Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Poetry, Data, and Blogging

In the past, when we thought of poetry and data, what came to mind were bibliographies. And by bibliographies, I'm meaning the traditional MLA format "works cited" kind. Yet, the broader conversation about "big data" as well as the recognition that we have so much information to keep up with should prompt us to think about collecting and organizing information about poetry in new, more extensive ways.

It's my sense that relatively few of us in teaching positions were trained to pursue "data science" in formal ways. But perhaps we can, as we're catching up to speed, apply some of the principles from that emerging field.

Accounting for all, or at least, more data concerning poetry means that we'll definitely need to move beyond standard bibliographies.It's not enough to identify author, title, publisher, city of publisher, and year. We might want to also account for numbers of poems in a volume, number of pages, size of book, word count, month and date of publication, price, information concerning the book design and book blurbs, and so on.

On the local level, if we are teaching certain texts over a course of years, it might be helpful to collect data on observations concerning student responses. Alerting current students to how former students have responded to poems and poets can be helpful for how they view themselves as integral parts of reading audiences over time.

Blogging over the years really pushed me to give more thought to organizing information about poetry. Unlike the days when I was only writing formal articles about literary art, as a blogger, I was producing far more compositions. I needed to find ways to make past writings easily accessible to readers and for my own purposes. I created: a full list of blog entries, links to entries on select writers, and links based on assorted topics.

Moving forward, we might consider even more options when it comes to producing and organizing data concerning poetry and literary art in general.


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