Digitizing the Emblem
Alan R. Young
Young, Alan R. "Digitizing the Emblem", Emblem Digitization: Conducting Digital Research with Renaissance Texts and Images, ed. Mara R. Wade. Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 20 (2012): 3. <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/si-20/WADE_Young_EMLS.htm>.
1. Along with others who work in the humanities, my scholarly life has been deeply affected by the relatively recent digital revolution. I am thinking in particular of how we have learned to create data in digital form that can then be stored and made accessible worldwide over computer networks. All of us have been affected to a greater or lesser extent by this, and one scholar has even argued that what has happened is “the most profound technological shift since the capture of fire.” We all have our own histories, long or short, regarding our relationship to it. In my own case, I vividly remember certain milestones. I remember my first meeting with Peter Daly in 1978 and experiencing his contagious enthusiasm about building a digital Index Emblematicus, I remember, in 1984, acquiring one of the earliest PCs, a Kaypro II computer with a CP/M operating system. I remember attending David Graham’s demonstration of his “Macintosh Emblem Project” in 1990 at the Glasgow International Emblem Conference. Here was someone digitizing both the text and graphic images of an emblem book by using the potential inherent in Apple Computer’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) and Bill Atkinson’s HyperCard program. What he was able to do seemed almost magical, and at that time was just not possible on my new PC with its DOS-based operating system that had recently replaced my Kaypro.
2. Yet another magical moment for me occurred in 1993 when the World Wide Web, created in 1989, reached a turning point with the introduction of the graphical browser, Mosaic. I still remember the first time Mosaic appeared on my computer monitor. As David Graham once pointed out, the advent of Mosaic was a revolutionary turning point for scholars since the personal computer could now be perceived not just “as a tool for the storage of information belonging to an individual” but rather “as an instrument of communication that could enable the sharing of information over world-wide networks.” As he remarked in the same breath, “For the first time, it became possible to think in terms of a distributed network of digitized emblem books . . .” I remember also acquiring my first compact disk drive and buying a CD with over 3,500 of what were described as “the world’s best literary works from the greatest writers of all time.” No matter that the texts of the great writings on my CD were largely nineteenth-century out-of-copyright artefacts, reliance upon which would be contrary to one’s best scholarly instincts. No matter that almost all the authors represented were dead white males. Something was happening here that seemed hugely promising for the future.
3. Arising from all these experiences and, of course, from the technological advances that lay behind those experiences, there emerged a vision, shared, I’m sure, by many scholars in the humanities. Crudely put, it went like this: sometime in the future, virtually all the books, manuscripts, and documents in libraries and archives will be available in digital format and accessible at any hour of the day or night on any computer linked to the internet. “For the first time in history,” as one leading advocate has put it, “all the significant literary, artistic, and scientific works of mankind [will] be digitally preserved and made freely available, in every corner of the world, for our education, study, and appreciation and that of all our future generations.”
4. Most of us will be aware that as far as books are concerned, several very ambitious endeavours are currently reaching towards this goal. Project Gutenberg offered, for free, as of September 2011, 36,000 works that are in the public domain in the U.S.A., while other Gutenberg sites in Canada, Europe, and Australia, together with various Gutenberg partners and affiliates, raised the total by something like 100,000. Also in September 2011, the World Public Library, for an $8.95 (U.S.) annual fee, claimed that it could offer over 2,000,000 searchable PDF e-books and e-documents in 100+ languages. Then there is the Universal Digital Library Project led by Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S.A. with partners in China, India, and Egypt, and fifty scanning centres around the globe. Since 2001, this enterprise has scanned more than 1.4 million works. In spite of its original working name “Million Book Project,” the resulting Universal Digital Library expects to digitize something like ten million books.
5. There is also Google’s controversial plan to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, virtual library of all books. Books are scanned, processed by optical character readers to enable text searches, and made available online in full or in part, depending on their current copyright status. Partners in this massive enterprise include the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, which will, according to one Google spokesperson, supply more than a million public domain books. Also participating are the New York Public Library and to date (September 2011) ten major university research libraries in the United States, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and libraries in Belgium (Ghent University), France (La Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon), Japan (Keio University), Spain (National Library of Catalonia and University Complutense of Madrid), and Switzerland (University of Lausanne). On 14 October 2010, Google announced that it had scanned over 15 million books, more than a million of them no longer in print or commercially available. It has been estimated that Google has been processing some 3,000 books a day in its effort to digitize the estimated 130 million or so books of the world.
6. There are various other such large-scale projects in progress, not to mention myriads of much smaller ones. My point is that everywhere one looks, the digitization of books and documents is in progress, reviving the legendary dream of Ptolemy I and the Greeks at Alexandria to create a library that would permit users to have access to every known written work. Where the Alexandrians thought in terms of a single geographic location where scholars could consult copies of every known written work, we are invited today to think of our personal computer as the gateway to a vast online digital library that in the not too distant future will house copies of:
the 32 million books, 750 million articles, 25 million songs, 500 million images, 500,000 films, 3 million television programs and 100 billion public Web pages that writer Kevin Kelly, writing for Wired magazine, estimates humanity has published since the days of Sumerian clay tablets.
7. Among humanities scholars, this on-going process of digitizing not just books and documents but all manner of other manifestations of our cultural heritage is one of the most immediate, profound, and obvious facets of the unfolding digital revolution. It is also the most relevant to my topic. Like it or not, how we access both the primary and secondary materials with which we work, together with both the way we work and the ways in which we disseminate the scholarly products of our work, is undergoing radical and revolutionary change. But, rather than speculating about what the future may look like, I would like to focus for the moment upon the shared interests of emblem scholars. Where do emblem studies fit into the broader patterns of that part of the digital revolution represented by the projects of Google and others that I have just referred to?
