• Visual Historiography: Tools for Analyzing/Visualizing Journal Content


    As digital editor of the Florida Historical Quarterly (a newly created position), I’m working with colleagues at UCF, Ohio State, and U.Va. on a project exploring the use of human-assisted machine reading to reveal historiographical shifts/lags and map significant patterns (geospatial, temporal, etc.) using the journal’s JSTOR-accessible 1925-2009 corpus. To date we’ve employed, in various combinations, Zotero Groups, Paper Machines, JSTOR Data for Research, and OpenAmplify/Open Calais. At THATCamp’s FHQ workshop (scheduled for 3 pm Saturday) we look forward to demonstrating these tools and reporting some very encouraging — though still very preliminary — results.

    Faculty researchers on this project are David Staley, Ohio State; Bill Ferster, University of Virginia; Connie Lester, Dan Murphree, and Scot French, University of Central Florida. Research assistance is being provided by Ohio State Students Shauna Hann and Erin Tobin and FHQ intern Sarika Joshi.


  • Snow Fall & Digital Story Telling


    Snow Fall & Digital Story Telling

    I know, it seems odd to talk of snow at THATCamp Florida, of all places. However, I am fascinated, obsessed even, with the recent New York Times article entitled “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” by John Branch and what it portends for digital media in particular and digital story telling in general. The “article” generated an avalanche of buzz (sorry, couldn’t resist the bad pun), and an amazing number of page views, but it also sparked a conversation about its implications. Some observers claimed that it is a road-map to the future of Journalism and digital story telling, while others were much more skeptical . The focus of the conversation has been on both the masterful way that the story was presented as well as the massive amount of resources required to pull it off.

    I know that the New York Times is not your average hometown newspaper, and that their resources far outpace those available to most local print organizations. Nonetheless, “Snow Fall” represents a fascinating look at what the future of digital/“print” media might be. I would love to have yack session to sort out what to make of the importance of this article and the try to assess if it might serve as a model for a more robust future for a news medium that is struggling mightily with how to position itself for the digital future. Might it represent a potent survival strategy for print media or is it a one-off experiment by a media juggernaut that has no relevance to the real-world survival of an endangered medium? How can this model be leveraged by others? What does it mean for other storytellers working in the digital space?  Yes, I know that this is very yacky, and not exactly within the traditional realm of the Digital Humanities…  but it is what I want to talk about.

  • History Harvests/Photo Scanning Events: Collecting ‘the People’s History’


    This session will explore prospects for collaboration between university-based Digital/Public History programs, an emerging nationwide “History Harvest Movement,” and commercial photo/document scanning companies, which specialize in the preservation of personal collections at public scanning events. Confirmed participants include Rick Lippert, CEO of i/o Trak & E-Z Photo Scan; Rose Beiler, Associate Professor and Director of UCF’s Public History Program; Scot French, Associate Professor of Digital and Public History at UCF, and students in French’s Local and Community History graduate seminar.

    Some Suggested Readings:

  • Mobile Application for Humanities Research (MAFHR)


    I’m interested in developing a mobile application for field research. My goal is to use mobile phone’s functionality to create a versatile data collection tool.  The app I envision allows the user to collect and organize information.  I believe the app’s design can be structured in a way to allow users to collect, correlate, and upload data to a repository with both predefined and manually designated content tags. Growing from previous experience using technology in the classroom, MAFHR is intended to be an app for student researcher. I believe MAFHR can function as a powerful teaching tool by guiding student users with research goals, prompting permissions linked to visual or audio data, and provide geographic information for all data collected. MAFHR should allow users to upload information to a centralize location and it should allow users to interact with data already in the research database.

  • Programming the Digital Humanities


    Edit 2/16: Here are the PPTX slides from our panel: Programming the Humanities.  Thanks for everyone who joined and participated.

    In a prior book I co-authored with JD Applen (The Rhetorical Nature of XML — see Will Dorner’s review here for a good overview), we looked at the composition and structure of the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and explored the rhetorical implications of a metadata language that allows individuals to author their own tags, as well as the constraints and politics imposed by the necessity of tools and languages (DTDs, Schema, XSL, XSD, Doctbook, DITA, etc.)  for ensuring validity and interoperability between systems.  As part of this work, we ventured into the territory of programming when we started thinking about the implications of the software parser in this context.  For example, what happens to the data after it is described and written down is (to me, at least) interesting enough to prompt one to consider the rhetorical implications of the software that is designed to act upon particular tags when it encounters them. So, for the last few chapters of the book, we spent some time introducing readers to basic programming techniques and then discussed how implementing such techniques would allow them to build their own XML parsers for a variety of rhetorical purposes.

    This is a long-winded and probably inefficient way to introduce the topic I’m currently most interested in, which is the nature of (computer) programming in the humanities.  My current book project involves partly theoretical work (along the lines of Stephen Ramsay and inspired in part by this post from Matthew Kirschenbaum) examining the role of computer algorithms and programming in the humanities and how these things do and don’t fit together.  This is coupled with an introduction to computer programming for humanities practitioners.  Rather than spending the entire book focused on one language, I instead introduce several different languages that are used by different audiences.  These include Scratch (a programming environment designed to teach children how to program that emerged from Mitch Resnick and the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT), Processing (a programming language environment designed for visual artists), PHP, Python, and Ruby.

    In the spirit of the unconference, I have several different proposals for things I could talk about that may or may not be of interest for the THATCamp 2013 audience.  What I am most interested in is hearing from digital humanists about their own experiences working with code and tools in order to better understand the audiences who may find such a book useful.  Potential things I would be interested in discussing / yakking about:

    • What are the particular needs of digital humanists working in different fields (in terms of tools and software)?
    • Where do extant tools break down and how would you extend (or how have you extended) existing tools to better allow you to pursue your research?
    • Do you know how to program?  If so, what was your pathway to learning this skill?
    • If you code, what were some of the most valuable tips and lessons you learned while acquiring this skill?
    • What are some of the non-programming skills digital humanities practitioners should be aware of?
    • Where do you stand on (or what do you think of) the “users vs. builders” debate?    See Mark Kamrath and Patricia Carlton’s proposed session.

