Samuel Johnson in the Digital Age

by Michelana Cox

This is not my first reflection, but it is my favorite. I am really excited that the 1773 edition has been released this semester. This was seeing work that I have been doing with others for two semesters become public and that was a highlight to working on this project. This semester we used YellowDig for our posts about our work. I really enjoyed using this platform, it almost reminded me of Twitter when I used to use that. It made reading XML questions and the Word of the Week thread much easier to respond to. This project was worthwhile to work on for multiple semesters because I learned new things in each semester. I also got to see the site become public and that was a very accomplished feeling. I can only imagine how those who have worked many semesters felt seeing it happen.

This semester I learned how to use XML markup language. I was very apprehensive about this because when I tried last semester to watch YouTube videos it seemed hard to understand. After participating in the XML workshop hosted by Professor Young, it felt a lot more attainable of a skill. I found it really cool to see the inner workings of the entries and actually see all the components that went into creating the words. The website was a little easier to navigate when understanding what parts could be changed and how. I had a proud student moment this semester when a peer posted a help message on the YellowDig boards. He could not figure out how to remove extra spaces and later could not understand why the tags he was making were not staying, he assumed it was a bug. I went and found the spaces he was referring to and they were in a weird place that you would not have immediately thought would affect the spot he was referencing. I figured out what spaces needed to be taken out and noticed (after some time looking) that the tags were missing a single letter causing them not to work. It felt good being able to notice the small details like these. I also figured out how to write author tags, which I found difficult at first. I eventually learned I could copy and paste the tags from the previous edition and remove any extra words so that it would match my current working edition. There were many small victories this semester working with XML and I am grateful I learned what I did.