Project Tango has two related goals: first, to design a free, crowd-sourced model for producing online open-access to the print archive of humanities scholarly monographs (university press books, in the first instance); and second, to locate the production process within the domain of the traditional courses in college and university humanities degree programs.
The immediate aim is to make accessible an important corpus of scholarly materials that is still in copyright. Because the user-community for these works is a special scholarly one, we think they ought to be treated quite differently from books produced and marketed to the general population. We also think there are clear advantages to be gained if that special community takes a major practical role in the digital dissemination of these works.
The pedagogical effort is to get undergraduate humanities students and faculty in many college and universities to begin participating actively and collaboratively in an important long-range scholarly research project: the migration of our paper-based cultural inheritance to an integrated online network. At present this migration is being driven by commercial rather than scholarly or educational agents. The result is work that either does not meet the needs or standards of scholars and educators; or work that, while well-produced, is proprietary and therefore either quite expensive, and/or more or less access-restricted.
The model is conceived as an opening move for students and faculties in the humanities to begin regular research collaborations. In this case, the research work would focus in a project of fundamental importance to the future of humanities education.
The production model must meet the following requirements:
1. The digital copies must be fully string-searchable, they must be web-accessible, and they must share a basic set of standard metadata: author, title, date, source, and we initially think genre, (the last drawn from a small uniform set).
2. The copies must be proof corrected to scholarly standards for accuracy.
3. The production model must be simple to implement both administratively and technically.
A test trial of the model will be run in one undergraduate English course in the fall term of 2010 at U. of Virginia. It will then be modified as necessary and tested again in several undergraduate course in the spring term. At that point the model will be evaluated for the next moves.
Various open depositories for the digital works are being considered.
NOTE: The project is named “Tango” because it is imagined as an agreeable dance between the only two parties who have a copyright claim on these works: the university presses and the authors of the works. The parties are asked to agree to “dance together” and not to step on each other’s toes: each party is left free to expose the individual monograph online in whatever ways they see fit.