medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: James Ginther <[log in to unmask]>
> On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM, Christopher Crockett wrote:
>> his ideas about making (eventually) all manuscripts, in all libraries,
everywhere, available on the web are definitely worth a look.
>> he apparently has this really Weird hallucination that “The Web of
ancient manuscripts of the future isn't going to be built by institutions.
It's going to be built by users ... people who just want to curate their own
glorious selection of beautiful things.”
>> yeah, well, Good Luck with that one.
> As one who is working towards helping Will's dreams come true, it needs more
yes, Jim, but luck is all i happen to have in abundance, at present.
>What it needs is scholars who are committed to sharing their raw data, and
not just their tailored conclusions. And if that sounds too sciency, think
about getting scholars to share their transcriptions of manuscripts with
everyone, even as they pull together their own critical edition. That is a sea
change, but it is already slowly happening. The main reason is that this is
how scholarly information will survive in our digital age.
> As scholarship learns to share more openly, institutions will follow.
from my own (definitely book-worm's eye) point of view, though there may well
be some resistance to our (yours and mine) kinky ideas about what constitutes
"progress" in this area, i strongly suspect that it is the interests and
actions of publishers which will probably offer the most significant
opposition to their realization.
this is particularly the case with those wretched scholarly publishers who
specialize in targeting the Finite but Captive Market of collection
development librarians and those (relatively few) scholars who are working in
any particular field and who think of themselves as being in a "must buy"
Brill, Pindar, Brepols (and others) put out very high quality products, but
they seem to do it on a "cost plus" basis --rather in the same manner as U.S.
"defense" contractors crank out $800 screw drivers and $3,000 toilet seats (at
least those were the prices for such items in the Roaring '80s, under St.
Ronnie Raygun; i suspect that their prices have gone up considerably since
i've never signed a contract with any of those folks, but i would strongly
suspect that they might take a Dim View of my Act if i were to engage in
sharing my work with the Hoi and the unwashed Poloi for free on The Innernets,
either before or, certainly, after its "publication" in one of their
outrageously over-priced volumes.
someone else with more knowledge and experience in these matters than i can
answer the question of just how a publication contract is worded to "protect"
the [purely commercial] interests of these thieves from such outrageous
i'm all for copyrights and, when i do finally [self-]publish my own work
(sometime early in the next millennium), i will be PISSED AS HELL if anyone
pirates it for a song or puts it up on The Innernets for any moron with access
to a mouse to just read for free.
but, the other side of that rip-off coin (or, maybe it's the same side, i
don't know) is the fact that any copyright can --and usually does-- persist
for *generations* after the book itself has gone out of print, rarely (if
ever) with any intent on the part of the original publisher to reprint it.
the effect of these two factors --outrageously prohibitive pricing and
long-term copyright monopoly-- on the "scholarly community" at large is
difficult to overestimate.
> There's hope even for venerable strongholds like the British Library and
my reading of their Act is rather the reverse --that there has been a notable
trend in the last few years towards "tightening up" their free access to their
i'd be happy to hear from you (or anyone else) some factoids to the contrary.
thanks for your comments, Jim.
> James R. Ginther, PhD
> Professor of Medieval Theology
> & Director,
> Center for Digital Theology
> Saint Louis University
> [log in to unmask]
> Faculty Page: Departmental
>Research Blog: http://digital-editor.blogspot.com
> Twitter: DH_editor <http://twitter.com/#!/DH_editor>
> T-PEN: www.tpen.org/
> "Blessed are the Geeks for they shall encode the Earth"
> "...debet esse oratio devota, ne mens sit in foro dum os psallit in choro."
> - Robert Grosseteste
> "Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if
both are frozen." -Edward V. Berard
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