Life in the Margin

Breaking research down into accessible, consumable morsels drives interest. A recent feature by Ken Jennings (popularly of Jeopardy fame) on highlights the monsters of the margins – cartographic phantasms. The presentation is fine, the information is concise and open, the platform is stable and freely available. Sooner, rather than later, these will become necessary metrics extending into the world of research.

When it comes to manuscript digitization, concerns about what and how a work takes on a digital form span more methods and fields of study than I had initially thought. As I’ve started exploring the field and moving beyond the rather over-simplified conception that a high resolution picture and some OCR processed text suffice, the possibilities of use and the range of collectible metadata seem astonishing. The tasks of digitization and distribution open so many avenues of research on fascinating topics.

For scholarship, expanding access to materials in the most complete form, taking into account the value of niche studies (perhaps, paper weight by production center) creates an ecosystem whereby the barrier to entry is an idea, not the approval of a librarian and years of study in preservation. I would like to think that embracing web technology across the research spectrum might help promote student interest in the humanities. The power of good marketing is not taken for granted when a company tries to get a teenager to buy a shirt, why is that not a consideration in the academic world beyond pitching one university over another?