Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brave New Web

A few years ago a I wrote an article entitled Multimedia Medievalia: The Fate of Traditional Scholarship in a Post-Modern World, for a collection of published papers. It has recently been republished on the web on the new site Re-reading it, I discover it was largely a bit of a whinge about the difficulties of trying to be a pioneer in the use of multimedia for educational purposes. With a bit more water having passed under the bridge, how does that vision stack up?
At the end of the article I did express some optimism that the web might provide the means for building complex meta-projects in which the various elements interlock through cyberspace. Having just gone through the process of repairing broken links yet again in Medieval Writing, I realise that the web is still not stable enough for that. I think I have largely repaired the lists of external links, for now, but I know that there are many links embedded in the hundreds of pages of text on the site that have gone phut, and I could spend my whole time trying to track them down and never get on with putting any of my own content up.
Is the web destined to forever be a place of fleeting meetings of ephemera? I hope I live long enough to prove that wrong.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Book Announcement

The Australian National University's e-Press has just put online what should be a fabulous new book for those interested in the history of manuscript texts and how they were used over time. Elizabeth Keen's The Journey of a Book: Bartholomew the Englishman and the Properties of Things examines how a medieval text originally written for Franciscan preachers, De Proprietatibus Rerum, was interpreted and reinterpreted over several hundred years in Britain. Along the way, she investigates many intricacies in the use and interpretation of manuscript, and later printed, texts. I admit I have not yet read the book as it has only just hit cyberspace, but I have been in close contact with the development of the thesis, published articles, conference papers and fascinating lunchtime conversations with somebody so immersed in the thought patterns of the middle ages that you would swear she had been there. As is fitting for someone who has investigated how a text has survived changing reproduction technology, the book is being produced as online text, with print-on-demand paper copies available. It can be downloaded for free from here, while a modest oultlay of AU$24-99 will secure you a printed copy. It is hard to explain this book, but if you are interested in the medieval concept of text, then this may intrigue you.