Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Katherine Mansfield Society goes on the web

Welcome to the Katherine Mansfield Society, a new international organisation which will promote and encourage the worldwide study and enjoyment of Katherine Mansfield’s writing. They also hope they will be a forum for the exchange of information and for research collaboration.

In terms of reputation the Board is substantial . Honorary President Emeritus Professor Vincent O'Sullivan, DCNZM: Honorary Vice-Presidents Emeritus Professor Angela Smith Emeritus Professor C. K. Stead, ONZ, CBE, FRSL, Chair Dr Sarah Sandley Deputy Chair Dr Gerri Kimber

The web site
The web site contains material about the Society, the beginnings of an image gallery for/about KM, a small but eclectic set of links to other sites, and last but not least a substantial set of the works of Katherine Mansfield in pdf format.

Curiosity killed the cat
Being a curious type of person, I'm intrigued as to where they sourced the Katherine Mansfield stories from. A few years ago when McGovern worked with the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace on a parallel venture to become a bit of a cyber hub for KM, there were practically no online versions of her works to speak off. Believe me I looked.

Since then the NZETC, among others, has done a brilliant job in putting up a a substantial set of KM's works both in their TEC/XML format and Microsoft Reader.

Creative Commons
They have also given them a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence [CC] . At the time this was applauded by the local CC community. Moreover, it was seen by many, including me, as a welcome signal from a key local institution, Victoria University, that the CC framework was starting to gain ground in the academic/heritage community.

Given the prestige of the new Katherine Mansfield Society Board, it's a pity that they haven't followed suit. Or perhaps this is in the pipeline?

The Image collection
I'm also more than a little intrigued by the images they have put up in the KM image archive. Unless I'm totally off the ball these are from the Alexander Turnbull collection, who in my experience, have a whole bunch of rules around online attribution etc. Can't see them here.

If I'm correct, then it would be good to see this rectified. Moreover, again from my experience of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace site, the Turnbull, as a key repository of lots of KM material, was very keen to work with online ventures of this kind, especially if it gave the KM material in the Turnbull a wider audience.

Digital NZ

While on the subject of wider audience et al, while tapping away I wondered if Digital New Zealand would be a resource here. Turns out - totally - absolutely.

Took me 5 minutes maximum to find out they had nearly 200 sources on record from photographs to journal/research papers from a variety of sources on Katherine Mansfield, which in turn was available to me, and anyone else in three different ways.

1. Customised search page.
You can do this in Digital NZ with any search term you can think off. For this one I just used the simple term - Katherine Mansfield. The result is a customised "faceted search' page which you an tweak in terms of colour background. You can even insert your own logo.

If you want to try making one of your own, or just see what is on offer, then head here.

2. RSS feed to the search results.


3. Katherine Mansfield Search Widget
This is an embedded piece of code which gives any site who wants it the ability to run an authoritative search and discover Digital New Zealand sourced material on your search term - in this case Katherine Mansfield.
And just for fun I have inserted it at the bottom of this post.

Developing the heritage ecology
I give all this not as a way of taking a pop at a brand new site. On the contrary, I think the idea of a Katherine Mansfield Society devoted to extending the reach of her life and work is a brilliant notion.

However, like every other institution in the cultural /heritage sphere, I strongly believe it can benefit from a greater understanding of how the ecology of sources, tools and connections that make up the modern web can extend and enlarge both their ambitions and their purpose.

These tools in turn, give the institution the ability to join in and contribute to the same. Hence my points about collaboration - Creative Commons frameworks - and parallel worlds in the likes of Digital New Zealand.

In the meantime - perhaps I need to go back over to the KM Society and join!

Search: Katherine Mansfield


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