Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Tools and Methods for the Digital Historian

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Posted by the Methods Network:

The AHRC ICT Methods Network, a UK initiative for the exchange and dissemination of expertise in the use of ICT for arts and humanities research, has just launched an online community forum on ‘digital’ history:

‘Tools and Methods for the Digital Historian’

(http://www.digital-historian.net) is the first of a set of integrated online communities related to Methods Network activities and resources and is a forum for open discussion of all issues relating to digital history. In particular we invite comments on a working paper by Neil Grindley (Methods Network) entitled ‘Tools and Methods for Historical Research’ which we hope will become the basis of a community resource. We are keen on getting more input and would very much like to include your feedback in future versions of the paper.

Wikis and Blogs in Education

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Seen in the Creative Commons Feed:

“The wiki is the center of my classroom”

That’s a quote from Wikis and Blogs in Education, one of three educational remixes from students of open content pioneer David Wiley.

The other two are Interviewing Basics and the Open Water Project, an excellent disaster preparedness video that probably everyone should watch.

Each project is licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike and incorporates CC licensed and public domain audio, images, and video as well as original materials.

Wikis and Blogs in Education, potentially the most interesting site for readers of this forum is a site that combines text and video in an animated Flash and Javascript framework. It seems to run smoothely, but I don’t know if that would have implications for the free reuse of the material.

Gentium resurgens: refined Cyrillic, Unicode 5, smart rendering

Monday, February 19th, 2007

From Victor Gualtney, on the latest regarding the Gentium font by way of the Gentium-Announce List (links mine):

Update #4 – Gentium project revived, Cyrillic, Charis

Dear friends of Gentium,

No – there’s not a new version out yet. :-) But we’re pleased to report that Gentium is under development again after a while in hibernation. We’re actively refining the Cyrillic, adding support for Unicode 5, and preparing the font for the addition of smart rendering support using three different smart font technologies – OpenType, Graphite and Apple AAT.

If you want to see the target character, glyph set and behavior we’ll be supporting in the next version, you can take a look at our Doulos SIL and Charis SIL fonts:

Gentium will support every character and behavior that these fonts do, plus Greek. This also means that if you’re wondering whether the next version will support a specific character, see if it’s in Doulos SIL or Charis SIL. Note that since these fonts do not support full Greek, some of the Greek improvements (digamma, etc.) will not be there, but will be in Gentium.

Because we want to get this major upgrade to you as soon as possible, the next version will still be only regular and italic. We hope, however to get it to you sometime mid-year (that’s 2007, if we’re able to keep on track).

One more little note: Since Gentium has been released under the SIL Open Font License, it has gained lots of support in the GNU/Linux community. It has also made its way into some Linux distributions, and even has been shown on the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child). There’s a good pic (in both large and small resolutions) of Gentium Greek on the OLPC at:

Thanks for your continued interest in Gentium!

100 Alternative Search Engines

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Seen in Read/Write Web (by Charles S. Knight):

Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: “Google.” Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100.

But it’s not just the sheer number of them that makes them worthy of attention; each one of these search engines has that standard “About Us” link at the bottom of the homepage. I call it the “why we’re better than Google” page. And after reading dozens and dozens of these pages, I have come to the conclusion that, taken as a whole, they are right!

Worth investigating these. There used to be several search engines that touted themselves as academic resources (Northernlights?), or as having cleverer algorithms than the big ones (Teoma?). I wouldn’t know what to look for any more, though. Do we actually need cleverer search engines, or is raw power all that matters?

Humanities Computing Links from TAPoR

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Geoffrey Rockwell has put up a collection of tagged links to online works about humanities computing. It’s a good complement to Bill Turkel’s Readings in Digital History. And, best of all, it’s TAPoRized, so you can search the collection and run its contents through any of the TAPoR text analysis tools.

Google maps and millions of books

Friday, January 26th, 2007

It was only a matter of time: Google has added overview maps for full-view books in Google Book Search.

Even though Google is not the first organization to employ geoparsing technologies and autogenerated maps in the interface to a digital library, they certainly are the biggest media darling to do so. Consequently — and because of the prominent role Google plays in web search, earth visualization and on-going mass digitization efforts — the average person is likely to be introduced to this class of information interaction via Google’s new feature.

But what good is it? Will it get better? Why should humanists care?

I’m contemplating a series of posts offering some idiosyncratic answers to these questions … but first off, let’s just focus on what it does …
(more…)

Second Life experient in social copyright

Sunday, January 21st, 2007
I spotted this several weeks ago in Wired magazine, but have only just gotten around to taking it in fully. The scenario:

Businesses in Second Life are in an uproar over a rogue [ed. note: modified from Open Source] software program that duplicates “in world” items. They should be. But the havoc sewn by Copybot promises to transform the virtual word into a bold experiment in protecting creative work without the blunt instrument of copyright law.

