Laura Mandell’s “Brave New World: A Look at 18thConnect.”


EMOB is pleased to make available the complete text of Laura Mandell’s “Brave New World: A Look at 18thConnect.” To access the full article, please see the blog’s sidebar and click on the link under the “Pages” section. Professor Mandell’s essay appears in the current volume Age of Johnson, Vol. 21 (2012); unfortunately, due to a printing error, several paragraphs at the end of the essay were omitted. The press is determining the best way to rectify this situation. In the meantime, readers can access this important article in its entirety here.

Mandell’s essay explains the mission of 18thConnect and the many possibilities it offers eighteenth-century scholars. Key among its objectives is to enable greater access to digital archives and commercial databases such as EEBO and ECCO regardless of whether the scholar’s institution subscribes. Inspired by and modeled after NINES, 18thConnect should serve as a key digital resource for scholars working in eighteenth-century studies. The availability of Professor Mandell’s essay here provides an ideal opportunity to discuss the import of 18thConnect as a forum and toolbox.


15 Responses to “Laura Mandell’s “Brave New World: A Look at 18thConnect.””

  1. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Thanks, Eleanor. This gives us an opportunity to return to 18thConnect here on emob. I would love to hear about the kinds of projects or exhibits users are considering through 18thConnect.

    Laura provides illustrated examples in her essay of how one might use 18thConnect. How are readers using 18thConnect?


  2. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    I hope this discussion will make 18th-century scholars more aware of 18thConnect. Too many still do not seem to know about it. The goals 18thConnect lists on its website are ones that many academics share:

    • •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 (“What is 18thConnect?”)

    Laura’s essay offers a clear account of how 18thConnect can effect this agenda if those in eighteenth-century studies participate.


  3. Dave Mazella Says:

    Really nice essay. I appreciated the fact that Laura gave us a screen-by-screen breakdown how these cross-platform searches might work. It made me think that it might be fruitful at some point for us to talk a little about “searching” and how systematically/intuitively we manage the process. I sometimes struggle to explain the process to students, and I suspect that being able to document and compare different processes might be useful. Resources like this really demand a reflective research process to demonstrate their value to scholars.


    • Eleanor Shevlin Says:

      Thanks, Dave. The screen shots and other forms of illustration are indeed useful in detailing performing searches and cross-searches. While we will be having a post *very* soon on the search and searching, it could be useful for readers to experiment with searching 18thConnect and report their experiences here.

      But 18thConnect seems to offer even more than being a finding or discovery aid. The ability to edit and, if desired, submit the edited text for peer-reviewed publication offers a concrete model for new forms of scholarly publication. This publication plan, moreover, enables those whose access to ECCO works depends on correcting OCR text to gain not only access but also potentially a recognized scholarly publication.


    • Anna Battigelli Says:

      I agree that a post on searching would be helpful.


  4. 18thConnect « Skulking in Holes and Corners Says:

    […] just put up a post reminding its readers of 18thConnect. Tying in to our previous discussions about digital databases […]


  5. shgregg Says:

    Thanks indeed for this Eleanor and of course Laura. I’m hoping to work with a student to use Typewright on a project this coming academic year and this essay is a fantastic overview of what 18thConnect can do. If it goes ahead, we’ll keep you posted.


  6. Laura Mandell’s “Brave New World: A Look at 18thConnect.” « digitalhumanistbeginner Says:

    […] Modern Online Bibliography has just made available the full text of Laura Mandell’s excellent overview of the “community, electronic platform and […]


  7. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks, Stephen. Do let us know your experiences with Typewright if you go ahead with plans to sue it. I experimented a bit with using Voyeur on the site, and found the experience interesting. Once more texts are available, I will spend more time experimenting. I have played about with Google’s Ngram, but the metadata is quite suspect here.


  8. Laura Mandell Says:

    Thanks so much, everyone. I wanted to comment a bit on your comments: I’m not sure how clear my essay is on this topic, but we are giving everyone the documents they correct in both plain text and TEI–it is coded lightly, and you (and your students) can encode them more deeply. Also, we’ll provide the transformations (XSLTs) you need to make your TEI document into a web page: we’re working with Benjamin Pauley on some demonstration pages which I hope will be up soon.

    Dave, you are so right about searching: Ted Underwood told me that Representations will have a special issue on “search” and is issuing calls for it shortly.

    I had some great feedback from Anna and Eleanor on problems with 18thConnect, and I wanted to let everyone know that not all texts are available to edit. Soon, all ECCO texts will be available for that, and later even the EEBO texts, I hope –we’re working on trying to get a contract for that now. Anna, I think you may have tried to edit something that you can’t? When you search using the 18thConnect Search page, the list of results will contain items, and next to them two buttons by default: “collect” and “discuss.” If you see a third button there, “edit,” you’ll know that you can edit that text (and you can begin doing so by clicking on the edit button.

    Please send any ideas for improvements to mandell AT


  9. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Laura: Thanks for this. I am editing a text in Type Wright, and it’s an education in OCR reading and misreading!

    Can you tell me how to make the red box identifying a given line accurately surround the line? Or is this something that has to be edited by 18thConnect specialists?

    Very interesting experience.


  10. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, many thanks, Laura. As noted earlier, I am looking forward to experimenting more with Voyeur as well as the Create Exhibit space (I encountered some slight difficulty here because I was using Internet Explorer–thank you for that tip!).


  11. Laura Mandell Says:

    Eleanor: yes, sadly the Exhibit tool doesn’t work in Internet Explorer, but it does work in all other browsers. We’re hoping IE fixes their browser to work like the others, but they are always a bit slow at that, having a captive market and so no reason to improve–unless we all download firefox for free and force Microsoft to make good software! (militant side of Mandell)

    The Exhibit Tool works best if you log in and start from your My18 page after collecting things you wish to discuss on your “pallet.” We are working on improving the tool so that you can
    1. upload your own pictures, etc.
    2. upload powerpoints as well as microsoft documents
    We’ll keep you posted.


  12. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks– I rarely used IExplorer until I arrrived at my present campus; many of its programs and tools just don’t work well (believe it or not) outside of IE. I use Firefox at home quite a bit.


  13. Anna Battigelli Says:


    I would love to hear what you think is in the future for 18thConnect. Are there specific plans, improvements, exhibits, group action that might be shared at this point? Or are you waiting to see how users transform 18thConnect through use?


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