The William Blake Archive is on YouTube. 

Though we are tempted just to upload a bunch of home movies (of Joe Viscomi’s band, perhaps, or one of Morris’s insane cooking projects), we are instead venturing into this new realm of cyberspace and media to better illustrate the many features of the Archive.  To be sure, the Archive is content- and feature-rich already, and that richness still is increasing dramatically thanks in large part to the ingenuity of current Assistant Editor Michael Fox. (Have you seen the new Lightbox?)

We’re calling these new videos “tutorials,” though their content and purpose will continue to be shaped by our experience creating them and through feedback we receive from users. Right now, we’re conceiving of the tutorial videos as brief (2-3 minute), narrated screencasts that demonstrate and/or explain a feature of the Archive. For example, in the explanation of textual transcriptions and our use of a color code for editorial notation, we made this tutorial:

And in the case of the new Lightbox I mentioned earlier, there is a help button on the Archive site that directs users to this video:

We’ve launched our YouTube account today with four videos total. (The remaining two videos are embedded at the end of this post.) We hope to keep the channel active, with semi-regular updates. There certainly is no shortage of potential content with both existing and planned features.

In the near future, we plan to create videos covering basic site navigation, various aspects of our search tool (a function no doubt requiring a series of videos), how to find and use the Erdman, how to find and use our Collection Lists, the features and purposes of Gallery Mode vs. Reading Mode (we do have an initial video on Reading Mode below, though), what exactly illustration descriptions are and how they are used, etc. etc. etc.

So, in one sense, these videos are a new-media extension of editorial apparatus, explaining how to use the digital editions of the Archive. In another sense, these videos are a bit like blog content, providing a platform for commentary and teaching that are not a formal part of the works in the Archive. I also like the idea of, in the future, demonstrating “research narratives” with video, with members of the Archive or users in the general public illustrating how they used the Archive to conduct research for a specific topic or project–how someone used the Archive in a class or in a dissertation, for example. Video gives us a chance to see this work in action.

As you can see, lots of potential and myriad opportunities. We hope to have more to share in the near future. And hey, subscribe!

Here are the other two videos currently published: