Proposal for categories with historical periodization by region

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schmibble
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Post by schmibble » March 12th, 2018, 4:14 pm

I'm frantically trying to finish a history dissertation to meet an end-of-semester deadline, working ca. 13-14 hours a day, and will be essentially doing the same thing after I graduate into the status of publish-or-perish slave (well, hopefully more like 12 hours a day at that point, but still). Therefore I don't have time to volunteer, and won't for years to come, which is a real bummer because Librivox--which I have just now discovered--is a fabulous resource. It is certainly not well-known among professional historians, and that's a shame, especially with regard to teaching.

One of the reasons I never heard of Librivox before may be an organizational one, so I'd like to make a suggestion that will make Librivox's resources much easier to use for history educators and, more importantly, for history buffs in general. I do have to apologize in advance for making this suggestion--at great length--and then promptly abandoning the fort, as the press of my work won't allow me to contribute further except for maybe a brief comment or clarification. Indeed, as a result of the time it has taken to write this post, I'm behind about four hours on my goals for today, and that may mean that I miss an interim deadline for a chapter which I'm supposed to submit tomorrow. But the yield of my suggestion for history-oriented librivox users would be substantial, so I decided to make the tradeoff.

Here's the problem: a listener who wants to get a holistic feel for a specific period of history by listening to everything relevant you've got (e.g. medieval Europe), is pretty much hosed. You really can't do that as it stands right now. To obtain everything librivox has on medieval Europe, a listener would need to compile a comprehensive list of all the medieval European authors who ever wrote anything, and then search for each author individually on the librivox web site. Of course, librivox is still relatively young and you will only have some of the authors available (e.g. Chaucer or Abelard or Bernard of Clairvaux). But despite the fact that you only offer some of the many medieval works available, the listener still has to search for every one of the hundreds of possible authors because you don't have a medieval-European category.

This also a problem for someone like me, who might wish to use librivox material when I teach. To use librivox efficiently, I need to see everything you've got for a particular place and temporal era all at once. It takes too much time and is too hit-or-miss to look up specific writers; unless they're classical--i.e. ancient Greek or Roman--writers (in which you are unusually well-stocked) or Shakespeare, the chance is too great that you won't have any given author, and it's not worth my time to find out that you don't. There are hundreds of medieval authors and probably near (maybe even over) a thousand historically significant Renaissance writers. So looking each one up, often to find out that you don't have her/him, is just not feasible. What I need to know is what you DO have, then I can make a decision regarding whether or not I can use it.

Also, if one is targeting a specific period of history, browsing through the general lists (philosophy, nonfiction of various kinds, etc) is not doable either. To make sure you didn't miss some item or other, you would have to browse through every single download librivox has, because all genres might be involved.

Therefore I'd propose that some sort of periodization scheme be set up: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Modern, or better yet subdivisions of those larger variants based on geography. You have already done this for one list, "Classics/Antiquity", so you've already got the basic idea.

However, Classics/Antiquity category has very serious problems. The first is its conceptualization. A list with that name should have only ancient Greek and Roman material. That is what is commonly meant by "Classics" and "Antiquity". Nothing else. Certainly not ancient China. When you study ancient China at the university level, it is not called "Classics" or "Antiquity"; it is called "Classical China" or just "Ancient China" for the very good reason that the department covering Greece and Rome is called "Classical Antiquity", or sometimes just "Classics", with no modifiers. If you say "Classics" or "Antiquity" on a college campus, everybody will assume you mean Greece and Rome and nothing else except the Greek and Roman predecessors (Etruscans, Cretans, and Myceneans). Definitely not ancient West Asia (Mesopotamia/Persia) or India, despite their contemporaneity, and even less ancient China. Therefore there should be a separate category for Ancient South Asia (India and its satellites).

But at least Confucius and Sunzi are in the right time period for a "Classical/Antiquity" list. Some material in the list doesn't even come close. Snorri Sturleson and Shakespeare were neither Greek/Roman nor ancient! Sturleson wrote at the beginning of the High Middle Ages (and that is NOT "ancient"), while Shakespeare wrote squarely in the middle of the early modern period.

So even in the currently available category which gets close to what I'm proposing, there's something of a mess. What's the solution?

