Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Posted on the Digital Classicist list by Melissa Terras.

Call for Papers: Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

Editors Brent Nelson (University of Saskatchewan) and Melissa Terras
(University College London) invite submissions for a collection of
essays on “Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture” to
be published in the New Technologies in Medieval and Renaissance
Studies Series edited by Ray Siemens and William Bowen.

This collection of essays will build on the accomplishments of recent
scholarship on materiality by bringing together innovative research
on the theory and praxis of digitizing material cultures from roughly
500 A.D. to 1700 A.D. Scholars of the medieval and early modern
periods have begun to pay more attention to the material world not
only as a means of cultural experience, but also as a shaping
influence upon culture and society, looking at the world of material
objects as both an area of study and a rich source of evidence for
interpreting the past. Digital media enable new ways of evoking,
representing, recovering, and simulating these materials in
non-traditional, non-textual (or para-textual) ways and present new
possibilities for recuperating and accumulating material from across
vast distances and time, enabling both preservation and comparative
analysis that is otherwise impossible or impractical. Digital
mediation also poses practical and theoretical challenges, both
logistical (such as gaining access to materials) and intellectual
(for example, the relationship between text and object). This volume
of essays will promote the deployment of digital technologies to the
study of material culture by bringing together expertise garnered
from complete and current digital projects, while looking forward to
new possibilities for digital applications; it will both take stock
of the current state of theory and practice and advance new
developments in digitization of material culture. The editors welcome
submissions from all disciplines on any research that addresses the
use of digital means for representing and investigating material
culture as expressed in such diverse areas as:

• travelers’ accounts, navigational charts and cartography
• collections and inventories
• numismatics, antiquarianism and early archaeology
• theatre and staging (props, costumes, stages, theatres)
• the visual arts of drawing, painting, sculpture, print making, and
• model making
• paper making and book printing, production, and binding
• manuscripts, emblems, and illustrations
• palimpsests and three-dimensional writing
• instruments (magic, alchemical, and scientific)
• arts and crafts
• the anatomical and cultural body

We welcome approaches that are practical and/or theoretical, general
in application or particular and project-based. Submissions should
present fresh advances in methodologies and applications of digital
technologies, including but not limited to:

• XML and databases and computational interpretation
• three-dimensional computer modeling, Second Life and virtual worlds
• virtual research environments
• mapping technology
• image capture, processing, and interpretation
• 3-D laser scanning, synchrotron, or X-ray imaging and analysis
• artificial intelligence, process modeling, and knowledge representation

Papers might address such topics and issues as:

• the value of inter-disciplinarity (as between technical and
humanist experts)
• relationships between image and object; object and text; text and image
• the metadata of material culture
• curatorial and archival practice
• mediating the material object and its textual representations
• imaging and data gathering (databases and textbases)
• the relationship between the abstract and the material text
• haptic, visual, and auditory simulation
• tools and techniques for paleographic analysis

Enquiries and proposals should be sent to brent.nelson[at] by
10 January 2009. Complete essays of 5,000-6,000 words in length will
be due on 1 May 2009.

The Digital Archimedes Palimpsest Released

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Very exciting news – the complete dataset of the Archimedes Palimpsest project (ten years in the making) has been released today. The official announcement is copied below, but I’d like to point out what I think it is that makes this project so special. It isn’t the object – the manuscript – or the content – although I’m sure the previously unknown texts are quite exciting for scholars. It isn’t even the technology, which includes multispectral imaging used to separate out the palimpsest from the overlying text and the XML transcriptions mapped to those images (although that’s a subject close to my heart).

What’s special about this project is its total dedication to open access principles, and an implied trust in the way it is being released that open access will work. There is no user interface. Instead, all project data is being released under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution license. Under this license, anyone can take this data and do whatever they want to with it (even sell it), as long as they attribute it to the Archimedes Palimpsest project. The thinking behind this is that, by making the complete project data available, others will step up and build interfaces… create searches… make visualizations… do all kinds of cool stuff with the data that the developers might not even consider.