Linden Labs, the owners of Second Life, decided against employing DRM (which “won’t work”) or adjudicating copyright disputes themselves, but instead have added creator and creation-date indicators to all items.

The next phase of Linden’s response is more interesting. The company plans to develop an infrastructure to enable Second Life residents and landowners to enforce IP-related covenants within certain areas, or as a prerequisite for joining certain groups. In effect, Second Life’s inhabitants will self-police their world, according to rules and social norms they develop themselves.

There are some interesting comments in the full article about the innovation incentive value of copyright, and the possible success of social norms as against enforcible law as a means of controlling this.

Second Life to open code

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

I’ve posted here several times about the educational fun to be had with ancient and other reconstructions in Second Life (see e.g. 3D Egyptian Archaeology in Second Life). Now more good news from Linden Labs, which may make SL an even more user-designed and progressive virtual word environment. This announcement seen in Lawrence Lessig’s blog:

I’ve been a long time supporter of SecondLife. Yesterday, they made me proud. SecondLife announced it will GPL its client software. And it committed itself to freeing the back-end as well. How significant is SecondLife? Here’s a really interesting empirical study by Tristan Louis about SecondLife activity.

Thesaurus linguae Latinae CD-Version workshop

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Something of interest for all Latinists in or near London:

The Centre for Computing in the Humanities and the Digital Classicist would like to invite all those interested to a workshop on the CD-Version of the Thesaurus linguae Latinae.

Dr Bianca Schröder (Munich), will be giving a seminar titled: A Traditional Dictionary in a New Medium (abstract) as part of the Humanities Computing series at CCH on 15th February at 1 pm.

In addition to this Dr Bianca Schröder will be running two workshops to be held in the seminar room at CCH (address below):

13:00 to 16:00 on Wednesday 14th February

and

14:00 to 17:00 on Friday 16th February

Workshop description:

The Thesaurus linguae Latinae is the most comprehensive dictionary of the Latin language; it covers every author and work from the first
items of Latin up to 600 AD. The long-term project, situated at the
‘Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, took up the work in 1894 and the first fascicle was printed in 1900. At the present moment, the
staff at Munich are treating words beginning with the letter ‘p’. The
articles are still published in printed form, but they are now also
available in a CD-Version.

After an introduction into the highly elaborate, principally
dichotomic, structure of the articles and a short exercise in using
the articles, the participants of the workshop will have the
opportunity to work on a lemma by themselves. We will look at material
illustrating the Latin verb ‘computare’ and think about the general
questions of lexicography : about the meaning of a word in different
contexts, about the various syntactic usages, about the change of
meaning and usage throughout the times, and about the presentation of the development of a word in an TLL-article. One important issue will be to compare the printed edition with the digital version and to
discuss the questions and needs that can be served by a digital Latin
dictionary.

If you wish to book a place on one of these workshops please contact:
simon.mahony@kcl.ac.uk
I will send out further details to those registerd nearer the time.

regards
Simon Mahony

Centre for Computing in the Humanities
King’s College London
Kay House
7 Arundel St
London WC2R 3DX

New technologies for Euclid’s Elements

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Greg Crane points out a new paper by Mark J. Schiefsky:

The specific purpose of this paper is to describe a set of new software tools and some of their applications to the study of Euclid’s Elements. More generally, it is intended as a case study to illustrate some of the ways in which recent developments in information technology can open up new perspectives for the study of source materials in the history of mathematics and science. I argue that the creative and judicious use of such technology can make important contributions to historical scholarship, both by making it possible to pursue old questions in new ways and by raising new questions that cannot easily be addressed using traditional means of investigation.

Threats to Preservation

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Jill Hurst-Wahl at Digitization 101 lists some Bad Things That Can Happen

  • Media failure
  • Hardware failure
  • Software failure
  • Network failure
  • Obsolescence
  • Natural Disaster
  • Operator error
  • Internal Attack
  • External Attack
  • Organization Failure
  • Economic Failure

and she notes that LOCKSS is one of several possible responses.

Teaching and learning scenarios for Google Earth

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

EduCause has a two-pager, and Google has its own page for educators.

Firefox extension for humanities scholars

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.

Has anyone tried using this? Is it actually useful?

On avoiding death-by-PowerPoint

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Just enountered this engaging blog: Presentation Zen.

