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« I resemble that remark | Main | How to ask questions on academic listservs: gentle hints »

September 30, 2007



Alas, you poor Victorianists. As an early modernist, I can take advantage of a wealth of Shakespeare resources -- but that feels almost like cheating.

My freshman comp students should be reading an e-text right now and, happily, it avoids every one of the problems you list: book 2 of Milton's Paradise Lost, via Darmouth's "Milton Reading Room" (

Maybe the solution is to get some department money and start hosting your own quality collection?

Sherman Dorn


I disagree on the annotations, thanks to social annotation software such as Diigo. This next week, students in one class are reading the two Brown v. Board of Education cases, and they get to read MY annotations embedded in the webpage. (Diigo allows me to set up a group for a class, so my annotations are shared only with the class.) I had originally thought that social annotation would be of greatest use for history classes with primary sources, but of course any way of layering commentary in a public (or semi-public) way will be valuable for any subject with text analysis (though I suspect the CommentPress version of the Talmud will have to wait).

(The annotations also allow me to note typos.)

K. M. Lawson

I share your frustration but also appreciate, as you seem to, the fact we can do things we couldn't do before so there seems to be a net gain.

I have never seen HorrorMasters before. Wonderful selection of classic stories I didn't know were available online. I wonder what files have the no-printing restriction? I was able to test print the half dozen or so files I downloaded. However, I use "Preview" which is the default PDF viewer on a Macintosh rather than Adobe Acrobat. I wonder if the restriction is only in Acrobat?


Zotero allows the user to make notes off to the side, but can it actually allow users to create markings within a text? Can you give the Zotero newbies among us an idea of how that's done?

This is exciting in what it may promise for the classroom.


Sherman: Thanks for the Diigo link.

Undine: Scott McLemee has an interesting intro to Zotero.


Thanks. I see that Scott McLemee mentions the possibility of highlighting, too, so I'll try to figure out how to make it work. (Zotero doesn't seem to recognize our JStor, for example.)


Those of us who volunteer at Distributed Proofreaders have made significant advances in producing better, scholarly-quality ebooks.

We've gone from two rounds of proofreading to three, plus an additional two rounds of formatting.

We're now giving all the relevant version information re the source text. Several of the "content providers" are putting the original scans online at the Internet Archive.

Texts are submitted in XHTML as well as plain ASCII text. The next steps will probably be preparing TEI "master texts" (for on-the-fly conversion into any format) and adopting Unicode rather than the current Latin-1.

More and more of the post-processors, who put the finishing touches on the books, are also supplying errata lists -- back of the book lists of obvious typos and printing errors that were corrected during preparation of the ebook.

We know that many of the older PG ebooks are rife with errors and don't give source information. We're slowly redoing some classic works, from the best sources texts we can find. In progress now: Robert Louis Stevenson.

Ideally, we'd do multiple versions of texts. Eventually.

Unfortunately, the founder of Project Gutenberg refuses to exercise ANY quality control over the texts there (or let anyone else do so). The biggest source of online texts is full of botched ebooks ... which doesn't do the cause of ebooks any good in the scholarly world.

If only someone would do an online library RIGHT ... that means PG openness (free redistribution, no attempt to control the text, no walled gardens) and scholarly standards. TEI and Unicode texts, linked to good images of the source. Possibly annotated versions, submitted by scholars and vetted by a competent panel. *Multiple* annotated versions, so that professors can choose the one that they prefer.


On line texts also solve the problem of libraries having only one copy of assigned readings. Now every student can have immediate access and doesn't have to recall and wait.

Students seem to prefer on line texts. It seems that more students actually do the assigned reading.

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