To make this type of classification easy and forestall such problems, here's a hard-and-fast method that could be followed: Make a well-delineated list of geographic regions bounded by time periods. So you would set the geographic and temporal purview, very specifically, for each classification. Once that combination region and period is established, only authors who lived DURING THOSE YEARS and wrote IN THAT REGION would be included. Of course there would be a few exceptions such as Marco Polo, who was a native of Europe but wrote about China, so he'd have to be "adopted" into the "medieval East Asia" category, but such exceptions will be very, very few and should be so obvious as not to cause any problems.

Since Librivox classifies its authors by birth and death dates, there would be little ambiguity once such a system is set up. When a new project is finished, the only thing the moderators would have to do is to look at the author's location and dates and then slot her/him into the correct region-and-period category; if the writer's dates straddle the temporal boundaries of two adjacent categories (e.g. medieval and early modern), just include that work in both. Simple as that. The complicated part is setting up the system in the first place.

Of course, this author-based method of categorization leaves out all the secondary literature such as histories ABOUT those time periods, so there should be a different category for secondary literature about each of those geographic-temporal units. For example, you could have one list entitled "Western Classical Antiquity, from beginning of history to 476 AD, primary works" for all the actual Greek and Roman writers, and any Etruscan, Cretan, or Mycenean material that happens to come along. Then there would be a separate list entitled "Western Classical Antiquity, from beginning of history to 476 AD, secondary works" for all relevant books (mainly history and literary criticism) written about ancient Greece and Rome (or their immediate predecessors) but not during it. (Given the copyright problems Librivox faces, most of these secondary works will probably have been written during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, e.g. Gibbon's Decline and Fall.)

Note about dates: If you want to be politically correct, instead of using BC and AD you would use BCE and CE, but probably lots of non-academic listeners would be confused by these newer abbreviations, and this is a non-academic layperson's site, so I assume it would be better to stick to the old abbreviations BC and AD.

Here is a proposed set of categories, subject, of course, to debate in terms of both geography and temporality. Some of these dates, especially, are very wishy-washy; I specialize in premodern China and the European Renaissance, and I'm well acquainted with European history in general. But other areas (e.g. Africa and South Asia) could certainly be readjusted by their own specialists. Anyhow, Librivox members could debate the various areas and dates, and then the moderators could make final decisions about how the categories will be set up. In particular, you'll notice that I lump all geographic areas EXCEPT EUROPE into one long "medieval and early modern" time period. I single out Europe for two separate categories, one "medieval", and another "early modern" (Renaissance). Some other historians may quibble, but for librivox purposes, I think this is definitely the best way to go. There is a great deal of primary-source material from Europe and secondary-source material about it that makes the medieval-versus-Renaissance division extremely helpful, but in other areas of the world, e.g. East Asia, it doesn't make as much sense to do that (for various reasons). But if you want to treat the other regions the same way, you certainly could. It would make categorizing individual works a bit more difficult, though, and it doesn't look to me like there'll be enough material coming in to justify it, at least for a long time.

Anyhow, the following list will give you a starting point:

=================================

* The current "Classical/Antiquity" list would be changed to "Ancient Egypt, Ancient West Asia (Mesopotamia), and Western Classical Antiquity, from beginning of history to 476 AD, primary works".
(476 is the traditional date for the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and while subject to debate, it's about as good an endpoint for the ancient European/West Asian world as you're going to get. For those who don't know what "West Asia" is, it's the Near and Middle East. Scholars call this "Mesopotamia" when they refer to this area in its ancient phase, and it encompasses important material such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi, both of which Librivox will feature at some point.)

* Ancient Egypt, Ancient West Asia (Mesopotamia), and Western Classical Antiquity, from beginning of history to 476 AD, secondary works

* Ancient South Asia, from beginning of history to 322 BC, primary works
("South Asia" is India and its satellites. Ending date chosen based on beginning of Mauryan dynasty and is certainly subject to debate, but I'm pretty sure it encompasses all of the ancient texts--the Mahabarata, the Upanishads, the Vedas. NOTE: after the ancient period, to this category should be added Southeast Asia as well, as that region fell within the cultural and political influence of Indian regimes until modern times--the exception being Vietnam, which remained within the Chinese cultural orbit.)

