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Stewarding Digital Humanities Work on the Web at MITH

A digital humanities center is nothing if not a site of constant motion: staff, directors, fellows, projects, partners, tools, technologies, resources, and (innumerable) best practices all change over time, sometimes in quite unpredictable ways. As small, partly or wholly soft-funded units whose missions involve research, or teaching, or anchoring a local interest community, digital humanities centers face fundamental challenges involving the long-term digital stewardship of the work they help to produce.

The importance of stewarding digital scholarship will only grow and the work will need to be shared by the entire digital humanities community. Founded sixteen years ago in 1999, MITH is proud of the way it has faced and continues to face these challenges. We would like to take this opportunity to document our practices in a series of blog posts, beginning with this one, in the hope of providing a clear and potentially useful record of our principles for digital stewardship, the issues we’ve faced, and our practices for dealing with them.

In this initial post, we’ll provide an overview of the actions MITH has taken to steward the variety of digital humanities work created here. . . . Continue Reading

Recap Part II: Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing across the Disciplines Workshop (CrowdCon)

Last week, we posted Part I of a series of two blog entries detailing the outcomes of our workshop entitled Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing across the Disciplines (CrowdCon). For the second entry, we’ve gathered the final storified tweets and videos of the event, covering big challenges in research crowdsourcing, best practices and next steps. Click on the links below to read more about the final panels and discussion from this fantastic event!

  1. ‘Big Challenges for Research Crowdsourcing’ panel
    (Thursday May 7, 2015)

  2. ‘Best Practices’ panel, Q&A (Friday May 8, 2015)
  3. Pitches for Next Steps after #CrowdCon (Friday May 8, 2015)


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Recap Part I: Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing across the Disciplines Workshop (CrowdCon)

From May 6-8, 2015, MITH teamed up with Dartmouth College and the iSchool at University of Maryland to host a workshop entitled Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing across the Disciplines (CrowdCon).  The goal of the workshop was to expand the ongoing conversations about best practices for engaging the public across both the humanities and the sciences, in order to build a networking bridge for crowdsourced research projects and to build a consortium to support such work.

Much attention has recently been given to ​“crowdsourced,” or “citizen science/citizen humanists” projects, which have developed across numerous fields, including the sciences, government, and education, both for knowledge generation and for increasing the level of engagement between online resources and the public. Crowdsourced projects now increasingly draw the attention of funders who recognize the value of these methodologies for public engagement and the generation of new knowledge.

Over three days, CrowdCon discussed standards for evaluating and incorporating user-generated contributions and directions for the implementation of crowdsourcing efforts; established a national consortium among groups involved with these projects; and provided a means for funders to understand the opportunities and challenges for crowdsourcing. . . . Continue Reading

Chances and Challenges of Studying Social Media Data

Please join us at MITH on April 30th between 11-12 for a conversation with Katrin Weller about some of the methodological challenges around studying Twitter. Weller is a postdoctoral researcher at GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, Germany. At GESIS she is working in the field of Computational Social Science, focusing of ways to make use of social media data for social science research. She currently holds one of the first Digital Studies Fellowships at the Library of Congress’ John W. Kluge Center.

In this talk she will provide insights into some of her ongoing projects, e.g. illustrating different ways to study Twitter (see Weller et al., 2014, Twitter and Society) and the methodological challenges around this. The talk will also include first results from a series of interviews with researchers from different disciplines on their experiences in working with social media data (project The Hidden Data of Social Media Research, Weller & Kinder-Kurlanda).

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MITH is now accepting Digital Dialogues speaker nominations for Fall 2015

MITH is accepting nominations for potential speakers for our Digital Dialogues series in the Fall 2015 semester.  Digital Dialogues is MITH’s signature events program, held almost every week while the academic semester is in session. Digital Dialogues is an occasion for discussion, presentation, and intellectual exchange that you can build into your weekly schedule.

To see a list of previous speakers, see our past dialogue schedules.

Nominations should be submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday, May 8, 2015.  Click here to submit your nominations.

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The Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies and MITH present: Digitizing the Cairo Genizah Collections, on April 29

The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland present:

Digitizing the Cairo Genizah Collections
Dr. Roni Shweka
Harry Starr Fellow, Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
MITH Conference Room
0301 Hornbake Library North

The Cairo Genizah is a unique treasure trove of medieval Jewish manuscripts, comprising about 250,000 fragments written mainly in the 10th to the 13th centuries. During the last years this collection, currently spread-out in about 60 libraries in Europe, North America and Israel, has been digitized by the Friedberg Genizah Project almost in full, producing some 450,000 digital images. The lecture will introduce this collection and will present some of the modules and tools that have been developed for automatically extracting data from the digital images, joining the dispersed fragments, and locating fragments by a specific handwriting.

