General questions for consideration:
- What is a database? In what ways is a full-text database parallel to an archive? In what ways is it different?
- Are we talking about data or evidence or something else?
- Generate list of questions you automatically ask yourself when picking up a book or looking at an archival collection. What is a comparable list for using a full-text database for research?
Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin, “Creating Meaning in a Sea of Information: The Women and Social Movements Web Site,” in Writing History in the Digital Age
- What do they mean by “document project”? What is involved in producing one? How is it different from the kinds of research projects that historians usually conduct?
- In what sense is it a database? In what sense is their site a journal?
- Why did they join a contract with Alexander Street Press? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a commercial arrangement? What provisions have they made against ASP’s disappearance?
- Why do they combine primary sources and interpretive texts?
- What form do the primary sources take in their database? Why don’t the documents appear in their original form?
- What advantages are there to having so many primary sources digitized on a single site?
- How did this project come to take on preservation as a mission?
- Is this project a realization of the “recombinant documents” that Mills Kelly wrote about?
- What happens to your interpretation of a document when it is extracted from its archival context?
(D2L) Nancy Chaffin Hunter, Kathleen Legg, and Beth Oehlerts, “Two Librarians, an Archivist, and 13,000 Images: Collaborating to Build a Digital Collection,” Library Quarterly 80(1) (2010): 81-109.
- What is the University Historic Photograph Collection at Colorado State University?
- Who created it, and how?
- In what ways is digital browse better than file-cabinet browse? Are there disadvantages?
- Can you make sense of the work flow visualization?
- What do you learn about librarians and archivists from this article?
- How does a library-science literature review differ from a historiography?
- What is a metadata librarian?
- Would you consider this project a digital history project? Why or why not?
- In what sense is it a database? In what sense is it interpretive?
Charles Upchurch, “Full-Text Databases and Historical Research: Cautionary Results from a Ten-Year Study,” Journal of Social History 46 (1) (Fall 2012): 89-105.
- What are the advantages of full-text databases? What are the disadvantages?
- What do you need to know about the databases you are working with before you start to seriously analyze your data? Develop a list of questions. How would you find answers to these questions? How useful did Upchurch find it to ask the database publishers?
- What do you learn from this article about how OCR works? What is “article zoning”? What is “fuzzy searching”?
- What does this article teach us about research design?
- What does it teach us about how to keep track of our own research processes?
- What do you learn about use of keyword search from this article?
- Under what kinds of research plans would you want to keep track of all the searches you conducted? What would be a good method for keeping track?
Cohen and Rosenzweig, chapter 3-4
Chapter 3, “Becoming Digital”
- How do you know that it is worth it to conduct a digitization project? Should we just be digitizing everything? How can we set priorities?
- What losses should you be cognizant of when you think about digitized sources?
- What are the possible options for digitizing text that they describe?
- How did the authors of the other articles we read for today go about answering the kinds of questions Cohen and Rosenzweig raise about what is worth doing and what is not worth doing?
- Do you think it is better for scholars to annotate (mark up) documents for other people to use, or to work with full-text search? Are there reasons you might choose one rather than the other for one project, and then use the other for another project?
- Laying OCR underneath a scanned image.
- Why is typing sometimes better? I wonder if this is still true now that a decade has elapsed since this book’s publication.
- When thinking about digitizing images, audio, or video, what qualities do you need to consider that you would not bother with for text?
- What considerations should you keep in mind about whether to contract out the digitization?
- If you “do the work yourself” is it really free? How could you account for the cost of doing it yourself?
- How should you find out what standards to use now?
Chapter 4, “Designing for the History Web”
- What elements of website design do you consider essential?
- How important is visual appeal for the project your group is developing?
- To what extent is it important to make design choices for your grant application project?
- Will you chose a URL?