To be fair, this isn’t the only project I know of that is operating like this; the complete high-resolution photographs and accompanying metadata for manuscripts digitized through the Homer Multitext project are available freely, as the other project data will be when it’s completed, although the HMT as far as I know will also have its own user interface. There may be others as well. But I’m impressed that the project developers are releasing just the data, and trusting that scholars and others will create user environments of their own.

The Stoa was founded on principles of open access. It’s validating to see a high-visibility project such as the Archimedes Palimpsest take those principles seriously.

Ten years ago today, a private American collector purchased the Archimedes Palimpsest. Since that time he has guided and funded the project to conserve, image, and study the manuscript. After ten years of work, involving the expertise and goodwill of an extraordinary number of people working around the world, the Archimedes Palimpsest Project has released its data. It is a historic dataset, revealing new texts from the ancient world. It is an integrated product, weaving registered images in many wavebands of light with XML transcriptions of the Archimedes and Hyperides texts that are spatially mapped to those images. It has pushed boundaries for the imaging of documents, and relied almost exclusively on current international standards. We hope that this dataset will be a persistent digital resource for the decades to come. We also hope it will be helpful as an example for others who are conducting similar work. It published under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution license, to ensure ease of access and the potential for widespread use. A complete facsimile of the revealed palimpsested texts is available on Googlebooks as “The Archimedes Palimpsest”. It is hoped that this is the first of many uses to which the data will be put.

For information on the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, please visit:

For the dataset, please visit:

We have set up a discussion forum on the Archimedes Palimpsest Project. Any member can invite anybody else to join. If you want to become a member, please email:

I would be grateful if you would circulate this to your friends and colleagues.

Thank you very much

Will Noel
The Walters Art Museum
October 29th, 2008.

In defence of biblioclasm

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Charlotte Roueché pointed me to this transcript of a piece from ABC Radio’s Perspective slot: ‘Our Biblioclastic Century‘. The author, Robin Derricourt, an academic publisher with a background in archaeology and history, makes some well-observed points about online publication and the need for sustainability of publication and citation if we are to retain the intellectual and academic output of our culture. With none of this can I disagree. However, he then ends this short, pithy piece with the somewhat knee-jerk conclusion:

I know that my grandchildren will be able to go into a library and read an article by Einstein, a book by Newton, or a manuscript by Captain James Cook, and those by their minor contemporaries. I do not know that they will be able to access the reports, documents and articles that I can read today only on some present day institution’s website. In fact I can be pretty sure most of this will not survive.

And when our own civilisation finally ends, as each civilisation does, where will be the repository that maintains what we now have as knowledge, perhaps even through some future dark ages, for later societies to inherit? They will still have Aristotle, or Darwin, but they may not have the 21st century equivalents to read.

It is important to recognise that this is the well-thought out fear of an informed and intelligent person, and that those of us working for digital sustainability therefore need to communicate our aims and achievements more widely. I cannot help, however, but point out a logical fallacy in this argument: Derricourt assumes the existence of the physical library full of books (as well he might, the library is an institution that will not go away any time soon). But the library has not always existed, and it was by no means automatic or self-evident that the library would come into existence.

If these cultural and academic institutions had not come into being at several points in history (often associated with the courts of kings or religious communities), then books would be in no better shape that websites are now (or rather websites in the world that still exists in Derricourt’s imagination, which was the world of the early Web of the 1990s). Individual copies would have circulated in private collection, some would occasionally have been copied, but not on the scale and with the rigour that we saw in Mediaeval monasteries, for example. The idea of the repository that holds a copy of everything published in a certain domain, whatever its perceived worth, would not exist. A private collection or library could easily be burned or thrown into the trash at the end of its owner’s life, or when moving residence (and not all trash-heaps are as future-friendly as the sand at Oxyrhynchus). The library changed all this, and thanks to the libraries and scriptoria, and later printing houses and repositories, copies were made and works were preserved in multiple places, on durable materials, and with rigorous standards.

