How can digital technologies transform the edition and publication of original texts? What if we start thinking of “the book” as something that goes beyond ink-on-paper? Can we imagine a new kind of book that extends into cyberspace where annotation can grow organically? Where links to other works, background information, images and sounds can be stored in great profusion? Where texts can be made available simultaneously in creative web displays, eBook formats, and hard copy print-on-demand versions?
These are some of the questions that drive the Svoboda Diaries “Newbook” Project.
The project centers around an extensive collection of personal diaries kept by members of a family of Eastern European origin living in Baghdad, Iraq, during the 19th century. For our first “Newbook” publication, we will feature the travel journal of 19-year-old Alexander Svoboda, which he wrote during an 1897 journey from Baghdad to Damascus, Cairo, Brindisi, and Paris. Written in colloquial Arabic, the journal was transcribed and translated by Iraqi researcher Nowf Allawi and has been converted into a TEI-compatible XML text, an eBook, and print-on-demand versions with an accompanying project “wiki” and several additional resources.
This publication will be followed by "Newbook" versions of diaries kept by Alexander’s father, Joseph Mathia Svoboda: ten original and thirty-one transcriptions.
The goals of the “Newbook” Project are:
scholarly – to use digital methods to provide timely access to original texts.
developmental – to imagine and apply new digital approaches to traditional publication.
educational – to train undergraduates in the application of digital methods and technologies to basic research in the humanities.