Adventures in Ethics and Science

It turns out that the session on electronic scholarship I mentioned didn’t really get into the defining characteristics of electronic scholarship, nor how it might differ from “digital media”. (Part of this had to do with trying to fit spiels from nine speakers into a 75 minute session while still allowing time for discussion. You do the math.)

Anyway, one of the panelists, Stephen Greenberg, is from the National Library of Medicine, and he gave us a peek at some digital materials that warm my old-timey, hide-bound heart. Specifically, I am ga-ga for the Turning The Pages project.

Take your browser over to their list of rare books. Choose a title. Then click on the cover to open the book. Zoom in if you want to see a magnified view. Hover over the page to see annotations. Click on the page you’re on to turn to the next page.

I really dig the Vesalius (De Humani Corporis Fabrica) and the Hooke (Micrographia) that has fold-out pages that you can actually fold out with the click of a mouse.

Sadly, it’s not the case that each of these entire books is digitized and animated. If you want the whole thing (or something on a particular page that didn’t get digitized), it may still require a visit to the library and some time in the rare books room.

But that can be fun, too.


  1. #1 Laelaps
    November 7, 2008

    *Drool* Without digitization projects, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to write my first academic paper (or learn as much as I have in my free time).

    Quality is a bit of a problem right now, especially since many of the titles on Google Books are about photocopy quality and there’s all sorts of glitches, but it’s not a bad place to start.

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ll definitely have to mention it during the history of science panel at ScienceOnline 09!

  2. #2 Bardiac
    November 8, 2008

    For earlier books in English (or printed in England, up to about 1700, I think), you might look at Early English Books Online (aka EEBO); many universities have a subscription.

    There’s not as fancy an interface, but the digital copies are pretty good quality and they have ever increasing numbers of texts available with a pretty good search engine.

    It’s not as fun as a rare book room, but I can open it up and show my students in class. And since we’re a long way from a decent rare book room, that’s a huge benefit!

  3. #3 notedscholar
    November 10, 2008

    This is a plagiarism of Google Books!! And the University of Michigan.

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