18thConnect

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Hello to the Early Modern Online Bibliography blog: your discussions here are amazing, and rich with references.

Robert Markley at the University of Illinois and I started 18thConnect — we are co-directors — as a subsidiary organization to NINES (http://www.nines.org) which is incredibly supportive, both financially and in other ways as well.  Basically, 18thConnect is an organization that will peer-review digital resources created by 18th-century scholars and then aggregate those resources along with commerical resources.

What does that mean?  When you come to the 18thConnect home page, you will be able to search for digital resources among free scholarly resources available on the web that have been judged high quality through peer review, AND commercial catalogs:  ECCO, Adam Matthew’s Eighteenth-Century Journals Portal, JSTOR, ProjectMuse, etc.  Our finding aid will deliver links to these resources — 18thConnect won’t house them in any way — and then, when you click on a link to an edition of Clarissa, say, proffered by ECCO, if your library subscribes to it and you are logged in at work, you will be sent directly to the resource.

Here is the news for those of you who already know about this initiative: at our summer meeting, July 15, in Dublin, Ireland, at the Royal Irish Academy, Gale consented to give us their page images.  We will attempt to machine-read them better, using our own home-made OCR program, in order to produce better plain text files, something closer to the keyed texts produced by the ECCO TCP.  Gale will allow us to index the texts that we produce to allow keyword searching on ECCO texts EVEN FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DON’T OWN the ECCO catalog.  In other words, you’ll be able to find the bibliographic data of the texts containing the keywords for which you search: if your library subscribes to ECCO, you can get the text directly, but if not, at least you now know which texts you’ll have to find through some other means (microfilm, interlibrary loan, visit to special collections).

We are now negotiating with the British Library and ESTC to get that catalog in as well.  The Digital Bibliography for English Literature (formerly the NCBEL) will be in soon.  We don’t yet  have the 18thConnect finding aid up and running: once we have the Gale (ECCO), Adam Matthew (18th-c Journals Portal), DBEL, ESTC data ingested and running smoothly, we will launch: we hope, June 2010.

If you would like to contribute ideas to how this organization should work, you may wish to first take a look at online videos about NINES and 18thConnect available at:

http://unixgen.muohio.edu/~poetess/NINES

and

http://unixgen.muohio.edu/~poetess/NINES/18thConnect.html

(our temporary home)

The NINES interface has changed since I made these videos, but the principles of its operation have not.

Please contribute ideas here, as I will check frequently, but also feel free to email me: mandellc@muohio.edu

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4 Responses to “18thConnect”

  1. Dave Mazella Says:

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for visiting here and giving us some much-needed context for the 18th Connect project. I especially appreciate the idea that users could do keyword searches of the indices, and learn the locations of their hits, without having to necessarily work at an institution that subscribes.

    As you can see from our discussion of MONK and Google Book Search, there are a lot of very interesting (and troubling) issues arising at this intersection of technology and scholarship. I look forward to hearing more about this as it moves along.

    Best wishes,

    DM

  2. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Laura, this is great news. Like Dave, I’m delighted that those of us at institutions that do not have access to ECCO will be able to do keyword searches so that we can know which works we need to hunt down either through microfilm or by visiting archives.

    18th Connect promises great things for scholars. I look forward to watching it develop!
    Anna

  3. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Laura, let me just echo Dave’s and Anna’s thanks for your post. And making keyword searches using ECCO available to those whose libraries do not have ECCO is a significant development.

  4. Anna Battigelli Says:

    The NINES automatic slideshow presents views of what a comprehensive research environment like 18thConnect will allow scholars to do. Like the 18thConnect slideshows, the NINES slideshow is very helpful–and has the advantage of showcasing a system that is already up and running.

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