Yesterday I updated the page with a list of topics that are already underway, or which team members have expressed interest in working on. That list is pretty long, which is good, but we need to make the list of available topics is also healthy -- especially now that we're about to solicit a bunch of new entries.
I've updated that list with some new topics that emerged from offline discussions with Richard, Scott, and Rebecca. Defining a good topic is tricky, and I've erred on the side of inclusiveness, figuring that it's best to record ideas before they slip our memories, and then to refine them later. The criteria for a good entry, as I see them, would be:
- the feature has long enough history or range of use to support an entry (as opposed to being a one-off oddity that would work better as a blog post); remember, that history can be one of success or failure, or both
- the feature has what Scott calls "digital potential," in that it can inform digital interface design (including but not limited to e-books)
- the feature's "digital potential" isn't simply that of a cute literalized metaphor, like page-turning animations, but can be connected to a more abstract sense of functionality; for example, bookmarks are a good feature because they point us toward bookmarking as an activity that fits into a bigger picture of discontinuous reading (thinking of Stallybrass's "Books and Scrolls" article)
Note: with the above criterion I'm hoping we can avoid the mistakes that Johanna Drucker warns against in her chapter "Modeling Functionality: From Codex to E-book" in SpecLab. That chapter is essential reading for us. Further in the background here, but also important, is John Unsworth's notion of scholarly primitives -- that's probably not a concept we need to apply dogmatically here, in the sense of matching features up with primitives, but the spirit of that article could help us think about what textual features matter, and why.
- ideally, though not necessarily, the feature should be relevant to the work of the other INKE teams; I don't want to confine my students to this criterion, but we should ensure that new entries undertaken by INKE team members meet this requirement
In any case, what entry topics should we add to the list? Would you define any of the existing ones differently? Do you have an idea for an entry that you can't quite put a name to?