Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Palaeographic Image Markup Tools

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Does anyone know of any prior work in the area of image markup tools, to enable scholars to markup letterforms (and their constituent strokes) on images of texts?
There is the UVic Image Markup tool:
and the Edition Production and PresentantionTechnology tool:
Dot Porter did a good roundup of the various work going on in this area here:
which also points to Digital Incunabula: and juxta:
as more simple tools to link images and text.
Is there is anyone out there on Stoa using an image markup tool (other than PhotoShop) to trace letter forms over images of text? Any good tools out there that we should know about?

Post-doctoral positions and PhD fellowships

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Seen and copied from Humanist:

Post-doctoral positions and PhD fellowships in Text
Classification and Automatic Labelling

The Department of Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin is
looking for applications for ONE Postdoctoral positions and TWO PhD
positions in the areas of text classification and automatic labelling
of text streams.

The positions are part of a large research project “Next Generation
Localisation” involving a consortium of leading Irish Universities
(DCU, TCD, UCD and UL) and Industry Partners, funded by the Science
Foundation Ireland (SFI). The project focuses on Language Technology
and Digital Content Management in Localisation. Localisation is the
industrial-scale adaptation of digital content to domain, culture and
language. Successful candidates will join a team of Postdoctoral
researchers, PhD students and research advisors from academia and
industry. Details of the advertised posts are as follows:

- POSTDOCSF32: Postdoctoral Position in “Text Categorisation”

o Description: The successful candidate will research and develop
algorithms for automatic annotation of localisation metadata, and
multilingual text type and genre classification. Candidates must
have a strong background and research record in machine learning
and data-intensive natural language processing, as well as good
programming skills.

o Starting date: 3rd quarter 2008

o Salary: Approx. 38,000-44,000 Euro per annum depending on
experience and qualifications.

For further details, please contact Dr Saturnino Luz
( or Dr Carl Vogel ( To apply,
please email a CV and contact details for two references by March 1,
2008 to Please include the job reference
(“POSTDOCILT32″) in the subject line of all email correspondence.


- PHDILT33: PhD Fellowship in “Multilingual Text Type and Genre

o Description: Candidates must have a strong interest and some
experience in Computational Linguistics and Machine Learning, and
good programming skills.  Experience with syntactic, semantic
and discourse analysis is desirable.

o Starting date: September 2008

o Stipend: Approx. 16,000 Euro per annum (tax exempt) + University
fees (approx. 5,000 Euro per annum) + equipment allowance and a
generous conference travel allowance.

For further details, please contact Dr Carl Vogel
( To apply, please email a CV and contact
details for two references by March 1, 2008 to Please include the job reference
(“PHDILT33″) in the subject line of all email correspondence.


- PHDILT32: PhD Fellowship in “Automatic Annotation of

o Description: Candidates must have a strong interest and
experience in Computational Linguistics or Machine Learning,
good programming skills.

o Starting date: September

o Stipend: Approx. 16,000 Euro per annum (tax exempt) + University
fees (approx. 5,000 Euro per annum) + equipment allowance and a
generous conference travel

For further details, please contact Dr Saturnino Luz
( To apply, please email a CV and contact
details for two references by March 1, 2008 to Please include the job reference
(“PHDILT32″) in the subject line of all email correspondence.

While the deadline is March 1, 2008, applications will be
considered until the position is filled.

Archaeoinformatics Survey: Current Conditions and Needs in the Field

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Noticed by way of Antiquist:

As part of its initiative to develop a cyberinfrastructure, is interested in obtaining input on the current conditions and needs in the field. To that end the consortium, working with the SAA Digital Archaeology Interest Group and others, has developed an online survey. We invite you to participate in this important study. As a small token of our appreciation we will offer 10 individuals who complete the survey a Starbucks gift certificate.

Technology Collaboration Awards

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

An announcement from Mellow (via the CHE):

Five universities were among the 10 winners of the Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration, announced this week. They will share $650,000 in prize money for “leadership in the collaborative development of open-source software tools with application to scholarship in the arts and humanities.” The university winners were:

  • Duke University for the OpenCroquet open-source 3-D virtual worlds environment
  • Open Polytechnic of New Zealand for several projects, including the New Zealand Open Source Virtual Learning Environment
  • Middlebury College for the Segue interactive-learning management system
  • University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for two projects: the Firefox Accessibility Extension and the OpenEAI enterprise application integration project
  • University of Toronto for the ATutor learning content-management system.