On the Web, some might say, we do not have libraries to do this job for us, and so when one private collection (a privately registered web domain, say) disappears due to its owner moving residence or losing interest or failing to keep up payments on the domain registration or service provision, all will be lost. Irrevocably and permanently. (No great loss, others would argue.) However this is not true. There are libraries in the online world. There are digital archives and repositories; the Internet Archive and various search engine caches (among other entities) may be able to recover the lost website from 1998 that Derricourt mourns. Digital libraries set out to make multiple, well-archived, backed-up copies, in open standards and formats and registered with Digital Object Identifiers, of all works in their purview. In short, there are libraries on the web. And it is not therefore true that, as Derricourt argues:

Let’s be realistic – all [sc. online content] will disappear, because no web site is permanent. Only a physical library can maintain and transmit to future generations our heritage of ideas, knowledge, discovery, speculation, literature. I can more easily find an 1898 print article than a 1998 document published on the Web.

In fact, as the world becomes more connected and the Internet becomes the source and the repository for more and more of our information, libraries are going to come under increasing pressure to cut back their accessions, to digitize and archive (or even destroy) their paper collections, and to become custodians of digital rather than physical artefacts. (Don’t get me wrong: I will be in the front line of the fight to defend libraries against this offensive, but the pressure will be there.) It is by no means automatic that physical libraries will always be the best source of cultural and literary preservation in our grandchildren’s time. If no one has bothered to digitize even a 2008 print article, then the 1998 website will be easier to find in one hundred years time. I don’t fear for websites. I fear for paper archives that no one is digitizing.

Contribute to the Greek and Latin Treebanks at Perseus!

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Posted on behalf of Greg Crane. Link to the Treebank, which provides more information, at the very end of the post.

We are currently looking for advanced students of Greek and Latin to contribute syntactic analyses (via a web-based system) to our existing Latin Treebank (described below) and our emerging Greek Treebank as well (for which we have just received funding). We particularly encourage students at various levels to design research projects around this new tool. We are looking in particular for the following:

  • Get paid to read Greek! We can have a limited number of research assistantships for advanced students of the languages who can work for the project from their home institutions. We particularly encourage students who can use the analyses that they produce to support research projects of their own.
  • We also encourage classes of Greek and Latin to contribute as well. Creating the syntactic analyses provides a new way to address the traditional task of parsing Greek and Latin. Your class work can then contribute to a foundational new resource for the study of Greek and Latin – both courses as a whole and individual contributors are acknowledged in the published data.
  • Students and faculty interested in conducting their own original research based on treebank data will have the option to submit their work for editorial review to have it published as part of the emerging Scaife Digital Library.

To contribute, please contact David Bamman ( or Gregory Crane (

Digital Classicist Podcast

Friday, July 18th, 2008

The Institute for Classical Studies and Digital Classicist Summer seminar series is about half-way through, and the first several audio recordings of the proceedings are now available as part of the Digital Classicist podcast. You can find a list of all seminars in this series, along with links for those that have audio and/or presentations uploaded, at:

Or you can subscribe to the podcast feed itself by pointing your RSS aggregator, iTunes subscription, aut sim., at:

We should welcome ideas for further events to add to this podcast series, and/or partnerships to podcast the results of seminar series of interest to Digital Classicists in the future.

Redefining the Book: Carnegie Mellon and

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Seen in the Creative Commons blog:

ETC Press has just launched as an “academic, open source, multimedia, publishing imprint.” The project is affiliated with the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University and is in partnership with When authors submit their work to ETC they retain ownership of it but they also must submit it under either an Attribution-NoDerivativeWorks-NonCommercial or an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

ETC press then posts the works to where they are available for purchase in its hardcopy form, or free download. While the project focuses specifically on writing about entertainment technology, it is easy to see ETC’s model scaling to publishers of other topics and genres.

This is interesting; we’ve been thinking and talking about the use of print-on-demand publishers like as a printer/distributor for a small academic press that needs its publishing venture to be relatively risk-free.

