[Humanist] 29.712 Darwin Letters website

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 16 06:59:32 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 712.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 08:52:15 +0000
        From: "Robinson, Peter" <peter.robinson at usask.ca>
        Subject: Re:  29.709 Darwin letters website
        In-Reply-To: <20160214084650.8D3FEC2B at digitalhumanities.org>


I second Desmond’s comments below.  Frankly, I am lost in this site.  It is extraordinarily difficult, and more than a little frustrating, to get to the text of any one letter. There seems no way at all to carry out the simplest possible operation, available in any print edition, which is just to browse the letters one after another, day by day, as they were sent. After half an hour’s struggle, I have been able to find only a handful of actual letters. Yes, I can go straight to the famous 1844 letter from Darwin to Hooker. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to see all the other letters between Darwin and Hooker. Various of the links shown next to this letter go nowhere.

It seems the only way I can find the letters (say) for Hooker is as follows:
--- I can search for “Hooker” in the search panel
— this returns me NOT just letters to/from Hooker but everything concerning Hooker
— however, I can use “refine your search” on the top right just to select letters concerning Hooker
— and then, I can select correspondent as Hooker just to give the letters to and from Hooker, and then I can browse them year by year.

This does not seem to me a very straightforward procedure. Also, I too am surprised at the absence of any images of the actual letters.

This does raise interesting questions about interfaces and their adequacy.  I have for some time nursed a personal conviction that the people who gather the data should NOT be the people who make the interface to it.  Not a popular point of view, but this website provides a lot of ammunition for the argument.

Peter Robinson



> On Feb 14, 2016, at 9:46 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at MCCARTY.ORG.UK> wrote:
> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 709.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2016 06:15:48 +1000
>        From: Desmond Schmidt <desmond.allan.schmidt at gmail.com>
>        Subject: Re:  29.708 Darwin Letters: new website
>        In-Reply-To: <20160213082111.76813B81 at digitalhumanities.org>
> 
> 
> Hi Francis,
> 
> you say comments are welcome. So here are mine.
> 
> I think it looks beautiful. It's very smooth and caters for the needs of
> the casual user and schoolchildren really well. But I think scholars would
> like to see a more detailed browse interface that summarises all the
> letters ordered by time, author or subject matter, etc. If you look at our
> Harpur site (charles-harpur.org) you'll see we organise the contents in a
> variety of ways, whereas you seem only to have search as a global entry
> point. Although you have more letters (8000) than our 700 poems you could
> lazy-load the indices. For example, our "By anthology" tab only loads the
> contents when you expand a link. Something similar might work in your case.
> 
> I'm also rather surprised that facsimilies of the letters are not
> apparently included. A combined image+transcription page would be helpful
> and not too hard to do, as letters tend to be short.
> 
> Desmond Schmidt
> eResearch ITEE
> University of Queensland
> 
> On Sat, Feb 13, 2016 at 6:21 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
> willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> 
>>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 708.
>>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>        Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2016 13:51:23 +0000
>>        From: fjn26 <fjn26 at CAM.AC.UK>
>>        Subject: New Darwin Letters Website
>> 
>> Today would have been Charles Darwin's 207th birthday, and to mark the
>> occasion the Darwin Correspondence Project has launched a new website
>> (www.darwinproject.ac.uk). The letters to and from Darwin for the year
>> 1871 are online for the first time. There is a brand new search engine,
>> a lot of new content on correspondents and themes, and new resources for
>> primary schools.
>> 
>> Please have look, and pass this on to other interested parties. Comments
>> are welcome.
>> 
>> Very good wishes,
>> 
>> Francis.
>> 
>> --
>> Dr Francis Neary
>> Editor, Darwin Correspondence Project
>> University Library, West Road
>> Cambridge, CB3 9DR, UK
>> 
>> Email:fjn26 at cam.ac.uk
>> Website:www.darwinproject.ac.uk






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