Archive for the ‘general shenanigans’ Category

  • One+ Language: Three+ Scripts?


    My research and teaching is based in Hindi and Urdu.  Although arguably different spectrums of the same language, they are written in different scripts.  Hindi, which in general has more Sanskrit vocabulary  is written in a left-to-right devanagari (देवनागरी) script and Urdu, which draws more on Persian and Arabic, in a right-to-left Perso-Arabic script called nastaleeq (نستعلیق).  Both scripts are generally but not entirely phonetic.

    In a series of small projects, I have explored the possibility of creating a meta-notation that will encapsulate enough information to allow the representation both scripts, as well as phonetic transcription and diacritic-based transliteration, of any given text ( ;  The overall goal of my project is to use digital technology to override the limitations of the division between these scripts/languages.  My interest is in encoding more phonetic of etymological information about texts than Unicode will allow, so that digital texts can be used for both advanced humanities research as well as for language pedagogy.

    My  particular research interest is in Urdu poetry, which is among the most prized literary genres in South Asia.  I have explored ways of building on the class-based lexer/parsers used for script conversion in order to facilitate computational prosody of Urdu poetic texts.  Urdu meter is based on length rather than stressed syllables.  Using the meta-notion therefore would allow that these popular texts could be read not only in Hindi and transliteration but also exposed as sound in time.  How can that be visualized?

  • Data! Data! Data!


    “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” –Sherlock Holmes, from the Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

    There are a lot of great session ideas about data, would it make sense to merge some of these, depending on time?  I’d love to talk a bit about how Linked Open Data could play a role too.

    Speaking of, here are the slides from the Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums bootcamp today. Thanks!

  • Digitizing for online use – what’s good enough?


    Digitizing media, in whatever form, nearly always involves digitizing to certain specifications. 300dpi along the long dimensions for some objects, 24bit/96k .wav files for some audio, or 50 mBit sec video saved to as DV in a .mv wrapper… The numbers and formats all have meaning as we archive, compress, and distribute scanned photos, digitized audio, and streamed video; the numbers and formats can also become a confusing, swirling roadblock for humanists unaccustomed to digital media.

    “I just want to get this online so I can use it.”

    What’s good enough to put online? And when do archival specifications for digital media matter, given source, audience, and mitigating factors of budget and time? I’d like to begin a conversation about digitizing materials for online use, knowing the discussion could quickly become technical yet hoping we can avoid the specifications of digital files for a while and talk more openly about what is good enough. And, just as importantly, when do archival specifications for digitizing materials matter?

  • Research Commons for digital humanities


    We have plans to establish a “Research Commons” to support the digital humanities research on campus.  I’d like to hear from researchers who have or would like to have a collaborative facility to support digital humanities research.  What tools, supports, services, environment would you like to see in a physical space dedicated to supporting digital humanities research?  What would help you to realize your aspirations?

  • Empowering everyone to add to “History”


    Hi everyone! I’m a web developer, and my primary motivation for attending THATcamp was to hopefully gain a bit more visibility into the world of the institutions that I’ve been working with on – a site built to present historical photography in a geospatial context, amidst the modern-day landscape.

    I’m interested in discussing the challenges in attempting to crowdsource the process of metadata aggregation across a wider audience – especially in gathering non-textual metadata, such as location. I can speak to the obstacles we encountered in building the tool we offer for users to geolocate photographs.

    I’m also interested in discussing the institutional perspective on “crowdsourced” data.  Having read the other posts here, this topic seems a little thin, but I’m thinking it may fit nicely as a side conversation in one of the many related discussions.

  • Exploring the Publishing Needs of Digital Humanities Scholars


    (I share this proposal with my colleague Maria Bonn, AUL for Publishing.)

    What do you want from your publisher? Is it important to you that your publication be open access? In print? Have a nice cover? Do you want to see your book at scholarly conferences? Do you need help shaping your ideas and prose into final form? Or do you want assistance in giving your ideas an online life? Maybe you need help navigating digital permissions or understanding how you can use social media to promote your work?

    The ways in which we “do” scholarship are changing and so are the many ways in which we publish academic work and spread scholarly ideas. MPublishing wants to be responsive to the needs of scholars and to help design effective and affordable ways to get out the scholarly word.

    MPublishing is the newly formed hub of publishing at the University of Michigan, a merger of the University of Michigan Press and library-based publishing initiatives that support a range of publishing styles and services — from open access journal hosting to disciplinary based monograph publishing, digital archives, reprint publishing from our library’s collections, and more.

    We’d like to talk with humanities researchers about specific publishing needs they have that are either being unmet or are underserved by the current scholarly publishing landscape. For instance, among digital humanities practitioners, lightweight, DIY methods of scholarly conversation via Twitter, blogs, and other forms of networked discourse have widespread adoption. Yet formal models of publication such as the book and journal article remain required for tenure and promotion. We wonder whether a library-based publisher might develop services and tools to mediate between informal and formal publication styles and genres, helping to make the best of both worlds.

    This session aligns well with sessions that have already been proposed, such as On the Possibilities of New Publications and Reviewing the Review.

    We look forward to some pub chat with you all!

  • What colors is TEAL in digital humanties?