Often books that are distributed by sites such as Lulu are assumed to be vanity publications, non-refereed and therefore of a low academic standard, not accepted for review by learnèd journals, regarded with suspicion when seen on resumés by hiring committees, etc. Will this change as respectable publications start to use this service? Is it changing already? Does the assignment of an ISBN make a difference?

Internet Archaeology 24: Dealing with Legacy Data

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Internet Archaeology announces issue 24, a themed issue dedicated to: “Dealing with Legacy Data” edited by Pim Allison.

In the Mediterranean region particularly, but by no means not exclusively, there exist large datasets from previous excavations, published and unpublished, whose digitisation, spatial mapping and re-analysis can greatly facilitate investigations of social behaviour and changing environmental conditions. This volume presents a number of projects that demonstrate the usefulness of digital environments for analysing such non-digital data. These projects use these ‘legacy data’ within true GIS, pseudo-GIS, or other digital environments to answer specific questions concerning social behaviour and particularly the social use of space.

Several papers of interest to Classicists (as well as all to Digital Humanists).

Article on PSWPC in LLC June 2008

Monday, May 26th, 2008

David Pritchard, “Working Papers, Open Access, and Cyber-infrastructure in Classical Studies” Literary and Linguistic Computing 2008 23: 149-162; doi:10.1093/llc/fqn005.

Princeton—Stanford Working Papers in Classics (PSWPC) is a web-based series of work-in-progress scripts by members of two leading departments of classics. It introduces the humanities to a new form of scholarly communication and represents a major advance in the free availability of classical-studies scholarship in cyberspace. This article both reviews the initial performance of this open-access experiment and the benefits and challenges of working papers more generally for classical studies. After 2 years of operation PSWPC has proven to be a clear success. This series has built up a large international readership and a sizeable body of pre-prints and performs important scholarly and community-outreach functions. As this performance is largely due to its congruency with the working arrangements of ancient historians and classicists and the global demand for open-access scholarship, the series confirms the viability of this means of scholarly communication, and the likelihood of its expansion in our discipline. But modifications are required to increase the benefits this series brings and the amount of scholarship it makes freely available online. Finally, departments wishing to replicate its success will have to consider other important developments, such as the increasing availability of post-prints, the linking of research funding to open access, and the emergence of new cyber-infrastructure.

Microsoft Ends Book and Article Scanning

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Miguel Helf, writing in the New York Times, reports:

Microsoft said Friday that it was ending a project to scan millions of books and scholarly articles and make them available on the Web … Microsoft’s decision also leaves the Internet Archive, the nonprofit digital archive that was paid by Microsoft to scan books, looking for new sources of support.

The blog post in question (by Satya Nadella, Senior vice president search, portal and advertising) indicates that both Live Search Books and Live Search Academic (the latter being Microsoft’s competitor with Google Scholar) will be shut down next week:

Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes. This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs.

For its part, the Internet Archive has posted a short response addressing the situation, and focusing on the status of the out-of-copyright works Microsoft scanned and the scanning equipment they purchased (both have been donated to IA restriction-free), and on the need for eventual public funding of the IA’s work.

This story is being widely covered and discussed elsewhere; a Google News Search rounds up most sources.

new CC Journal: Glossator

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By way of the Humanist.

Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary

Glossator publishes original commentaries, editions and translations of commentaries, and essays and articles relating to the theory and history of commentary, glossing, and marginalia. The journal aims to encourage the practice of commentary as a creative form of intellectual work and to provide a forum for dialogue and reflection on the past, present, and future of this ancient genre of writing. By aligning itself, not with any particular discipline, but with a particular mode of production, Glossator gives expression to the fact that praxis founds theory.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Call for Submissions online for the first volume, to be published in 2009:

New Open-Access Humanities Press Makes Its Debut

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Article in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Scholars in the sciences have been light-years ahead of their peers in the humanities in exploring the possibilities of open-access publishing. But a new venture with prominent academic backers, the Open Humanities Press, wants to help humanists close the gap.

