New! EEBO Interactions

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The announcement below is just in from Jo-Anne Hogan at ProQuest:

EEBO Interactions:

A social network for Early English Books Online

http://eebo-interactions.chadwyck.com

ProQuest is delighted to announce the launch of EEBO Interactions, a social network for Early English Books Online (EEBO).  EEBO Interactions allows its registered users to:

·         comment upon works and authors in EEBO

·         debate issues connected with early printed books

·         correct and improve existing attribution and dating information

·         highlight and review new scholarship

·         ask teaching and research questions

·         share knowledge

·         analyse texts

·         link to related resources on the web and

·         interact with other EEBO users around the world

EEBO Interactions aims to provide scholars with new ways of engaging with EEBO and with the community of early modernists who use EEBO in teaching and research, providing a forum for the discussion of works and authors found in the database.   Registered users can share commentary, queries, contextual material and links relating to works and authors represented in EEBO, and edit and expand upon existing contributions by other contributors.

Direct messaging between participants is also supported.

The EEBO Interactions site itself is freely accessible and can be consulted by all users of the internet. The ability to interact with the resource – to add, edit and/or delete submissions – is restricted to its registered users. Registration is open to all authenticated EEBO users and to other scholars on application to the EEBO Interactions webmaster. Moderation of the content of the EEBO Interactions resource is undertaken by a team of independent editors, and will occur after submissions are posted.  If you are interested in becoming an editor for EEBO Interactions, please contact us at http://eebo-interactions.chadwyck.com/contact.

A number of EMOB readers acted as advisors on this project and we would like to thank you for your feedback and suggestions.  We are hoping that EEBO Interactions will help to address some of the issues raised in the recent ASECS roundtable by providing a forum for scholars to interact with the database and each other.

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25 Responses to “New! EEBO Interactions”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    ProQuest’s launch of EEBO interactions is in keeping with their previous efforts to serve the scholarly community beyond its role as a commercial provider of early modern texts. Specifically, I am thinking of EEBO Interactions as a logical extension of such ProQuest initiatives as its award for the best student essay using EEBO or its EEBO Introductions that debuted in October 2009. In the case of EEBO Interactions, ProQuest has created a space that can potentially serve as both a resource for the individual scholar and a place, as this resource’s title intimates, for scholarly collaboration.

    The activity on EEBO Interactions thus far consists of notes by seven contributors and tallies thirty interactions (some at this point are for testing purposes). One can see the activity by individual contributors, access a profile of the contributor, trace the history of the activity for a given work and more. Ian Gadd, for example, has provided brief notes for A new song in praise of the Loyal Company of Stationers, who (after the general forfeit,) for their singular loyalty, obtain’d the first Charter of London, Anno 1684. : To the tune of, Winchester wedding:

    This song, satirising the speed with which the Stationers’ Company secured a new charter following the quo warranto issued against all the London companies in early 1684, was also included in Thompson’s A Choice Collection of 180 Loyal Songs, published the following year.

    He has also offered a link to a related works in EEBO and cross-referenced that work with this one. That Gadd is a scholar of the Stationers’ Company and print as well as early modern literature represents the type of match between work and expertise that is ideal. The information, though viewable, is not yet approved and, as such, points to the controls that have been built into the system. Having a careful approval process in place should ensure and enhance the credibility of these interactions. Whether Gadd has plans to use this tool in his Stationers’ Company seminar that he will be teaching at the Folger next spring is not known, but such seminars seem as if they would provide a rich means of not only further fostering exchange among seminar participants but also for sharing the work accomplished to a larger scholarly audience.

    Other activities include suggested additional reading for those interested in Thomas Rawlins’s The rebellion a tragedy: as it was acted nine dayes together, and divers times since with good applause, by his Majesties Company of Revells. Besides supplying a link to an EEBO introduction by Anna Fahraeus for this text, there is also information about and a link to Amy Lockwood’s 2006 online MA thesis, Thomas Rawlins, The Rebellion. Yet another contribution offers a list of works by the 15th/16th-century authorMarco Antonio Zimara available through EEBO.

