The Walt Whitman Archive – Warwick 3
3What about the digital form – as opposed to working with the materials in analogue form, for example – works well for you, and what does not? How does this site’s digital form contribute to the archive’s strengths and weaknesses?
Reader in Digital Humanities, Department of Information Studies; Director, Centre for Digital Humanities – University College London
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 It is difficult for me to answer the final question because most of the scholarly material that I need are now available in digital form. As a digital humanist, rather than a literary scholar I have very little need to use original manuscripts or early printed books in my own work. What we know about the research practices of humanity scholars, however, suggests that this resource is extremely well designed for their needs. It does not assume that the digital will replace the need to use physical books and indeed it makes this easier by the inclusion of complex bibliographic data especially about Whitman’s manuscripts and their whereabouts. It also follows good practice in digital resource creation in that it provides scanned page images of the books and manuscripts thus allowing users to compare the transcriptions provided in digital form to those images of the original analogue text.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 It is notable that the website provides links to press material and interviews that scholars involved in it have given. This is especially welcome, since we have found that the strongest single correlation between the use of a digital resource and things that its creators do is effective disseminate of information about the project.[ref]Warwick et al., “The Master Builders.”[/ref] The presence of these transcribed interviews shows that its creators have been doing precisely this.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Another intriguing potential of the digital medium which the Whitman Archive makes use of is the ability to record the way that a resource has changed and grown. Books of course may have later editions, but few of us compare them in detail in printed form. This resource gives us clear information about its past as well as the way it is changing, since it not only archives two previous versions of the project, but provides a detailed change log, which tells users in detail what has been altered and when. For those of us interested in digital resources, this is an unusual insight into their evolution; for regular users of the material it gives instant information about what has changed since their last visit. Both are very much to be welcomed.