EEBO and the politics of open standards
EEBO is an unmitigated good; I take that as an agreed starting point. This paper is concerned with the technological particularities by which such goods are disseminated, with special concern for two things: the on-demand delivery of materials over the Internet (as opposed to materials downloaded and kept locally) and the use of proprietary standards for formatting (such as Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format). EEBO users are at the end of a supply-chain of almost unimaginable technical complexity, for the maintenance of which they are dependent upon privately and publicly owned agencies, comprising (at the least) the content provider ProQuest, its Internet Service Provider, Teleglobe International (owner of the Atlantic undersea cables), JANET (the United Kingdom's academic Internet Service Provider), and the user's computer services department. Most users have heard of only the first and last of those four agents. Likewise, unseen agency (that becomes apparent only when it goes wrong) obtains in the proprietary format by which images are delivered to users. This paper will survey how these systems bear upon academics' use of EEBO and their implications for the power relations between publicly-funded library staff and academics and private content publishers. In particular, certain means by which the power relation can be adjusted in favour of the public side of the equation will be outlined.
This is a conference paper.
Citation : Egan, G. (2005) EEBO and the politics of open standards. A paper for the conference (De)materialising the early modern text: Early English Books Online inTeaching and Research, Bath Spa University College, 8-9 September
Research Group : English Research Group
- School of Humanities