Archive for April, 2005

Google Print

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

Google’s effort to digitize scholarly libraries is starting to bear fruit. Try “Melian Dialogue,” for instance, or “Erechtheum.”

More here.

Update: Klaus Graf kindly points out my error in the posting above: “Google Print is a cooperation with publishers, Google Library with libraries. See also” Thanks Klaus, you are right.

Come one, come all

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

The TEI Wiki is up and running.

Collective stupidity

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

Thanks to Neel Smith for alerting me to James Boyle: Deconstructing Stupidity.


Thomas Macaulay told us copyright law is a tax on readers for the benefit of writers, a tax that shouldn’t last a day longer than necessary. What do we do? We extend the copyright term repeatedly on both sides of the Atlantic. The US goes from fourteen years to the author’s life plus seventy years. We extend protection retrospectively to dead authors, perhaps in the hope they will write from their tombs.

Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted works more than 20 years old are commercially available, this locks up 96 per cent of 20th century culture to benefit 4 per cent. The harm to the public is huge, the benefit to authors, tiny. In any other field, the officials responsible would be fired. Not here.

It is as if we had signed an international stupidity pact, one that required us to ignore the evidence, to hand out new rights without asking for the simplest assessment of need. If the stakes were trivial, no one would care. But intellectual property (IP) is important. These are the ground rules of the information society. Mistakes hurt us. They have costs to free speech, competition, innovation, and science. Why are we making them?

Reflections on the TEI

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

Peter Robinson:

Several digital scholarly editions have indeed used these [TEI] guidelines profitably, so it must be said that in terms of their immediate aim—to provide encodings which would support such editions—the guidelines were and are successful. But in terms of another aim, to provide a system which any reasonably competent humanities scholar can use (which, eventually, is the only aim that matters), the guidelines are a failure. One has only to see the look of dismay on a scholar’s face when encountering their full horror for the first time to know this. One may contemplate, with equanimity, every complexity of Byzantine medieval military history but be quite defeated by the unfamiliar vocabulary of the mysteriously interconnected universe which is the TEI. All scholars bring the same two questions: where do I start? and where do I find what I need? But the answers each time are different, and even those expert in the TEI may struggle to find them—while engaging in intense theological disputes over the correct interpretation. Little wonder then that scholars choose to find other things to do—or to make print editions.

The Infinite Library

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

A substantive and interesting article on digitizing the world’s libraries here, including comments from various luminaries. This one caught my eye:

“I chafe at the presumption that once you digitize, there is nothing left to do,? says Donald Waters, a former director of the Digital Library Federation who now oversees the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s extensive philanthropic investments in projects to enhance scholarly communication. “There is an enormous amount to do, and digitizing is just scratching the surface.?

Digital Medievalist

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

I found the article by Peter Robinson in the inaugural issue of The Digital Medievalist (a new peer-reviewed on-line journal for technology and medieval studies) particularly useful: “Our goal must be to ensure that any scholar able to make an edition in one medium should be able to make an edition in the other. Further, that an edition in either medium should be equally assured of appropriate distribution: just as once a library has bought a print edition it can be used by any member of the library for years to come, so too should it be for electronic editions.”

Guyda ARMSTRONG and Vika ZAFRIN, Towards the electronic Esposizioni: the challenges of the online commentary

Arianna CIULA, Digital palaeography: using the digital representation of medieval script to support palaeographic analysis

Hoyt N. DUGGAN with a contribution by Eugene W. LYMAN, A Progress Report on The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive

Jonathan GREEN, Opening the Illustrated Incunable Short Title Catalog on CD-ROM: an end-user’s approach to an essential database

Kevin KIERNAN, The source of the Napier fragment of Alfred’s Boethius

Peter ROBINSON, Current issues in making digital editions of medieval texts or, do electronic scholarly editions have a future?

Kathryn WYMER, Why Universal Accessibility Should Matter to the Digital Medievalist

Text visualization at Amazon

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Amazon offers a clickable concordance and text stats for I am Charlotte Simmons.

CFP: CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

The Organizing Committee invites you to attend the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI4) from 20th-22nd October 2005. This fourth workshop in the series, which began life as the Open Archives Initiative Workshop in 2001, is a forum for technical issues associated with scholarly communication.

Details are found on the conference web site where registration will open from 2nd May 2005.

For the first time, a call for contributions is being made. Submissions are welcome from 2nd until 31st May 2005. Contributions to the technical session on Thursday 20 October will deal with the latest in computing and information technology that can be used in scholarly communication or that has been specifically designed for such use. For the Friday, 21 October sessions, we invite contributions on innovative applications of OAI technologies to scholarly communication and issues connected with managing repositories and the relationships with publishers. For the session on Saturday morning, we invite contributions on how OAI technologies can be used to enhance the distribution of primary scientific data.

New images in the Gallery

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Brent Seales had me tag along with him to Oxford and London last week (so we could discuss this process with various people), and we took a few pictures, which I’ve now posted for anyone’s arbitrary use in There are a few shots of the papyrology lab at Oxford (we happened to be there on one of the days when the BYU guys were doing their MSI work that’s much in the news right now), the Ashmolean Museum, the British Library, and the British Museum (including quite a few shots of the Elgin Marbles).

Quotation of the day

Monday, April 11th, 2005

Alun Salt, commenting on why we in the humanities don’t have the functional equivalent of Arxiv in place yet:

[T]echnophobia is an endearing character quirk in the Arts rather than a sign of academic incompetence. I don’t think it’s a long term problem. Researchers who are more interested in spreading their ideas than supporting established structures will have greater influence on successive generations and there will be a move to open access publishing, because researchers who ignore it will be ignored.