“Scholars in all disciplines tend to confuse online publication with the bypassing of peer review,” [Peter] Suber observed. “That’s simply mistaken.” In the humanities in particular, he said, “we’re fighting the prestige of print.”

CHE, Today’s News, May 7, 2008:

(BYZANTINA) SYMMEIKTA goes open-access

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

By way of Open Access News, we learn of this announcement, recently posted at

Taking into consideration the latest developments in scientific publishing, the Institute for Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation has reevaluated the aims of ΣΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ, a journal it has published since 1966. Under the new name BYZANTINA SYMMEIKTA, it has become a peer-reviewed open access journal with well-defined processes and scope and it is freely accessible at: Its printed version will be published at the end of each year.

Grading Journals

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Charles Watkinson has just posted a long, interesting and important consideration of the emerging European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH). He reflects upon, in particular, the stated aims and methods of this effort and its potential adoption as a bibliometric mechanism informing hiring, tenure, promotion and library subscription decisions, as well as the emerging opposition.

Digital Classicist seminars update

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

To bring you all up to date with what is going on with the Digital Classicist seminar series:

Some papers from the DC seminar series held at the Institute of Classical Studies in London in the summer of 2006 have been published as a special issue of the Digital Medievalist (4:2008).


The dedication reads: In honour of Ross Scaife (1960-2008), without whose fine example of collaborative spirit, scrupulous scholarship, and warm friendship none of the work in this volume would be what it is.

Gabriel and I are putting together a collection of papers from the DC summer series of 2007 and working on the programme for the coming summer (2008). With the continued support of the Institute of Classical Studies (London) and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London it is anticipated that this seminar series will continue to be an annual event.  

Changing the Center of Gravity

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Changing the Center of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure

University of Kentucky, 5 October 2007

This is the full audio record of “Changing the Center of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure”, a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation, sponsored by the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky, and organized by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.

1) Introduction (05:13)
– Gregory Crane
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 4.78 MB)

2) Technology, Collaboration, & Undergraduate Research (26:23)
– Christopher Blackwell and Thomas Martin, respondent Kenny Morrell
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 24.1 MB)

3) Digital Criticism: Editorial Standards for the Homer Multitext (29:02)
– Casey Dué and Mary Ebbott, respondent Anne Mahoney
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 26.5 MB)

4) Digital Geography and Classics (20:23)
– Tom Elliot, respondent Bruce Robertson
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 18.6 MB)

5) Computational Linguistics and Classical Lexicography (39:16)
– David Bamman and Gregory Crane, respondent David Smith
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 35.9 MB)

6) Citation in Classical Studies (38:34)
– Neel Smith, respondent Hugh Cayless
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 35.3 MB)

7) Exploring Historical RDF with Heml (24:10)
– Bruce Robertson, respondent Tom Elliot
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 22.1 MB)

8) Approaches to Large Scale Digitization of Early Printed Books (24:38)
– Jeffrey Rydberg-Cox, respondent Gregory Crane
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 22.5 MB)

9) Tachypaedia Byzantina: The Suda On Line as Collaborative Encyclopedia (20:45)
– Anne Mahoney, respondent Christopher Blackwell
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 18.9 MB)

10) Epigraphy in 2017 (19:00)
– Hugh Cayless, Charlotte Roueché, Tom Elliot, and Gabriel Bodard, respondent Bruce Robertson
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 17.3 MB)

11) Directions for the Future (50:04)
– Ross Scaife et al.
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 45.8 MB)

12) Summary (01:34)
– Gregory Crane
(download this presentation as an mp3 file – 1.44 MB)

Rieger, Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

CLIR (the Council on Library and Information Resources in DC) have published in PDF the text of a white paper by Oya Rieger titled ‘Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization‘. She discusses large-scale digitization initiatives such as Google Books, Microsoft Live, and the Open Content Alliance. This is more of a diplomatic/administrative than a technical discussion, with questions of funding, strategy, and policy rearing higher than issues of technology, standards, or protocols, the tension between depth and scale (all of which were questions raised during our Open Source Critical Editions conversations).