Dr. Roni Shweka (PhD, Rabbinic Literature, Hebrew University, 2009) is currently a Harry Starr Fellow in the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University. His main fields are Jewish law in the Geonic period (8th-11th centuries) and the research of the Cairo Genizah. . . . Continue Reading

Early use data on a participatory digital edition

Infinite Ulysses, the participatory digital edition of James Joyce’s challenging novel Ulysses, is now about one month into its open beta-testing period. In this post, I’ll describe how I went about user-testing the edition, and share some early statistics about the edition’s use.

On April 4, 2015—about one month into the open beta—the site had 356 members. Site users other than me authored 159 annotations on the novel; combined with my 247 annotations, the total number of annotations on the novel was 406. 137 unique tags on annotations were in use, helping filter annotations to readers’ interests and needs. Although the site had a fair number of visitors during the first weeks of the open beta, only a very few readers also added annotations to the site. There were two fairly active users on the site (adding 60 and 19 annotations), with 9 users authoring 5 or more annotations, 19 users authoring 2 or more annotations, and 27 site users authoring at least 1 annotation.

I used a variety of tactics to understand the experience of the edition’s users:

  1. Informal (hallway testing, tweeted questions)
  2. Talk-aloud observation (single or paired)
  3. Participatory design (sketching ideal layouts)
  4. Site contact form feedback & emailed feedback
  5. GitHub issue queue
  6. Open beta soft launch survey (March 5th, 16 participants from non-academic/non-DH backgrounds)
  7. Open beta survey responses (March 9-30, 16 participants, many from academic and/or DH backgrounds)
  8. Google Analytics
  9. Aggregated mapping (heatmaps, scrollmaps, clickmaps; e.g. . . . Continue Reading

Podcast: Do read the comments: Designing digital editions for a public humanities conversation

Amanda Visconti Avatar Amanda Visconti, Winnemore Digital Dissertation FellowMaryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities@Literature_Geek
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, April 28, 201512:30 pm

NOTE: This talk was originally scheduled for April 7, 2015, but had to be canceled due to a campus-wide power outage.

“How can you love a work, if you don’t know it? How can you know it, if you can’t get near it? How can you get near it, without editors?”
— Gary Taylor, “The Renaissance and the End of Editing”

Scholarly editors are an integral part of the continuum that keeps the stories of the past available to and understood by the present—but in Taylor’s formulation, the “you” is just as important: that public of readers beyond the academy whose interest keeps the humanities alive and relevant. This talk will explore how we can design digital archives and editions to be more than simply publicly accessible. With changes to how we do digital humanities interface design, we can take the extra step of inviting and assisting participation in our love for the nuances of a text’s materiality, history, and meaning.

I’ll address how my “Infinite Ulysses” digital edition draws on participatory design, social mechanics successful on non-academic sites, and user testing to support a public audience. . . . Continue Reading

Podcast: Between the Document and the Digital Map: The Need for the Archive and GIS to Analyze the Nazi Built Environment

Paul-Jaskot Paul Jaskot, Professor, History of Art and ArchitectureDePaul University@PBJaskot
Collaboratory for Visual CultureMonday, March 30, 201512:30 pmCo-sponsored by the Art History & Archaeology Department

Please note that this Digital Dialogue is a special co-sponsored talk in conjunction the Art History & Archaeology Department, and occurs on a different weekday and location.

The Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture is located in Room 4213 of the Art and Sociology Building.  Click here for a map.

The Central Building Office at Auschwitz was for its time one of the largest architectural offices in Europe with over 150 SS architects and engineers employed as well as an equal number of forced-labor draftsmen. It was these architects who literally built the infrastructure of imperialist expansion in the East, as well was the brutal complementary structures of the Jewish genocide.

This talk analyzes the documentary evidence of the imperial ambitions of the SS as well as the digital visualizations of that archival evidence. Building off of his current work on digitally mapping the site (with his co-author, Anne Kelly Knowles), Jaskot asks what is at stake for digital mapping in the humanities, as well as for a spatial and architectural understanding of the Holocaust.


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Podcast: Performing the Digital Edition: Textual Scholarship and the Digital Consumption of Music Scores

Raffaele-Viglianti Raffaele Viglianti, Research ProgrammerMaryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities@raffazizzi
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, March 24, 201512:30 pm

What is the future of sheet music? The flexibility of the digital medium, as opposed to the rigidity of the printed form, calls for a more modern concept of the music score.

Even digital sheet music, in most cases, is designed to be printed; it is either produced with typesetting software, or made of images scanned from a printed source. This type of digital score exists in digital form almost exclusively for distribution. The difference between print and digital distribution is access: scores can be downloaded and printed at home.

Digital consumption, on the other hand, entails reading and performing the score directly from its digital manifestation. Small businesses are already investing in technologies to make the score follow the performer while playing, to support writing and displaying annotations by the performer, a teacher, other peers, etc.

In this talk, I’ll address the current status of digital sheet music publication and ask: can the digital consumption of a changeable, customizable publication influence a performer’s advocacy of a work? Textual scholarship and the preparation of critical editions is a fundamental component of this discussion, where I’ll convey editorial transparency as a vital function of digital consumption. . . . Continue Reading