Introducing Anthologize

A long-running theme of this blog has been the perceived gulf between new forms of online scholarship—including the genre of the blog itself—and traditional forms such as the book and journal. I’m obviously delighted, then, about the outcome of One Week | One Tool, a week-long institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and run by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. As the name suggests, twelve humanities scholars with technical chops hunkered down for one week to produce a digital tool they thought could have an impact in the humanities and beyond.

Today marks the launch of this effort: Anthologize, software that converts the popular open-source WordPress system into a full-fledged book-production platform. Using Anthologize, you can take online content such as blogs, feeds, and images (and soon multimedia), and organize it, edit it, and export it into a variety of modern formats that will work on multiple devices. Have a poetry blog? Anthologize it into a nice-looking ePub ebook and distribute it to iPads the world over. A museum with an RSS feed of the best items from your collection? Anthologize it into a coffee table book. Have a group blog on a historical subject? Anthologize the best pieces quarterly into a print or e-journal, or archive it in TEI. Get all the delicious details on the newly revealed Anthologize website.

Anthologize is free and open source software. Obviously in one week it’s impossible to have feature-complete, polished software. There will be a few rough edges. But it works right now (see below) and it’s just the start of a major effort. The grant from NEH anticipates more work for the One Week team over the next year to refine the tool, culminating in a follow-up meeting at THATCamp 2011.

I suspect there will be many users and uses for Anthologize, and developers can extend the software to work in different environments and for different purposes. I see the tool as part of a wave of “reading 2.0″ software that I’ve come to rely on for packaging online content for long-form consumption and distribution, including the Readability browser plugin and Instapaper. This class of software is particularly important for the humanities, which remains very bookish, but it is broadly applicable. Anthologize is flexible enough to handle different genres of writing and content, opening up new possibilities for scholarly communication. Personally, I plan to use Anthologize to run a journal and to edit and write two upcoming books.

Credit for Anthologize goes to the amazing team that produced it: Jason Casden, Boone Gorges, Kathie Gossett, Scott Hanrath, Effie Kapsalis, Doug Knox, Zachary McCune, Julie Meloni, Patrick Murray-John, Steve Ramsay, Patrick Rashleigh, and Jana Remy. It is notable that the One Weekers ranged from a recent college grad to tenured professors, programmers and designers and interface experts who also are humanities scholars, and professionals from libraries, museums, and instructional technology. Remarkably, they first met last Sunday night and had production-ready code by Saturday morning, a website to market and support the software, an outreach plan, and a vision for the future of the software beyond its original state. Not to mention a logo to go on nice-looking swag (personally, I’ll take the book bag).

Credit also goes to the great Center for History and New Media team that instructed and supported the One Weekers in the ways we like to conceive, design, and build digital humanities tools: Sharon Leon, Jeremy Boggs, Sheila Brennan, Trevor Owens, and many others who dropped in to help out. Two huge final credits: one to Tom Scheinfeldt for conceiving and running the structured madness that was One Week | One Tool, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which took a big risk on a very untraditional institute. We hope they, and others, like the idea and the execution of Anthologize.

And just to give you some idea of what Anthologize can do, here’s the Anthologize ePub version of this blog post on an iPad, created in five minutes:

13 thoughts on “Introducing Anthologize

  1. Pingback: edwired » Blog Archive » Hello Anthologize

  2. Lou

    Too bad it says here “Anthologize cannot be installed on blogs hosted at WordPress.com”
    WHy ever not though?

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  5. Dan Cohen Post author

    @Lou: from one of the Anthologize developers: “WordPress.com does not let users install plugins or themes. The plugins they provide are *very* limited in number, and have generally gone through a ton of customization and testing to run on their 8 million+ sites.”

  6. Matt

    Showcasing this post as a newly published eBook was the crowning touch,, Dan. Congrats to you and the team for providing an inspiring example of the Digital Humanities in action.

  7. vitalie

    how do Anthologize work with images? I tried to export my blog but it could not attach the images into the final document…
    p.s. images are hosted on external sites such as imageshack or amazon…

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  9. Frank Bennett

    Is there room for citation support in the roadmap? The citeproc-js processor can be taught to embed the RDFa for cited items in HTML output. That would give you round-trip citation data dogfood in everything published to the Web via the system, which seems like it would be a pretty strong pull factor.

    If the team decides to go that route, and extensions to the processor are needed to get things working, just give me a shout.

  10. Chris

    Is there any chance that Anthologize will eventually move beyond the WordPress platform? I would love to see it as a Blogger widget or gadget.

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  12. Pingback: Anthologize: From Wordpress to eBook | Eric Hoefler

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