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The Four Media

Draycot’si memoir and sketches constitute narratives with a specific purpose, namely to put an end to war (memoir) and assist soldiers in the field (sketches). They employ words and symbols that are recognised and interpreted by the reader and both narratives require careful revision. The diaries and photographs, on the other hand, are slices of time and space that accept ‘now’; they may or may not be edited or annotated. While the memoir and sketches provide a coherent story, the diaries and photographs are snapshots without context.

The different representations of ‘self’ in the four media are revealed to particularly good effect when published electronically. Images can be enlarged to display differences in handwriting, as well as revisions and/or additions. Hyperlinks provide instant additional contextual information and can include other media such as film. Texts can easily be compared, printed and annotated by the reader, and recurring features of texts (including repetition of key words or phrases, specific use of literary devices such as metaphor or simile, and unusual application of punctuation marks such as question or exclamation marks) can be identified more easily than in printed sources. Finally, texts can be revised on a regular basis, incorporating new insights and research.

Electronic publication is an excellent option when geographical distance or time constraints make it impossible to consult documents at first-hand. Researchers can discuss the same text simultaneously and irrespective of physical location. A website also offers greater flexibility than publication in e-journals because it enables one to enlarge images separately, allowing the scholar to work between both text and image; e-journals, on the other hand, use PDF files, where the entire file must be enhanced. This makes it difficult to view both text and image at the same time. The credibility of the World Wide Web as a scholarly tool has increased greatly in the past few years. Growing numbers of scholars are realising that the ideals of scholarship are more quickly achieved in this environment, particularly the principle that scholarly response should drive and refine one’s research.ii

i Draycot preferred to spell his name with a single ‘t’ but on occasions, and for no apparent reason, he used double ‘tt’. Here, single ‘t’ is used throughout. Draycot does not address the difference in spelling in either his diaries or memoir.
ii I receive between three and five e-mails a week from visitors to this website. Many come from scholars who make helpful comments on my articles, give suggestions for further reading and inform me of interesting conferences and symposia. The World Wide Web is becoming a significant arena for the dissemination of knowledge for different kinds of users. This has prompted important research into how it is perceived as a source of knowledge by both general users and scholars. A good place to start is ‘the Web Credibility Project’ at Stanford University. This addresses such questions as: What causes people to believe (or not believe) what they find on the World Wide Web? What strategies do users employ in evaluating the credibility of online sources? What contextual and design factors influence these assessments and strategies? How and why are credibility evaluation processes on the Web different from those made in face-to-face human interaction, or in other offline contexts? For further information on the project and its relevance for the academic credibility of online publications, see Stanford Web Credibility Research. Last accessed on 20 April 2015.

Next: The Four Media - Part 2
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