8. As many emblem scholars will be well aware, during the past decade or so, work on digitizing emblems has been intense and progress remarkable. A few recent defining moments remind us of this. In June 2001, a group of some twenty researchers with an interest in computerized emblem research met at the University of Glasgow to discuss a proposed CD-ROM digital emblem publication of 100 selected sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European emblem books. This meeting, which was organized by Alison Adams, was followed four months later by a meeting at Palma de Mallorca. Both meetings were especially notable for generating all-important discussion concerning the fundamental need to develop a core set of shared standards for digitizing emblem books, notwithstanding the fact that various major projects were already underway.
9. In 2002 at the Society for Emblem Studies conference at the Universidade da Coruña, there were nine presentations and demonstrations concerning the digitization of emblems, and that same year, Peter Daly published his book on Digitizing the European Emblem. Then, four years ago, DigiCult published an online collection of twelve essays stemming from the working conference on emblem digitization held in September 2003 at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany. The DigiCult publication, for which the editor in chief was Mara Wade, provided a remarkable snapshot of the previous history of digitizing emblems, the key issues that had confronted those involved in the main projects, the progress and solutions to date, and even some thoughts about challenges in the future.
10. Just over a year later at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), eleven of the people who contributed to the DigiCult book reconvened and gave papers, along with others, at the conference on emblem digitization that was (to use the organizer’s term) embedded within the 2005 International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies. A few months later, Glasgow hosted its second major planning and consultation meeting concerned with the digitization of emblem books, and the following year saw the unveiling on the internet of the Glasgow project to digitize 27 French sixteenth- and seventeenth-century emblem books in both transcribed and facsimile versions with extensive search functionality. Also that year, the Dutch love emblem site of twenty-eight seventeenth-century Dutch love emblem books came online at the University of Utrecht.. This event was marked in November 2006 by a conference in Utrecht on the Dutch love emblem and emblem digitization. In 2007, selected papers from this conference, edited by Els Stronks and Peter Boot, were then published in both book form and online. Significantly, almost half of the papers were concerned with the digitization of the emblem.
11. My reason for recounting these snippets of recent history is to remind us that a very significant number of emblem scholars have for some years now been laboring to make some of the widely scattered corpus of emblem books accessible to anyone with a desktop computer and internet connection. There has been a huge investment of time and labor; a considerable investment of money from various granting agencies; and what I can only characterize as a mighty investment of intellectual sweat and tears as individuals, teams, and consultative meetings among teams have collaboratively sought to hammer out solutions to the issues, literary, textual, legal, financial, and technical that confront anyone wanting to digitize emblems. This is not a task for the faint of heart nor for the overconfident and impetuous. Far more is involved than mere page scans either by human teams or by the robotic scanning machines employed by Google and others. Far more is involved than the ability of the search engines of Google, Yahoo, Amazon and others to search what are often very crude optical character scans. Our colleagues in emblem studies have been endeavouring to provide high standards of bibliographical information, searchable texts (obviously), and in some instances searchable translations of texts. Equally important has been the attention given to the creation of searchable descriptions or indexes of graphic images. Some projects also offer annotation, and information concerning dedicatees, engravers, printers, and so on – all features that are often vital to the scholarly study of emblems but matters largely ignored by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and the Universal Book Library. As Mara Wade has pointed out, providing the kind of online access to emblems that satisfies the needs of humanities scholars is immensely labor-intensive and fraught with complex issues regarding such matters as metadata, searchability, thesauri, open standards, interoperability, site maintenance, and migration of data.
12. It is worth recalling what the main emblem digitization projects are. Now online is the French emblem project at the University of Glasgow and the Dutch love emblem project at the University of Utrecht. At the Memorial University of Newfoundland, we find an extremely useful online edition of Alciato’s Emblematum liber. At the University of Glasgow, there are 22 editions of Alciato available online. Seven works are online as part of the Study & Digitization of Italian Emblems Project. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the plan to digitize the 67 German works in the library’s large collection of emblem books has significantly expanded. At the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the emblem database contains over 12,000 entries from 139 emblem books. In Wolfenbüttel, the Herzog August Bibliothek, which owns more than 450 emblem books, is collaborating with the University of Illinois German Emblem Book project “to digitize, index and do research on emblem books as well as to develop structures and standards, which allow for joint access on both databases . . .” The Emblematica Online project, as it is entitled, offers to date some 337 emblem books that can be currently accessed through the Internet Archive. The Herzog August Bibliothek is digitizing approximately the same number of emblem books. The scanned emblem books from both the Illinois and Wolfenbüttel projects will eventually be available through the OpenEmblem Portal under development at the University of Illinois. The Mnemosyne emblem project, which in the past provided access to the picturae from twenty-seven emblem books from libraries in the Netherlands and six emblem books from the Wolfenbüttel library, has now undergone a major transformation and has been renamed Arkyves. An “aggregator site,” Archyves now combines a core set of collections published on different web sites and includes access to a large number of digitized emblem books, many of which can be consulted in full facsimile format and searched (both pictures and texts) using the IconClass classification system. It has digital copies of all emblem books from Illinois, together with many from other sources, including the Getty Research Library. In Spain at the Universidade da Coruña, there is a virtual digital library of Spanish emblem books.
13. The projects just named are those that have been the principal participants in the on-going search to establish a set of best practices that will permit online interconnectivity. But there are other developments elsewhere. In Italy, at the University of Bergamo, some 372 titles have been scanned and made available online. At Pennsylvania State University, the University Libraries have an English Emblem Book Project that provides online versions of nine sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English emblem books. In France, the Bibliothèque Nationale, as part of its growing digital library, has made available 108 emblem books as of 27 September 2011. A commercial enterprise, Chadwyck-Healey’s Early English Books Online (EEBO), offers digital facsimiles, so far as I can determine, of the complete corpus of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English emblem books. Then there is Google, which offers a number of emblem books. More no doubt will follow.
