free content

New Release: 2,200 18th-Century Texts

Through lots of hard work from the University of Michigan Libraries and support from the Gale publishing company, over 2,200 fully-searchable 18th-century texts have been made freely available through 18th Century Connect, an excellent collection of online, peer-reviewed resources in the 18th century. Why is this such a big deal? Isn’t everything on Google Books? In a word, no. These texts are hard-to-find and typically not available anywhere else. In addition, 18th-century spelling and typography are so different from ours, and so non-standard, that machines have a hard time automatically reading and understanding these texts. So every single text had to be re-typed and correctly coded to allow analysis by modern computers. Until now, these texts were only available through an expensive personal or institutional purchase. But this subset has now been released into the wild, which is very exciting news for humanists — see for yourself at 18th Century Connect. For more information, see the website of the Text Creation Partnership (the lovely people that do all the hard work of re-typing and coding these titles) or their official blog post.

TV on the Radio

Our video upload attempts got me thinking about video on the web. With the writer’s strike stalling new television shows, I recently read an article on shows designed with internet viewing in mind. It also seems that users (myself included) have come to expect a smorgasbord of free entertainment (including television) on the web. While most networks have jumped on the bandwagon, usually providing a few episodes of their most popular programs online, they hardly offer an exhaustive season catalogue. This past week, I spent a fruitless hour trying to find episodes that I had missed.

Until I purchase a TiVo or DVR, is this a hopeless exercise? Or is the possibility of a complete television canon, free and readily accessible online, in the near future? Or, have users come to demand far too much in the way of free content, and will they be forced to pay for it, one way or another?