Building A Digital Feminary

Notes on the names in Monique Wittig's Les Guérillères


I began this project in June 2003. I designed it with John H. Kim, who wrote all the perl code and made the mySQL database. We had intended to write a general book annotation tool, but realized halfway into that project that in order to get a working Feminary, it would be better to write the code for that specific project. It was too difficult to design and code for all possible requirements, especially without having made a working example of one actual instance of what was wanted.

(say something about the names, browsing, the text in red, the sources) As I worked and researched I kept a blog of my notes and thoughts on the project, thinking it might be useful to me. That blog is here: Working Notes. I also think it could be useful to other people to see the process of the thought and research that went into the project.

I believe that exposing this sort of process is important, though or probably because it exposes errors, blind alleys, embarrassing moments, wrong-headedness, wild excitement, enthusiasm, and vulnerability that I associate with writing and research. I believe that hiding this process of errors is counterproductive for scholarship or science, an idea clarified for me by Feyerabend's book on the myth of the scientific method, Against Method; its ideas can be applied to any field that is dominated by experts who wield expertise. It is a particular way of knowing to decide to hide the fact that at one time, one did not know, and then there were many moments in which one had partial knowledge. The exposure of working notes means that it is apparent to anyone who is curious that knowing and expertise are an ongoing and imperfect process.

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