14. A somewhat different enterprise, one that to date has chosen to use the internet in only a minimal way for its products, is Studiolum. This independent scholarly publishing venture is the brainchild of Tomas Sajo. To date, Studiolum has produced a CD-Rom collection of virtually all the emblem books written in Spanish, and a CD-Rom containing emblem books by George Wither and Gabriel Rollenhagen. Studiolum promises further CDs that will make available collections of Renaissance and Baroque imprese literature, a collection of some thirty-eight Jesuit emblem books, all the emblem books that were included in Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schöne’s Emblemata, and a large collection of major editions of Alciato’s emblem book between 1531 and 1749.
15. To this roll call of work to date and work planned, I would add here a passing recognition of three immensely valuable online digital tools. First is the as yet unfinished Union Catalogue of Emblem Books, a long-standing project developed by Peter Daly with programming by Stan Beeler. Hosted by the University of Northern British Columbia and consisting (on 10 October 2011) of some 6510 records, this offers bibliographical information and the library call numbers for all known emblem books. A second tool is the catalogue of digitized emblem books currently accessible on the internet, together with their hyperlinked URLs (the work of Sagrario López Poza and Sandra Mª Fernández Vales). Amid the growing mosaic of different websites offering digitized emblem books, this catalogue often provides a helpful and time-saving starting point. Third is the OpenEmblem Portal under development at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (see above), the creation of a team of people, begun by Mara Wade, Tom Kilton, Nuala Koetter, and Beth Sandore, and continued by Wade, Kilton, Tim Cole, Myung-Ja Han, and Jordan Vannoy, and their German counterparts in Wolfenbüttel, Thomas Stäcker and Andrea Opitz. This is likely to become a major access route to all manner of information about emblem studies and to the data contained in some of our principal digital emblem book projects.
16. As this briefest of historical surveys indicates, a great deal has been going on and a great deal more is planned. Perhaps the most important part of the history has been the vigorous on-going debate concerning the need for a common open standard for emblem digitization to be followed by libraries and emblem scholars alike regarding the mark-up of graphics and text, the storage of data, and the means of providing access to that data. Unless I have misread the situation, there is now something approaching a consensus about the following among certain of the leading groups involved in the digitizing of emblems:
17. That we have reached this point in the on-going digitizing of emblems is, I believe, a matter for celebration. That scholars from so many different countries and academic backgrounds have learned how to engage in such a complex collaborative endeavour should be a source of considerable satisfaction to those who have participated.
18. After surveying progress to date in digitizing the emblem, I see our cup as more than half full. Leaving aside the various issues about which there is still no consensus, leaving aside any discussion of missteps that may have been made, leaving aside that only a limited number of emblem books have to date been digitized and made available according to the consensus of guidelines that I outlined earlier, leaving aside the fact that the informal consortium of emblem projects has not yet laid claim to any formal authority and published a clear set of core standards, and recognising that there remain considerable disparities among emblem digitization projects regarding the degree to which they meet that consensus of desired features – leaving aside all this – I would now like to offer some thoughts about the future and focus upon four selected desiderata.
19. First, in looking to the future, we do need to grasp the extent of the digital revolution. For the most part, scholars in the humanities have been resistant to what is happening or at best slow to take full advantage. How we always worked has largely continued, with the emerging digital environment supplying us with various attendant bonuses. Many humanists still retain a deep faith in print media and a corresponding scepticism about the perceived fragility and insecurities of digital artefacts. Add to this the continued domination of single-author work in the humanities in conformity with a long-established and often vigorously defended tradition whereby the lone scholar wrestles his or her way towards some kind of final piece of hoped-for enlightening revelation (usually a monograph or journal article). One might think of this paradigm as that of the “lone genius”. Tenure and promotion committees in North America have encouraged this kind of thinking by establishing the scholarly monograph published by a reputable scholarly press and printed articles in reputable scholarly journals as the most important criteria in assessing scholarly achievement. Collaborative work often appears to be seen as suspect, while work produced in digital form all too often has risked being considered as somehow less than gold standard. Such academic conservatism has meant that research involving the harvesting of digital data, and the various kinds of analysis that digital formats permit, still tends to result in print publication (whether article or book).
20. Then there is another matter. To date, many large
scale digital projects have proceeded with the vision of transferring the
library and the archive to some kind of online alternate. Vital as such
projects are, and central to what has been the main thrust of the emblem
digitization projects mentioned earlier, the truth is that as yet we are not
taking full advantage of the potential of a digital environment. Commenting
upon this phenomenon, Jerome McGann in his Radiant Textuality: Literature
After the World Wide Web remarked a few years ago:
Digital technology has
remained instrumental in serving the technical and precritical occupations of
librarians and archivists and editors. But the general field of humanities
education and scholarship will not take the use of digital technology seriously
until one demonstrates how its tools improve the way we explore and explain
aesthetic work—until, that is, they expand our interpretational procedures.
Digital technology has remained instrumental in serving the technical and precritical occupations of librarians and archivists and editors. But the general field of humanities education and scholarship will not take the use of digital technology seriously until one demonstrates how its tools improve the way we explore and explain aesthetic work—until, that is, they expand our interpretational procedures.
21. But what McGann perceives as a limitation regarding many digitizing projects is surely excusable because for the most part even those expert in navigating and working within the digital environment are only now beginning to understand that potential and to ask questions concerning future directions. As David Seaman, Director of the Digital Library Federation, noted in 2005 at the International Emblem Studies Conference at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign):
We are beginning to address how to move beyond familiar types of digital dissemination [. . .] to create material that encourages innovation by empowering scholars to engage deeply with digital library material, allowing them to annotate, contextualize, enrich, and re-use this online content.
A 2006 report of the American Council of Learned Societies expressed this issue in the following way. Referring to the growing massive digital aggregations of texts, images, and metadata, the report suggested that users “will want tools that support [. . .] remixing, recontextualization, and commentary—in sum, tools that turn access into insight and interpretation.”