    The promise of this resource will depend in many ways on the willingness of scholars to participate and the quality of knowledge brought to bear on these notes. Often specialized scholarly listservs serve as highly useful sites of exchanges and source of expert knowledge. EEBO Interactions extends the possibility of such listservs and has the added advantage of built-in controls to ensure the authority of information. Moreover, EBO Interactions appears, at this early juncture, to present a range of possible types of collaboration. For example, while a group of scholars could come together to work on a particular project, the platform also allows the individual scholar to pose queries and gain assistance from a much wider community than found in print or within his or her immediate circle.

  2. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Thanks, Eleanor, for that helpful overview. I agree that this is an innovative way to work collectively on the material that EEBO offers. It allows people from all over the world to consider bibliographical queries together. It seems to me that there will be at least two initial tests marking how well this project works. The first test will be how many scholars make use of EEBO Interactions. The second will be determining how best to oversee the edited remarks. The latter may be the toughest aspect of this project.

    I look forward to seeing how this promising function of EEBO evolves. ProQuest’s effort at creating a virtual space for scholarly discussion is commendable.

  3. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, these two components will be key tests. How many use EEBO Interactions to offer notes and other forms of contributions will no doubt play a major role in the tool’s success. The smaller the number of participants will probably result in fewer works being discussed, annotated, and the like. Yet, ironically, the more contributions, the more time and effort it will take to exercise editorial control. So success in th usage arena will no dount put increased pressure on the editorial sector.

    It seems important to publicize that EEBO Interactions can be used even if one does not have access to the EEBO database.

  4. Anna Battigelli Says:

    I particularly like the “Suggested Readings” option. This will help readers make quicker sense of obscure or understudied writers, draw links between writers, place texts within their proper context, or in the case of the Q1 Hamlet provide an initial reading list of relevant works that will be helpful for students.

    And, as Eleanor points out, anyone can access EEBO Interactions, even without access to the EEBO database.

  5. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Offering contributions to the “Suggested Readings” section would not require that much time on the part of a scholar, and this quick way of participating may make it attractive to many who may feel releuctant to become involved in lengthier exchanges or to share detailed works that they have spent extended time compiling. Of course, such contributions also would offer the benefits that Anna notes above.

    Suggesting links to related texts, in turn, would also not require that much time, and such collected links could provide clusters of texts that would work well for course discussion or assignments.

  6. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Now that I have re-read the “Suggested Reading” list for Q1 Hamlet, I see that it is not a list for students but rather a list focused on bibliographical studies of the quarto. It would seem important to keep this kind of reading list distinct from a more pedagogical list, which would vary according to class, instructor, and the purposes for which the given text is taught. Though I can see the value of a pedagogical reading list, it might be helpful to think of these reading lists primarily as part of scholarly apparatus, and not teaching tools.

  7. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, I’ve been viewing this tool as site foremost for scholars and perhaps advanced graduate students. This focus would seem to help with issues of credibility and editorial oversight. While open to everyone and anyone, the tenor of the material provided will no doubt signal the prime audience. I do see ways that material could be repackaged or used as the basis for work in undergraduate classrooms.

  8. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Teaching links could be added on the “suggest a link” block. That’s a better place for pedagogical material–which could include syllabi, exercises or paper assignments using the text, or bibliographies geared toward students–than using the “Suggested Reading” block.

  9. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Or perhaps a new space could be created within EEBO Interactions for pedagogical material. Because the first “suggested links” space is devoted to providing links to relevant EEBO texts, its heading as such probably has colored my perceptions of what the generic “suggested links” space would contain. In this second case I was envisioning links to relevant texts not in EEBO and/or to contextual material. While this material could easily also serve as pedagogical resources, too, it might be better to have a clearly labeled place for such resources.

