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Archives and Algorithms: Thinking about Encoding Digital Scholarly Editions

Over the past several weeks since my first blog post about researching digital scholarly editions, I have begun to consider how I could apply the lessons learned from my literature review to a digital scholarly edition of Katherine Anne Porter’s correspondence. As I draft several key pieces of documentation for such an edition—a name authority index and gazetteer and a TEI keying specification—I find myself preoccupied with thoughts about the relationship between textual creativity and technology, between the language of literature and the language of encoding, metaphor and algorithm. . . . Continue Reading

OCR, XML, Topic Modeling, and Braille Accessibility: Coming Soon Thanks to the NEH!

MITH is delighted to announce four awards from the 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities Start Up Grant Competition:

Active OCR: Tightening the Loop in Human Computing for OCR Correction, led by Assistant Director Travis Brown, received a Level 2 start up award in the amount of $41,906.

ActiveOCR proposes a proof-of-concept application that will experiment with the use of active learning and other iterative techniques for the correction of eighteenth-century texts provided by the HathiTrust Digital Library and the 2,231 ECCO text transcriptions released into the public domain by Gale and distributed by the Text Creation Partnership (TCP) and 18thConnect. . . . Continue Reading

The Black Gotham Digital Archive: The Draft Riots of July 1863

View of Vandewater Street


I found this note in the Harry A. Williamson Papers at the Schomburg Center while doing research for Black Gotham.  It’s a central document in my “cluster” on the New York City draft riots and uncovers a fascinating story.  The first part of the story relates to Williamson’s identity.  He turns out to be the grandson of Albro Lyons, the man to whom the note is addressed.  . . . Continue Reading

MITH Associate Director Participating in “Knowledge Organization and Data Modeling in the Humanities” Workshop

This week I will be one of the participants at a three-day workshop on “Knowledge Organization and Data Modeling in the Humanities” co-sponsored by the Centre for Digital Editions at the University of Würzburg and the Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship, and hosted by Brown. The workshop was organized by Julia Flanders (Brown University) and Fotis Jannidis (University of Würzburg) and is being supported through generous funding from the DFG/NEH Bilateral Digital Humanities Program. . . . Continue Reading

My Dissertation in the Year 2112

I am defending my dissertation this semester. When I have successfully completed this task, I will be required by the University of Maryland to submit a copy of it to be held in perpetuity by the university’s library system. In fact, just about anyone who has written a Ph.D. dissertation, a Master’s thesis, or even an undergraduate honors thesis at an institution of higher learning in the last century and a half has been required to do the same. . . . Continue Reading

Into the Electronic Reading Room: Stewarding Digital Scholarly Editions

The “editor-narrator” of an electronic text “must also become an editor-narrator-librarian of the fluid text ‘reading room’ wherein all full texts of all versions of a work are stored…Editors need to create a text lab [that]…would allow users to search texts, collate versions, assemble variants, craft concordances, and make editions.”

–John Bryant, The Fluid Text: A Theory of Revision and Editing for Book and Screen, 161

This spring, I am delighted to have the opportunity to explore the many roles of the editor-narrator-librarian in this visionary digital “reading room.” Under the guidance of MITH Associate Director Trevor Muñoz, University of Maryland Libraries’ Manager of Digital Stewardship Jennie Anne Levine Knies, Curator of Literary Manuscripts Emerita Beth Alvarez, and University of Texas at Austin iSchool Assistant Professor (and former MITH Program Associate) Tanya Clement, I am researching best practices and emerging trends in the creation of digital scholarly editions of manuscripts and the roles that the scholar and the host institution—the library, archive, or digital humanities center—play in the creation of such editions. . . . Continue Reading

Chasing the Great Data Whale

The first thing you hear, or at least that you should hear, when you present an idea for a digital humanities project to someone already familiar with the field is this: “That’s great! [pause]  What does your data set look like?” Actually, that’s the reaction you’ll get if whoever you’re talking to is taking you seriously, so the reaction is a mixed blessing. . . . Continue Reading

Open Water

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at the Foreign Literatures in America project, as we’ve really begun to set sail as concerns both the Russian literary reception archive and the Modern British literary archive. Though the projects are large, and seem to increase further and further with excitement as we delve further into them, we have also found that many of our energies have been devoted to getting many small and technical details precisely in order. . . . Continue Reading

Storytelling

I ended my last blog entry with the suggestion that one possible virtue of virtuality might be that a digital archive inverts the book’s relationship between word and image (in the case of Black Gotham, portraits of people as well as depictions of places—maps, streets, buildings, etc.).  “In my book,” I wrote, “word was the primary vehicle for telling my story and image functioned as supporting illustration; in the digital archive, image is the primary vehicle and word supporting document.”

I’m well aware, however, that much like a printed book a digital archive must create and sustain a narrative arc—consisting not only of a beginning, middle, and end, but also of a certain narrative tension that impels the viewer forward to look, search, discover.  . . . Continue Reading

BitCurator is Designing Curation Tools for Use

Over the weekend, Matt Kirschenbaum and I traveled to UNC Chapel Hill in order to meet with the BitCurator Development Advisory Group (DAG). By design, our meeting with the DAG coincided with Curate Gear, a UNC Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Sciences sponsored conference designed to bring together scholars, software developers, and archivists to discuss tools and on-going research focused on the unique challenges of digital curation. . . . Continue Reading