Other winners included the American Museum of the Moving Image for a collections-management system, and the Participatory Culture Foundation for the Miro media player. The winners were announced at the fall task-force meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information, and awards were presented by the World Wide Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. –Josh Fischman

Tinctoris Updates

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Ron Woodley of the Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham City University has updated his site on the Renaissance music theorist Tinctoris published here on the Stoa:

Two new treatise texts by Tinctoris are added, relating to technical aspects of late medieval mensural notation: (1) the Tractatus alterationum; and (2) the Liber imperfectionum notarum musicalium. For each of these a newly edited Latin text is provided, along with the first English translations to be published. The complex music examples in both treatises are presented in original notation embedded in the Latin texts, using special fonts designed by the editor to be historically and typographically more accurate than those of other commercially available notation packages. The examples of the Tractatus alterationum have been transcribed into conventional modern notation, within the translation texts, and technical commentary notes are presented which explicate the notational intricacies discussed. Similar transcriptions and commentary notes for the Liber imperfectionum will be available in due course. This update to the site also makes available archive versions in PDF format of two journal articles on Tinctoris published by Ron Woodley in Early Music History in the 1980s, which discuss other historical material related to Tinctoris’s life; these sit alongside more recent articles and papers on the theorist that have been mounted on the site to provide further context to the theorist’s output and reception.


Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Just awful.  More here:

…the bottom line is that Facebook is materially misrepresenting the privacy impact of their Beacon program, and presenting users with the appearance of control over their information when in fact they have almost none.


Monday, November 19th, 2007

Can Amazon succeed where others have found little traction so far?  I already spend so much time reading freely available materials (journal articles, blogs, magazines, reviews) with my trusty Macbook Pro that I feel no need at all for a special-purpose e-text reader.

Perseus code goes Open Source!

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

From Greg Crane comes the much-anticipated word that all of the hopper code and much of the content in Perseus is now officially open sourced:

November 9, 2007: o *Install Perseus 4.0 on your computer*:

All of the source code for the Perseus Java Hopper and much of the content in Perseus is now available under an open source license. You can download the code, compile it, and run it on your own system. This requires more labor and a certain level of expertise for which we can only provide minimal support. However, since it will be running on your own machine, it can be much faster than our website, especially during peak usage times. You also have the option to install only certain collections or texts on your version, making it as specialized as you wish. Also, if you want to use a different system to make the content available, you can do so within the terms of the Creative Commons license. This is the first step in open sourcing the code: you can modify the code as much as you want, but at this time, we cannot integrate your changes back into our system. That is our ultimate goal, so keep a look out for that!

Download source code here

Download text data here

“loathed by every professor I know”

Monday, November 5th, 2007

You got that right, brother.  Amen!

Aristotle and the internet

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

From Tim Madigan, “Aristotle’s Email – Or, Friendship In The Cyber Age” (Philosophy Now):

Often discussions of personal relationships in the Cyber Age dwell upon the negative ­– the superficial connections, the dangers of identity theft, and information overload. Aristotle does warn us that, at least where friendships of the good are concerned, there are limitations to just how many it is feasible to handle. He writes, “To be a friend to many people in the way of the perfect friendship is not possible.”

Still, it seems to me that email has made it possible for friendships of all three categories [for utility, pleasure, the good] to thrive and prosper in ways Aristotle could never have anticipated. Of course nothing beats personal proximity, but in our highly mobile society this is often not feasible. Email has given new opportunities for continuing friendly ties from a distance.

Dour old Arthur Schopenhauer once sarcastically wrote that if you really want to know how you feel about a person, take note of the impression an unexpected letter from him makes on you when you see it on your doormat. I would amend this by saying that an unexpected email from a friend from the past can brighten up one’s day tremendously. As Aristotle reiterated more than once, we humans are social creatures. Email has added to the social realities of our lives.