  10. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Good point, if such a pedagogical space is necessary: I’m clearly backtracking on my earlier enthusiasm about pedagogical material. One thing that would not be good would be to try to make this space all things to everyone, a virtual baggy monster. Focusing on bibliographical accuracy and on material that will enrich other scholars’ engagement with the text seems to be the key.

  11. Face-Booke « Mercurius Politicus Says:

    [...] So in the spirit of encouraging others to sign up and use the site, here is a link to my own first contribution, on Canterburies dreame: in which the apparition of Cardinall Wolsey did present himselfe unto him on the fourtenth of May last past: it being the third night after my Lord of Strafford had taken his fare-well to the world (London, 1641). Have a look and see what you think. As ever, there is also a good discussion going on at Early Modern Online Bibliography. [...]

  12. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, a common thread in the discussions of EEBO Interactions seems to concern editing as well as the need for scholars to use this resource. All seem quite enthused about the concept itself and the launch of the actual resource, but these two issues are ones receiving the most attention. Similar to an earlier point I’ve made here, other discussions have noted that the more scholars contribute, the greater the pressure will be on maintaining editorial oversight. Currently, I believe that only representatives from ProQuest are listed as those who can approve or not approve a contribution. Yet, if I am not mistaken ProQuest is very interested in involving scholars elsewhere in assisting with the editorial review. So I , too, would be interested in what ProQuest has to say.

  13. Jo-Anne Hogan Says:

    Thank you, Eleanor, Anna and Nick, for your analyses of the site. We are thrilled to get your feedback so early on. We do have plans to incorporate users’ suggestions to improve the site over time. Indeed, while we gathered quite a lot of suggestions as to what kinds of fields would be useful for capturing the annotations and information that scholars and students could provide on the site, we are curious to see what other needs arise that were never considered – whether for research or teaching.

    The editorial function, in particular, still needs to be developed. We always hoped the community of scholars would embrace that role. Peter White and I, both from ProQuest, are listed as Editors as an administrative necessity for now – it was clear from our research that moderation would be expected in order to keep the site authoritative and scholarly. We would love to hear your thoughts on the Editor’s role. Is it something you would be willing to undertake? How much time would you be willing to invest? How much editorial moderation is required? I look forward to your comments or further questions.

  14. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Proceeding slowly and methodically seems prudent and necessary to preserve the scholarly potential of EEBO Interactions. I would like to hear from others how this kind of vetting process might be set up. What’s nice about the set-up is that anyone can offer any comment for all to see. Whether the comment is approved or not will suggest something about its scholarly reception, but the comment remains visible. You get both openness and scholarly vetting.

    Because you may need a number of editors, each with micro-specialties to cover the range of texts in EEBO, having a working editorial board of scholars qualified to approve editors seems one way to begin. There might be two stages to approval; first by the individual editor appointed to the field in which the text belongs, and again by the editorial board. Because questions requiring vetting will arise, a larger advisory board of scholars who can be consulted for individual questions may also be helpful.

    I’m sure there are other ways to preserve EI’s potential and as I mentioned above would be interested in hearing about them.

  15. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    I was in the processing of replying to Jo-Anne’s commentwhen I saw that Anna had just replied. In many ways my initial response would have adhered closely to her remarks, especially her opening sentence, so I will simply expand on some of these points.

    I suspect time will be needed to assess the types of comments and the levels of expertise involved. As Nick notes on Mercurius Politicus, “if you have devoted your BA dissertation, say, to a particular text, you will probably be far more of an expert on it than the most experienced academic.” Such situations in turn may make it difficult to find an expert to approve certain kinds of comments. This situation is just one aspect of the micro-responsibilities, as Anna nicely deems them, that would seem to come into play in vetting contributions. The notion of a two-step approval process that Anna suggests seems as if it would be one way to address oversight.

