me a message!