Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Book To Come

This digital variorum edition of Emily Dickinson rocks. [Sophie Reader required.]

You can read the poem, click through alternate drafts, and see images of the manuscript or a published version of the text. Also space for comments, etc. There are points to quibble with, but it's such a nice, clean start that they're really not worth bringing up.

Individual projects are nice, but I think scholarly e-books could really take off if we had 1) semi-standardized formats and 2) no-brainer GUIs to plug information into those formats, both of which would help scholars and readers coordinate their expectations and understand the navigational grammar. There are thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of people who will take this kind of information and put it together if you don't have to overcoming coding and additional time hurdles to do it.

"Give users tools to visualize their own data." Still the first commandment for digital scholarship.

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