A HYPERMEDIA TRANSLATION RESOURCE WEBSITE
Part One of the Divine Hypermedia Project
The Divine Hypermedia Project is an attempt to illustrate the potential for interactive technology in the study and criticism of literature in foreign languages. It provides multiple facing-page translations, oral interpretations of the text by Italian scholars, and several modern film segments, all cross-referenced with critical commentary in Italian, Latin, and English from the Dartmouth Dante Project. In the future we hope to add a concordance, a MOO-like virtual environment for critical discussions, and more extensive audio-visual resources. Our goal is to produce a digital text that allows readers to develop an intimate familiarity with the poem in Italian--both written and oral--while also exposing him or her to the large constellation of interpretation that Dante's poem has inspired over the past seven centuries.
The reader should realize that much of the content of this project is protected by copyright law. It is presented here for proof-of-concept and academic reference purposes only, and with the greatest of respect for each item's author and his or her editors. If you do not agree with the spirit of both freedom of academic exploration and respect for intellectual property with which this project was undertaken, please do not continue.
Comments and Opinions
We hope you enjoy using the Divine Hypermedia Project, and welcome your comments and opinions on the project. Christopher York, Olin Bjork
Christopher York, email@example.com
Olin Bjork, firstname.lastname@example.org
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
What We Are Trying to Communicate
When we first met back in late August, 1998, Christopher and I found that we had long shared an interest in multimedia and a love of literature. Ever since the CD-ROM and the WWW became part of the public consciousness, we had pondered the question of how to use multimedia to facilitate and improve literary scholarship and pedagogy.
The simple conversion of printed text to "electronic text" seemed almost extraneous to us, the only advantage being the potential savings in money and energy from not having to buy and carry around books, the obvious disadvantages being lack of portability and the necessity of computer access.
When electronic texts are linked together with "hyperlinks," the result is commonly called "hypertext." Christopher and I felt that hypertextuality might save a trip to the library, but fails to add anything really new.
Hypertext becomes hypermedia when graphics, video, audio, and other forms of media are added. A hypermedia version of a text is clearly a newfangled phenomenon. But is having images, movies, sound, etc. in the package at all useful, we wondered?
Christopher and I were surprised to find that we had independently settled on the translation and study of foreign language texts as the most natural and efficacious place for hypermedia. Scholars and students of foreign language literatures alike would want access to several translations of a given text, the capability to hear a voice over of the language as they read, and the help of extensive notation and background materials. Normally, this would require a whole bookshelf or two, but it could also be obtained, including the means to translate and/or annotate, online. Even the graphics would take on a purpose other than titillation, they would function as visual aids for language comprehension.
Christopher and I have sought, through this website, to provide a sample of what a hypermedia translation resource could offer to scholars, students, and even casual readers. Why Dante? Because we dig him. Why the Inferno? Because it's cool (actually, in Judecca, freezing).
The sample you are looking at is most likely incomplete. It may or may not have audio and video, depending on memory considerations. As of this date, we have not added notation. Including a text editor may prove beyond us, and adding links to comprehensive Italian/English dictionary may prove impossible because, astonishingly, there does not appear to be one on online. Any scanning volunteers?
Olin and Christopher
CONSTRUCTING A SCHOLARLY WEBSITE
Last semester, Chris and I were fairly successful in achieving our basic multimedia goals, but we fell far short of our loftier purpose: to make the project potentially useful for Dante scholars (assuming of course, that our project could be expanded beyond the current sampling and some day include the full Inferno, if not the entire Divine Comedy, if not the complete works of Dante).
This semester, as my final project for Syverson's Information Architecture class, we strove to build an information architecure around the multimedia elements that we had already integrated. We did not, however, fail to recognize that the presentation of nonverbal information also requires careful planning. We simply felt that our current utilization of images and audiovisual components, though far from perfect, would suffice for the time being, and that the main weakness of our site was textual.
In designing a textual information architecture, then, we felt that providing notation to the Italian text was our first priority. To acquire the necessary commentary, we turned to the Dartmouth Dante project, directed by Robert Hollander of Princeton university. This million dollar database archiveprovided us with more than ample material, which we were able to telnet to files that we later converted to HTML. We then linked all the lines of the Italian text to the corresponding notation and provided yet another frame for the notes so that they could be seen along with the Italian and English text.
As far as information visualization is concerned, we feel that our map page is what really makes our site interesting. It allows the user to visualize not only the layout of our site but Dante's Inferno itself. Judging from Rosenfeld and Morville's distinctions(26-36), using a map as a navigation tool might be considered a geographic organization scheme, but I believe that our approach could also be categorized as a hybrid scheme in that it also includes the metaphorical flair of gazing through a peephole.
Chris and I are still far short of our architectural ambitions. We would like to put in a new interface with multiple navigation tools suited to the interests of different users. Some of these tools might include the ability to annotate, do searches, edit text, lookup words in dictionaries and/or encyclopedias, even submit or read criticism. We would also like to incorporate a forum, if not a MOO, where lovers of Dante could interact and share ideas.
We will not abandon hope that all these things and more will be achieved, if not by us, then by other aspiring information architects.
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Rosenfeld, Lewis and Peter Morville. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1998.
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