* Ancient South Asia, from beginning of history to 322 BC, secondary works

* Classical China, from beginning of history to 221 BC, primary works
(Date chosen for Qin Shihuangdi's unification of China and inauguration of the imperial period. Not subject to debate; all sinologists agree that classical China ended and imperial China began with that event. NOTE: After this, there should no longer be a standalone "China" category (see below). From here forward, the Chinese cultural region expanded outward to become a larger "East Asia" which also included Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. But at this very early date the other East Asian countries weren't even started in terms of high-level civilization, so at this point their development doesn't figure, and the category should indicate China alone.)

* Classical China, from beginning of history to 221 BC, secondary works

* Ancient Africa (not including Egypt), from beginning of history to 476 BC, primary works
(I don't think there are any surviving texts to speak of from ancient Africa, but who knows, you may get a few scattered fragments from Nubia, Kush or Aksum. Also, ending date very much subject to change by African specialists, as it's Romano-centric.)

* Ancient Africa (not including Egypt), from beginning of history to 476 BC, secondary works

* Medieval Europe (including Byzantine empire and the Russias), 476-1400 AD, primary works
(Date subject to debate; in most North European countries, e.g. France and England, scholars will hold that the Middle Ages lasted until 1500; but in Italy the Renaissance had gotten started with Petrarch and Giotto in the 1300s. Many scholars feel that a good compromise date is 1400--more precisely, 1401--when Ghiberti won the contract for his famous bronze doors to the Florence Cathedral. I agree with this latter position, but again, this is an arguable point, not a hard-and-fast one.)

* Medieval Europe (including Byzantine empire and the Russias), 476-1400 AD, secondary works

* Classical, Medieval and Early Modern South and Southeast Asia, 322 BC - 1858 AD, primary works
(Ending date very much up for grabs; it marks the beginning of the British Raj, but South Asian specialists might have good reasons for preferring some other date as marking the boundary between early and fully modern times.)

* Classical, Medieval and Early Modern South and Southeast Asia, 322 BC- 1858 AD, secondary works

* Medieval and Early Modern West Asia (Near East and Middle East), 476 AD - 1918 AD, primary works
(Ending date very arbitrary, might easily be pushed back further; I chose it because WWI ushered in the end of the Turkish empire which had ruled the area since the beginning of the early modern period, and many college courses will date the "modern middle east" as beginning at that point)

* Medieval and Early Modern West Asia (Near East and Middle East), 476 AD - 1918 AD, secondary works

* Medieval and Early Modern Africa (now including Egypt), primary works 476 AD - ENDING DATE TO BE DETERMINED BY DEBATE

* Medieval and Early Modern Africa (now including Egypt), secondary works 476 AD - ENDING DATE TO BE DETERMINED BY DEBATE

* Medieval and Early Modern East Asia, including Vietnam, 221 BC - 1911 AD, primary works
(Dates very much subject to debate, but from the Qin dynasty through the overthrow of the Qing in 1911, China and, subsequently, the rest of East Asia maintained an easily identifiable elite culture. The Confucian scholar-officials of each succeeding generation always explicitly looked back to the past and thereby maintained a continuous chain of culture all the way through to 1911. The links in the chain were much different in 1911 than they had been in 221 BC, but that's not the point: the point is that the chain was never broken, not even during barbarian conquests. So while other historians might quibble, especially about calling the Han dynasty "medieval", for librivox's purposes this periodization makes very good sense.)

* Medieval and Early Modern East Asia, including Vietnam, 221 BC - 1911 AD, secondary works

* Early Modern Europe (including Russia), 1400 AD - 1787 AD, primary works
(Ending date somewhat subject to debate, but probably not productively. The next year marks the beginning of the French Revolution. Most historians hold that the fully modern era got started in the mid-1700s in England with the Industrial Revolution, but if you put a gun to their heads and told them to choose a hard-and-fast date, most of them would pick the French Revolution as the best available signpost. Some of us could be jingoistic and choose 1776, of course... ;)

* Early Modern Europe (including Russia), 1400 AD - 1787 AD, secondary works

* Modern Western, Central, and Eastern Europe (including Russia), 1788 AD - present, primary works

* Modern Western, Central, and Eastern Europe (including Russia), 1788 AD - present, secondary works

