version 1.06

About This Project



  1. This essay has been formatted according to a convention I call "anchored html" which features a citation scheme of internally-linked, numbered paragraphs. I have done this to facilitate linking to specific paragraphs within a given text. This necessary condition to the development of scholarly hypertexts, I would argue, simply adopts for this new medium the linking and navigational techniques used in print publishing.

  2. We have had more practice with hypertext than many of us might care to let on. With one finger anchored in the index, another in the footnotes, a pen or pencil close at hand to mark the compelling passage and record the marginal note, our use of the book belies whatever formal linearity it may claim. Nor is our scholarly work in any way discrete or self-contained.

  3. Leaving aside the fingerly bookmark, our equivalent to hypertext's link is the citation, which serves both to locate the source and to situate our work within the social text of the scholarly community. In fact, one might conclude that the main work of academia is the creation and accumulation of citations. Through the various citation indexes, a whole enterprise is given over to determining how many hits the work of a given scholar has received.

  4. Hypertext and the Academy, I am arguing here, are more alike than dissimilar.

  5. Certain publishing conventions are necessary to enable the act of citation; one, which made its appearance around the sixteenth century, is the page number. Indeed, as Randy Bass argues in The Garden in the Machine, the page number is one of those features that makes possible "the very notion of a 'scholarly community.'" Online texts have not yet reached this level of specificity; there is no generally accepted online equivalent to the page number. A link, whether to Moby Dick or As We May Think, usually ends at the beginning.

  6. Although there are a great many texts online, and many of us have made use of them in our teaching and, occasionally, in our research, there have been few attempts to incorporate primary texts into online scholarly articles. This seems a shame, for hypertext might allow us to better interrogate the object of study, to bring our evidence before the bar, as it were. Two conditions, however, make such projects difficult: the lack of a comprehensive related document base and the lack of a system of pagination appropriate to this new media form.


  7. The object of this online essay is twofold. First, I want to introduce this nineteenth-century legal literature concerning the nature of photography to a larger audience. This Web site currently contains forty-two court decisions, articles, and excerpts from various fiction and non-fiction sources, including approximately 50 individual images. [See Sources] Thirty-five of these texts have not been previously published online or in any collection that I know of. This is, then, as much documentary collection as journal article, and much of my time spent in preparing this online project has been devoted to scanning photocopied decisions and articles, converting them to text format, and correcting and marking up these documents. When considered as a publishing venture, the 80 hours I spent on the development of these online source materials seems time well-spent. As with any publication, the labor involved in making these resources available must be weighed against the uses to which they are put.

  8. This project also gives me the opportunity to experiment with an intratextual linking convention that allows me to incorporate these texts into my work. For example, I find a quotation from Barnes v. Ingalls 39 Ala. 193 (1863), a decision regarding a dispute between the owner of a photographic establishment and a photographer working under contract at that establishment:

    The ambrotypist or daguerrotypist, whatever title he may give himself, is rather an artisan, than an artist. His labor is more manual than mental. He works more by rule, than under the inspiration of genius.

  9. I can point my reader to Barnes v. Ingalls, a text file named 39Ala193.htm. A careful reading or, more likely, a keyword search would be needed to find the specific quotation. But I can also point my reader to the paragraph in with this statement occurs, at 39Ala193.htm#11, which brings that quotation directly to view.

  10. This is accomplished through the creation of internal links, corresponding to numbered paragraphs, rather than page numbers. Each paragraph within a given document has a distinct URL. This paragraph, for example, is info.htm#10. (These internal links are not added "by hand" but through a simple two-step find-and-replace command.)


  11. This essay divides the browser screen into a menu, footnote, source and essay space. (See figure below.) This is known as a "frameset." Clicking a footnote or source within the essay space will call up that footnote or source in their respective spaces.

    Title Bar
    Source Material

  12. The windows within a given frameset can be resized by clicking and dragging at the border of a particular window. As you move within a given frameset by clicking on footnotes or source links, the URL of the frameset will remain the same. To bookmark or otherwise link to a specific image or html page within the frameset, you must first "break frames" to find the URL of that particular image or page. You can break frames using your mouse, by right-clicking on a PC mouse or click-and-holding on a Mac mouse. Source Documents have been fitted with "break frames" links for this same purpose. It is possible, but more difficult, to create a link to a specific moment within a given frameset. If you would like more information about this, contact me.


  13. I wish to thank Professors Alan Trachtenberg and Morris Cohen for all their help. This essay had its origins in Professor Trachtenberg's 1992 seminar on the History of Photography, at Yale University. Professor Cohen taught me how to find the law.

  14. Special thanks to the community of online historians, hypertext literature folks, and the various assorted and sundry webmonkeys I have had the pleasure to associate with over the last five years. Without their theory and practice—and "view source"—a clueless newbie I would be.


  15. This is an ongoing project subject to revision. In keeping with the spirit of the medium, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

    Thomas Thurston
    Curriculum Vitae

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