Today was the big unveiling of Anthologize, a wordpress plugin developed by the NEH-Funded “One Week | One Tool” digital barnraising at the Center for History and the New Media. What does it do? It allows you to export a blog in book format, as a pdf, epub, rtf, or TEI file. Really, it turns every wordpress.org install into an ebook publishing platform. And, as wordpress has grown beyond a simple blogging platform into a more robust CMS, the addition of Anthologize ups the game for using wordpress to host serious academic projects. I can think of several useful functions after just looking at it for a few minutes on my local dev site:
1. Producing document readers for a class. Once upon a time professors made readers, something that has increasingly moved online as it is. Anthologize would offer the option for a single click download file as a pdf or epub of a semester’s online readings, and one that would be accessible on the various new e-reading tools on the market.
2. Consolidating individual student’s blogging at the end of a semester. I often assign weekly writing on personal blogs to my students. I consolidate these blogs onto the course site using the feedwordpress plugin. Anthologize allows the use to filter posts based on tags or categories. With a little instruction to the students, each post could be tagged with their name or UI, and then exported with Anthologize into a nicely formatted pdf or rtf for grading.
3. Changing the way we construct our CVs, or put together portfolios of work for export. Some of the multimedia export features need a little massaging still to work, but I have great confidence that they will in the work that out as we move from alpha to beta and further forward.
4. And, most importantly, the plugin will truly ease the emergence of really user-friendly digital project publication. By user friendly, I’m thinking here of historians who don’t have tons of digital skills but who can manage a simple wordpress install. Between one-click installations, WYSWYG editors, and plugins like this, the whole platform is very powerful.
It’s an alpha tool right now, and has a few rough edges, but to produce such an exciting and useful digital humanities tool in such a short time frame is just spectacular. Following the process of building the tool on twitter (hashtag #oneweek), and the blogs of a few participants, especially Jana Remy, Boone Gorges, and Tom Scheinfeldt has been really interesting to me. And as of today, there are an absolute ton of posts, reports, and the like appearing around the web from a variety of constituencies. CHNM’s guru Dan Cohen has a list of the participants and others responsible as well as the idea behind the tool. And, Meagan Timney has put together a post that consolidates links to all things Anthologize.
Edit to add: I should mention that the tool, at least right now, can run into problems with shortcode. This has real implications for the post I wrote on importing TEI documents into a wordpress post or page using an xml processing plugin. Instead of using xslt to process the TEI, one could simply use the TEI with an attached CSS file to determine what and how parts of the document are shown. This also would have the benefit of adding the text of those documents to the search capacity of the site. There are a few tricky spacing issues to deal with. But, if one had a body of TEI encoded transcriptions, they can easily be imported to a wordpress front end using CSS.