News-sheet — February 2010
I. Latest news
"Better late than never, and better a little than none at all." (William Cowper to William Hayley, Tuesday, 23 April 1793)
If this month's News-sheet has a theme, we might suggest "synchronization"! As you will see in items III and IV below, we are adjusting our update schedule to better synchronize the addition of new functionality and content with the date on which these changes go live.
One of the key reasons for our skipping a content update for January/February is that we've been working on creating and refining a calendaring system mapping Julian and Gregorian dates (including named days of the week) from 1400 to 2100. This constitutes a tested mapping of 255,675 days! We've also mapped a version of the French Republican calendar for 7,770 dates from September 1792 to December 1813.
The Gregorian calendar was introduced under the direction of Pope Gregory in 1582 to correct the errors that, under the Julian calendar, caused the solstices and equinoxes to occur on the wrong dates (an error of 10 days by the time of the change over). Of course, in practice, the two calendars did not really run in parallel for that entire stretch of time between 1400 and 2100; but for the purposes of ordering EE's entire collection of letters, this kind of mapping is necessary.
At the moment, this calendaring system works silently behind the scenes allowing the EE team to accurately cross-date materials such as the largely late-17th-century Robert Boyle correspondence (the first letters will appear in the April update), where the complex relationship between Old Style (Julian) and New Style (Gregorian) dating across calendars and countries makes ordering of the documents a challenge. Eventually, we will offer EE's readers and researchers an online resource centred around this calendar system.
II. Miscellany, February 2010
Blind reading . . .
In "Blind reading: smarter resources need perceptive readers", the Director of the Electronic Enlightenment Project considers the need for different levels of readership for different kinds of digital resources.
III. & IV. Functionality & content report
EE's January update was limited to a new Miscellany and the first stage of the 2010 Anniversarial. The development of EE2, plus work preparing for the new JISC-funded "Digging into Data" project, has contributed to the update schedule falling out of synchronization with dates.
EE will resume its normal programme of monthly functionality and content updates from the end of February, and we urge our users to check back on the first of March for the next update.
What will the March update include?
- standardized citation exporting to leading bibliographic software;
- extended search criteria for Lives by location;
- revised & expanded print layouts for both Letters and Lives;
- Letters — Gentlemen of Science: Early correspondence of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, ed. Jack Morrell & Arnold Thackray (London: Royal Historical Society, 1984);
- Lives — many new and important scientific figures including: Charles Babbage, Sir Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, Sir John Frederick Herschel, Sir Roderick Impey Murchison and Sir Robert Peel;
- Dates — introduction of the much improved and extended Julian, Gregorian, Republican calendaring system across the entire corpus of letters.