* Modern Africa, DATES TO BE DETERMINED BY DEBATE, primary works

* Modern Africa, DATES TO BE DETERMINED BY DEBATE, secondary works

* Modern West Asia (Near East and Middle East), 1918-present, primary works

* Modern West Asia (Near East and Middle East), 1918-present, secondary works

* Modern South and Southeast Asia (including Vietnam), 1858-present, primary works

* Modern South and Southeast Asia (including Vietnam), 1858-present, secondary works

* Modern East Asia, 1911-present, primary works

* Modern East Asia, 1911-present, secondary works
Last edited by schmibble on March 13th, 2018, 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

Availle
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Post by Availle » March 12th, 2018, 5:45 pm

Hi there and welcome!

I'm glad you have found LibriVox and find it (somewhat) useful. :D

To be honest: I didn't read all of your post (I have a busy life too), but let me explain what LibriVox is and what it isn't:

- We are a bunch of volunteers from all over the world whose aim it is to "make every book in the public domain available, in audio, on the internet". We call this our "prime directive", btw. That's all we're trying to do - and it seems we're on the right track :wink:

- LV is not and was never intended to be a scholarly / scientific library. There is no "plan" behind building LibriVox (other than our prime directive), and our volunteers choose books according to their own preferences. I would venture that many of the books you can find on LV are not to be found in any (scholarly) library on the planet. We also have a number of duplicate readings of the same books - because our volunteers chose to do that.

- We have no staff that are trained librarians. While I can understand your frustration about the categorisation, our volunteers who get the book rolling (in particular soloists) choose their own classifications. There may be some pruning and re-classifaction during cataloging, but again: we have no trained librarian staff, so this is done more haphazardly.

- Because of this, we need to keep the system as simple as possible. Introducing a great number of categories that are not known to the vast majority of the readers (primary/secondary literature), we make the process of creating audiobooks more complicated than necessary. We keep it simple to reach our goal faster. :D

- I understand that a more detailed classification of our books would be very useful to you, but I would guess that you represent the 1% of our users :wink: The vast majority of our users would not need such detail. So, just reclassifying all the 11.000+ books we have right now (which must be done manually) and keeping the classification up-to-date for all the 100 projects we catalog each month would take a lot of time and admin resources for only a small minority of our users. Time and resources that would be better spent in reading more books.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we're meant to do here. :wink:

I'm very sorry to be blunt here because I do understand where you're coming from. But what you suggest is way out of our scope. It's not going to happen.

Nevertheless, I still hope you find LV useful in your studies and that you can find the books you're looking for. If you can't, we're open to book suggestions too. 8-)
Good luck with your thesis! :thumbs:
Cheers,
Ava.

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schmibble
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Post by schmibble » March 13th, 2018, 12:01 am

LV is not and was never intended to be a scholarly / scientific library
I didn't say it was--and you're jumping to conclusions when you assume that only scholars would use such categories. My proposal is not just for scholars, not by a long shot. When you say...
I would guess that you represent the 1% of our users
...I think you're dead wrong. Or if you're right, it's because you haven't set up Librivox to be useful to a potentially very large group of people. My proposal would make Librivox much more useful for all history buffs--and there an awful lot of them out there, a lot more than you obviously assume. Think about it: you don't get two dedicated commercial cable TV channels, not to mention the oodles of historical documentaries on PBS, and lots of historical movies (e.g. the current blockbuster Hostiles) without a great deal of everyday layperson interest in history. History is big stuff--and for obvious reasons, all those history buffs are a very big potential user base for Librivox. But obviously you have to make it usable for them before they'll use it.
"make every book in the public domain available"
This is a very good reason for which my proposal should be implemented. Librivox will at some point grow extremely unwieldy, and my proposal will help make a deal more sense of it, making it much more usable. Not everyone would approach Librivox through historical categories--but I'd bet my bottom dollar that a lot more would than you estimate.
our volunteers choose books according to their own preferences
This is exactly the reason why my proposal would be feasible: it'll work precisely because people choose the stuff they read. You don't choose to read something that you're not interested in, and when you're interested in something, you learn about its context. So you, Availle, may not know that Sima Qian was a Han Chinese historian, but whoever chooses to read The Records of the Grand Historian will know that. They don't have to know what all the different historical categories mean; all they have to do is identify the correct category for THEIR book, and they'll be able to do that just fine because that's where their specific interests lie. So they may not have a clue about what "Classical, Medieval and Early Modern South and Southeast Asia" means, but when they hit "Medieval and Early Modern East Asia, including Vietnam, 221 BC - 1911 AD" they'll know they've hit the jackpot because they'll at least vaguely know the dates for the Han dynasty, and they'll put Sima Qian right where he should be.
volunteers who get the book rolling (in particular soloists) choose their own classifications
It's quite clear that there are a number of prearranged classifications already available and that the readers can choose from those. Even if it's haphazard and doesn't always get done right, having my new classifications available will at least see them used some of the time--and I'd wager a good part of the time. Something is better than nothing at all!
a great number of categories that are not known to the vast majority of the readers (primary/secondary literature)
Badly chosen objection on your part--most people who graduate from high school and everyone who went to college (even if they didn't graduate) knows the difference between primary sources and secondary sources. It's one of the basic things taught in the freshman comp course that every college student in the US takes, and I'd wager in other countries too; and it's also taught in high school. For crying out loud, my daughter learned about it in middle school (public school, not some fancy prep school) last year.

