The Digital Mitford team coordinated a massive effort last fall to complete a burst of coding, in particular to finish up transcriptions of assigned letters and to research and develop new prosopography entries–that is, entries on our lists of Named Entities: people (and fictional characters), organizations, places (and fictional places), books, serial publications, works of art, historical events, archives, plants, animals. As of the last day of February 2016, we’ve crossed what seems a significant milestone: we’ve gone from 905 to 1425 xml:ids! Our editors encode portions of lists to add to what we think of as the backbone of the Digital Mitford project, its “site index” or master list of lists that bind distinct identifiers (in the form of xml:id attributes) to canonical information about the proper names we encounter in our project. The site index is one of the raisons d’etre for the Digital Mitford. We launched this project knowing that a systematic, intensive program of transcription in XML code would build and bind together a network of data about Mitford’s literary world.
In the big data contexts of “DH” our project’s thousands of entries are small-to-medium sized digital digs, but crossing the thousand still seems momentous, particularly with so much encoding ahead of us! If the Digital Mitford were a dig site, we hope to show that there is a rich cross-section of data emerging from our code, which we are working to connect to the web’s linked open data resources. Our site index organizes the project’s encoding, so that all our project files from Mitford’s personal letters to her literary writings are linked to each other through this central nexus point bound by our project schema which reads xml:ids from the file and ensures they are being properly referenced across the project. Our team has much to do with these entries, and we will be studying our own work in the coming months with help of visualization tools we are developing to seek clues on where to find more information from within our very own archive. Adding a big pile of 500 new xml:ids means will soon be updating our visualizations of Mitford’s social and literary networks and we are working on scraping geographic coordinate data to help us plot Mitford’s Reading and England. Look for more on these efforts in the coming months and at the Digital Mitford Workshop and Coding School in June 2016 (details to come shortly).