Welcome to the TILE project blog!

Here you’ll find the latest TILE news, as well as information about our project team, partner projects, and prototype and related tools. Be sure to visit regularly for project updates, or subscribe to the RSS Feed to have news sent directly to you.

What exactly is TILE? TILE stands for Text-Image Linking Environment, and it’s a web-based tool (or more properly a collection of tools) that will enable scholars to annotate images, and to incorporate them into their digital editions. TILE will be based primarily on the Ajax XML Encoder (AXE) developed by project co-PI Douglas Reside and funded through an NEH Digital Humanities Start-up grant. During the course of this project we will extend the functionality of AXE to allow the following:

  • Semi-automated creation of links between transcriptions and images of the materials from which the transcriptions were made. Using a form of optical character recognition, our software will recognize words in a page image and link them to a pre-existing textual transcription. These links can then be checked, and if need be adjusted, by a human.
  • Annotation of any area of an image selected by the user with a controlled vocabulary (for example, the tool can be adjusted to allow only the annotations “damaged” or “illegible”).
  • Application of editorial annotations to any area of an image.
  • Support linking for non-horizontal, non-rectangular areas of source images.
  • Creation of links between different, non-contiguous areas of primary source images. For example:
    • captions and illustrations;
    • illustrations and textual descriptions;
    • analogous texts across different manuscripts

We are especially concerned with making our tool available for integration into many different types of project environments, and we will therefore work to make the system requirements for TILE as minimal and as generic as possible.

The TILE development project is collaborative, involving scholars from across the United States and Europe who are working with a wide variety of materials – ancient and modern, hand-written and printed, illustrated, illuminated, and not. This project has the potential to help change not just digital editing, but the way software in the humanities is developed and considered. Many tools created for humanists are built within the context of a single project, focusing either on a single set of materials or on materials from a single time period, and this limits their ability to be adapted for use by other projects. By design, our project cuts across subjects and materials. Because it will be simple, with focused functionality, our tool will be usable by a wide variety of scholars from different areas and working with a variety of materials – illustrations and photographs as well as images of text. Therefore we have brought together several collaborators from different projects with different needs to provide advice and testing for our work: The Swinburne Project and Chymstry of Isaac Newton at Indiana University-Bloomington, the Homer Multitext Project at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, the Mapas Project at the University of Oregon, and various projects supported through the Digital Humanities Observatory at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. As TILE becomes available, we will be seeking additional projects and individuals to test its usability. Watch the TILE blog for announcements!

TILE is a two-year project, scheduled to run from May 2009 through May 2011. Funding for TILE is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, through the Preservation and Access (Research and Development) program.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below or write to us at TILEPROJECT [at] listserv [dot] heanet [dot] ie. Thanks for visiting!

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One Comment

  1. Posted August 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like a great and much-needed project! We have been experimenting, as art historians and teachers, with image annotation for many years (including Flickr, Cosimo, Conceptshare and other tools) and have written at length about the need for better image annotation tools for teaching and learning on our blog (http://www.smarthistory.org/blog).

    If we can be of service in any way at all, please let us know!

    Drs. Beth Harris an Steven Zucker