New tools

I thought this, in my April Literary Review, was interesting.

John Sutherland was reviewing Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers, edited by R Kent Rasmussen. Rasmussen, in a nutshell, has truffled through the archives now available to produce tiny paragraph-long biographies of some of the plain folk who wrote to Twain. Sutherland writes:

“Among the online resources Rasmussen used were ancestry.com, the digitised American census records, the Library of Congress’s digitised local newspaper archive, genealogybank.com, Google Books and findagrave.com. Rasmussen’s explanation of his working methods should be pondered by all scholars active in literary-historical research. A new era is dawning. New tools are in one’s hands.”

Set this against what’s happening to print books.

I’m not sure I signed up for this brave, new world – but I’ll do my best to keep up!

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