Saturday, 8 December 2007

Beowulf - lost voices reimagined

The last The Scout Report. is showcasing a project from Winsonsin University who have out up a new modern translation of Beowulf .

Often described is the oldest narrative poem in the English language, it is a dramatic set of adventures from well known sources of the fifth- and sixth-century Scandinavia.

Though the tales had their origins in oral traditions, the text has always been seen as one the best examples of the emerging English language. Melvyn Bragg, for instance, rightly, made much of them as one of the key texts in his masterful Adventure of English, which , co-coincidently, is enjoying a rerun on the New Zealand version of the History Channel.

Hard to credit this series is 5 years old. Lesser kown but equally compelling is his brilliant radio set, The Voices of the Powerless . This is still available in its entirety, here.

And a Norton version of Heaney's Beowulf is here
University of Nevada subject guide here.

But back to the Wisconsin Beowulf. You can listen to the poem in a modern translation plus read a modern translation on the screen. It's a really good example of how the new media channel can bring back to life the original power and place of the oral tradition. And Wisconsin deserves a modest round of applause for this addition to the web.

However, despite my pleasure in this, I do have a gripe. The design and layout is really bad. It screams the worst aspects of the old style boring library view of the universe - indeed the menu looks like a first grade library cadets attempt at his/her first reference card.

As for the navigation - well lets just say there isn't one - not one for humans anyway.

All of which is such a pity - so much so I'm breaking from my normal practice of just not commenting on inadequate web responses from the formal world of library and heritage.

There is so much to do, and key resources like the Scout Report, once a must see weekly resource, needs to lift its game in what they choose to offer as benchmarks of good practice.

Moreover, it is all such a pity. There was a good idea - and a good deal of solid intellectual and scholarly work has been done to execute the idea - so why can't there be a similar respect for the medium's ability to show compelling design and navigation, which in turn will not only add to the scholarly work, but be seen as a component of it?

Libraries and other key institutions really need to get past thinking that making things visually compelling or even interesting isn't part of their job, and provided they get it on screen, then they have done their bit.

Apart from anything else, the web medium just won't stand for it - audiences will dwindle and no matter how worthy the effort, unless people are actively using the resource, the effort will be in vain.

That said, please have a look and a listen, and make up your own mind, Here.


Thinman said...

Hear, hear for giving libraries a good kick up the arse in terms of design. Too much of library web presence is created by a staff member with a basic knowledge of Frontpage, who is co-opted to be web designer. Or else dire Council webmasters. Just take a browse through NZ public library web sites via the atrocious .

The second issue with the Beowulf site is what I call TEI-itis.Nothing wrong with a bit of scholarly encoding, but... It appears the staff there have put all their resources into marking up the text, and have just used a default XPAT stylesheet & XSL file for design. Mark-up people are not good design people.Sound familiar? Take a look at NZ's own NZETC as an example. Brilliant content, but no design sense - they still have that horrible blue wallpaper circa 1996. Other earlier text digitisation projects such as Virginia's Electronic Text Centre and even Gutenberg suffered from the same thing.

Alison said...

Hello thinman and Paul,

I don't think you would find a single person at the NZETC who disagreed with your comment about our "horrible blue wallpaper". Our looks are certainly not our best feature. However I can say that this year changing our appearance has been a lower priority than adding content and functionality (eg links out to Te Ao Hou), and making some substantial changes to the back end to allow us to work more efficiently (see for example Jamie's paper on entity authority management). I don't think we need to apologize for that. The site may be ugly but the navigational framework is sophisticated. On the other hand we don't want the nasty blue bobbly carpet to distract users from exploring the collection and it's an objective for 2008 to make some long overdue changes.

Con said...

What wallpaper? ;-)

digger said...

gone but not forgotten

chenlina said...

michael kors outlet online sale
coach outlet
toms shoes
coach outlet online
adidas originals
fake watches
cartier watches
ray ban sunglasses
cheap jordan shoes
timberland boots
tory burch handbags
oakley sunglasses
true religion
oakley sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet
adidas yeezy
michael kors handbags
louis vuitton outlet
jordan 3
toms shoes
cheap nfl jerseys
jordan shoes
cheap oakley sunglasses
adidas shoes
designer handbags
adidas originals store
ray ban sunglasses discount
coach outlet
christian louboutin shoes
nike trainers men
polo ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton
adidas yeezy 350
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors canada
kate spade outlet
adidas ultra boost
michael kors outlet
oakley sunglasses

toko pasutri said...

Terima Kasih Infonya Gan, Sangat Bermanfaat Artikelnya !!!
vimax asli
selaput dara buatan
ciri ciri vimax asli
obat perangsang wanita
jual obat perangsang cair
blue wizard
obat kuat pria
obat kuat tahan lama
obat viagra
pembesar penis alami
obat pembesar penis
klg pills asli
jual klg pill asli
klg pills
cream pembesar penis
cream kuda jantan
vagina getar
klg usa asli
vagina senter
klg asli
obat pengemuk badan
obat peninggi badan
alat penggeli vagina
alat pembesar penis
vakum pembesar penis
terapi pembesar penis
vimax kapsul
obat kuat nangen
obat kuat herbal
potenzol cair

hoxn Ln said...

only 1,970 pieces. Designer handbags The 42mm diameter stainless steel timepiece is presented on a black coated nylon fabric strap with white Watches Replica stitching.The new Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award is the second special edition UK Replica watches watch that Omega has released to celebrate the “successful failure” mission. Replica Rolex watches It is also the watchmaker’s second timepiece to feature Snoopy.In 1995, Omega revealed a Speedmaster commemorating Replica Rolex Watches.