22. Two broad approaches are discernible. On the one hand, organizations such as the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and Carnegie Mellon University have been conducting studies of how humanities scholars do research and how they commonly use digital resources. A prime goal is to see how digital environments may best be set up to serve humanists. On the other hand, people like Marcel O’Gorman, author of E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory, and the Humanities, and Peter Donaldson and his colleagues who manage the Shakespeare Electronic Archive at MIT, have been exploring ways in which digital environments enable new kinds of pedagogy, research, and the communication of research outcomes that may be quite different from past practices. One might add too that a number of literary theorists and commentators on the digital revolution have suggested that scholarly discourse will become increasingly fluid and less identifiable in terms of the individual author. Stanley Chowdorow, for example, has suggested that the digital medium:
will change scholarly discourse and [...] we will retrace our steps to the intellectual culture of the Middle Ages. [...] Works of scholarship produced in and through the electronic medium will have the same fluidity—the same seamless growth and alteration and the same de-emphasis of authorship—as medieval works had. [...] A work of scholarship mounted on the Internet will belong to the field it serves and will be improved by many of its users. Scholar-users will add to the work, annotate it and correct it and share it with those with whom they are working.
He goes on: “In the fluid world of the electron the body of scholarship in a field may become a continuous stream, the later work modifying the older and all of it available to the reader in a single database or series of linked databases.”
23. These various approaches and ways of thinking concerning research in the humanities tend to converge in discussions of the VRE or Virtual Research Environment. How does one create a digital environment and cyber infrastructure that provide what Daniel Greenstein, a former Director of the Digital Library Federation, has described as “virtually integrated services that allow scholars to search across and use geographically disparate digitally reformatted materials as if they made up a single online collection”? In the U.K., the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has been particularly active in leading discussions of VREs, what they are, and what their architecture might look like. But everywhere one looks, it seems, institutions and organisations are talking about the need to help researchers by setting up VREs as an aid in searching, ordering, and rationalizing the increasingly huge amounts of digital data that the digital revolution is making available. VREs should also provide the tools that facilitate collaborative work among scholars with common interests across institutions, disciplines, and countries. But not only is the VRE a vital desideratum for the conduct of research, most commentators suggest that it should also offer both deposit and access services for research outputs, in other words, an alternative to print publication.
24. Obviously, I cannot here explore in any depth what a VRE for emblem studies might look like, but we surely need one. Mara Wade and her colleagues at the University of Illinois, together with collaborators elsewhere, have already been working on the construction of a central tool, the OpenEmblem Portal, with an accompanying facility for forums, a list of resources (chiefly links to other relevant websites), and announcements of new resources, such as emblem books recently added to the Google Books Library. Both the German Emblem Book site at the University of Illinois and Utrecht’s site have a facility that permits users to compare two different emblem books side by side on the user’s screen. Comparing related but different texts and images is one of the most common tasks that students of the humanities engage in. The online William Blake Archive and the Roman de la Rose sites provide examples of how enabling digitization can be when widely dispersed materials can be placed for the first time side by side, as it were, for the scholar to contemplate. Central among such tools should also be software that both compares and collates textual similarities and differences among equivalent documents. The open source comparison tool JUXTA on the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship (NINES) is a pioneering attempt to supply such a basic need.
25. On the Illinois site, users can also tag as “Favorites” items to which they may wish to return. In Utrecht, Peter Boot and his colleagues have worked on a project to create an annotation tool for scholarly digital editions that will permit scholars to create and, if so desired, share indexes based on their individual research interests. Annotations “may take the form of brief commentary, of categorization of text fragments according to any typology, of links to resources outside the text, of references to passages elsewhere in the text, etc.” Such valuable tools are typical of what a VRE would offer. Layered in to these, a fully-fledged VRE would perhaps include, according to the guidelines of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), compatibility with “other widely used and deployed systems, including at least: web, email, instant messaging,” text messaging to mobile phones (SMS or Short Message Service), podcasts, “Wikis and videoconferencing tools.”
26. As an aside, I would note that experiments in this direction by Google to date permit one to place, side by side on one’s desktop screen, access to a whole suite of related tools: Google Scholar for searches in academic journals; Google Book Search for searches through every Google digitized book; Google’s related My Library for tagging titles to create a virtual personal library of books that can be shared with other users; Google Bookmarks for tagging websites of interest; Google Gmail for e-mail; Google Docs for text files, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, forms, drawings, tables, images, and videos that can in a “Cloud” environment be uploaded, downloaded, shared, and edited and commented upon by others if so authorized; Google Blogger for blogs; Google Picasa for storing, displaying, and sharing images and videos; Google Video for searching video sites such as YouTube that increasingly include academic materials; Google Talk for instant messaging and making voice calls through the internet; Google Notebook for clipping and saving extracts from web pages; and Google Groups for linking people with shared special interests and providing them with the means to communicate with each other.
27. Such tools as those offered by Google or by Microsoft’s SharePoint software encourage and facilitate collaborative research, the sharing of special interests, and the sharing of research outcomes in ways similar to VREs. While I’m not suggesting that every emblem scholar needs to set up a Google page, or a Microsoft Sharepoint Server, or install a tagging program such as Del.icio.us.com, I do believe that such tools all offer suggestive possibilities in terms of academic research and the development of VREs. The same can be said of a number of the social networking sites. Facebook, for example, has all manner of features that facilitate interactivity and communication among members of groups. These features collectively form a paradigm that could be transferred to a VRE. There is much more to explore here, but I must perforce press on to my second desideratum.