    In terms of a less interactive format, I could also discuss the following:

    • My proposed chapter outline and organization, and what reviewers had to say about it so far
    • An overview of some of the programming languages I mention above
    • My own experience learning to code as a humanities major and teaching coding to other humanities majors
    • The Texts and Technology PhD program at UCF and how I believe programming relates to this doctoral program

    Note: I am only able to attend on Saturday morning and early afternoon, so if any of this is of interest, hopefully we can figure out a good time.   I’d also be happy to sponsor a “hacking” tutorial session using one of the languages above if there is any interest in that sort of thing.

  • Robinson Crusoe in the Public Sphere


    Robinson Crusoe and the Robinsonades are a major part of digital humanities scholarship, particularly in the fields of English, Education, History, Religion, and the Fine Arts. Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719 by Daniel Defoe and has remained a popular adventure and colonialist text to this day. The University of Florida’s Digital Collections (Baldwin Library) has a subset collection on Robinson Crusoe – ufdc.ufl.edu/defoe – that allows scholars to compare the numerous editions of the text since its first printing.

    I would like to have a discussion about how Robinson Crusoe is used by digital scholars. In particular, I would like the discussion to emphasize how Robinson Crusoe is used in the public sphere and the classroom to create new interpretations of digital information and metadata.


  • ”’Using Versus Building’ in the Digital Humanities”


    THATCamp session: ”’Using Versus Building’ in the Digital Humanities”

    In a recent Inside Higher Ed blog posting entitled “The Incredible Privilege of ‘Building’”
    www.insidehighered.com/blogs/college-ready-writing/incredible-privilege-%E2%80%9Cbuilding%E2%80%9D, Lee Bessette raises the issue of “using versus building” in digital humanities work and “who” does it. It is a topic that Matthew K. Gold and Stephan Ramsay have also engaged in their discussions about how “building and making” operates as a heuristic.

    This session looks “behind-the-scenes” of two Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR) chdr.cah.ucf.edu/ archive projects. It examines the rationale behind an archive about “digital archiving”—the Digital Archiving Information System dais.cah.ucf.edu/ —and the range of topics, from planning, preservation, copyright, “representation,” and archive management, that anyone needs to engage in order to plan and build a digital archive. It delves into how we can better understand the potential of “the archive” as both a scholarly and teaching tool. In addition, it examines how the NEH-funded Charles Brockden Brown Electronic Archive www.brockdenbrown.cah.ucf.edu/archive/index.php follows, and departs from, standard conventions of “archiving” in regard to primary and secondary sources—and some of the specific issues that were encountered in building a searchable collection of texts, images, and other data.

    The session welcomes discussion about the practical aspects of doing digital humanities work in general, and digital archive work in particular.

    Mark Kamrath
    Patricia Carlton

  • Digital Collections and Scholarship, Baldwin and Others


    Digital collections and libraries are often created through collaboration with librarians, teaching faculty, and others. This panel would be a discussion panel on current strategies and best practices for engaging scholars and librarians in collaboratively supporting digital libraries and new forms  of digital scholarship with those libraries. The discussion could include considerations of roles, practices, and concerns for best supporting and engaging with a scholarly advisory board for digital libraries, collections, and projects.

    The discussion could include a current example of how to best support the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature Digital Collection in collaboration with and utilizing the expertise of faculty on campus as a scholarly advisory board. The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature is one of the top of its kind in the world and faculty regularly travel to the collections, teach with the collections, utilize the collections in research, and more, all of these activities continue, extend, and alter in ways for the digital collections of the Baldwin.

    The discussion could also include the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) with its Scholarly Advisory Board, new forms of digital scholarship, facilitated peer review, and more.

    The discussion will include how to ensure full attribution and recognition for activities, as well as engagement and collaboration for ongoing development and for new opportunities for library growth and new digital scholarship works.

  • New Possibilities for Linking Archival Collections Using Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF)


    For researchers working with primary source material in archives, the paper trail can often be difficult to follow. Although standards like Encoded Archival Description (EAD) have helped make finding aids more visible and accessible, there is another layer that often remains invisible to researchers:  the sociocultural context of the people whose work is preserved in archival collections.

    The EAC-CPF standard was developed to bridge this gap and provide a way to describe the relationships among agents associated with archives, whether as creators or contributors. Large-scale projects like the Social Networks and Archival Context Project (SNAC) are currently laying the groundwork for a national archival authorities infrastructure. In the meantime, what can individual institutions or regional consortia do to implement EAC-CPF and improve access to their archival collections? One open source tool, for example (Ethan Gruber’s xEAC editor), allows users to create EAC-CPF stub records by importing data from DBpedia. New or enhanced EAC-CPF records, in turn, might be used to generate Wikipedia pages via the MediaWiki API.

    This session could serve as an introduction to EAC-CPF and related initiatives and could also provide an opportunity to brainstorm and discuss possibilities for implementing the standard locally or regionally.


  • Hotel Rooms


    Campers, A reminder that the Hotel rooms reserved for THATCamp disappear this on Monday. There is a not a huge savings involved, to be honest, but at least the availability of the rooms are secure and the hotel is literally next door to THATCamp. So, please reserve your rooms this weekend if you are coming from out of town.

    Also, we need to heat up the conversation on the website. Please post your proposals for sessions and also respond to the sessions that have been proposed already. The more conversation we have online in advance of THATCamp the better.


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