Further Evaluation of Digital Work

 Although I feel a bit silly evaluating digital work when I’m still a comparative newbie to the DH world, I found that looking at these projects helped me not only improve my ability to imagine how projects could be altered to suit different purposes, but also understand what sort of features or documentation I would like us to incorporate in our own project.  In general, I’m a big believer in explicit instructions, and wherever possible, an explanation of why the project is important.  I also prefer projects that can be accessed/used in multiple ways (For Better For Verse), but I also like projects that have a single but incredible clear purpose that is easy to follow (What’s on the Menu).

 Group 1:  For Better For Verse:

This is a fantastic project that can help teach students all elements of poetics, including rhyme scheme, meter, and how they relate to interpretation.  I was also very impressed by the sorting principles (you can organize the poems by title, difficulty, and author).   I can only think of a handful of features that I would like to see added:  I wish there were a way to sort by time period, an explanation of why a given scansion is correct. Also, as a TA, I wish my students could practice scanning poems they’re studying in class, so it would be nice if someday there were a way for people to contribute content so that teachers and students wouldn’t be limited to the (extensive collection of) poems there if they want to use it for class.

Group 2:  TILE:

This seems like a really useful tool for creating digital editions where you want to clearly show which lines of a transcript correspond with which lines of the image.  I thought the sandbox feature, which lets you try the tool without downloading it was a great idea, and once I found the instructions, it became easy to use.  Although I think TILE is important, I think it would be clearer if the website had links to projects that had used this tool, or maybe a video to show what it’s capable of, because it took me some time to be able to understand its purpose and to visualize how it should be used.

Group 3:  What’s on the Menu:

This archive features crowdsourced transcription of menus held in the New York Public Library’s rare books division.  It’s easy to add content; you just have to click on each dish and type the text as it appears on the menu, and it instantly becomes part of their searchable text.  I also thought that the site was incredibly well designed from a user perspective; the instructions were clear, and the rationale behind the project made me more interested in it than I had been when I was just looking through the menus.  I hope we can be influenced by their documentation in our own project.  I could barely come up with anything I wish were different; my only complaint is that the instructions say to ignore some typographical features, like accents, but not about other irregularities (ie. should we preserve line breaks within menu items).  Other than that, I think it’s excellent.

Annie was a 2012-2013 Scholars' Lab Fellow, a 2011-12 Praxis Fellow and a PhD candidate in the Department of English.

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