Content Maps

At one point, those of us old enough to remember will remember, we hoped to build a web in which each person controlled their own information and everyone else could subscribe to it. I think we thought we were going to build something called “the semantic web.” Well, that depended on everyone committing to learning additional competences not only in their respective areas of interest and work but also in communications. Apparently, that didn’t happen, so now we have these various platforms/silos in which we dump our information in hopes of being found. I’m going to count on people knowing which of the following are interesting to them:

  • Because I am an university researcher, in addition to my LinkedIn profile, I also maintain profiles at, ORCiD and Thomson-Reuter’s ResearchGate. (There are ID associated with the latter two and hovering over those links will reveal them if your browser is set to “show tooltips.”) For fun, the QR code for the ORCiD is below.
  • Social media is an important part of our lives, and I am active on Twitter. I’m also on Instagram. I am also trying out rejuvenating my Tumblr account now that Automattic runs the show there, and I would really like to find an alternative to Facebook, like Diaspora or Mastodon or something like that. (I’ll happily take suggestions.)
  • Because I like to make things, and I like to be transparent about it, I also maintain accounts on GitHub for code, Flickr for photos, SoundCloud for the occasional bit of audio, and Vimeo for the equally rare bit of video.

Over the years I have developed a variety of forms both to aid me in my own fieldwork and archiving as well as to help other individuals and organizations in their own work. I keep the forms, and other documents, on Scribd because it’s convenient and they offer several download formats:

  • While it’s not a form, a lot of people have asked about interview tips: I have collected, and revised, a number over the years.
  • Something I find useful is a Fieldwork Log for keeping track of who, what, when, and where. Especially after my first conversation where I don’t take notes, I like to get back in my truck and just sit with the blank back side of the form and jot down everything I can remember and any impressions that linger in my mind.
  • Once I have visited with someone and I know I want to document what they have to say and I have made a recording, I use a Recording Log as I listen to the recording to note down what got said at what time.
  • The archive donation form will be less useful to individual researchers, but it is a model about which some archivists have asked.

In order to keep these forms available for public use, all are copyrighted by me, but they are copyrighted under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. What this means is that anyone and everyone is free to use these documents for personal or educational or any other kind of use as long as you are not making money off the forms themselves — so, yes, a business could use these forms for research, no problem. I ask that you leave the URL to this page in place, so that others may also find these forms. I also ask that if you modify these forms in any way that you make them available under the same license. And, of course, if you find these forms useful, please feel free to drop me a note to let me know how they worked for you or what changes I should consider making to improve them. All revisions will be credited.

My primary interest in the crawfish boat and the landscape on which it work is the human minds that lie behind it and whose imaginations are manifested in and through it. I continue to investigate folk narrative for much the same reason, and my most recent [presentations][] have focused on local legends about treasure in an attempt to consider the relationship between the network of ideas that the corpus of tales contain and the way individual stories unfold a particular set of ideas. In this work, I hopes to find a way to develop a morphological approach that both respects the integrity of individual texts but also makes it possible to address larger collections of texts in order to examine the intersections between the form of the text, genre, and its possible effects on tradition bearers.


Over the past year I began work on a project focused on folk narrative, and I realized that what I what I wanted was better, and easier, access to folklore texts. My, probably limited, experience revealed that finding information about texts, what archivists and information specialists call *metadata*, wasn’t too difficult, though I did find that much of the metadata was not easily gathered: that is, it one could not quickly and easily gather a lot of it for use elsewhere. (More on this later.)

Because I needed better descriptive tools and methods for working with my albeit small collection of texts, I had begun to acquaint myself with TEI, and it became clear that the format held a lot of potential for folklore studies. What follows is my attempt to think publicly, if also tentatively, about the possibilities TEI holds for folklore studies and to begin to think about how to communicate that to my colleagues in folklore studies.

Almost by definition, this piece of the larger project will be less interesting to my colleagues in the digital humanities, who will find much of the ground to be, from their point of view, at least well trod if not worn out. From them I ask patience and enjoin them to correct me early and often. My hope is that what I learn about TEI as I write this will lead to some interesting applications in the computational modeling of folk narrative and they will find *that* interesting.

The series so far…

### Part 1: [Why Folklorists Should Care about TEI][why]

We live, we are (probably too often) told, in a connected world. The internet, we are assured, has brought or will bring us all closer together. But such notions as connection and closeness are dependent upon actual relationships developing, and to do that we must use those two things to communicate. These are obvious things to folklorists, and yet we have been slow to take advantage of such a robust infrastructure as the internet to communicate in more than the usual ways: the exchange of PDFs or the submission of Word documents to journals. These are fine starts, but as anyone who has nurtured an essay or volume to publication knows, a lot gets left out. [More…][why]

### Part 2: [A Brief Note on Exchanging Texts][texts]

At the center of most humanistic endeavors lies text. It can be a single text, or it can be many texts. And the texts themselves can be any length, from the few words of a particular utterance from a particular individual in a particular moment to the thousands of words that make us all of Shakespeare’s work or the millions of words that make up the novels published in England in the nineteenth century. [More…][texts]


Crawfish Boats


The Amazing Crawfish Boat was seven years in the making, with a lot of time spent first in tractors, then in shops, and finally behind my desk. Along the way I filled up several notebooks with notes and drawings and I took a lot of photographs.

I hope I got it right.

If you want to see for yourself, then you have a number of options:

First, you can buy the book directly from the publisher, the University Press of Mississippi.

Or you can buy the book from an online store like Amazon or find it at, or order it from, your local bookseller.

Finally, if you want a signed copy, you can order the book directly from me … I’ll have that option up momentarily.

Now, if you aren’t quite ready to buy the book but you still want access to some of the goodness inside, you are in luck, because I have a couple of options for you there, too:

There’s an audiobook version being released week-by-week for free on SoundCloud. (In case you’re interested, the music featured in the intro and outro is “Chords For David” by Pitx (c) 2011 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. My thanks to Pitx not only for creating great music but making it available to people like me to use it.)