Ernesto Priani and I have been working on a comparative analysis of the recently-launched Biblioteca Digital Mexicana (Mexican Digital Library or BDMex; made public on 23 November 2010) and the World Digital Library (WDL) from the perspective of the end user.
We have two basic, general surveys of ten simple questions each. If you are interested in digital libraries, we'd love to hear your feedback about these two projects. [Please do visit http://bdmx.mx/ and http://www.wdl.org/ before answering the surveys.] (Please?)
We will be presenting this paper in May at the International Conference on Latin American Cybercultural Studies in Liverpool, UK.
Our paper will share the joint results of user-testing Ernesto and I have been carrying out in different contexts in Mexico and Britain, and will present a series of suggestions for the projects' improvement, including questions of markup, transcription, classification, curation, searching capabilities, visualisation and user-interface interaction.
The Mexican Digital Library is the result of the collaboration between four major Mexican memory institutions and the World Digital Library, sponsored by UNESCO.
The BDMex has digitized and made freely available online documents of historical, artistic and literary value dating from 500BC to 1949. As acknowledged on the BDMex web site, the digitization was conducted with the technical and financial help of the WDL , but this is not made explicit through mutual hyperlinking or noticeable from the superficial comparison of both sites as they currently exist.
The appearance of the BDMex seems belated for at least a decade in comparison to other similar institutional initiatives and we've been working on a series of hypotheses in order to interrogate its technical, cultural, financial and political implications.
Beyond the strictly technical critique, the authors provide practical examples of how both web sites are interesting case studies for textual, cultural and political analyses. Both the BDMex and the WDL raise interesting questions about institutional digital constructions of national identity, and give illuminating insight into the role of digitization as an act of interpretation.
(Thanks a lot!)