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Humanist Archives: Feb. 22, 2020, 8:20 a.m. Humanist 33.624 - an editor's plea

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 624.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-02-21 05:39:14+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: an editor's plea

Dear colleagues,

My editorial preferences doubtless began to be formed when I was editor
of my high school newspaper and learned principles for the composition
of a printed newspaper page from an experienced hand. How to attract the
eye and then lead it from one story to another was the main lesson, I
recall. This happened in the late 1950s. So it is also doubtless that
these are old principles, which I persist in carrying over into the
digital medium of Humanist. In other words, I am prepared to be told
that the following is Old Hat.

BUT: it does seem clear as day or a bell that someone who writes a note
and actually wants to communicate by means of it will not be surprised
by the meta-principle that all impediments to an untroubled reading
should be avoided wherever possible. (Medieval manuscript annotation is
another story; here is about readers in the tradition loudly proclaimed
by Thomas Sprat in the 17th Century.) One massive impediment to
untroubled prose is the URL helpful in the intention, I have no doubt,
that the writer inserts into the text so that the reader may be better
informed. But informed about what, exactly, and why of interest, is
impeded if not obscured by the URL's violation of the syntax of the
sentence it interrupts. This is why the footnote was invented, I
suppose: to be helpful but not derail reading.

Yes, some notes to Humanist originate in software that embeds each URL
in a hidden link -- you know, bluing and underscoring the text it
'footnotes' -- a nightmare of design, it seems to me. But in any case,
Humanist's software is graphically quiet by design, so that technique
does not work.

Thus, in conclusion, my editor's ink-stained plea to send continuous
rather than URL'd prose to Humanist, to consider how many URLs are
actually needed and where they would best be placed with the reader in mind.

Many thanks, indeed, many!

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org)

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Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

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