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Old 05-14-2011, 01:18 PM   #1
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New open access archive of Dickens material

Hi everyone,
I was encouraged to join the other day, and am enjoying reading the vibrant posts and varied threads on this site.
I hope members will be interested to know about a newly available source of online reading material -- the weekly magazines superbly edited by Charles Dickens for the last twenty years of his life (1850-1870). These were called Household Words and All the Year Round, and among an encyclopedic range of articles--popular science, political satire, short stories, poems, travel writing, historical titbits, &c&C.--they also carried in short installments, such well-known titles as Great Expectations, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone and The Woman in White, Mrs Gaskell's Cranford, and North and South. Not bad for twopence an issue, back then!--and even better, now that upwards of 30 million words are all available online for nothing.
What viewers will see is an innovative browser displaying a re-sizable page facsimile image, in parallel with an XHTML transcript.
Gradually the project (which I'm in charge of) is adding a lot of teaching and research materials around this important Victorian archive, which I'm glad to say is going to be permanently available as open access. Indeed, if we achieve some of our fundraising aims, we'll be able to offer some state of the art reading voices (built using some of the UK's best-known 'Dickensian' actors) to convert our text into speech on demand. This will be good for visually-impaired and blind readers, just as our teaching materials will help many a school and college pupil studying set texts drawn from this previously-inacciessible source.
I really hope that some Mobile Read members may be interested to visit our betasite, which is due to be formally launched next Spring, to help celebrate the Bicentenary of Dickens's birth. Indeed, each and every member is invited, if they wish, to contribute to the Bicentenary of one of our most popular and socially-aware authors, by helping us correct a small number of OCR typos in a single 24-page magazine ONLINE USING OUR INNOVATIVE EDITING SOFTWARE. There are on average only about 10 mistakes per page, or fewer.
Lord Northcliffe of The Daily Mail called Dickens "the greatest magazine editor of his own or any other age," so I am really hoping that the opportunity to sub-edit a small amount of his work online, while enjoying some of this wonderful-but-forgotten reading material he bequeathed to the nation, will appeal to members.

So far, we have had 9.6% of the work completed to a high degree of accuracy, since January 7th this year. But we really need to pick up momentum over the next few months if we are to be ready by the time of the Bicentenary (celebrated with the launch of the project 28-31st March 2012).

The url for the betasite is www.djo.org.uk

Enjoy, and I hope to meet some of you online in due course!

In fellowship,
John "Uncommercial" Drew
Project Director, DJO
Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow, 2009-2011
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:10 AM   #2
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One of the most worthwhile projects I've read about in a long time, John. All power to your elbow.

I'm sure you'll have enthusiastic volunteers stepping up from here at MR to combine their love of Victorian literature with their technical and editorial skills.

Please do keep us posted.

Luck with the project and very best wishes. Here's Karma to ya for such a brave concept and for seeing it through with such generosity. Neil
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