Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Patrick Rashleigh

Anthologize takes blogs and turns them into digital books. It was created at an institute called “One Week One Tool,”  funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wheaton librarian Patrick Rashleigh, who participated in the project, talks about the experience.

Source code. The idea was to bring together 12 individuals of varied backgrounds who all work in the field of digital humanities. We were put up in a hotel, and given a mandate to conceive, design, build, market, and release a “useful and usable” tool in just one week. Prior to meeting, we had no idea what we would be building – deciding that was our first major task. Often students will take such assignments into areas none of us anticipated ….

Turning the page. One of our hopes with Anthologize is that blog content will reach an audience that doesn’t typically read blogs if it is available in more a familiar, book-like form.

Local connection. Over the last few years, the use of blogging in the classroom has really taken off at Wheaton. There is something about blogs that really encourages reflection and conversation – two cornerstones of the liberal arts experience. Anthologize enables faculty to re-package class blogs as an e-book, so that it can be archived and shared.

More to come. My group at Wheaton (Research and Instruction), along with two other colleges, applied for and received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help scholars and their students publish digital manuscript transcriptions. Digital humanities scholars spend a great deal of effort transcribing and encoding textswith computer-readable data, but they can’t take full advantage of the data. Our tool, the TAPAS project, will take this data and turn it into different forms, such as websites, maps, and printable books.

Energy source. Digital technology is constantly changing, and the faculty and my colleagues have a real sense of adventure when it comes to using new technology in the classroom. When a professor, technologist, and class of students are all working together trying something new, there’s a real sense of exploring new educational terrain. Often students will take such assignments into areas none of us anticipated; that is a really gratifying thing to see.

When I’m not at Wheaton, I like to get my head out of computers. My 5 and 7-year-old boys help with that, as does cycling to and from Wheaton through the beautiful New England landscape. I also am getting quite passionate about growing vegetables; digging in dirt is a wonderful escape from the world of 1’s and 0’s. This was a great year for our tomatoes, but unfortunately the radishes were a dud. Fingers crossed for next year!