Sunday, September 25, 2011

Archive upgrades

I am gradually bringing some long-term bibliographic projects up to the point where it will make sense to publish them. While I'm still a long way from having tracked down all the work by Josiah Warren, or Joshua King Ingalls—or even William Batchelder Greene—I have reached the point where I feel like the major works are located, and I can give some useful indications of what remains to be unearthed. The goal is a series of annotated reader's guides, ranging in scale from extremely modest to quite extensive, and one important step towards the goal is to transform the Libertarian Labyrinth—which has always, and mostly explicitly, had more the character of an online filing cabinet than a scholarly archive—into something substantially more useful and user-friendly. Part of the disarray has been the results of my ongoing search for a platform and toolset that served my needs as a writer and researcher. The rest, of course, has been the fallout of years of underemployment, moves, the distractions of entrepreneurship, the associated bouts of crippling depression, etc., etc. There have been days—and months, and years—when it made sense to keep piling up texts and data, whether or not I had the wherewithal to tidy them up for anyone else.

I haven't really wanted to take the time to do the tidying—standardizing and completing citations, triple-checking formatting, adding interpretive apparatus, etc.—until I was pretty sure the changes were going to be really useful enough to justify the labor. But over the last six months or so, I've been zeroing in a bundle of improvements that seem well worth it. I'm still moving pieces around—both online and in my head—trying to work out the best combination of platforms to bring out the real value of the material in, or destined for, the archive, but quite a few of the pieces are in place.

The first significant improvement is the addition of simple metadata to the wiki pages at the Libertarian Labyrinth site. I've started using Zotero for reference-management—and I'm pretty happy with it, as a means of grabbing citations—and adding metadata in the COinS (ContextObjects in Spans) format (which works with both Zotero and Omeka, the library/museum platform on which I'm building a new version/extension of the Labyrinth archive.) COinS metadata is fairly limited, but it is sufficient for most citations. The addition of Zotero and COinS to my workflow will simplify certain steps in the archive renovation, but it will also allow anyone else using COinS-friendly reference-management software to pull citations right off their browser on upgraded pages.

The experiment is quite literally still in its first day, but the majority of the pages linked from my recently updated (though still very incomplete) Voltairine de Cleyre bibliography are now COinS-equipped.

For those interested in experimenting with COinS metadata, there is a handy online generator.

And even if you aren't interested in reference-management schemes, you might be interested in a number of texts by Voltairine de Cleyre that I have recently added to the archive. I've worked through the material from The Open Court and should be able, with an overnight research trip, to finish up the contributions to Mother Earth and The Rebel later this week.


Nexus Co. said...

Thank you for the excellent job of spreading the culture libertarian / anarchist that you do in your blog :-)

Schizo Stroller said...

Hi Shawn

I'm a user of zotero, and an occasional reader of your blog. Reading this post on data organisation I thought I'd suggest Sciplore ( it's opensource mindmapping software for academics and researchers with the benefit of being able to directly access .pdfs and other texts from the mind map, and (although currently only through mendeley which is not opensource but is free) can link to zotero.

all the best Schizo Stroller