In the past, the Digital Orientalist celebrated the virtues of brevity by regularly publishing short pieces, thoughts, and reflections. Some of these pieces only spanned a few lines! Today, I’d like to revive that tradition by providing some short thoughts on lists.
Recently, the Digital Orientalist’s Islamic Studies Editor, Alex Mallett, wrote of his frustrations regarding the seeming lack of user-focused project development in the Digital Humanities especially in regards to User Interface (UI). In my experience, many databases, pieces of software, and apps feature unnecessarily complicated user interfaces. We often forget that our projects and their products do not always require an intricate UI – sometimes a simple web-based list of resources, images or terms will suffice.
The list holds a strange place in the Digital Humanities; many lists exist, but their creators do not necessarily receive the same acclaim or credit as those who create software, databases and resources with a complex UI. There is a disincentive, therefore, for researchers and developers to spend their time and resources creating lists. Nevertheless, lists are simple, they are user friendly and since they can be navigated without the need to acquire specific knowledge, they are highly accessible. In my opinion, they have the potential to be highly powerful tools.
Recently, I have been introduced to several lists that I would like to share (or reshare) with our readers as both useful resources and potential sources of inspiration:
- In his account of rediscovering MS Zafaran N.12, Syriac Studies Editor, Ephrem Ishac, introduced us to a wonderful list-based, image database of Syriac Icons. Numerous other lists can also be found on the Department of Syriac Studies Website.
- Described in the Digital Orientalist a few months ago, there is the wonderful Digital Humanities Japan Scholar Directory which can aid people to find and contact scholars working on Japan-related digital projects.
- Some interesting lists feature in Marcus Bingenheimer’s Tools for Buddhist Studies such as Geographic Resources for the Study of Chinese Buddhist History or the Bibliography of Translations from the Chinese Buddhist Canon into Western Languages.
These are only a few of the thousands of lists across the internet which aid us in our daily research and learning. Lists provide us with accessible information, resources including dictionaries and bibliographies, images, and ways to contact and network with other scholars, but often lack recognition or praise. I hope that more scholars will begin to recognise the value and power of lists and engage in the act of creating them.