Open Library

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Adding this grandiose Open Library system to the Internet Archive strikes me as simply brilliant. In this case “fully open” is defined as “a product of the people: letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data. In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it’s more important than ever to be open.”

But simply building a new database wasn’t enough. We needed to build a new wiki to take advantage of it. So we built Infogami. Infogami is a cleaner, simpler wiki. But unlike other wikis, it has the flexibility to handle different classes of data. Most wikis only let you store unstructured pages — big blocks of text. Infogami lets you store semistructured data…

Each infogami page (i.e. something with a URL) has an associated type. Each type contains a schema that states what fields can be used with it and what format those fields are in. Those are used to generate view and edit templates which can then be further customized as a particular type requires.

The result, as you can see on the Open Library site, is that one wiki contains pages that represent books, pages that represent authors, and pages that are simply wiki pages, each with their own distinct look and edit templates and set of data.

Slowly, slowly

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

It’s a shame the JPEG 2000 bandwagon has been creeping along at such a slow pace, but this seems like good news from the LOC.


Friday, October 26th, 2007

Via DigitalKoans, a report on new open source OCR software.  Now — someone get busy and train it to read polytonic ancient Greek texts accurately …


Friday, October 26th, 2007

I hadn’t seen that word before, but these are videos associated with the Roman art exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with an RSS feed for keeping up with the newest ones.

67 percent

Friday, October 26th, 2007

This topic has come up before and I imagine the trend will continue:

Colleges Leave E-Mail to Google and Microsoft

Seattle–”Should our university even be in the e-mail business?” Wendy Woodward King found herself asking last year. Her answer, the director of technology support services at Northwestern University told a session at the Educause technology meeting, was no. And that’s why Northwestern students get their e-mail “” which is hosted, free of charge, by Google Apps Education Edition. Bryant University, in Rhode Island, also decided to outsource, but went with another free service, Microsoft’s Windows Live@edu. And in both cases, a prime driver behind the decision was that students were already using one of these services when they came to campus. At Northwestern, Ms. Woodward King found, “90 percent of our students already had Google’s Gmail. When students forwarded their campus e-mail to a non-campus account, 67 percent of them did it to Gmail. Students told us they wanted Google.” By going with Google, she says, the university avoided costs in maintaining and upgrading an e-mail system, and took advantage of state-of-the-art technology that Northwestern could never supply. Bryant was particularly interested in staying in touch with alumni, and giving them one e-mail address for life, says Art Gloster, vice president for information services. “Many of our students already used Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail services,” he says. Moving to Live@edu, with an “” address, kept the transition from student to alumni easy and seamless. More than 50 percent of the 2007 graduating class signed up. –Josh Fischman

SSRN does Classics: old wine in new wineskins?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

I always find myself wanting humanists to think about using the net for more than “let’s just do what we’ve always done, only on line now” (the BMCR syndrome, if you will). But still this expansion of SSRN into Classics seems to be a step forward.

Good to keep Peter Suber’s reaction in mind though:

On the one hand, I’m glad that my field, philosophy, will finally have a discipline-wide repository. On the other, SSRN imposes restrictions unheard of at other OA repositories. For example, it adds an SSRN watermark to the pages of some deposited articles and only allows links to SSRN papers in abstracts. As Vincent Müller pointed out to me, it doesn’t support data harvesting by ROAR. And I don’t like the PDF-only limitation. I plan to monitor the site to see whether SSRN lifts these restrictions.

No more old wine in new wineskins

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Tom Elliott has put out a new call for papers that looks good, “The Publication and Study of Inscriptions in the Age of the Computer.”


Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Alan Somerstein, helped by several research assistants, has directed a substantive new site with ancillary discussions focused on the oath in ancient Greece. Careful definition of the phenomenon, a database of over 3700 occurrences, and a spreadsheet of sources for the citations. No word on licensing specifics, but, “As promised from the start, the database is now being made available for general use.”

(Via Rogueclassicism)

Multiverse & Sketchup: Doom of Second Life?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

from Shawn Graham’s Electric Archaeology:

From an archaeological point of view, creating 3d representations of a site using Sketchup, and then moving that with the terrain into an online world, with the associated annotations etc could really be revolutionary – what immediately springs to mind is that this would make a far better way of publishing a site than a traditional monograph. Internet Archaeology (the journal) has been trying for just that kind of thing for a while. Maybe IA should host a world in Multiverse…?