28. The second desideratum concerns the need, long recognized among emblem scholars, to broaden the focus on the emblem and emblem books to related material. Where digitization is concerned, Studiolum is planning to lead the way in this area by offering searchable and annotated scanned copies of many of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century books that composers of emblems and other erudite scholars of the past may have owned or had access to. Accordingly, Studiolum’s CDs will provide not only many emblem books, but other types of works that are often of significant related interest: mythographies, bestiaries, herbals, treatises on art and antiquities, geographies, proverb collections, books of aphorisms, galleries of illustrious heroes, books on coins and medals, mirrors of princes and of courtiers, handbooks of military strategy, dictionaries and lexicons, reports on newly discovered lands and travels, editions of ancient authors, miscellanies, enigmas, etc. Meanwhile, many of these kinds of works have become available in digital format elsewhere, the Getty Research Institute Research Library being an obvious resource.
29. Allied to this kind of expansion is the need to create digital archives of manifestations of the emblem within the material culture. One thinks, for example, of architecture, tapestries and wall hangings, paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, tournament imprese, armor, ship decorations, pageants, flags, and gravestones. To say that the phenomenon of the emblem was ubiquitous within western material culture during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is now a well-worn cliché among emblem scholars. Now we need to ensure that our digitizing of emblems, no matter where we find them, reflects this truism.
30. My third top desideratum concerns the need to recognize the culture of born-digital students. The children of the digital revolution expect to be able to work within a digital environment. The training of students in the humanities should reflect that by building on the skills they already have and by training them in the methods of digital research. In an article in TEXT Technology, Jerome McGann stated: “In the next 50 years the entirety of our inherited archive of cultural works will have to be re-edited within a network of digital storage, access, and dissemination. This system, which is already under development, is transnational and transcultural.” This led him to ask: “who is carrying out this work, who will do it, who should do it?” He followed this with a lament about the deplorable general failure in the United States to train students in the histories of textual transmission and the theory and practice of scholarly method and editing. Although he conceded that the picture may be less depressing in Europe, the question remains as to what degree those in the humanities are capable of leading, designing, and participating in those aspects of the digital revolution where much of the groundbreaking work to date has been done by librarians and systems engineers.
31. For those postgraduates who enter the profession, there also needs, of course, to be positive encouragement to their working within a digital and collaborative environment. Otherwise, the old “publish a monograph or perish” adage will lock younger faculty into a conservative research paradigm. As for those already established in the profession, there may be a need to go back to school and learn some basic skills that will facilitate the design and control of the digitizing process. If only more could be done to break down the divide between humanist academics and the computer “techies” upon whom many academics so often rely for tasks that should be their responsibility. I’m not talking here about such technical challenges as the creation of VRE’s and managing other parts of a cyber infrastructure; rather, I’m thinking about text encoding, the creation of XML documents, and the various other tasks that will permit us to prepare our research outcomes, including the digitizing of emblems, in such a way that our work matches the protocols already established by the pioneers among us. I’m also thinking about the development of the tools we need to work within a digital environment. Els Stronks, reporting on the Emblem Project at Utrecht (EPU) has written forcefully about this point:
The EPU experiences have taught us that [. . .] fundamental and profound changes are in order. Scholars in the humanities cannot solely depend on the development of tools like an online publication system by others. [. . .] Researchers within the humanities should not only be able to work with digital tools; they should be skilled enough to create the ideas for the development of new tools. [. . .] How can we be partners in a discussion on the future of digital resources in the humanities if we are unaware of technical options, costs, problems and developments?
32. The fourth desideratum, and the last I will mention here, concerns the need to have strategies for ensuring digital preservation. Libraries and archives for the most part have favored the digitization of books and documents as a way of helping to preserve what may be rare, old, frail, and precious. Reducing or even eliminating access to books and documents while at the same time offering access to their digital surrogates is a fundamental strategy in the preservation of the originals and, incidentally, in freeing space for the computer terminals that library users increasingly require. But the term “preservation” has come to signify something else – I refer to the now momentous issue of how to ensure the preservation of digital data in ways that guarantee access to it for posterity. An emblem book on a library shelf or a piece of jewellery with an emblematic design, if properly cared for, might be presumed to have an indefinite future life. However, the digitized versions of them, together with anything written about them that is recorded in digital form, are threatened in a multitude of ways by software changes, hardware obsolescence, difficulties of search and retrieval, data corruption or “bit rot” as it is sometimes called, vandalism, fire, damage from natural disasters, bureaucratic mismanagement, lost passwords, or (horror of horrors) budget cuts. For libraries, institutions, and governments the need for established standards for digital preservation has for some time been recognised as a matter of great urgency. To see this, one has only to look, for example, at the work of the UK’s Digital Curation Centre (DCC), or the European Commission funded PLANETS project (Preservation and Long-term Access through NETworked Services), or the National Library of Australia’s PANDORA project, or the pioneering work of the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow, or the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) at the Library of Congress.
33. Almost every country has projects at the national level that address this issue. Now, a number of universities have also begun to establish digital repositories of their own, one of the pioneers being MIT. In partnership with Hewlett Packard, MIT created DSpace, an open source software solution for accessing, managing and preserving scholarly works in a digital archive. Other institutions have developed their own digital repositories. The University of Toronto, for example, has created T-Space to showcase and preserve the scholarly work of its faculty, and a few years ago, Harvard University received a highly favorable response from its faculty to a proposed digital repository for faculty research publications. More and more, I suspect, as we do research, we will simultaneously be conscious of how the results of that research may be securely stored and made available to others through a digital site such as DSpace. As we in emblem studies plan and create our digital projects, we must learn to work with a built-in awareness of the preservation issue and, as we shift more and more towards working within a digital environment, perhaps eschewing print altogether, we are all no doubt going to find ourselves worrying about the future longevity and accessibility of our work.
