[Humanist] 22.704 doing as well as the codex, continued

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Apr 19 10:12:27 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 704.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 11:36:25 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: doing as well as the codex, continued

I have a question about how we might do better with our digital objects 
for reading than I, at least, know how to do.

The situation must be familiar to everyone here: so much to read that 
every opportunity needs to be taken and device used to keep in mind the 
reading that must be done and to make sure that it does. With printed 
books I do the following: place piles of them on my desk, signifying 
immediately-to-be-read; place others strategically here and there around 
the house, including in the loo, so that I cannot avoid the reminder and 
can avail myself of them in the few moments of idleness I have; carry 
with me the current book or article under assault so that I can read it 
and make notes when in transit. Unlike Pliny I am not wealthy enough to 
be transported wherever I go, so time is lost to reading when I walk. 
And no one buys my groceries for me etc.

The physicality of the codices in question thus helps enormously in the 
seemingly trivial process of being reminded. Furthermore, these physical 
objects can be positioned in space so as to signify what kind of book 
each is in my own rapidly changing categorizations of them.

Now compare the digital objects. I have at the moment somewhat more than 
4.5GB of written material. Some of it I have read but most of it merely 
collected in anticipation of wanting to read it. This personal 
collection is in fact loosely unified by my choices and alphabetized by 
the last name of the author. The material for current research is more 
elaborately categorized. My question here pertains to how I might use 
whatever tools could almost effortlessly be deployed -- otherwise, 
requiring significant effort, they won't -- to serve the same sort of 
strategy as I use with my printed books.

What do you do?

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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