KU ScholarWorks

Friday, April 8th, 2005

Steven Harnad reports on the BOAI list that

The University of Kansas has become the first US University to adopt a university-wide open-access self-archiving policy. The policy is registered and described at:

Other universities and research institutions are encouraged to follow suit:

The University of Kansas OA policy is the culmination of many years of relentless effort on the part of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, David E. Shulenburger:

Peter Suber has more on this story:

In a March 25 memorandum explaining the resolution, Provost David Shulenburger urged Kansas faculty to deposit their research output in the institutional repository, ScholarWorks. Excerpt: ‘KU ScholarWorks, a digital repository, is now available as a convenient site in which to place your published work, working papers, datasets, and other original material. Items placed in KU ScholarWorks will be archived permanently and will be available to search engines like Google and Google Scholar. Many studies demonstrate that articles that are available electronically are cited in other publications at four or more times the frequency of works that are not available electronically. It is in your interest and the University’s to populate KU ScholarWorks with a complete set of KU faculty’s scholarly output.’ Shulenburger also suggests language to use in a copyright transfer agreement to reserve the right to deposit work in ScholarWorks.

Stoa Image Gallery

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

The Stoa Image Gallery at is available again on a newer, better box after a week of machine failures.

Columbia University resolution on open access

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

The Columbia University Senate unanimously passed the following resolution April 1:

WHEREAS the Senate is empowered by University statutes §23 c and e to “work for the advancement of academic freedom… [and] initiate and review policies to govern the University’s relations with outside agencies for research, instruction, and related purposes,” and

WHEREAS the principle of open access to the fruits of scholarly research is increasingly being adopted and pursued by universities and in the scholarly community at large, and

WHEREAS Columbia University continues to be in the forefront of open-access endeavors, through its advocacy activities and its digital library programs, and

WHEREAS technological, legal and economic barriers continue to be erected to obstruct or limit open access, and

WHEREAS the availability of the fruits of scholarly endeavor ought to reflect the conditions of cooperative endeavor and common resources under which scholarly work is produced,


1. That the Senate put on record its support for the principle of open access to the fruits of scholarly research;

2. That the Senate urge the University to advance new models for scholarly publishing that will promote open access, helping to reshape the marketplace in which scholarly ideas circulate, in a way that is consistent with standards of peer review and scholarly excellence;

3. That the Senate urge the University to monitor and resist efforts to impose digital rights management regimes and technologies that obstruct or limit open access, except as necessary to secure rights of privacy;

4. That the Senate urge the scholars of Columbia University to play a part in these open-access endeavors in their various capacities as authors, readers, editors, referees, and members of scientific boards and learned associations etc., a) by encouraging and collaborating with publishers’ efforts to advance open access, b) by retaining intellectual property rights in their own work where this will help it become more widely available, and c) by remaining alert to efforts by publishers to impose barriers on access to the fruits of scholarly research.

(Hat tip to Peter Suber.)

John Unsworth honored

Monday, April 4th, 2005

The National Humanities Center is pleased to announce that John M. Unsworth is the fourth winner of the Richard W. Lyman Award. A committee of scholars selected him for his critical efforts to make it possible for others to do rich and original work in the humanities that draws on the best of current technology and the best of current scholarship. As the first director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities ( at the University of Virginia, Unsworth helped foster and sustain the much-honored “The Valley of the Shadow,” “The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Hypermedia Research Archive,” and “The William Blake Archive,” among many digital humanities research projects. As the organizer and chair of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, Unsworth helped develop international and interdisciplinary standards to represent literary and linguistic texts for online research, teaching, and preservation. He continues his work to shape the way scholars, universities, libraries, and archives will conduct, represent, and preserve humanities scholarship in the future as chair of the Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities & Social Sciences. Unsworth has published widely on the topic of electronic scholarship, and he co-founded, in 1990, Postmodern Culture (, the first peer-reviewed electronic journal in the humanities. In 2003, Unsworth ( became dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Unsworth will receive the Lyman Award in a presentation at the Newberry Library in Chicago on May 10 at 5:30 p.m.


Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

An encouraging message about a new publishing framework for TEI-XML documents on the TEI list yesterday:

We are delighted to announce a beta release of teiPublisher, an extensible, modular and configurable xml-based repository.

teiPublisher was developed to bridge the gap between having a collection of structured documents that are posted on the Web as static HTML or XML pages, and having a functional digital repository. This is being done by providing the tools to manage an XML-based repository which will make available, search, and browse documents encoded according to any XML DTD.

teiPublisher was designed to provide the administrative tools to help repository administrators with limited technical knowledge manage their digital collections. Building on Lucene, an indexing tool, and the native XML database eXist, the application provides a range of administrative functions crucial to maintaining a web-assessable digital repository.

For more information about teiPublisher, as well as download instructions, please visit our website

As this is a beta release of the software, we are especially interested in your feedback (detailed instructions for feedback can be found on our download page). This is an open source project hosted by SourceForge.

On behalf of the teiPublisher development team,

Amit Kumar
Susan Schreibman
John Walsh
Stewart Arneil
Martin Holmes

Etruscan Texts Project

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Rex Wallace, director of the Etruscan Texts Project based at the the University of Massachusetts Amherst, writes with news that

We now have 223 inscriptions online and another 150 inscriptions waiting in the wings. Michael Shamgochian, who is the site’s administrator, plans some interesting developments this summer.

On another front, the Etruscan News website is now up. My grad assistant should have two language papers online soon. News from the archaeology front is forthcoming from Larissa Bonfante.