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Literary Sleuths Online: e-Research Collaboration on the Pynchon Wiki

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Document pages: 39 pages

Abstract: This paper analyzes a Wiki which has been developed for annotating the novel Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon in terms of how it functions as a tool for online research collaboration. The annotation of this long and complex work of fiction has taken place in a very short time, with many contributors and great depth of coverage. We compare this Wiki with an earlier single-authored annotation in book form of a similar novel by the same author. This allows a comparison of technology-mediated distributed collaborative annotation and conventional annotation by single author in book form. We compare the kinds of entries made and the patterns of contributions and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of both processes of annotation. We also discuss the functions of this Wiki as a tool for supporting the interpretation of the novel and a means of engagement with a notoriously reclusive author. Finally, we assess the strengths and weaknesses of this voluntary, amateur, and low-tech type of online collaboration.

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