Data Humanities I: Data v. Publication

When I started thinking about this post, I was originally not going to mention the impetus that made it so urgent to write this right now.  The truth is, before the project has even gone anywhere at all, I already got my first very nasty comment from a Piers Plowman troll (who knew such things existed!) telling me that I should “seek alternate employment” because I was doing such a bad job of… well…whatever it is she thought I was doing.

The basis for this criticism? The JSON-encoded description of the Z-text manuscript failed to include in the MS contents two works that Rigg and Brewer identify in the MS in their edition of the Z-text.  It only included the contents that are listed in the Bodleian catalogue, which is admittedly a little sketchy in some arenas–a few of which haven’t actually been updated since what appears to be the 18th century when the hand-written descriptions of early collections were first written!! Which is not at all a criticism of the Bodley’s catalogues.  Indeed, I get a great kick out of telling my Victorianist friends that the catalogues for my materials are older than their archives.  In the game of whose-stuff-is-oldest one-ups-man-ship, I usually win.

I fantasized about this post simply being a beautiful and compelling manifesto calling for generosity and collectivity without having to even acknowledge the negative comment that made this a more pressing issue to address than I originally thought.  But then I realized that not to acknowledge the difficulties, failures, and mistakes I make is to undermine the project of radical transparency that I am embarking upon. It also protects this very courageous “Jane Doe” from ever having to feel that perhaps her comments went wide of the mark.  So, without further ado, Ms. Jane Doe, this blog is dedicated to you.  You have inspired a great many productive reflections and it would be disingenuous of me not to give you due credit for that.

Buckle up, folks. I’m going to use the word “radical” a lot here, inspired by other radicals advocating for radicality.

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