The Walt Whitman Archive – Question 2
2What are its weaknesses? What do you wish it would let you do? What changes would you suggest?
The weaknesses I have noticed in the Archive are not unique to this site. One problem is the site’s misunderstanding—and thus its improper assertion—of copyrights. Specifically the site asserts the existence of copyright in the transcripts and facsimiles and more broadly in Whitman’s writings—because transcripts and facsimiles are “slavish copies” neither is entitled to copyright protection…Read this Response
While I found the basic navigability of the site to be well-designed, I wish that it was easier to discover new things in the database. The obvious place to begin would be the search tool, which is very limited. While more robust features are promised for the future (according to a notice at the top of the page), the current tool falls short of expectations for a database of this size and quality.Read this Response
Some weaknesses of the Whitman Archive are a function of its stage of development. We haven’t had time to accomplish all that we have envisaged. For example, we would like to provide a good introduction to the site, so that users at various levels of knowledge—and our users are quite varied—can get oriented quickly when they first encounter the site. In addition, given our scope, it is not surprising that many content areas…Read this Response
It is genuinely difficult to identify serious weaknesses of the Whitman archive. I might suggest a few relatively minor changes to site design. Some of the content is nested quite deeply within the site and requires several clicks to access it.For example in the Disciples section the user is three clicks away from accessing individual poems. Web log analysis suggests…Read this Response
I would like to see the Whitman Archive make more transparent the choices that go into deciding how texts are marked-up and encoded. Archive co-director Kenneth M. Price has written that the “ongoing decision-making” regarding the mark-up of texts on the Archive is “interpretive rather than mechanical,” and that this interpretive coding…Read this Response