    If one were receiving occasional contributions that fell within one’s area of expertise to review, then such requests would not seem onerous. However, the more work required of individual editors would perhaps result in fewer scholars being willing to serve in this capacity. Without a sufficient number of editors to handle the load, some contributions may languish as unapproved–not because they are necessarily suspect but either because of a shortage of editors or a lack of editors working within the parameters of the text involved.

  16. Stephen Karian Says:

    EEBO Interactions looks to be a welcome development. I have just registered for it, but my registration has not been processed, so I don’t know if what I’m seeing looks different for registered users. At this early stage, I’m not especially concerned about the role of editorial oversight. Obviously there should be some protection against cyber-vandalism, spam, and all that, though it seems that ProQuest’s current set-up will help prevent those abuses. Otherwise, I would suggest that we welcome debate and discussion, which is essential for research.

    What I would like to see is the name of the person contributing the comment. As an unregistered user, I could not tell who was posting what. Perhaps registered users have access to this information when looking at an individual EEBO entry, but it seems to me that all users should be able to know who is contributing these remarks. Having users’ names attached to comments will, I think, give proper credit for their ideas, discourage erroneous postings, and allow the site’s readers to assess and evaluate the worth of their postings. Doing so may also limit though not remove the need for editorial oversight.

    I would also hope that the growth of EEBO Interactions would encourage the ESTC to move toward a feature like this — otherwise the ESTC risks becoming a collection of outdated information.

  17. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Steve,

    When your registration is processed, the names of contributors will be visible. As you note, having a name attched to a contribution will serve as a form of editorial oversight. Your sense that more rigid editorial control is perhaps not as crucial is an interesting one, worthy of discussion. That all contributions tp EEBO Interactions appear initially as unapproved comments enables discussion and debate, and I agree that fostering such exchange represents one of the real advantages of this space. Yet, I also see a potential need at some juncture for information and details about a work to be confirmed. Yet perhaps I am asking EEBO Interactions to do too much–this space may well not be the place for validation of that information.

    Your plea for ESTC to adopt a similar feature may offer some solution if the logisitics and labor could be worked out. What perhaps could happen is that some of the new information that comes to light in this EEBO forum could be verified and then integrated into ESTC entries. I need to give this possibility more thought, but your comments raised this possibility to me.

  18. Jo-Anne Hogan Says:

    That’s a good point you both raise. Only a user who has created a profile and logged in will be able to click through to a contributor’s full profile to get an idea of who he/she is and what level of expertise may be expected. Everyone else will have to be content with the contributor’s name.

    We would be happy to see our colleagues from the ESTC join EEBO Interactions and make use of the information that is provided to update or enhance records.

  19. Anna Battigelli Says:

    It would be helpful to know both the point of approving comments and the long-term goal of EEBO Interactions (though I recognize that the latter may not yet be clear since it’s a work in progress).

    If the point of EEBO Interactions is to create a space where information can be shared, maybe there is no need to approve comments. As Steve notes, the name of the commenter may suffice. If, however, the site is intended to correct entries to EEBO’s catalogue, perhaps with a view toward improving it or toward building something larger and more intricate, then oversight or scholarly vetting seems necessary.

  20. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Because EEBO Interactions is in many ways a work-in-progress, how scholars interact and the types of contributions offered will seem to determine this tool’s purpose.

    The guidelines for EEBO Interactions offer the following list of possible uses for this resource:

    Please ensure your contributions are relevant to a specific work in EEBO. Suggestions include:

  21. Providing concise and informative commentaries on some of the less frequently discussed texts, as are currently available via the EEBO Introductions Series.
  22. Commenting on the bibliographic information in EEBO, such as provenance, dating and authorship.
  23. Providing general interpretive notes, or elucidation of textual references and allusions, even translations from or to foreign languages.
  24. Referring users to related texts within EEBO.
  25. Providing links to other helpful sources and references.
  26. Some of these suggestions–providing links or referring uses to related texts within EEBO, for example–would seem not to require vetting. However, offering translations and commenting on bibliographic information would benefit from approval–whether this approval takes place through EEBO, perhaps in partnership with ESTC. Some of the other suggested tasks could fall somewhere in-between. In these cases the vetting or approval of these comments, coupled with who offered them, will determine more than likely color how these exchanges or viewed and how those consulting contributions will approach this information. In other words, these contributions could be seen as either a resource reference or a simply a forum.