New Plato translations, under CC license

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Cathal Woods, philosophy professor at Virginia Wesleyan University, writes:

together with a student, i have prepared new translations of plato’s euthyphro, apology (which we’re calling “socrates’ defense”), crito, and the death scene from phaedo. they’re free to all under a creative commons license.
they’re available via
or directly,


the last being an omnibus containing all 4, together with front matter.
can you make a posting about them on the stoa blog?

Nice! It’s great to see OA taking hold in the humanities.

Fitzpatrick on CommentPress

Monday, October 15th, 2007

from Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts,” Journal of Electronic Publishing, Fall 2007:

… CommentPress demonstrates the fruitfulness of reimagining the technologies of electronic publishing in service to the social interconnections of authors and readers. The success of the electronic publishing ventures of the future will likely hinge on the liveliness of the conversations and interactions that they can produce, and the further new writing that those interactions can inspire. CommentPress grows out of an understanding that the chief problem involved in creating the future of the book is not simply placing the words on the screen, but structuring their delivery in an engaging manner; the issue of engagement, moreover, is not simply about locating the text within the technological network, but also, and primarily, about locating it within the social network. These are the problems that developers must focus on in seeking the electronic form that can not just rival but outdo the codex, as a form that invites the reader in, that acknowledges that the reader wants to respond, and that understands all publication as part of an ongoing series of public conversations, conducted in multiple time registers, across multiple texts. Making those conversations as accessible and inviting as possible should be the goal in imagining the textual communications circuit of the future.

Roy Rosenzweig (1950-2007)

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

For some reason I never had a chance to meet Roy Rosenzweig in person, but I appreciated his scholarship, communicated with him by email a couple of times to discuss wikipedia, and heard lots about him from his admirers, of whom there were many. His was a very strong and very important voice in our digital humanities community. I also want to say that his closest friends who supported him to the end can be absolutely certain that their love and concern meant everything to him. I know that for a fact!


Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

posted to the TEI list

Wiki2Tei converter 1.0

We are pleased to announce the first release of the Wiki2Tei software. Wiki2Tei is a converter from the mediawiki format to XML (TEI vocabulary).

The mediawiki format is used by wikimedia fundation wikis (Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikisource), and many other wikis using the mediawiki software. Large amounts of free hight-quality structured texts are available in this format. These texts are used more and more often in NLP (natural language processing) projects. However, the mediawiki parser is oriented towards rendition and the mediawiki syntax is complex and hard to parse.

The Wiki2Tei converter makes available the information contained in wiki syntax (structuration, highlighting, etc.), and allows to properly retrieve the plain text. This conversion is intended to preserve all the properties of the original text. Wiki2Tei is closely coupled with the mediawiki software, allowing to convert all the features of the mediawiki syntax.

The Wiki2Tei converter provides a rich set of tools for converting mediawiki text from several sources (file, mediawiki database) and managing collections of files to be converted. The TEI vocabulary used is documented, according to the TEI Guidelines, in an ODD document. The code is open source and may be downloaded from the SourceForge download area:

The web site contains full documentation and a “demo”:

A mailing list is open:

Bernard Desgraupes,
Sylvain Loiseau

Instant-on startup screens

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Ashlee Vance (by way of Siva Vaidhyanatha) discusses Splashtop from DeviceVM:

… one must suspect that Microsoft is none too pleased to see a plucky start-up trying to gain first touch with customers. It could be very frustrating for Redmond if thousands/millions of users go straight to their Yahoo! or Google e-mail without ever glancing at Windows or if they perform searches via Firefox all day long because that’s where DeviceVM pushed them…

Stretch your mind a bit more, and you could see a company like Google pushing its own desktop plans via something like the Splashtop software. Why even bother encountering Windows when you can have an instant-on machine that leads to search, e-mail, documents, photos, music and all the rest? …

We’ve seen the Splashtop software in action, and it boots as advertised. You hit the power button, and the software fires up right away. You can then opt to head toward Firefox, Skype or whatever a particular OEM decides to bundle on a machine or do nothing and allow the operating system to boot as usual. (Go get your cup of coffee.)