34. In conclusion, I would suggest that emblem scholars can feel very positive about the progress to date in digitizing emblems. During the last decade, since that crucial meeting in Glasgow in 2001, through trial and error and through vigorous on-going debate among those engaged in certain key projects, we have been able to hammer out something like a code of best practices. We know what to do and how to do it. But we have also learned how labor-intensive it is to digitize even a single emblem book. The reality is that there are just not enough of us nor enough grant money to support the dream that all those 6,500-plus works listed in Peter Daly’s Union Catalogue will anytime soon become available online in a format that matches the criteria that our pioneer emblem digitizers have established. As for the related material culture, parallel limitations apply, often particularly burdened with copyright issues that are likely to figure large in the on-going battle between commercial control of our cultural heritage and the counter desire to provide free and open access to that heritage. There is a long way yet to go, but at least we seem to have a sense of where we are going, and our pioneer emblem digitizers have drawn a map to show us the way ahead.
 Darin Barney, Prometheus Wired: The Hope for Democracy in the Age of Network Technology (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2000), p. 4. John Perry Barlow, as quoted in Evan Solomon, “Unlikely Messiah,” Shift 4.1 (1995), 31.
 The Kaypro II was the first computer released by Non-Linear Systems in 1982.
 David Graham, “Old Wine in New Bottles: Emblem Books and the New Technology,” Glasgow International Emblem Conference, Glasgow University, August 1990. Two years prior to this, Graham had presented his work in “From Emblem Book to Emblem Disk: Steps Toward an Emblematic Hyperbook” at the Modern Language Association conference in New Orleans, December 1988. For the published version of the 1990 paper, see David Graham, “Putting Old Wine in New Bottles: Emblem Books and Computer Technology,” Emblematica: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Emblem Studies. 5 (1991):271-85.
 Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1992 and released in January 1993. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_%28web_browser%29 (accessed 18 October 2011).
 See Graham, “Three Phases of Emblem Digitization: The First Twenty Years, the Next Five,” 15.
 In October 2011, the Gutenberg Project offered a free (dual layer) DVD containing over 29,500 books (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:The_CD_and_DVD_Project – accessed 2 October 2011).
 See, Website for Universal Digital Library (the Million Book Project), http://www.ulib.org/ULIBAboutUs.htm#partnersBkMark (accessed 2 October 2011).
 Project Gutenberg began in 1971 at the University of Illinois. It is now hosted at the University of North Carolina.
 One of the key goals of this so-called “Universal Book Library” is to provide support for full text indexing and searching based on optical character recognition technologies (OCR).
 Blog by Jens Redmer, head of GoogleBook Search in Europe (http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2007/03/bavarian-state-library-becomes-largest.html - accessed 2 October 2011).
 Katie Hafner, “History, Digitized (and Abridged),” New York Times, 10 March 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/10/business/yourmoney/11archive.html?pagewanted=all – accessed 30 September 2011); Leonid Taycher, “Books of the World” (http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2010/08/books-of-world-stand-up-and-be-counted.html - accessed 27 September 2011); and James Crawford, “On the Future of Books” (http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-future-of-books.html - accessed 30 September).
 Malte Herwig, “Putting the World’s Books on the Web,” Spiegel Online International, 28 March 2007 (http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,473529-2,00.html – accessed 30 September 2011). See also, Kevin Kelly, “Scan This Book!” New York Times, 14 May 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/magazine/14publishing.html?scp=1&sq=kevin+kelly+500%2C000+films – accessed 30 September 2011).
 This occurred during the IVth Congress of the Spanish Society of Emblematics. Reports on these meetings are available online at http://www.ces.arts.gla.ac.uk/html/research.htm (accessed 30 September 2011).
 Among other things, this was a kind of report card on the various ongoing projects to digitize emblem books or books about emblems.
 Digital Collections. See, http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf (accessed 30 September 2011). A report on the original meeting can be found online at http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/emblems/confrep.html (accessed 30 September 2011). The meeting provided a further opportunity to establish standards and best practices for digitizing emblem literature.
 The conference within a conference was entitled “Portals, Tools, and Data: Conducting Digital Research with Renaissance Texts and Images.” http://www.conferences.uiuc.edu/conferences/main.asp?cat=4585 (accessed 30 September 2011).
 http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/ (accessed 30 September 2011).
 http://emblems.let.uu.nl/project_project_info.html (accessed 30 September 2011).
 Learned Love: Proceedings of the Emblem Project Utrecht Conference on Dutch Love Emblems and the Internet (November 2006), edited by Els Stronks and Peter Boot, DANS Symposium Publications 1 (The Hague: DANS, 2007).
 “Toward an Emblem Portal: Local and Global Portal Construction” in Digital Collections and the Management of Knowledge, 118 nb.20 (http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf) (accessed 30 September 2011).
 http://www.ces.arts.gla.ac.uk/html/AHRBProject.htm, (accessed 30 September 2011); http://emblems.let.uu.nl/ (accessed 30 September 2011); and http://emblems.let.uu.nl/hu1624.html (accessed 30 September 2011). The project website also offers an online edition of Hermann Hugo’s Pia desideria (1624)
http://www.mun.ca/alciato/index.html (accessed 30 September 2011).
http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/alciato/ (accessed 27 September 2011); and http://www.italianemblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/ (accessed 27 September 2011).
 http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/emblems/newProject.asp (accessed 27 September 2011). See also, http://emblematica.grainger.illinois.edu/index.html (accessed 3 October 2011).
 To date (27 September 2011) some 139 works have been scanned either completely or partially. http://mdz1.bib-bvb.de/~emblem/ (accessed 27 September 2011).
 “Emblematica Online- Development of a standard for indexing emblem books on the web.” See, http://www.hab.de/forschung/projekte/emblematica-e.htm (accessed 2 October 2011).
 http://www.archive.org/details/texts (accessed 30 September 2011); http://www.hab.de/bibliothek/wdb/emblematica/signaturenliste.htm (accessed 27 September 2011); http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/emblems/newProject.asp (accessed 27 September 2011); and http://emblematica.grainger.illinois.edu/index.html (accessed 3 October 2011).
