Hello BfT fans! As promised, I am blogging the contents of Episode 13 and some links that might interest you. For this episode, I have interviewed Professor Lorna Hughes, from the Department of Information Studies at the University of Glasgow. Lorna is currently doing some fascinating research. Make sure to click on the links below that will take you to a description of the projects and Lorna’s work. Lorna teaches on the UG Digital Media and Information Studies course.
Extra link: Why Study Digital Media & Information Studies at UofG? Video about the course
Extra link: Towards a National Collection Video about the overall Project
Extra link: Discovery Projects Read about all the individual projects
Extra link: Our Heritage, Our Stories Read about Lorna’s project
Book One: Non-Fiction
This month Burning the Books
Written by Richard Ovenden
Published by Hodder And Stoughton Ltd.
Extra link: Dust by Carolyn Steedman Lorna mentions this book in the video.
Extra link: State of the Art in Digital Media and Applications by Rae Earnshaw This is another recommendation of Lorna’s that compliments Steedman’s work. Each is non-fiction, although the styles are very different; Steedman’s book reads as a memoir and Earnshaw’s is much more like a textbook and is focused on the digital, modern day.
Book Two: Fiction
This month The Name of the Rose
Written by Umberto Eco
Published by Mariner Books
Extra link: Lorna has given us another book recommendation and explains how and why she links it to her choice for Book Two:
“A work of fiction where the archive is crucial is John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974). This is a wonderful account of ‘slow research’ painstakingly reviewing archives to reveal the identity of a spy. It’s a book that calls to mind research that relies on folders, papers, and connecting things across collections. George Smiley – the world’s least glamourous secret agent – spends hours working through these archives, conveniently stolen for him by a sympathetic fellow agent. The ‘mole’ is slowly revealed through close analysis of the business archives of ‘the Circus’ (MI5), and as often happens, the truth is revealed through staff lists, invoices, and receipts, painstakingly put together.
I love this book, and really wanted to select it as my favourite work of fiction that relates to archives, but in the end, I decided that Smiley’s archive was a little too removed from my ‘digital’ approaches to archives, and instead I decided to select Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (1980).
Why is a book set in 1327 more relevant to my digitally engaged perspective on archives? Well, I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who haven’t read it, but the story is about using codes and linkages between manuscripts to find the secret. It’s about connecting data, which is what we can do when we digitise collections and making connections between disparate manuscripts in a collection. At the core of the plot is something that is held in the pages of the manuscript – so we go from the collection to the item, working through layers of information to solve the mystery, and the physical form and composition of the manuscript is as important as the words it contains.”
Extra link: Lorna also mentions an article which she wrote in collaboration with her colleague Andrew Prescott which further develops the idea of slow digitization:
Why do we digitize? The case for Slow Digitization
Extra Link: When Lorna was thinking of options for this month’s episode, she really wanted to use a book which, currently, is only available in Welsh. Still, she is pleased to share with us the trailer to the film which is in Welsh with English subtitles. You will not regret investigating this further!
Extra Link: Lorna also mentioned the famous novella by Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel (download in pdf for free). If you haven’t already read this one, it’s a classic and well worth your time!
I hope you enjoyed this post and I really hope that you take the time to explore the links! Until next time, take care!