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Textkit NEW: Suggestions

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Textkit NEW: Suggestions

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:25 am

Hello Jeff!

First of all a big "Thank you" for this wonderful site!

The following is an answer to your blog-entry Ten Years of Textkit – Small Reflections And A Big Road Map Ahead.

As for suggestions for a new and better Textkit I have a few:

SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING STYLE:

The list of downloadable books (Library->Greek Books and Library->Greek Books) is not exactly easy on the eyes. The title of the book and the author blur into each other. In my opinion it would make for a quicker read if the book title and the author name were formatted differently. Personally I also feel that presenting this list using some sort of list character (e.g. "-") would improve legibility.

The formatting of the section Library->Greek Books also might be somewhat improved on. This book list is divided into sub-sections (something which ought to be done for the Latin books, too, by the way). What irks me a bit here is the large spacing between the sub-section-heading and the actual entries, and the lack of any spacing between a sub-section-heading and the last entry of the previous sub-section. Using a list character would be useful here, as well (actually even more so).

The same "spacing"-problem occurs on the "Home"-page.


SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING CONTENT:

a) Recommended PDF-files

Unlike ten years ago, digital copies of public domain textbooks, readers and course material are now commonplace.

This is most certainly true. So, Textkit's job ought to shift from supplying such PDF-textbooks to offering a guide to what is out there.
After re-launching my interest in Latin I discovered (by pure chance) Archive.org and only then realized just how much public domain Latin material is out there, not only on Archive.org and Google-Books but in other places as well. There is so much material available, however, that one can easily get lost. So far I have downloaded about 5 GB of textbooks, readers, and accompanying books in my search for the few ones I am actually using. Doing so and even merely quickly looking through these books took me many hours: sifting, discarding, laying aside. And there's always more to discover.
Textkit should not try to give a complete inventory of the PDF-content available on the Internet but rather a guide to the most relevant, interesting and useful ones. There are, for examples, lots of "Cornelius Nepos"-editions available on Archive.org. It took me hours to finally select one of these. A mere inventory of all PDF-content would be mere data. A list of recommended PDF-editions, now, that is information.
By the way, this PDF-content is extremely important. Smartphones are nice, but in the end learning Latin (or Greek) is about reading, and the PDF-format is quite convenient. Before restarting my Latin-learning last year I had made another attempt a few years ago. That one failed - at least in part - because I did not have enough easy reading material in Latin. Now, however, with Archive.org et al. providing public domain-material there is more than enough available even for those with a voracious appetite.

b) Links

I am also missing a list of links to other resources on the Internet. Textkit is an important place for people new to Latin. Textkit should strive to make things easy for them. Easy to converse about Latin/Greek in the Forum; easy to find good material (mostly in PDF-format); and also easy to find other good resources.
Again, such a list should not try to be all-encompassing but rather selective so as not to overwhelm the tirones.

Some of these informations are probably already present in one posting or the other. But once a posting is off-screen this information is lost to most users. Also in many cases such informations are spread across various postings and threads. Collecting pointers to selected PDF-files and web-links in one point makes it easier for users.

Bye,

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: Textkit NEW: Suggestions

Postby Jeff Tirey » Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:14 pm

Hi and thank you for your feedback.

For all things site layout and design - the new Textkit site is still very much a work in progress and I'll certainly take a look at your suggestions and I agree there's a lot more that can be done to make content easier to visually see and digest.

For content and the road ahead, you have some excellent comments. I'll have to begin thinking about how best to editorialize the content that is out there on external sources like Archive.org and Google Book. My first thoughts would be to develop some simple method of crowd-voting where Textkitter's can create their own rankings, lists and reviews and then collectively pool the list.

The first step could be a group tool to build the library of links to external book references. I would choose to go with an open storage data-set with an API so that not only Textkit could draw off the list and build tools, but others as well. A big goal I have for Textkit is all open data. Textkit could house the data here of if it's really big use an external service. One resource I'm keeping my eye on is http://www.Factual.com - a lot of promise there with their business model and I would like very much to build and grow data that others can use in different ways.
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Re: Textkit NEW: Suggestions

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:47 am

Hello Jeff!

Reading this thread about "techniques for reading without difficulty" made me think of another worthwhile improvement:

There should be some way to present those timeless "nuggets" among the postings.

In the above-mentioned thread, user cb refers to another thread (in the Greek section which I never follow) in which he gives a very interesting scheme for learning Greek (it should be possible to apply it to Latin, as well). Now, not everyone may find this scheme suitable for his (or her) learning type. But I find it regrettable that this sort of information gets lost. And it does get lost once the posting is off the screen.

In my opinion, there should be a recommended postings-section or something like that to ensure that these "nuggets" remain visible.

Only a few postings should get into this special section as:

  • too many recommended postings again overwhelm the reader, and
  • because it is worthwhile, in my opinion, to answer anew again and again some questions (espec. those concerning grammar). Not only the one asking the question but also he/she answering it learns something in the process.

Remains the question how to select those "nuggets". Perhaps the Q&A-tool might be useful (combined with a minimum-number of votes, I guess).

Yours sincerely,

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: Textkit NEW: Suggestions

Postby Jeff Tirey » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:27 pm

I agree. There is so much stored knowledge locked up in the forum but it is not easy to find.

There are a number of ways we could work to pull it out. 2 that come to mind that require no programming would be to have someone volunteer here as an editor and then create "best of" or 'FAQ' (as mentioned recently in another suggest) posts or pages.

We're on wordpress now so it's very easy to have additional editors with publishing rights. If anyone wants to step up the challenge, I think creating a webpage that links into our forum posts, plus a blog post from time to time to announce new content would work well.

thoughts?

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