Methods of structuring databases and digital archives to provide narrative and contextual pathways through historical texts
Hill, V. (2009) Methods of structuring databases and digital archives to provide narrative and contextual pathways through historical texts. In: Hackney, F., Glynne, J. and Minton, V., eds. (2009) Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society (UK). University College Falmouth: Universal Publishers , pp. 328-334. ISBN 9781599429069
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A conference paper presented at Networks of Design, 3-6 September 2008, University College Falmouth. The design of textual databases to act as archives or information repositories is dependant on a number of contributory factors which this paper aims to address. The primary consideration is how the information is to be viewed and interrogated by the end user, as this affects both the information collation and the structure of the archive. In order to plan this successfully there are a number of different agencies; and issues arising from how these agencies interact, to be taken into consideration. The agencies involved include both human and non-human factors which interact forming a single network. The two main non-human factors are the information content, primarily text and images, and the software used in the construction. The methods used in designing and constructing the database will decide the number of human agencies involved, whether the different stages are undertaken by the same individual / group or whether each stage is the responsibility of a different agency. Design in this sense refers to both the aesthetic or visual representation of the user interface and the architecture of the database. This paper will look at the design and construction of a digital archive using the collotype database, designed by the Centre for Fine Print Research, U.W.E. as a case study. This archive holds a variety of technical and contextual historical data relating to the 19th Century photo-mechanical collotype printing process. Strategies of interaction are built into the architecture of the database to enable the end user to retrieve information. In order for this to occur successfully the data has to be collated and broken down into various sets. Relationships between these sets then have to be mapped to allow access to this content from various routes as different narrative paths are followed.