 Mnemosyne (now Arkyves) is an Amsterdam consultancy run by Hans Brandhorst, Peter van Huisstede, and Etienne Posthumous (see http://www.arkyves.org – accessed 27 September 2011). Hans Brandhorst presented a demonstration of the Arkyves web site at the International Conference of the Society for Emblem Studies held at Winchester College, 28 July-1 August 2008.
 http://www.getty.edu/research/library/ (accessed 30 September 2011).
 http://rosalia.dc.fi.udc.es/EmblematicaHispanica/ (accessed 30 September 2011).
 http://emblem.libraries.psu.edu/home.htm (accessed 27 September 2011).
 http://gallica.bnf.fr/ (accessed 2 October 2011) and works listed in DEBOW (Digital Emblem Books on Web), 4th edition (accessed 27 September 2011) http://rosalia.dc.fi.udc.es/emblematica/CatalogoDEBOW.pdf
 http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home (accessed 27 September 2011).
 Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schöne in their Emblemata. Handbuch zur Sinnbildkunst des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts.
http://www.studiolum.com/en/colophon.htm. (accessed 27 September 2011).
 http://quarles.unbc.ca/ucat/ (accessed 30 September 2011)
 The definition of what constitutes an emblem book is relatively broad. Even so, the UCat provides the clearest evidence of the size of the emblem book corpus. The Union Catalogue of Emblem Books was developed by Peter Daly at McGill University. Stan Beeler did the programming for the online version, which is hosted by the University of Northern British Columbia.
 http://rosalia.dc.fi.udc.es/emblematica/CatalogoDEBOW.pdf. (accessed 27 September 2011).
 http://www.iconclass.nl/ (accessed 30 September 2011). Both the Dutch Love Emblem project and the Mnemosyne project have used ICONCLASS. However, it is recognized that a number of projects have not taken this route, instead creating keywords and/or verbal descriptions that are then searchable.
 At issue is information concerning specific copies of books, and information concerning the individual emblems within those books, both textual and graphic.
 The following institutions and their emblem digitization projects are participants in the OpenEmblem Portal: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Herzog August Bibliothek; University of Glasgow; Utrecht University; and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. For further discussion of the OpenEmblem Portal and some of its potential characteristics and features, see Mara Wade, “Toward an Emblem Portal: Local and Global Portal Construction” in Digital Collections and the Management of Knowledge, 115-120 (http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf) (accessed 30 September 2011).
 For an earlier attempt to map the points of apparent consensus, see David Graham’s “Three Phases of Emblem Digitization: The First Twenty Years, the Next Five” in Digital Collections and the Management of Knowledge, 16-17 (http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf) (accessed 30 September 2011).
 To some degree, perhaps, it is the nature of the emblem as a genre that has led to this. That multifaceted artefact, involving complex interrelationships between different texts (mottoes, subscriptiones, and commentaries), usually in more than one language, and almost always linked to a graphic image, seems to demand that we pool our expertise when we study it, and when we make decisions on how best to digitize it. That the World Wide Web, in combination with an internet browser, is, like the emblem, both a textual and graphic medium has been particularly advantageous. That the Web allows for the creation of scholarly communities in spite of the individual members being separated by geography, nationality, institution, language, and time zones is also highly significant and central to what has been accomplished so far.
 As David Graham has pointed out, if data structures and tagging are consistent from one project to another, flowing basic content and data through a portal will be feasible even if the interfaces of individual projects differ from one another. Graham also points out the need to establish a formal consortium that will publish the shared core standards. See, David Graham, “Three Phases of Emblem Digitization: The First Twenty Years, the Next Five” in Digital Collections and the Management of Knowledge, 17 (http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf) (accessed 30 September 2011).
 These desiderata, I believe, need to be a vital part of our thinking as the digitizing of emblems proceeds, and as those of us who make use of the labours of the colleagues who are doing this work are drawn into the digital environment where we will conduct more and more of our work in the future. I have confined myself to discussion of the four desiderata that are at the top of my personal list. Other desiderata would include an updated UCat of Emblem books with advanced search mechanisms and facility for interactive feedback regarding bibliographic information; the development of social (scholarly) networking facilities among emblem scholars; concerted lobbying for free access to research materials; concerted opposition to commercial exploitation of research materials; concerted opposition to over zealous copyright restrictions; the establishment of some kind of formalised joint council to facilitate and discuss the principles, practicalities, and best practices for digitizing emblems; and the creation of some kind of variorum-like archive that can display all versions of a single emblem, its individual lines, and pictures, together with all critical commentary to date on each of those components.
 For a series of discussions of this point in relation to U.S. universities, see Profession 2007, edited by Rosemary G. Feal (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2007), 9-72.
 Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web (New York: Palgrave, 2001), p. xi.
 Abstract of paper on “Speaking Pictures Newly Construed: Emblematic Literature and the Digital Library” (http://www.conferences.uiuc.edu/conferences/conference.asp?ID=329 - accessed 28 September 2011). Cf. the papers at this conference by John Unsworth and Peter Boot.
 “Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences” (2006), chaired by John Unsworth. http://www.acls.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Programs/Our_Cultural_Commonwealth.pdf (see p. 16) (accessed 28 September 2011).
 See, for example, http://www.clir.org/pubs/annual/07annrep.pdf and http://www.clir.org/pubs/annual/08annrep.pdf (accessed 28 September 2011).
 Quoted by Peter S. Graham, “Building the Digital Research Library: Preservation and Access at the Heart of Scholarship,” The Follett Lecture, University of Leicester, 19 March 1997. See, http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/services/papers/follett/graham/paper.html (accessed 28 September 2011). See also Stanley Chodorow, “Redefining Higher Education: The Medieval Future of Intellectual Culture: Scholars and Librarians in the Age of the Electron,” 16 October 1996 (http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/mmproceedings/129mmmosher and http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/medieval.pdf) (accessed 28 September 2011).
