At last week’s Bass Culture get-together, we got down to the minutiae of data entry – the mind-numbing but crucial detail determining how the website will ultimately look. If James Aird is entered as “Aird, James” once, then all names will always be entered in indirect order. “Jas. Aird” becomes an alternative in another column, and “N.Stewart” must be looked up to double-check if he’s “Neil” or “Niel”.
Enter the Scottish Book Trade Index – one of Karen’s favourite websites, hosted by the National Library of Scotland. It’s fantastic for checking names and addresses of anyone connected with the Scottish Book Trade up to 1850 – ideal for our project. It simply must feature in our website bibliography page!
For the first couple of years of the project, we worked on a huge spreadsheet of all our fiddle tune-books. It seemed a bit unmanageable at times, but compared to the new MEI-enabled spreadsheet, it was merely a tiny little table! The photo in our last blogpost shows just TWO sample entries of the hundreds that will end up being entered there. Comparing the preliminary and MEI spreadsheets is like comparing a house with a high-rise block of flats.
So here we are in the new year: 2015, and with the end of the project looming on the horizon. Entering source details inevitably raises questions about things that really looked very straightforward at the time. DID that bound volume contain all three publications by the author? Oh, here’s a second edition. (That makes it a new source, but categorically NOT a new work …) Such basic details have to be sorted out now. And then there are the details we’ll have to remember before the website goes live. And the tiny questions that require answers, but can’t be answered until the donkey-work of data entry is further along the line, or we’ll never get the donkey-work done!
- Luca and Karen agreed that we need a “legend” – a list of words where there are different spellings, so that the computer search can take into account such “synonyms” when encountered. If a user searches for MacGlashan, for example, then the system has to retrieve McGlashan – our preferred spelling. Similarly, if a tune title includes archaic spellings, or just plain misspellings of words, then the user may enter a modern or correct spelling but we need to be sure they’ll also retrieve the item with its original published spelling.
- Consistency in the finer details. Pagination is entered thus:- 31 p (not 31p, 31 pp, or 31 pp.) Check COPAC, and you’ll catch different libraries adopting different styles. We have to adopt one standard and stick to it – the user may not even notice, but it does look better!
- We need to define terminology. For example, we know what Murkys are (broken octaves in quavers), but we can’t predict what terminology will be familiar to someone searching the database at a later date.
- We need to flag the “questions for later”, so that we can address them if there’s time.
- We’ve listed our published outputs and conference papers on a separate research database, but we’ll need to include a bibliography on the Bass Culture website, too.
- Only a day later, and we’ve thought of another important requirement for our website – a tab for listing key online info that we’ve found useful. (Karen has been saving things to her Diigo bookmarking account.) First up – the Scottish Book Trade Index at the National Library of Scotland. Invaluable!
Enough for now! It’s not so much “fiddling while Rome burns”, as “Blogging while Fiddle sources are to be entered up!”