The site contains an introductory six-minute video by Laura Mandell that briefly maps out plans to offer peer review of digital scholarship and provide the equivalent of a “table of contents” to the best electronic resources in the field. According to Laura, the human record needs to be machine readable in order to be preserved. The video also demonstrates how the platform works and what will and will not be accessible. Readers whose libraries subscribe to ECCO, will be able to access ECCO through 18thConnect. Readers whose libraries do not subscribe to ECCO will be directed to a given text’s record within ESTC so that they can identify the location of a text.
According to its own self-description, 18thConnect hopes to “gather together a community of scholars that shapes the world of digital resources,” adding that its main concerns include
- Access via plain-text searching for all scholars to open access and proprietary and digital archives including EEBO and ECCO even if their institutions are unable to afford those resources;
- Peer-review of the growing number of digital resources and archives for which 18thConnect offers an online finding aid;
- Reflection on Best Practices with scholars who are negotiating new modes of publication and scholarly production.
It is great that we finally have an eighteenth-century counterpart to NINES, which nineteenth-century scholars seem to be using productively. I am curious, however, about how a platform like 18thConnect will be used, either in scholarship or in teaching. When I hear Laura talk about “crowd-sourced data correction” or data-mining projects, I want to hear more about how such tasks will function and in what cases they will be used. And how will accuracy be guarded? I also wonder whether there are plans to include EEBO–so that 18thConnect can provide resources for the entirety of the long eighteenth century. But for now I would be very interested in hearing how scholars plan on using this promising new platform.