Mutatis mutandis

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Laura Cohen’s post at Library 2.0: an academic’s perspective sets out some reasons for a “training wheels culture” in librarianship. I think folks in the humanities will recognize the syndrome as well:

Experience. If you’ve had little experience learning technology on your own, it can be hard to get started. It takes a certain kind of strength to wrap your mind around a new technology skill, especially one that is somewhat beyond your present skill level. There’s a problem-solving, experimental, hard-driving, trial-and-error mindset that you need to embrace. Self-training in technology is in itself a skill that you need to cultivate by actually doing it, repeatedly.

Habit. If you’ve expected, and received, training for almost everything you’ve learned, you’ve developed a dependent mindset. The environment has fit itself around you, rather than the other way around. You’ve been enabled. Your habitually tell yourself that there is someone around to help you and that’s the way it should be. All you need to do is ask.

Roles. If certain staff become too highly associated with technology training, other staff may become passive. This makes for a difficult paradox: having technology trainers on staff is a sign of administration’s support for this staffing role, yet relying too much on these trainers can breed passivity.

Attitude. Learning new skills is fun. It really is! If you dread it, or consider it a chore, or get easily frustrated, or fear failure, then you’ll have problems.

Learned helplessness. This is always a problem when it appears, and I don’t know how, exactly, to deal with it. I’ve heard this kind of thing often enough: “I’m just not good at this.” “This is always hard for me.” “I know this isn’t my strength.” “I’m a traditional librarian.” And so on. When an individual says these things often enough, and over a period of years, this person comes to believe it. Repetition creates immutable facts on the ground.

Ability. On the other hand, let’s face it: some people are just not technically inclined. You may say they have no place in librarianship, and you may be right. But let’s think about this further. I’m terrible with numbers, strong with words. With a more open mind toward numbers, and some vigorous effort, I could probably increase my skills. But I’ll never be as good as those for whom numeric reasoning comes easy. I think it’s unrealistic to expect that every librarian will have very strong technical skills. On the other hand, the profile of our skill levels will certainly shift upward in the coming years. In the meantime, we need to face facts. Some of our colleagues are technically weaker than others and they’ll stay that way. These people have other strengths, and we should cultivate and make good use of these strengths. But we also shouldn’t entirely give up on training them in new skills.

Intrinsic difficulty of the skill. Some skills are harder to learn than others. I’m unhappy when I encounter librarians who struggle to maintain Web pages made up of a bunch of links organized into unordered lists. I’m much more understanding of librarians who need help with higher-level skills…say, for importing RSS feeds into a Web page.

Time. Some people learn nearly everything on their own. More power to them! This involves a level of commitment that not everyone can match. One part of this commitment is time, including significant time off hours. We can’t expect this of everyone. This isn’t reasonable, or even desirable. In addition, many of us are overwhelmed with job responsibilities. This is why we have trainers on staff.

Strategic direction. If your library is moving in a strategic direction that expects certain new skills, then it makes sense to provide training for them. Unfunded mandates are not good policy. In my case, I’ve been making a focused pitch for importing RSS feeds into our public Web pages. I can’t do this while at the same time saying, “Learn it on your own!” If I provide a tutorial and offer support, the chances are much greater that staff will learn the skill that I want them to learn so much. And maybe they’ll listen to other suggestions from me, if I have a history of backing up my lobbying with support.

Library culture. I left this one for last. I do think our library culture is a factor. Our profession is on the cusp. What I mean is this: we’re on the cusp of a new generation of librarians (of any age) who are expected to be – and will be – technically adept. Expected to be is an element that is absolutely crucial, and we’re not there yet. Right now, we’ve got a mixed bag of skill levels on staff because of a technology generation gap, unfortunate hiring practices, low expectations, lack of vision, and so on. There is also failed leadership. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that our adminstrators need to set good examples. I can’t stand it when administrators require skills that they themselves have no intention of learning, or even comprehending. Even more problematic are administrators who have relatively few skills and also can’t envision, advocate for, put much importance on, or make time for developing the skills of the staff they supervise. They don’t support what they need to support in order to make crucial learning happen. Neither scenario is sustainable.