    All of these possibilities seem potentially useful to me, but the vetting issue will probably help determine our perceptions of the space and how we use it.

  27. John Edwards Says:

    While this new forum may be a welcome addition to those who are affiliated with an academic institution, it only adds to the frustration of independent scholars. Once again, information is available only to those privileged few who managed to land one of the scarce jobs in academia or to those who have ready access to an institution that can afford the huge subscription fees. ProQuest continues to limit its “market” to institutions, completely marginalizing all of those without the necessary elite associations and affiliations. Information remains the province of the “haves,” while the “have nots” are forced to do without, regardless of their other qualifications, abilities, or achievements. How can any independent scholar participate in the discourse when he/she is denied access to the database and its contents? But of course, this comment will never be posted, since it is critical of the profit-driven parent company acting as gatekeeper to the information.

  28. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    John,

    Thank you for your remarks; they are appreciated. Yet I should correct an erroneous assumption you seem to have about this blog. Rather than being an extension or mouthpiece for ProQuest or Gale-Cengage, it is an independent voice begun by two academics who have experienced and witnessed firsthand the problems of access.

    One of the motivations for this forum, in fact, is the issue of access and addressing these inequities. Anna Battigelli, who initiated this blog of which I am co-author, does not have access to EEBO, ECCO, or Burney. I am fortunate enough to have access to ECCO I and EEBO, but my institution does not subscribe to ECCO II or Burney. It is not just independent scholars who lack access to these tools but many, many scholars who are at institutions.

    The discussions on this blog and the panels that Anna and I have organized have initiated a dialogue to spur these commercial providers to offer individual, affordable subscriptions and to find ways to enable more institutions to subscribe.

    I should note that one does not need to have a subscription to EEBO to use EEBO Interactions.

    We hope you will lend your voice to our conversations.

  29. Anna Battigelli Says:

    John:

    I fully understand your frustration with access. One of the things that worries me about the impending virtual world of electronic resources is the divide you mention between haves and have nots. There are also other divides: digital humanists vs. traditional humanists, or schools with databases vs. schools without, or affiliated scholars vs. non-affiliated scholars. These divides existed, of course, before electronic resources, but they seem drastically intensified by the new world of electronic reference rooms.

    We’re hoping that we can open and usefully complicate discussions of access by bringing together voices that often do not speak to one another: librarians and scholars, commercial conglomerates and academics, independent scholars and dependent scholars, etc. I hope you’ll feel there is a place for your voice here.

    As Eleanor mentions, our blog is independent of ProQuest and Gale, though we have cultivated what we hope will be productive discussions with representatives from those companies.

  30. Dave Mazella Says:

    Hi John,

    The situation of the independent scholar is hard in all sorts of ways, not the least in the lack of institutional resources that other scholars have. Peter Reill of ASECS is I hope having some discussions about the possibility of ASECS-affiliated subscriptions, but this is some way off.

    If it’s any consolation, none but a handful of private and big public R1 institutions offer access to _all_of what’s currently available. My institution, for example, just started subscribing to EEBO this year, but no plans are in the offing for ECCO, which is what I need for research. So most of us, I dare say, are in the position of having some portion of our research affected by this unevenness of access.

    There’s no immediate solution to this except figuring out the work-arounds that many of us do: I run across town to Rice for ECCO access; Google books and the Library of Congress for Eleanor, and so forth. But I think that independent scholars and what they have to offer (along with grad students, adjuncts, many post docs, etc.) would be one of the major reasons why an ASECS-based subscription would be a great idea.

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