I’m working now on an article about early Coptic and Syriac on the web. Websites from the 1990s and very early 2000s. I’m interested in how these sites functioned as digital cultural heritage sites and also how they contributed to technological advances in what we now term “digital humanities.” I’m inspired in part by issues of canon: canon in Christianity more generally, how canon affects cultural heritage preservation, and canon in DH history.
The article is coming together around these questions by putting Coptic and Syriac digital initiatives against the backdrop of the origin story of digital humanities, which I argue is substantially about canon.
The origin story is of course that of Roberto Busa, a Jesuit scholar who worked with IBM to create a concordance of Thomas Aquinas’s works that was built computationally, with punch cards and machines. I usually see Busa referenced in DH circles as a sort of founder. I’m interested as well in the roles Aquinas as canon and Busa’s institutional position play in how this account is narrated as a universal origin story for the linguistics and text analysis wing of Humanities Computing and Digital Humanities.
One of the challenges of web archival research (as Amy Earhart discusses in her fabulous book Traces of the Old, Uses of the New) is that sites simply disappear. So those of you out there who know about Coptic and Syriac, I’m essentially asking for your help. Or perhaps consider this public pre-peer review. Here some important early sites I’ve identified. Am I missing any? With a url in hand, I can go into the way back machine and see what’s been archived.
stshenouda.org and stshenouda.com
moheb.de (though it seems to appear at the tail end of the time period I’m looking at)
And I’m also looking the commercial company Logos software.
Friends, what am I missing?