But I take your larger point. It's true that some of the names I used for the geographic regions are a bit jargonish. However, those could easily be changed to simply reflect the countries involved. Nobody is going to misunderstand "Europe including Russia", and every educated person has a good idea of what "Southeast Asia" and "East Asia" means, but "South Asia" or "West Asia" might puzzle some folks. That's no reason to object to the proposal, though, as the labels can simply be changed so that everyone will understand them, e.g. "India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet" and "Near East and Middle East." I will be happy to do that.

If it would be helpful, I would also be willing to write a more detailed guide for readers interested in using the historical categorizations when they turn in their finished projects. Most folks probably wouldn't need the guide because the system depends on just two simple things: geographical region and date. Everyone can understand those elements. It's not rocket science. But if you think it's necessary, I'll provide instructions, go over the difference between primary and secondary works, and provide step-by-step examples from works already available on Librivox--"This particular work should be classified as X because author A lived and worked in B during the years C", etc.

I won't be able to write the guide for two more months, but I will commit to doing it if there's interest beyond Availle. The main point is that it would be easy to take care of this issue. It's not an objection that should disbar the proposal.
reclassifying all the 11.000+ books we have right now
Yes, I can see that this would be the main hitch. I have to say, though, that this is all the more reason to put a system like this in place ASAP. The longer it gets put off, the worse it will be. What should probably be done is just to set up the categories so that new works can simply be slotted into it as they're finished.

The categorization of all the current works could be one more thing that you could put on the volunteer to-do list. Every once in a while someone will come along--maybe me, in, say, 10 years or so when my career has settled down and the kids are older--and they'll make it their primary volunteer task to put the back-catalogue into correct historical categories. For now, in my instructional guide, I would also include a preamble which would warn the general user that these categorizations were not established at Librivox's founding and are therefore going to take years, perhaps decades, to implement over the entire set of offerings. Fair enough?

Finally...
way out of our scope
No, clearly it's not. It wouldn't take that much work. If you don't want to have a forum debate about categories, then just use the ones I've offered. That will be easy enough--it'll take a moderator no more than couple of hours to make the new categories available. So just...

1. Implement the categories
2. Post my guide somewhere
3. Make sure readers know the new categories are now available for use
4. Add a new item (re-classification of old projects) to the volunteer tasks

...then sit back and see what happens for a couple of years. That is very far from "way out of our scope", and I think you'll be surprised. You will get history buffs complaining that a lot of works are not categorized, but when they do, just tell them they can do something about it and point them over to my instructions. ;)
Last edited by schmibble on March 13th, 2018, 3:21 am, edited 6 times in total.

schmibble
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Post by schmibble » March 13th, 2018, 12:09 am

P.S. while making available the categories I've offered would certainly be doable for ya'll, the tone of your post makes it pretty clear that your mind is closed on this issue. If I'm wrong, though, and one at least of the moderators is willing to take a few hours to implement the new categories, then I'd need to provide you with the African dates which I left up for debate. If you'd actually like me to do that, I'll take the time to do a little research and figure it out.
Last edited by schmibble on March 13th, 2018, 2:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Peter Why
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Post by Peter Why » March 13th, 2018, 2:39 am

I mildly agree with the original poster. If a clearly defined table of this classification system were available, then readers and BCs who already add tags to their recordings could simply add a historical classification phrase / code to the tag list. A voluntary action, taking very little extra time, which might provide a useful function in the long term.

