background image
of these activities (discovery), however important that activity may be. Availability, in its spatial
and temporal dimensions, is an enabling property for more activities. Even more important prop-
erties of digital collections are that we can refer to the resources in these collections and that we
can annotate them.
In his influential paper on "Scholarly Primitives," John Unsworth asked "what methods do
humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this."
As examples of
these activities, he mentioned discovering, annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrat-
ing, and representing. Our tools, and this is the important point which Unsworth made, should
reflect these shared activities rather than the present state of our digital collections. If we build
the tools with the shared activities in mind, we are likely to facilitate not just the research on
which we currently focus. As Unsworth emphasizes, "software intended to enable these primi-
tives should be developed and tested in the context of real scholarly use, but it should resist cus-
tomization, because purpose-built or project-centered software is unlikely to provide broad
support for functional primitives."
"Annotation" is a feature seen mainly in CD-ROM-based products. For Web editions, an
annotation tool is a mixed blessing, as one probably will not want to lose control over one's own
annotations. Server-side bookmark facilities ("referring") may sometimes be useful, but again,
their storage on the server takes control away from the user. Generally, they can only be accessed
after logging in, and therefore they cannot be shared among users.A toolset that serves the activ-
ities of scholarly communication (research, writing, and teaching) based on the principles of broad
usability, user control, information sharing, and public standards is necessary. That this toolset
should be open access and open source is understood.
As stated, this article will focus on the activity of indexing. Indexes facilitate a number of the
activities mentioned by Unsworth, e.g., discovery, sampling, and referring. If we want our sites to
serve our users, we should think carefully about what we can do with an index. I suggest that
scholarly communication essentially consists of annotated partial indexes to phenomena.While
scholarly communication may be more than that, scholarship about emblems generally also points
to some emblems that are related in some respects, and it comments on these emblems and the
way they are related.
E x a m p l e s o f a d v a n c e d f u n c t i o n a l i t y
If we begin to think about tools which may add extra value to our digitized collections, we
are really thinking of what Unsworth, in another paper, called "second-generation digital
resources." Second-generation digital resources are resources that are born digital, that are based
on primary resources, and that comment on, or annotate in some way, those primary resources.
One useful tool would be one that allows a researcher to add categorizations to emblems, or
emblem fragments, on our sites. A simple example is given by the categorizations that we added
to Jacob Cats' emblems, integrated into the EPU site at
We might also want to annotate, and make available for structured retrieval, complex events
depicted or described in the images or texts of our emblems.An experimental interface to a small
collection of events described is available at
Illustration 1 shows one result of a search for what is called a `LookAtAction' in that collection.
John Unsworth,"Scholarly Primi-
tives:What Methods do Humanities
Researchers have in common, and
how might our Tools reflect this?"
Humanities Computing: Formal
Methods, Experimental Practice, King's
College, London, 13 May 2000,
John Unsworth,"Second-Genera-
tion Digital Resources in the
Humanities," DRH 2000, 10 Sep-
tember 2000, Sheffield, UK,
This is a Dutch companion page to
Peter Boot and Els Stronks,"Ingredi-
enten voor een succesformule?
Experimenten met een digitale editie
van Cats' Sinne- en minnebeelden",
Nederlandse letterkunde 8 (2003) 1:
DC_Emblemsbook_180204 19.02.2004 11:26 Uhr Seite 122