The point was made in class, based on the McLeod reading, that multiple annotated versions of a text could stabilize it. The idea that many editions could stabilize, not destabilize, a text was unexpected to me because I considered that having more scholars involved would create more pieces to a puzzle instead of showing the overall picture. However, after reading an article by Siemens (which I annotated in this week’s bibliography), I realized that I was still stuck with the idea that participants in digital humanities projects would be contributing independently, whereas many of these projects do call for collaboration in an ongoing process. I really liked Fazeela’s discussion of editing as a conversation that is performed by many people – in an environment where people can question and challenge theories, the goal shifts from reaching a definitive version of a text, an impossible task, to outlining varying perspectives on elements of a text.
Motivated by the topic being discussed in these third journals of the choices made of which texts (or websites, pictures, etc.) are deemed valuable or important enough to be archived, I’ve been thinking of how the internet can at least allow for more items to be conserved over time, although in a different format, and of what cannot be replicated and preserved digitally. Yet, since browsers and programs are constantly being updated and changed, information put online must further be maintained and preserved – a point clearly made by Kalervo’s example of Geocities and Lorne’s experience with Blogger. Then again, maybe another way of considering websites and digital humanities projects is that they serve their purpose in the current moment that a user accesses them; websites and projects are not static as they develop into a new version each time a comment is posted or a new annotation is added.
I saw a connection between Lorne’s point about items not deemed worthy of being oeuvres and a Globe and Mail editorial I read Friday about the need for libraries and librarians to continue receiving proper funding (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/dont-discard-the-librarians/article2030514/). One chief librarian points out that “The archival function of a library, of deciding what we’re going to pass on to future generations, is now being determined. But you cannot, in my view, rely solely on private, commercial organizations like Google to do that for a very long time, because their shareholders won’t allow it.” If it is true that Google (and Google Books) employees are today’s main preservers of knowledge, I agree that it is crucial for librarians and scholars to also have their say through libraries and digital projects. The general public can also participate by requesting books and accessing (and maybe even adding to) projects. The value of an item can be determined individually, as one person may choose to digitize those shopping lists of Tolstoy, and from that point other interested parties can contribute to the conversation or the webpage can slowly fade into disuse. The memorialisation and preservation process has the possibility of being shared and public, as I believe it ideally should be.
My goal last week was to focus on the practical elements of the course, which I’ve partially achieved by understanding rudimentary aspects of PHP (and simply how to run it) but I’m now facing problems similar to Kalervo as I try to alter functions.php to complete the assignment for Wednesday of modifying the display of texts. My goals for this week are to work through this problem and then be more creative with PHP and try to create a function of my own. I also want to make more use of the technology forum and stop assuming I must be the only one having a certain difficulty!