Gathering through tags
While Orlando's core tags allow the system to bring together via hyperlinks related Names, Titles, Places and Organizations, its conceptual tagging provides for the gathering and contextualized searching of particular aspects of writers' lives and writing.
Orlando can gather together all of its writers who were midwives or governesses, or who wrote science fiction or acrostics, or who were born in Scarborough, or who were in any way associated with that town. For these categories of Occupation, Genre, or Place the People entry point offers an immediate search resulting in a list of names. But these are only a fraction of the kinds of linkages created by the hundreds of tags and associated values that comprise the conceptual tagsets.
Through the Tag Search entry point a user can bring together—and can, if so desired, limit by date and other criteria—materials associated with a vast range of subjects: from writers as self-taught or as eldest in their families to experience of violence in their lives, or their relationships with publishers, or censorship of their work, or their connections with particular organizations, such as the Whigs or PEN. The tag search interface offers a highly flexible, user-directed means of grouping the literary historical materials in Orlando according to specific interests. Time invested in becoming familiar with the major tags (beginning through the Tag Diagrams and referring if desired to About the Tags) pays dividends by returning greatly expanded approaches to the textbase.
In offering multiple search strategies, Orlando differs very sharply from a standard printed index. The standard book index typically makes it simple to pull out the information sought, if it lists it at all, but it can only be far more limited than the indexing made available by the leveraging of Orlando's markup. Searching a printed index is either easy or impossible; Orlando makes many more options available, but as a less naturalized form of technology, it requires an effort of learning at the outset.
The encoding's nested structure also means that conceptual tags can be used to specify the context in which a search is conducted. So, for instance, a search on India within the tag Setting Place brings together roughly a tenth of all occurrences of 'India' in the textbase: exclusively those which mention it as a setting for fiction. Similarly, nested tag searching can be used to gather mentions of Catholicism as a belief-system of writers, as opposed to Catholicism as it connects with writers' political activity, or as an element in texts, or in historical events concerning it.