The back catalogue is, obviously, a different matter.

Peter
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Post by annise » March 13th, 2018, 3:21 am

It wouldn't help at present as far as our catalogue is concerned - our search will not handle it and won't without a software change .
With the restrictions we have on public domain in the USA, we are unlikely to get much history and literature from many of the areas either because it was not written down in some cases or because it has not been translated early enough into English -- and we have a much larger pool of English speakers than any other language.. Even with European works , many native speakers find comparitively recent spelling of their language difficult to read . So realistically I think the chance of us become a repository for world wide public domain history is pretty slight.

And there are other things I think more important when we next embark on employing software help

Anne

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Post by Cori » March 13th, 2018, 1:44 pm

One of the influences on the catalogue index as it stands was the idea of providing smaller groupings to listeners so they could find related works more easily. However, we avoided categories that'd have a very small number of recordings (and a low likelihood of future recordings boosting the numbers), unless it was profoundly different from any other available category. There's no benefit to a listener in making the choice between two groups, one with 500 recordings, and one with 3 -- if they want those three, they'll probably be searching directly by author or title, rather than hoping for a tiny category. I think your listing would need some serious review in that light.

I'd personally include primary and secondary works together, too -- assuming you mean 'written at the time' and 'written later as a commentary', rather than any weird notion of 'the canon' and 'other stuff' -- since many secondary sources quote so much primary, they might as well be in that former category. The distinction is generally pretty clear from the book's description, and it makes the groupings more straightforward.

Such changes would take considerably more than a few hours to implement, and as others have said, we need to weigh up the benefits vs. the impact of that time (and also the business of keeping such specific categories 'policed' and up-to-date based on political/geographical/historical boundaries. I'm all for improvements in the future, but of a more modest scale than you propose.

An alternative is to create your own catalogue, linking to the texts. I appreciate you don't have the time now, but this might be a worthy project for the future, and would provide a central resource for those who don't mind single- or no-entry categories here and there.



Finally, as a light-hearted aside, reflecting on the first line of this thread ... structured procrastination? ;)
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Post by mightyfelix » March 13th, 2018, 11:38 pm

Cori wrote:
March 13th, 2018, 1:44 pm
Finally, as a light-hearted aside, reflecting on the first line of this thread ... structured procrastination? ;)
This man is a genius. :shock:
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Post by VfkaBT » March 14th, 2018, 7:50 am

Schmibble, if you could perhaps provide us with a reasonable 'Top 10 (or 40)' list of works you'd like to hear recorded, that would help us facilitate them to the public. Bear in mind that the works have to be available in digital format, preferably found on Project Gutenberg, and translated into English or other language available on PG. Also, they have to be provably published before 1923. This holds true for works pulled from Internet Archive and Hathi Trust as well. How soon they would be recorded is also a matter of personal taste; if you have colleagues who'd like to join and record the works for public domain use, we welcome any help we can get.

A couple of PG searches:
https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Medi%C3%A6val_Town_Series_(Bookshelf)

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/subjects/search/?query=medieval
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Post by annise » March 14th, 2018, 2:22 pm

Just adding something that surprises people , translations get their own copyright , so any translation or modernisation of the language has to be pre 1923 also or we can not legally record it.

Anne

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Post by schmibble » March 27th, 2018, 6:06 am

Cori wrote:
March 13th, 2018, 1:44 pm
a more modest scale than you propose
By all means, the categories could certainly be simplified, and primary/secondary sources conflated if that's too ambitious. The important thing would be to get something going so history buffs could get some kind of access to material they might be interested in and the existence of which they're unaware.

See, the main problem here is the fact that there will be historical material on librivox in your area of interest (say, medieval European history, since another poster kindly offered a PG link therefor) that you're unfamiliar with. As a result there's no way you can look it up by title or author. The librivox system has to give you signposts toward that material--and better signposts than just the general "Nonfiction" category, for obvious reasons. Any kind of system that provides a way to address this problem would be better than nothing.

