The Book of Trogool

Hello and welcome

I’m very pleased to welcome you all to The Book of Trogool, a brand-new blog about e-research. My name is Dorothea Salo, I’m an academic librarian, and I am fascinated with the changes that computers have wrought in the academic-research enterprise. I hope to explore those changes, and particularly library responses to them, in the company of the wonderful ScienceBlogs community. My thanks to John, Christina, and Walt for paving the way, and to Erin for welcoming me here.

I hope to tell stories about e-research projects (because narrative is how humans come to grips with novelty), pass on tidbits of e-research?related news, demystify jargon, ask and answer questions?in toto, I hope to bridge the science, library, and IT communities as we all work to understand, accommodate, and make the most of computers in research.

One small note: Though this is ScienceBlogs, I by no means plan to limit my remarks to the sciences. This is a tremendously exciting time for the so-called “digital humanities” as well, and as I am a humanist by training, I pay close attention to developments in those disciplines.

Right. About that blog name?

I am an earnest devotee of Lord Dunsany’s wry, half-parodic Peg?na stories (do take a look at the Project Gutenberg version) and their quarrelsome, none-too-bright, easily-offended pantheon of deities. On a rereading some time ago, I noticed a rather curious and delightful passage in “Of the Thing that is Neither God nor Beast:”

Trogool is the Thing that is neither god nor beast, who neither howls nor breathes, only It turns over the leaves of a great book, black and white, black and white for ever until THE END.

And all that is to be is written in the book is also all that was.

When It turneth a black page it is night, and when It turneth a white page it is day?

Trogool is the Thing that men in many countries have called by many names, It is the Thing that sits behind the gods, whose book is the Scheme of Things.

Are researchers and those of us who serve them not all trying, in our own ways, to write the book of the Scheme of Things? And has that book not become binary?black and white, one and zero?in the last several years? And is not the computer “neither god nor beast?”

I believe so, as I believe that Trogool is a fitting symbol for the e-research enterprise, which just like Trogool has many names.

Behold a picture of Trogool by the utterly marvelous Sidney Sime (don’t worry; Dunsany and Sime’s Peg?na-related works are in the public domain):


Rather an intimidating chap, isn’t he? I hope I can help him seem less so.


  1. #1 Romeo Vitelli
    July 17, 2009

    Welcome aboard. Always a pleasure to see Dunsany and Sime.

  2. #2 Dorothea Salo
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you! It’s great to be here—and to find another Pegāna aficionado!

  3. #3 Christina Pikas
    July 17, 2009

    Hah! and now you have comments 😉
    Yay and welcome.
    tra-gool’. troh’-gool. …. how is this pronounced?

  4. #4 Dorothea Salo
    July 17, 2009

    I incline toward troh-GOOL myself. Dunsanean phonology is a curious study. I myself am convinced that he employed accents and macrons with intent (no heavy-metal-umlautist he), but the exact nature of that intent I am not sure I entirely understand.

    (Er, for those who don’t know, my academic training is in historical linguistics, and phonology was my specialty.)

  5. #5 Coturnix
    July 17, 2009

    w00t! Welcome to the Family! Or is it called a Pantheon now?

  6. #6 Dorothea Salo
    July 17, 2009

    Pantheon is good! I like pantheon. I tell you what, next Friday I’ll follow John Dupuis’s wonderful example and do a Friday Fun post with a description of the Gods of Pegāna. We can have fun figuring out which SciBling is which.

  7. #7 Jim Lund
    July 18, 2009

    E-research? Why make a distinction? Today there’s only e-research and archaeology. 🙂

  8. #8 Dorothea Salo
    July 18, 2009

    Actually, I disagree with that pretty strongly. Just as some questions can’t be answered without a computer, some questions a computer can’t answer. Neither set of questions is necessarily more valuable than the other… and it behooves those of us who lean toward the computer-assisted side of things not to be arrogant about it.

    Besides, archaeology can absolutely be aided by computers. I’ll post sometime about the Olynthos project some of my colleagues at MPOW are doing… it’s pretty neat.

  9. #9 Catharine
    July 18, 2009

    I particularly look forward to your humanities posts, digital or otherwise.

  10. #10 Dorothea Salo
    July 18, 2009

    Well, it’s been a good while since I did any 200-proof humanities work. As a librarian I seem to be a gearhead (and teacher); as a writer, a polemicist. But I’m wowed by what I see going on in the digital side of the humanities house, and as I have opportunity to draw attention to that, I will.

  11. #11 Moebius
    July 18, 2009

    . . . quarrelsome, none-too-bright, easily-offended pantheon of deities.

    Why, that’s the Sciblings! Welcome home Dorothy.

  12. #12 Dorothea Salo
    July 18, 2009

    … anything I say at this point will get me in trouble, won’t it?

  13. #13 Coturnix
    July 18, 2009

    … anything I say at this point will get me in trouble, won’t it?

    Yes. But it’s bound to happen sooner or later and it’s good for traffic so might as well start early.

  14. #14 Kelly
    July 19, 2009

    I knew you would pop back up in the blogosphere — so glad it’s in my favorite haunts of SciBlogs 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your writing.

  15. #15 Dorothea Salo
    July 19, 2009

    I’m turning red. Thank you, Kelly.

  16. #16 ACW
    July 20, 2009

    I am so glad to see you back in the blogosphere, Ms. Salo; I was sad when you closed up your former storefront. I like your new choice of neighborhood, and your new chosen focus, and will be reading regularly.

  17. #17 Dorothea Salo
    July 20, 2009

    Thanks so much! I’m glad to be blogging again, and in such a great space!

  18. #18 Isis the Scientist
    July 20, 2009

    Welcome, Scibling.

  19. #19 Dorothea Salo
    July 20, 2009

    Thank you! Huge, huge fan of your blog. *bows down before the goddess*

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