    <>: “The Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) project has revamped the way Introductory Physics classes are taught at MIT. Physics is an experimental science, but many of the introductory level classes taught at MIT involve no hands-on laboratories. Modeled after the Studio Physics format instituted by Professor Jack Wilson at Rennsaeler Polytechnic Institute in 1994, the TEAL format combines lecture, recitation, and hands-on laboratory experiments into one classroom experience which, in this case, meant revamping the classroom itself. Animations and simulations have been incorporated into course materials to help students visualize and understand the complex interactions inherent in electromagnetism.”

    This past year I have been experimenting with “Technology Enabled Active Learning” (TEAL) in a humanities-heavy course, a 50 person, freshmen-level introduction to human origins and prehistory. The course discusses anthropological concepts of culture and cognition, but (caveat) also includes some physical science components. For one class a week, students are divided into groups for collaborative exercises related to the current class topic and their work may be continued outside of class. These exercises include literature research, evaluation of various sources, mapping, and information management. In-class technology is provided through one of the university’s portable laptop computer labs, which can bring 24 machines into the classroom and connect them through a dedicated router (for a minimum ratio of student:computer of about 2:1).

    This coming year, I am ramping-up the TEAL component by moving the class into a dedicated computer lab and making TEAL activities into a daily portion of class and homework activities. I want freshman and other students to learn to use our IT-infrastructure in order to meaningfully contribute as individuals to focused, collaborative products about humanities research. Student acceptance of the practices, and appropriate assessment of individual contributions will be key.

    I would like to have a brainstorming and knowledge-sharing session with other campers about the ways you’ve used TEAL-like practices in your class, or ways you would like to do so.

  • Humanities Data!?


    Lifecycle management of data is becoming increasingly important to funding agencies and many agencies now encourage data management, re-use, and sharing plans. Some major funders even require a formal “Data Management Plan” (DMP) in order to be competitively considered for funding. As there is already at least one other proposed conversation around RDM I would like to extend or merge these discussions by focusing on the following:

    • Types of humanities data?
      • “Domain Specific” text, text corpora, textbases, structured text, plain text, massive text databases (flat, relational, object oriented, native XML), email, correspondence, video/audio ethnography, maps, “new media”,
      • “Normal Data with the humanities twist” multimedia data (images, audio, video, flash), browser data (HTML, XML, JSP/ASP/PHP/CGI/whatever, XHTML), NUMERIC *gasp* DATA!!! (spreadsheets, others?)
      • “Really weird stuff” ontologies, thesaurus, interactive timelines, digital cultural artifacts, models, 3d artifacts
    • Proprietary humanities data?
    • Data sharing in the humanities
    • Existing disciplinary repositories for “humanities data”

    Current discussions of humanities data are fairly literature-centric (just as my examples above). I would love to hear from people in History, Law, Philosophy, Anthropology, Fine Arts, Communication, Religion, etc, etc. One outcome of this group might be writing and submitting a Data Profile, or visiting and compiling the guidelines and requirements for major and minor humanities funding agencies and disseminating via the lists.

  • What does a terabyte mean, socially? (Or, DIY and infrastructure)


    I would like to talk with others about the practicalities of digital work at the scale of one or a few people. There are a lot of mysteries and mystifications around technology, and some of the ones I find myself thinking about a lot relate to scale. Some outside of digital humanities circles may not yet have a clear sense that it doesn’t require high-powered infrastructure for a single researcher to manage tens of thousands of documents on a laptop or a humanities instructor to self-host WordPress blogs. At the other end of things, however, Google has resources to operate at a scale the most advanced university digital humanities centers can’t approach. From far enough outside, lumping it all as technology stuff, these things can look more similar than they might to THATCampers. But even when one gets considerably closer there is a lot about the great, complicated, shifting middle scale that seems not all that well charted. Many of us don’t have good intuitions about what’s easy, what’s hard, what’s impossible, what’s changing, or how to find out. I’d like to compare notes and learn more.

    Though digital storage is not really the heart of the matter, we could start with some simple questions: how big is a gigabyte, or a hundred gigabytes, or ten terabytes, in social terms? How big, relative to social context, is a humanities database with five thousand records, or five million, or five billion? What changes about human scale between the context of desktop machines, public servers, and mobile devices? How are the possibilities of scale affected by individual knowledge, or access to well-established professional knowledge, or the rare expertise of a highly specialized team? What requires a center, and what requires a network? What scale is an afternoon’s digital humanities exercise, and what takes years of planning and major grant funding and a business model?

    Especially: how do we get our intuitions to keep up — and then make those intuitions visible and persuasive so that others can share them without mystification?

  • Labor, bodies, humanities, and technology


    I wonder if anyone is interested in talking about the intense labor that is involved in setting up projects that use humanities and technologies together in a thorough way, or that use online technologies for teaching in any discipline.

    The kinds of sessions that are being proposed are fascinating. I want to know and do everything! At the same time, I don’t want to teach from inside a computer; rather, I don’t want to spend any more time in front of a computer than I already do.

    First, my body is paying the price. Second, all of this is labor intensive. What kinds of workplace guarantees have to be negotiated so that eager instructors have the security to invest the time into developing these for instruction, or even experimenting to see which ones might be good?

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