Monday, March 22, 2010

3.23.2010 pm9k Lawn

A new and different way to provide data, which could be used for sets of maps, besides buildings and landscapes - encourages one to participate and experiment and try different things. This comparison opens up all sorts of possibilities - comparing the structure of 3 poems, or like Blake, 3 paintings - or landscapes, buildings, maps, anything of a set of types. Some of the three in each set seem to have some comparability, others do not - so is this a good way to organize and categorize sets? - could one use it to view and compare three Mesoamerican tripods, or stick figures, or drinking vessels? I like the controls and the simple way the buttons are placed for resizing, moving, rotating, and strength of image. Is there anything that should be added to the controls, etc?

Monday, March 15, 2010

3.16.2010 pm9k Salem Witches

Ray's three articles, each focusing on a different perspective of the same events, town, and time, are very interesting, especially the maps that he develops, along with challenging the older theories and interpretations. Like my earlier comments on the articles and the web site - I feel the inclusion online of all of these (the articles and the maps) would make the web site far better and useful.

Which probably raises the question, as with other web sites and projects - how much do you include, or how much can you, even for a limited thematic digital collection such as the Salem Witch Trials? The web site also seems to have been used for Ray's classes, and it would be nice to include even more of the writings of students, and contributions, suggestions, feedback from them - as they were written during the class and as the archive grows over time.

It takes lots of time, money, people to continue to change and grow a web site, as seen in the Valley of the Shadow, Rossetti Archive, and Dante database - and even takes lots to just update such projects. Does it matter if their growth ends, and that links and sources continue to fall off and die, and not be re-reborn or corrected?

Monday, March 1, 2010

3.2.2010 pm9k computer is a metaphor

The readings and websites this week (Mind is a metaphor) take me to a middle ground between complex and static websites (Blake, Rossetti, etc) and web sites that continue to evolve, especially based on contributions by anyone, adding and 'teaching' web sites or the machine, closing in on gaming software and artificial intelligence programs. All three types of web sites perhaps have their own uses and purposes (static, growing, and evolving / learning). Some of the ways to construct databases and develop interfaces seem fairly simple, others seem huge and very complex. Some might be developed by individuals; others need teams of people, changing and evolving over time. Pasanek and others provide a good example of how computers might be used and taught to do some complex functions fairly quickly, which would otherwise (without computers) take huge amounts of time. Computers can be used as appendages to our minds.

Monday, February 22, 2010

2.23.2010 pm9k Blake and interfaces

It is a real quandary to develop a good interface for an academic archive - there are so many possibilities and pitfalls, and the strong need to be flexible - for the varied audience, the type of devices which may access the archive, and the need to provide the best in functionality at the same time to make it beautiful. It takes a lot of work and I don't see how it might be done quickly and easily, without a lot of time and a lot of people on a team. There may be some technical solutions which might make it easier as time goes by - or make it more complicated. One needs both a fantastic and wonderful database and then a fantastic and wonderful interface that will allow the valuable content of the database to be easily accessible and useful to scholars and non-scholars. An impossible dream?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2.15.2010b pm9k

My Fat Paragraph on Thematic Collections would repeat some of the questions Palmer's article raised with me:

How do thematic collections differ from a library's selected sections? Don't thematic collections have the drawback that they provide and collocate only a limited and highly selected and privileged set of information resources that are available in scattered and richer resources in libraries, etc? What good or us is it to digitize and duplicate a selected set of resources around one theme, if most scholars are not going to use it to produce exciting, new scholarship and (digital) documents? What if I'm not interested in any of the themes of the scholarly thematic collections developed so far? She deals with many of these questions near the last part of her essay, especially the slippery distinctions or sameness between the library collections (special and subject) and thematic collections. Thematic collections or TCs in some ways seem simply larger versions of books or articles - they are collections or citations or references to a large number of sources in a large number of consulted libraries. Sure, it's nice to have it all digitally duplicated in one virtual place, but . . . There still remain huge problems about copyright. And other problems - not everything, that one identifies and would like to add, can be collocated in a TC or in another library, even through InterLibrary Services (does ILS provide a way to collocate scholarly materials?), as she describes it -"In the case of fragile items, handling is limited and photocopying or microfilming may be prohibited." If scholars can't consult these resources, even through travel, then digital theme collections will unlikely be able to add them either - so what's the benefit for TCs in such important cases?

2.15.2010 pm9k

About Palmer's 2004 article -
How do thematic collections differ from a library's selected sections? Don't thematic collections have the drawback that they provide and collocate only a limited and highly selected and privileged set of information resources that are available in scattered and richer resources in libraries, etc? What good or us is it to digitize and duplicate a selected set of resources around one theme, if most scholars are not going to use it to produce exciting, new scholarship and (digital) documents? What if I'm not interested in any of the themes of the scholarly thematic collections developed so far?

Princeton Dante Project web site (2002?)
What's in a name? Why calling it Princeton Dante Project, instead of something like Dante's Inferno? Or should things be called, for eg. Virginia's Rossetti Project or Virginia's Blake project? Why the branding? My wonderful tutorial also stopped working.