Google’s Writely now available (again)

Friday, August 18th, 2006

from Ars Technica:

Editing is straightforward enough, and not noticeably different from working in good old MS Word or OpenOffice. Tables, images, the ususal lineup of fonts—it’s all there. The right-click menu tends to be obscured by the browser’s equivalent. That’s slightly annoying, but you can work around that by hitting ESC once, and the menu isn’t all that useful to begin with. You’ll likely do fine with just the toolbar buttons and pulldown menus at the top of the editing window. The usual keyboard shortcuts work, too—CTRL-S for save, CTRL-Z for undo, et cetera.

The most notable feature of the editing process is the AJAXified collaboration. You can invite others to co-edit your document and see their additions or subtractions with a slight time delay, live in your window. The editor autosaves every ten seconds, which pushes out changes and pulls down new versions from the central repository. That could certainly come in handy. You’ll also always see who else is working on your document right now because they’re listed at the bottom of the screen. Writely keeps a revision history, and you can revert to any earlier version you like.

When you’re done editing, you can download the document in .doc, .rtf, or .odt formats, as a PDF file, or as a self-contained zipped HTML files with all images included… You can also publish the document and send a link to whoever you want to read it, or publish an RSS feed of document revisions.

Google maps for timelines

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

From Semantic Humanities:

Simile at MIT have recently come up with a timeline widget api – google maps for timelines. It lets you plot events and time ranges (taken from either XML or JSON) onto timelines, and it’s all pretty darn good.

browser sync

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Been waiting for this tool for years.

New AJAX development tools

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

from the Google blog:

AJAX has the power to make your site more compelling and more dynamic, but AJAX development is often complicated, with much of the development time spent working around browser quirks and the fragility of AJAX components. Trust us, we know–the development of our own AJAX apps, like Google Maps and Google Calendar, caused us no small amount of AJAX-induced frustration.

That’s why we’re bringing you Google Web Toolkit. GWT is a new publicly available software development tool that makes creating AJAX applications much easier. With GWT, you can develop and debug your own AJAX applications in Java code using the Java development tools of your choice. When you deploy your application to production, the GWT compiler simply translates your Java application to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML.

Check it out over on Google Code.

SketchUp plus GoogleEarth for modeling of buildings from Olynthus, Pompeii, the Acropolis…

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Idea for a new collaborative project: we need to be able to zoom in with GoogleEarth to various archaeological sites and see a collection of 3D study models sitting in place there.

Here’s a short video showing Google SketchUp, the 3D Warehouse and Google Earth in action.
From the WaPo:

SketchUp is linked with Google Earth, the satellite mapping tool that allows a user to surf and zoom into locations around the globe. Using the two tools in tandem, a user can, for example, create a rendition of major landmarks such as the leaning tower of Pisa and share that image with anyone who might be interested in checking out models other users have created for that location.

Etymologies on iPod (CHE)

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

A company called iPREPpress that has already created a line of iPod-ready crib notes for great literary works now hopes to turn students’ MP3 players into veritable reference shelves. The company has joined forces with Merriam-Webster Inc. to release a series of lexicographical volumes for the iPod. Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary, which goes on sale today, is the logical first choice, but iPREPpress has other titles on the way, including a thesaurus, an atlas, and a rhyming dictionary “for song and hip-hop writers. A dictionary, it turns out, is worth about 15 pop songs: after offering a short-term discount, the company intends to sell the high-tech reference book for $14.95.

More here (though the slant in the CHE article seems oddly negative and out of it).

Student-Generated Timelines

Monday, March 27th, 2006

from Academic Commons

Student-Generated Timelines

In Teaching and Technology

Malcolm Brown from Darmouth’s Academic Computing Services polled a list I am on, looking for software to allow students to generate timelines. Owen Ellard from Mt. Holyoke pointed him to the timeline creator, a nifty piece of software developed by the Center for Educational Resources at Johns Hopkins. At Wesleyan, we’ve created some nice timelines using fancy software (see South Asian Diaspora ) but haven’t yet thought through how to go about taking this tool and allowing non-designers use it to make their own timelines. The folks at Berkeley’s Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative point to TimeMap, a more sophisticated (and therefore presumably harder to imagine students using) tool for displaying data with a spatial and temporal component.

Getting Data into Google Earth using Arc2Earth

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Brian Flood has a post on the apparently straightforward task of presenting GIS data through Google Earth.

“the look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Word, in a completely web-based AJAX platform”

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Michael Robertson intends to offer six new Ajax applications, one each week, via his  ajaxLaunch.com site.  He’s begun with a new word processor, ajaxWrite.

Virtual Humanities Lab

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Geoff Rockwell notes the arrival of Vika Zafrin’s NEH-funded Virtual Humanities Lab at Brown, an interface for the display, annotation, and discussion of semantically encoded texts.

iRex unveils its iLiad eBook reader

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Lots to like, including the name.