 William S. Brockman, Laura Neumann, Carole L. Palmer, and Tonyia L. Tidline, Scholarly Work in the Humanities and the Evolving Information Environment (The Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources, 2001). See, http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub104/contents.html (accessed 28 September 2011).
 See, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/programme_vre.aspx, and http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/VRE%20roadmap%20v4.pdf (accessed 28 September 2011).
 Michael Fraser, “Virtual Research Environments: Overview and Activity,” Ariadne Issue 44. www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue44/fraser (accessed 28 September 2011).
 http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/ (accessed 29 September 2011) and http://romandelarose.org/ (accessed 29 September 2011).
 http://www.nines.org/about/software/juxta.html (accessed 28 September 2011).
 http://media.library.uiuc.edu/projects/oebp/SPT--Home.php (accessed 29 September 2011).
 Peter Boot, “Beyond the Digital Edition: Tools for Emblem Research” in Digital Collections and the Management of Knowledge: Renaissance Emblem Literature as a Case Study for the Digitization of Rare Texts and Images, edited by Mara R. Wade (Salzburg: DigiCult Publication, 2004), 121-9. See, http://www.digicult.info/downloads/dc_emblemsbook_lowres.pdf (accessed 28 September 2011).
 The project has had various manifestations under the names Public Index Feature (PIF), EDITOR (the Edition as a Digital Instrument for Text-based Open Research), and SANE (Scholarly Annotation Exchange). See, for example, http://www.docstoc.com/docs/78394594/A-SANE-EDITOR-does-annotation (accessed 29 September 2011).
 “Building a Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities (BVREH).” See, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/vre1/bvreh.aspx (accessed 2 October 2011); and http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/VRE%20roadmap%20v4.pdf (accessed 29 September 2011).
 For a discussion of other relevant tagging tools, see Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, Ben Lund, and Joanna Scott, “Social Bookmarking Tools (I). A General Review,” D-Lib Magazine, 11 no. 4 (April 2005) at http://dlib.org/dlib/april05/hammond/04hammond.html (accessed on 2 October 2011).
 Jerome McGann, “Information Technology and the Troubled Humanities,” TEXT Technology: The Journal of Computer Text Processing 14 no.2 (2005), 114.
 Learned Love, 153-154.
 As we know from past experiences with microfilming projects, space shortages in libraries can sometimes lead to the disastrous temptation to de-accession material, as Nicholson Baker documented in his 2001 book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (New York: Random House, 2001). There remains a danger that digitizing materials will be accompanied by their destruction or loss as happened in the examples related to microfilming that Baker discusses. The chief librarian at McMaster University, for example, recently stated that in making space in the library for computers, he is “not getting rid of all the books.” Rather, he and his staff are working to eliminate duplicate copies of texts and materials that are available in electronic format (The Globe and Mail 10 November 2007, A5).
 The humanities has a particular concern with preservation, as Abby Smith has remarked, “For the humanities – a field of open-ended inquiry into the nature of humankind and especially of the culture it creates – access to the recorded information and knowledge of the past is absolutely crucial, as both its many subjects of inquiry and its methodologies rely heavily on retrospective as well as on current resources. Preservation is a uniquely important public good that underpins the health and well-being of humanistic research and teaching.” See “Preservation” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004). Online version Blackwell Reference Online. 01 May 2008. http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/book?id=g9781405103213_9781405103213 (accessed 2 October 2011).Cf. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/ (accessed 2 October 2011).
 The Ivar Aasen Centre of Language and Culture in Norway lost access to a large, expensive electronic catalogue of its holdings stored in an encrypted database when the administrator who knew the two sequential passwords died. The institution then advertised a reward for anyone, no questions asked, who could break into the system. A twenty-five-year-old Swedish hacker eventually solved the problem, but only because the passwords were unimaginative versions of the administrator’s name. The story of the BBC’s Doomsday Book Project offers a parallel example of how changing software (and in this case hardware too) can threaten the survival of a digital creation. The huge multimedia project contained contributions from over a million Britons, dozens of statistical databases, tens of thousands of digital images, and numerous interactive maps. But this attempt to draw a digital portrait 900 years after the original work of 1066 was encoded on laserdiscs, accessible only on a specially configured LaserVision player with a BBC Master Microcomputer. By 2002 the whole affair became obsolete, although some skilful programmers were eventually able to save the data. See, Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), 223-224. See also, http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/preserving/1.php (accessed 2 October 2011).
 For a discussion of some of the major digital preservation projects and the issues concerning digital preservation, see the special issue of Library Trends, 54, no. 1 (Summer 2005), edited by Deborah Woodyard-Robinson (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/library_trends/toc/lib54.1.html - accessed 2 October 2011).
 As of 2 October 2011, throughout the world some 1134 institutions (not limited to universities) had adopted the DSpace open source software platform. See, www.dspace.org/whos-using-dspace/Repository-List.html (accessed 2 October 2011).
 https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/ (accessed 2 October 2011); Patricia Cohen, “Harvard Research to be Free Online,” New York Times (14 February 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/books/14arts-HARVARDRESEA_BRF.html (accessed 2 October 2011); and http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2008/02/text-of-harvard-policy.html (accessed 32 October 2011).
 On this point, see Abby Smith’s comment: “A digital object needs to be optimized for preservation at the time of its creation (and often again at the time of its deposit into a repository), and then it must be conscientiously managed over time if it is to stand a chance of being used in the future.” See, “Preservation” in A Companion to Digital Humanities (http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion - accessed 2 October 2011).
Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editors at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.
© 2012-, Matthew Steggle and Annaliese Connolly (Editors, EMLS).