If anyone is genuinely interested in a more simplified system which takes account of the preponderance of likely out-of-copyright material available in English, and librivox's majority reader base of English, please post, though it will of necessity be unpolitically correct and Eurocentric. But I guess that's the nature of the beast. So if there's interest I can submit a set of fewer, much broader categories (though at this point, not for a couple of months).
perhaps provide us with a reasonable 'Top 10
That's a very kind suggestion, so I thank you for it. Just for my own personal benefit I might do that. But I'm not after particular works here; quite the opposite. One of the charms of librivox is precisely that people pick their own projects. We're all unique and have different backgrounds, so we are aware of different authors and intellectual traditions. As a result, there are librivox readers who are going to pick projects which I'll be very interested in once I find out about them, but which I know nothing about. And because I am unfamiliar with that work, there is no way for me to look it up on librivox (as things currently stand), and I will likely remain ignorant of it and never download it.

In other words, I don't need to know about what I already know about; I need a way to find out about the stuff I don't know about. So, as I said above, my proposal is meant to address the opposite problem: not works that I, or other history buffs, already know about and might wish to request, but rather works that librivox has and is constantly producing more of and which we have never heard of before. Because we've not heard of them, we will probably never become aware of them unless librivox has a system in place that we can use to find them.

Once again, any system that helps with this would be better than nothing.
create your own catalogue, linking to the texts
I assume you're speaking of some future web page I might create, completely separate from and unaffiliated with librivox. But that scenario runs into the same problem I just described. Unless librivox itself has some kind of internal system that I can use to find the relevant projects--and, at the moment, it doesn't--there's no way for me to learn about the relevant material except by trolling through every single download you have, one by one. That's beyond what one person can do. It would need to be an ongoing project not meant to be completed for years, something that volunteers could contribute to as they have time. In other words, it really does have to be internal to librivox.
our search will not handle it and won't without a software change
Well, I guess you know your software, but I still find this puzzling. What I'm proposing would require only a single tag. E.g. there should be no difference between your current method of tagging a work to the current "Classics/Antiquity" category and tagging a work to my new proposed category of "Ancient Egypt, Ancient West Asia (Mesopotamia), and Western Classical Antiquity". It would be exactly the same procedure, just a new title for the category.

In other words, I'm just proposing the addition of more categories that work exactly like the current "Classics/Antiquity" category. Since you already have one such category and it's fully functional, where's the software problem? Unless it's simply a matter of limitation on the number of characters that your software will accept for category titles in the text string, as my categories do have fairly long titles as currently constituted.
Last edited by schmibble on March 27th, 2018, 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by annise » March 27th, 2018, 6:21 am

our search will not handle it and won't without a software change
was a response to the comment that the readers could just add things to the tags but as the current search does not search the tags it wouldn't help . I'm not arguing about what our search should do , but what the software we have now and will have for some time is capable of doing . Archive does include any words occuring in the summaries in their searches but phrases are much less succesful there and the tags do not get sent to Archive anyhow.

Anne

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Post by schmibble » March 27th, 2018, 6:26 am

Oh, OK. I hope it's clear that my proposal is not meant as an aid to searching but as an aid to browsing. Totally different processes.

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Post by Availle » March 27th, 2018, 6:30 am

And how would you browse without searching?
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Post by schmibble » March 30th, 2018, 2:58 pm

I would have thought this is rather obvious, but if you need it to be spelled out, allrighty then. Go to https://librivox.org/ . Click on "Catalog." On the "Browse the Catalog" page, click on "Genre/Subject." Decide which categories you want to browse, and begin browsing. The site's search feature is not used at all.

If for some reason it wasn't clear, my proposal is for new categories in the "Genre/Subject" list. They would work the same way as the current "Classics (Antiquity)" category does (under "Genre/Subject"). I'm just proposing that we add additional categories that will be exactly like "Classics (Antiquity)" except they'll cover different geographical and temporal areas.

So again, there should be no technical software problem that would prevent this from being done. Other issues, certainly, but not software, because librivox has already implemented one category that does exactly the type of thing I want. And what's already been done once can obviously be done again.

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