ESR7: Misha Broughton on “Mass digitization data for scholarly research and digital editions

Misha Broughton

Not My Best Piccie, but certainly not my worst.

Last to the party, as usual, I’m afraid. 😀

Misha Broughton, Early Stage Researcher Number 7, checking in from Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (aka Köln, [aka Cologne], Germany). I hold a Master’s degree in English Literature and Language from Case Western Reserve University and – before accepting this Fellowship – was pursuing my PhD in the same field at the Ohio State University. I’m currently in a state of academic limbo, on leave of absence from OSU and not yet enrolled as a Doctoral student at Universität zu Köln, but I’m hoping to eventually finagle a jointly-offered PhD out of the two of them.

The ESR7 Fellowship is charged with exploring the relationship between memory institutions (libraries, archives, etc.) and scholars (particularly scholarly editors) as regards digital content, with developing measurements for – and strategies to improve – the quality of digital images and text, and with planning implementation scenarios for the integration of mass digitized content into critical editions. In short, examining the wide, murky borderland between the sovereign realms of the scholarly editors and the wild frontiers of the mass digitizers to see how they work – or, perhaps more interestingly, don’t work – together. Where do the responsibilities of the one end and the other begin? For that matter, where does the work of the one begin and the other end? Can we draw a distinct border between the two, and if not, can we at least sketch out a zone of interaction between them? And what do we even mean when we talk about the “Quality” of digital images and text? Which “qualities?” Or “Quality” by what standard?

As such, I imagine that my questions will quickly come to focus much more on the “who”s and “why”s of the two fields – Who is doing this work and why are they doing it? – before it can make much headway on the “what”s and “how”s. To that end, I’m hoping to engage with existing stake holders to interview them on what they value in the work they do, what role they see it playing in the wider scholarly community, and who they conceive as the audience (or consumer) of their output.

And I do count you other ESRs and ERs as stake holders. Count on me pestering you for insight into your projects every time you’re in a room with me.

Finally, bringing my previous dissertation prospects to bear on this project, I hope to eventually field-test the practices and theories from my initial research by amassing digitized facsimiles of several different 18th century translations of Cervantes’ [i]Don Quixote[/i] to build a comparative/omnibus edition of the early English [i]Quixote[/i]. If my theorizing is worth its salt, then the edition should prove a way to refine the concepts and offer adaptations to real-world scenarios. If not… then I at least hope that the attempt fails in interesting and instructive ways.


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