An Epilogue of Sorts

Our work on the JOH social edition thus far has opened my mind to the various ways a text is impacted through digitisation. Like Sasha, I felt disconnected from A Study in Temptations because of the limited nature of my interaction with it. My access to the text  in terms of annotating was further impeded by my almost complete lack of knowledge about Victorian literature, and by the fact that I am from the British Isles. It was hard for me to know whether some aspects of the text would be obvious to a reader who is more familiar with the literature of the time period, and therefore, not necessary to annotate. Also, many of the more “British” words, phrases, and references seemed entirely normal to me, and so it felt strange to annotate them. Overall, I could not tell whether my judgment in annotating was really on point. That, I suppose, is the beauty of the social edition – no one “editor’s” judgment ranks supreme. I suppose time will tell whether my annotations are useful, and as a participant in the social edition, I am happy for other users to amend the annotations as they fit.

As I was reading a little about the rise of the social edition generally, I came across an interesting article written by Constance Crompton, Ray Siemens, and Alyssa Arbuckle. The main point that caught my attention in the article is the authors’ dissection of some illuminating statistics in relation to Wikipedia users. As it turns out, “only 16% of editors on Wikipedia are women”, and further, “new female editors are more likely to have their edits reversed than new male editors”. The article goes on to state that the underrepresentation of women “has skewed the content and quality of subjects about women, like the history of women’s writing.” Although these statistics are in relation to Wikipedia, it would be interesting to see similar statistics for Wikisource, the platform on which our JOH project is featured on. When I read these figures, I felt that our project has even more relevance and weight in terms of the social edition, as not only are we drawing attention to the work of a relatively unknown female writer, we are group of editors predominantly comprised of women. Thus, I feel our project has some significance in broadening, not only the readership of the work of John Oliver Hobbes, but also, the possible “gendered platform” of the various Wikipedia Foundation models.

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4 Responses to An Epilogue of Sorts

  1. clairefarley says:

    I love your point about us broadening the gendered platform of Wikipedia Foundation models, Julie! I found this whole project really satisfying because we were contributing to the visibility of an out-of-print woman writer but I never considered how our contributions also work toward balancing the scale of digitization that is often weighted in favour of male contributors. As I mentioned in one of our seminars, I recently an HTML course with Ladies Learning to Code (http://ladieslearningcode.com/), a collective that tailors coding classes to women. I can’t really think of why so few women have been involved in this wave of digitization but our mostly-female group learning about Wikisource and TEI was pretty cool in light of this imbalance!

  2. cstelman says:

    I agree that this consideration of a gender imbalance is really interesting. Like Claire, I appreciated that we were annotating a female author that is considerably lesser known today than other female authors of her time period. However, I did not consider our impact on Wikisource as female annotators. Considering how much we have been talking about the “space” of the digital realm, I thinking being aware of Wikisource as a male dominated space and viewing this digital space from a gendered perspective would have allowed for some interesting discussion.

    • nlikarev says:

      I agree–I had not considered this gender discussion because of the female majority in our classroom!
      For me, it was daunting to come across words, phrases, and references that could mean so many things. I had one annotation that could have been a reference to a novel, the Bible, or some time period specific nickname that I was unaware of. I did so much research for that one phrase because, honestly, I did not want to make the final decision of how this one phrase would be portrayed by my words. I knew my wording would somehow create a bias. It was quite paralyzing for awhile there!

  3. sarah.skrydstrup says:

    I agree that the discussion of the gender imbalance is intriguing. But to avoid repetition, what I found interesting was the dilemma you encountered Julie in terms of annotating things that were completely normal to you since you are from the British Isles. This might suggest that “our” annotated version of The Tales of John Oliver Hobbes is imbalanced in terms of where everyone is from and the language that we understand. As a cohort many of us have a similar, if not the same, understanding of the language that is used and so a lot of what we annotate is not drastically different from one another. I believe an edition such as ours and the platform being used (wikisource), stands as more of a starting point for further research rather than a “complete” edition. This is not to be confused for a criticism however, going back to your point Julie I think the more diverse–gender or otherwise–the more helpful the annotations will be for cultivating even more interesting research.

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