The paper ends with thirteen major recommendations, all of which are important and deserve close reading, and the most important of which is the need for collaboration, sharing of resources, and generally working closely with other institutions and projects involved in digitization, archiving, and preservation.

One comment hit especially close to home:

The recent announcement that the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) will cease funding the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) gives cause for concern about the long-term viability of even government-funded archiving services. Such uncertainties strengthen the case for libraries taking responsibility for preservation—both from archival and access perspectives.

It is actually a difficult question to decide who should be responsible for long-term archiving of digital resources, but I would argue that this is one place where duplication of labour is not a bad thing. The more copies of our cultural artefacts that exist, in different formats, contexts, and versions, the more likely we are to retain some of our civilisation after the next cataclysm. This is not to say that coordination and collaboration are not desiderata, but that we should expect, plan for, and even strive for redundancy on all fronts.

(Thanks to Dan O’Donnell for the link.)

Search Pigeon

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Spotted by way of Peter Suber’s Open Access News:

Search Pigeon is a collection of Google Co-opTM Custom Search Engines (CSEs) designed to make researching on the web a richer, more rewarding, and more efficient process.

Designed for researchers in the Arts and Humanities, with a decidedly interdisciplinary bent, the objective of Search Pigeon is to provide a tool enabling the productive and trustworthy garnering of scholarly articles through customized searching.

Right now provides CSEs that search hundreds of peer-reviewed and open access online journals, provided they are either English-language journals, or provide a translation of their site into English.

The Future is Now? Digital Library Projects and Scholarship and Teaching in the Classics

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Saturday, January 5th, 8:30-11:00 a.m., Crystal Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Chicago (APA Annual Meeting 2008)

Sponsored by the APA Committee on Publications

Donald Mastronarde, Chair

Thanks to digitization projects by both the commercial and the open-access sectors, the long-predicted transition from books and paper to digital formats for resources and information used in research and teaching may at last be occurring. This panel brings together speakers who represent classics and classical archaeology, libraries, and open-content organizations to address issues of coverage, quality, and accessibility of digital materials, to assess the trends indicated by current and planned projects, and to identify the tools needed to take advantage of the new digital riches and to allow new scholarly questions to be asked and effectively pursued.

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.

Cultural Heritage and Open Access Licenses

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The Eduserv Foundation has released a report on the use of Creative Commons, Creative Archive, and other open access licenses in the area of British heritage, ‘Snapshot study on the use of open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector‘. This report (itself made available under a CC-BY license), which collected data from over 100 institutions, seem to indicate that most institutions make data available online, usually for free, but that many have not considered the implications of using an explicit license for this material.

My own experience backs this up: several times in the last year people have approached me either at the Digital Classicist or the Current Epigraphy weblog asking if we could host a ‘free’ publication for them (some even used the words “public domain” to describe their work). I can’t remember a single case of someone who even knew what I meant when I asked if they had considered using a Creative Commons license, or some other way to make explicit what people could or couldn’t do with their material.

I think it is important to make clear to people why this sort of licensing matters. To select only one argument, making it clear that all users are free to recirculate an online text increases the chance that this text will be picked up and archived, not only by individuals and projects, but by large institutions such as Google, the Internet Archive, and the national and international repositories and libraries that are going to be the custodians of all our publications that do not have print manifestations to help them survive the next server meltdown.

The Eduserv report both rings a note of optimism, as a significant number of good licenses are in use, and reminds us that there is still work to be done raising awareness of the licensing issue. This survey and the ongoing work that will arise from it have their part to play in helping to raise the profile of these issues.

(Seen in Creative Commons blog.)

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.

Joint Library Digital Classics accessions

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

The Joint Library of the Hellenic and Roman Societies and the Institute of Classical Studies has a new blog which will contains updates to, among other things, library news, accommodation and shelving issues, and major accessions. In addition, items of interest to the Digital Classicist community–whether studies of Classics and computing or digital resources on CDRom or online–will be posted with a “digitalclassicist” tag. I’m going to see if we can’t syndicate that list somehow…


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.