One of the perennial jobs of humanists is the annotation of older (usually canonical) texts with notes and information for readers about cultural context, interpretive perspectives, grammatical elucidations, etc. I am a classicist interested in commentary on ancient texts presented digitally, but the issue of annotation, it seems to me, extends well beyond that discipline. The wikis on the novels of Thomas Pynchon, Open Utopia, are Pocket Torah are a few non-classical examples. Some questions I would like to discuss (and some of these are more relevant to classical texts):
1) how is the content supposed to be created? Is it to be crowdsourced? Machine generated through encoding of scholarly knowledge into the text through XML? Single author? Some combination of these? 2) What kind of annotations do we need? Explicate every proper name and geographical reference? Audio recordings? Interviews with the editor? User-generated content? Word clouds and graphs of relationships between characters? Data from computational linguistics? Is more always better? 3) What is the product supposed to look like? A single long page? Multiple frames in one page? Several tabs on one page? Hyperlinks on every word? Side bars? Pop-up windows? User-comment features? Embedded players? What is the role of visual design? How exactly is all the information supposed to be delivered to the user in a way that will serve the user’s needs and is attractive, rather than bewildering?