Saturday, 26 January 2008

Warwick/Warburg course 2008, Day One...

The first one-day session of the Warburg/Warwick Early Modern Research Techniques course was yesterday: though it was pretty good, I think I'm breaking no great confidences if I say that this felt likely to be the, errrrrmmmm, least strongest of the three days... despite Warwick's strong Renaissance department, everyone was just itching to get on to the Warburg text and image days. But as with most post-grad things, you learn just as much from the other students as from the lecturers: so Day One was no hardship.

It became quickly apparent that all the participants were both properly web-savvy (it's nice to see people surfing at the speed of thought) and Excel-smart (for fun, I tried Access instead, but unfortunately it was just as clunky as I remembered), and had already drained all the loose juice from JSTOR, EEBO, and their low-hanging ilk. But still, everyone falls short of 100% coverage in these things, and so there were plenty of webby windfalls for us all to put into our baskets. Here are a few highlights I thought I'd share...

Richard Parker from the University of Warwick (who co-presented two of the sessions with the pleasantly dry Francois Quiviger from the Warburg Institute) has brought together a large number of art history web resources on the Warwick website here. Though Richard somewhat deprecatingly refers to his efforts as "pre-Web 2.0", his general pages page is just about as good a high-level starting point for online art history web research as any I've seen - and within the subject pages, his images link page is a bit of a gem too (and within that, check out the iconography and emblems page). His personal favourite is the TASI advice page on finding and using online images: if you're at all unsure about this kind of thing, it's an excellent link.

Bibliographical searching was another key topic. Of late, I've managed to get my research done without having to resort to Inter-Library Loans: so while I was cool with WorldCat, COPAC and (my favourite, despite its uber-dull name) the M25 consortium, I hadn't noticed the (frankly rather amazing) KVK creep up on us all... a simple way of searching a staggering number of world libraries without any significant danger of mouse-related RSI. Recommended!

Incidentally, I didn't realise that this course runs every year: I wish I'd known about it 3/4 years ago. But my guess is that as, not so many years ago, the web and historians were only just starting to 'get it on', Day One would originally have been the most eye-opening for those attending. But we're now all so wise to that stuff, it all seemed slightly, well, 'rusty', if not slightly antiquated.

Yet the world is changing blazingly fast: in a year's time, I'd hope that Day One is based instead on such amazing new Programming Historian tools as Zotero (which I found through the Early Modern Notes blog). And it would be the most amazing day once more! :-)

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