Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rapid Fire Post (RFP) 4: Victorian Turkish Baths

Hmm . . . interesting.

I think that's the word for it anyway.

Here's what I thought was MOST interesting in the Victorian Turkish Bath site: it was created as a pet-project by a retired librarian. He was so interested in the idea of the Victorian Turkish Bath that he not only dedicated himself (and his time spent in retirement) to chronicling this un-chronicled topic, he even went so far as to earn a Master's Degree in order to do it better!

That's love, folks.

The site itself is somewhat dated--considering it was launched in 1999, it's no surprise. Some pages have updates from 2012, but the running page copyright on the bottom left hand side says 1999-2011. I found elsewhere (and then eventually through the site) that Mr. Shifrin gave a talk about the baths as recently as June 2012, so he remains active in the discussion.

Although dated, I didn't find the site that difficult to navigate, although it is visually VERY busy. The left hand column stays the same, providing master navigational options, while the right-hand column changes depending on your choices. I suppose Victorian Turkish Baths functions as a hub--a place where I can get all the information I might need to be informed on the Victorian Turkish bath. The wikipedia entry for Turkish bath cites, but only for a count of how many baths still exist. The site doesn't even get a complete works cited entry, nor does it fall under the "External Links" section. Wikipedia is not giving our friend Mr. Shifrin a lot of love . . .

Best Clip relating to a Turkish Bath I could think of:

It's only part 1 of 3. ALSO: surprisingly a LOT of old Batman episodes on YouTube . . . not going to get much work done this fall I guess . . .


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rapid Fire Post 3: Branch

Branching out:

Branch, as websites go, is but a wee babe! It launched in January of this year. As such, it is not surprising that some of the promised features haven't reached their final incarnation yet. For example, the timeline doesn't appear to have anything entered. The number of contributors is impressive, considering the site is only nine-published-months old. The googlemaps image of where the contributors are from is neat--shows the global approach to the website in a visual fashion.

I wonder about two things. 1: are articles multi-listed under the Topic Clusters? This tab shows 8 headings, with a total of 130 articles listed. From a brief look, it appears that each article only gets one tag--the two articles in "Culture/Religion" do not appear in "Identity/Religion." But this question leads me to my second . . . 2: the introduction makes a statement "differs from wikipedia," remarking that Branch is peer reviewed, etc. HOWEVER! If we're making comparisons to the venerable wikipedia, Branch has a long way to go before it gets the intertextuality I expect from its introduction.

Granted, these articles are thesis driven--they have been written as academic, argumentation vehicles. Contrasted with the "just the facts, ma'am" approach of wikipedia. Branch is an online article database, that attempts to give intertextuality, instead of an online encyclopedia.

Branch states it has 200 promised articles that should find their way on the site in the next 2 years. For one things, 200 articles is great--but in Dr. Wisnicki's words, "I'm not impressed." 200 seems paltry compared to the hundreds of thousands of scanned documents some resource sites we've looked at claim to have. However, we're also looking at something completely different--if this were a brand new PRINT journal, planning to have a twice-yearly publication rate, with an average of MAYBE ten articles each edition--200 in two years is HUGE! (Forgive the excessive capitalization . . . )

The 2 years comment also makes me question whether or not Branch will continue asking for articles after 2014. Is this site designed to continue, or will it become a fixed digital artifact?


Sorry I don't have any pop culture videos . . . I fail. I mean, I could have thrown up a Michelle Branch music video, like this one:

Or maybe some kind of "branch" illustration, like this one:

(white tree of Gondor, btw)

But mostly those felt out of place, and silly.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rapid Fire Post 2: Old Bailey Online

 I just gotta start with this:

When I hear or see "Old Bailey," this is what comes to mind.
I'm not British. I'm also not an anarchist. I don't like seeing buildings blown up.
Old Bailey.

Rapid Fire Post 2: Old Bailey Online

First impression: BUSY. I see links everywhere. (Okay, maybe not everywhere, but pretty close.) The navigational tabs under the header are ALSO on the left side of the margin. The search box is on the right. Under the search box are THREE other digital resources that allow for searching through the archives. (THIS, I believe, is a poor choice. I understand the desire for intertextuality, supporting others' projects, and giving all possible resources to those researching, but unless these three sites offer something different than the 197,745 criminal proceedings--why lead researchers elsewhere? I want the Old Bailey Online to give me all I need.)

I also don't like the advertisements on the left side. HOWEVER, these obviously bring in revenue, and the user has to scroll down to find them, so I'll forgive the visual discord. I actually liked the links on the bottom to other supporting institutions--they have a good visual presence.

Getting to actual business: one of the best aspects of this site are the tutorial videos. Here's one of them:

For advanced researchers, some of this video might seem redundant, but the effort behind its creation is much appreciated.

Finally, I thought the "Publications that Cite the Old Bailey Proceedings Online" page was intriguing.
I don't know how many publications are cited, but it's a decent amount. This is the "we're being used--keep funding us" page. This was a question that was brought up last class in regards to the cite we look at worth the time, effort, and money used to create it? Here, the OBPO offers its own evidence of its worth.


The tools the OBPO have developed (or utilized, I can't tell which) through the Old Bailey API pages are interesting--and are the stuff we're craving, aren't they? The new tools, the new ways through which we can utilize the technology in ways we haven't even thought of before. ALSO!!! The Data Warehouse Interface was developed in part by Geoffrey Rockwell--who co-wrote the article we read for last week. HUA.


Rapid Fire Post 1: 19th Century British Pamphlets

It occurs to me, having gone through a blog-post drought, of sorts, that I approach the world of blogging incorrectly--or at least, I don't utilize best practices of blogging. I've tried to read all the material at hand, and then come up with some all-encompassing post that would bring all the elements together.

Sounds great.

Only problem: way too much information, way too little time.

So I propose my new approach: rapid fire posting. I'm going to shoot out little blurbs about each work I read, each website I peruse, each listserve email I open up. (The last one might be a little much, so we'll see).

Let's rock and roll.

Post 1: 19 Century British Pamphlets.

Second thing I did at this site, after looking through the homepage's major tabs ("Home," "About," Collections," etc.), was to follow the resources linked on the right side of the page.

"For Researchers," the Post-graduate pdf, I did not find to be that revolutionary--it was more of a "how-to-use-JSTOR" than anything else.

"Scanning Specifications" pdf, on the other hand, was something really interesting. Nothing more than a "This-is-how-we-did-what-we-did" explanation sheet, it functions in the same way a methodology section in a research paper. Ideally, I could reconstruct the scanning myself. It also reveals some of the behind-the-scenes work done by the scanners.

What I REALLY liked/appreciated/found fascinating, was the "Project Plan" pdf--the 54 page proposal/description of the entire digitization project. THIS is what I'm looking for (now, after discussions in class) when I go to a website: how they did what they did, why they did what they did, and what they hope to accomplish. Directly contrast this with the GALE sites, that give off a "for profit" vibe. . . . cause I'm pretty sure they charge for memberships? (JSTOR also charges for memberships, especially when the 19th Century British Pamphlets are available to the British universities, and might require new subscriptions for other universities . . . but I digress.)