Editing Modernism in Canada


December 8, 2010

Diary of a Digital Edition: Part Three

A quick update on the progress of the Wilkinson archive/edition:

  • I’m still waffling on whether this project is an archive or an edition. I’ll let you know when I’ve come to a firm decision, if I ever do.
  • I finished the sorting of the unprocessed material in the Wilkinson collection at the Fisher archives today, and I’ll get to work scanning it in earnest imminently. I’ve been scanning  as I sorted, but sporadically. I’m really grateful that the staff at Fisher let me do the sorting, as I now have a good mental picture of everything that’s in the archive, and I’ve gotten to see and read material that I’m not sure anyone outside of Anne Wilkinson’s family has ever seen. The sorting took longer than I would have liked, but that’s just a condition of being a grad student with other teaching and work commitments.
  • Matt Huculak (and others, I’m sure) has done a great job of negotiating with the different institutions involved so that we have a file-naming system in place that hopefully satisfies everyone. My original spreadsheet kept me organized until the official system was in place, and it’s been easy enough to rename the files of material I’ve already scanned to conform to the new system. To give an example of how the naming works, I scanned an early essay of Wilkinson’s called “The Removal of Some Economic Causes of War.” The image file of the scan of the first page of this essay is named emic_ut_wilkinson_removal_00001.tiff, which in long form means “this is an EMiC-hosted digital project based on documents held at the University of Toronto in the Anne Wilkinson archive; the document that has been scanned is titled “Removal” etc. and this is the first page.” Did I get it right, Matt? The great thing about a text-based system like this is that I can look at the file names and know what the image file is without opening it. Things get a bit complicated when there are factors like documents that don’t have titles, or things that have multiple versions, but Matt and I will be working through those problems and coming up with good solutions as they crop up.
  • I was already very attached to my external hard drive before I started work on the Wilkinson project, but we’re pretty inseparable now. I can only imagine how devastated I would be if my computer died and the scans weren’t backed up, so I’m being extra vigilant. I’m scanning to 300 dpi TIFF files, which aren’t super small (and there are a lot of them) so I’ve got a 1TB hard drive that I’m saving everything to.
  • Although I still think that I’m probably only going to be able to deal with Wilkinson’s poetry if I want to get the project online as a “complete” entity before I graduate, I’m going to scan the entire contents of the physical archive. It only makes sense to do it now while I’ve got the time and access to the scanner, and I may end up being able to deal with more material than I currently think I can. Having everything scanned will also make it easier when I’m writing explanatory notes and want to refer to other aspects of Wilkinson’s writing than just the poetry. It’s a lot to scan—a daunting amount, actually, for one person—but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.
  • I’m currently working on an article about the challenges of creating the Wilkinson digital edition/archive for the special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing that Dean, Meg, and Bart are editing. I’ll continue to use these “Diary” blog posts as a place to think through those problems and challenges, and hopefully, if the article turns out, you’ll get to read about the project in a more formalized form in ECW. As is my wont, I’ll be sure to talk about the practical challenges of doing this kind of project as a grad student, as the sole person working on the project, and as someone who is just becoming immersed in the field of digital humanities.

I’ll be back with an update once I’ve completed the majority of the scanning and I’m ready to move on to the next stage of the project. Stay tuned!

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