World of Dante
As others have said, this is a much better site than PDP. Why did they decide on this interface - what were the other options? But how about a more pleasant woman's voice for the guide?

Old World of Dante site
As with others, there are some nice things about this older site. What was the process or transition from this to the new site - what were the most important considerations?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Can you site (see) the valuable little scholars in the huge Sites or digital Projects?

Projects - their Scale, Time lines, Integration.
Projects - huge, large, enormous - turned into Web sites, after years of lots of hard work, funds, energy, visions, by lots and lots of people working and contributing together, whether Shadow, Rossetti, or Tibetan H. Digital Library. Is there a valuable role for the 'little' scholars contributing or even just making a little site around a topic, an article, a thesis or dissertation, a book?

The three - Shadow, Rossetti, or Tibetan H. Digital Library - seem very similar in their scale and how long and how much it took to develop them. S and R are now 'complete' while THL continues. What is the message here? All three are very academic orientated, whereas THL seems to have a very conscious goal of serving and including the 'community.'

In this New Media - is there a space for the 'little' scholar to develop a limited but open web site, and what might it include or exclude - should it also allow contributions and collaboration, besides just comments and feedback, and would that affect its academic-ness? Might other larger projects scan or go out and search proactively for web pages of 'little' scholars which they could add on?

What is the difference between the S R & T hugh projects, and journals which are focused topics (like project sites), or databases / web sites focused on subject data (such as the collection of materials by the Digital South Asia Library or How much effort should there be for good interfaces and navigation, and a obvious, stated vision of how the different components are integrated into a single web site?

Comments on "Tibetan Himalyan Library" 9 F 2010 Seminar

1) Unsworth, 2001, “Knowledge Representation in Humanities Computing”

I wonder if I am missing something here? – digital humanities scholarship is just a hugely different scale than humanities scholarship as it has existed since the Greeks and before? And therefore it opens up and makes newly possible untold and unexpected insights, relationships, and patterns, through a much, much larger set of knowledge resources?

2) The Tibetan and Himalayan Library (Web Site)

What have been the major hurdles in developing the Tibetan Himalayan Digital Library? And what are the ongoing problems or concerns? As mentioned, this ‘library’ is much more than a library – and it is opened out and ongoing – unlike the static envelope which the Shadow and Rossetti evolved into and shut down. Why the different approach, and will it hold for future generations?

Monday, February 1, 2010

3. Hypertexting Humanities into the future

Much of this third week focuses on hypertext and the past and future of digital humanities - what is there beside hypertext? Will there ever be a way that Projects such as Shadows and Rosetti will not have to spend so much time on updating, re-formating, reorganizing, adjusting to new forms, ways, and programs - like Wordpress allows you to adjust your theme and change all within the blog or web site (or allow users to see the same information in the way they wish)? Might gaming or some such way to look at scholarly projects be a solution? Also, what solutions might there be so that Projects do not have to be finalized, completed, but remain infinitely open (but who will take on that task? or could it remain open forever like the Hypertext Hotel, without any moderator, artist, controller)?  What is the future of digital humanities - will Shanti succeed and lead the way?

The digital class page is

Week 3 - Q and Comments Rossetti readings

This is the order I read or looked at the assignments, with my comments / questions.

1.Coover, 1992, “The End of Books” In the New Media Reader, p. 705-709.
** Coover’s essay makes me wonder again, what is hypertext? His 1992 questions near the end of his essay are still unanswerable 18 years latter, but I suspect will remain important and at the center of the New Media. As he says “‘Text’ has lost its canonical certainty. How does one judge, analyze, write about a work that never reads the same way twice?”

2. The Rossetti Archive.
** Why a fourth and final installment? Is it because they have decided that all of the most important parts of the project have been collected and are displayed? There does seem to be some open-endedness to it, with the Nines and welcoming others to contribute or comment. But if this is a prime example of hypertextuality, like the Shadows, according to Coover these projects should have “fluidity, contingency, inderteminacy, plurality, discontiuity” and “”dimensionless infinity.” Like with Shadow, my question is, if they were starting from scratch today rather than 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, how would they approach it differently?

3. McGann, 1995, “The Rationale of Hypertext” 
** This essay, in some ways, answers two questions I had, and also doesn’t – there is a good description of what McGann thinks is hypertext; and my question of starting from scratch in 2010 on this project – well, here McGann is starting from scratch in 1995. What would he discuss, and try to convince scholars about in 2010, instead of hypertext in 1995?
The R Project is now ‘closed’ even though McGann states “hypertextual order contains an inertia that moves against such a shutdown.” (can’t be ‘complete’)

4. McGann, Jerome. 2004. A Note on the Current State of Humanities Scholarship. Critical Inquiry 30, no. 2.
** Was this a cry in the wilderness? Six years later, what does McGann think of the ‘State of Humanities Scholarship'?
Perhaps his 2008 article answers some of this question - but is it another cry? and who is listening?