birdlab: an open process initiative

blackbird founders archive (vols.1–21)

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Core Issues for Starting a New Online Publication

This comes out of thinking and discussion with Blackbird staff and other digital publishing colleagues over the course of a number of years. This is an excerpt from working distillation from a longer 2020 draft, and is in progress. Address ADA compliance not just to meet institutional checkboxes, but with affected communities of readers. Respect […]

Italics in Closed Captions

Closed captions of recent readings we published contained book titles and/or had other content that was italicized in print. Having moved on our initial questions on captioning poetry, we use published print text as our guide when creating closed captions for texts read at public in-person or Zoom events. We have decided to indicate, for […]

Working Questions for Fall 2020

HTML<strike> tag is deprecated. Should we use <s> or CSS text decoration for poems that employ struck-through text as part of their visual presentation? How does deprecated code (like <strike>) affect the way we need to address archival texts? We have at least one John Allman story that had struck-through text as part of its […]

Determining Best Practice for Filler Words in Captions and Transcripts

When I routinely did audio editing early in the journal’s history, I was fairly aggressive in my edits; my goal would be to remove as many filler words as possible, not just “um” and “er” but words and phrases such as “like” or “you know” or a  bridging “so . . . . ” or […]

Toward a Blackbird Style Guide for Captioning Poetry

An example of my preliminary questions about captioning poetry can be found in my previous Birdlab blog entry “Searching for Captioning Best Practice—Poetry.” The post provides just a few examples of problems the journal staff faced while trying to create and refine captions for a reading of untitled short poems by Ellen Bryant Voigt published […]

Searching for Captioning Best Practice—Poetry

I am looking for guidance for online literary publishers in captioning poetry for audio and video presentations. We want to get this right and/or to help develop best practices. Questions of line and stanza break come in to play with poetry, as does where one poem in a series ends and another begins, say, if […]

Resources for Research & Research Editing

The following list includes resources I demonstrated to the Blackbird copyediting team, Feb 1, 2019. —mkeller Texts and Image Archives Google Books Internet Archive Galica (Bibliothèque nationale de France) The New York Public Library Digital Collections Folger Digital Image Collection Recommended and demonstrated by Chris Alimenti Newspaper Databases Virginia Chronicle (Library of Virginia) Chronicling America […]

The End of Hot Type

The 1978 documentary linked below is one that we show to interns every semester as we talk about the history of publishing and related technologies.  We highly recommend it. Filmed on July 1, 1978, this documentary by David Loeb Weiss chronicles the end of “hot type” at The New York Times — and the introduction […]

Legacy Media, Migration, Mechanical Captioning, & Migraines

[Text below drafted, but not published, early summer 2016, as I was trying, solo, to make a decision about whether or not to migrate Blackbird’s legacy media files to Kaltura, a video system adopted by VCU.  Ultimately, I decide not to use that platform for the legacy files and in the first pass at mending […]

Em Dashes Break “Smart Quotation” Algorithms

Observation Quotation replacement algorithms routinely swap unidirectional quotation marks with directional quotation marks. (Examples below show unidirectional vs directional quotation marks in Verdana and Georgia typefaces.) The majority of these algorithms do not, however, properly handle adjacent em dashes, en dashes, and hyphens, resulting in substitution of directional quotation marks that point in the wrong direction. Documentation […]

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