Archive for May, 2006

A new Blog: Digging Digitally

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Eric Kansa of The Alexandria Archive Initiative, has initiated a new blog Digging Digitally: Archaeology, data sharing, digitally enabled research and education on behelf of the Digital Data Interest Group of the SAA.

“DDIG members can use this blog to share news and announcements about their programs and activities. Hopefully, DDIG members will post suggestions on developing data sharing standards, intellectual property frameworks, policies, and other issues. DDIG members are also invited to use this weblog as a way to share links to individuals, projects, programs and organizations…”

Pamphlet on web services

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

from Current Cites:

Breeding, Marshall. Web Services and the Service-Oriented Architecture Chicago, IL: ALA TechSource, 2006. – The advent of XML and protocols such as the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) which uses it are transforming the way our computer systems work. Rather than being self-contained “silo” systems, our computer applications increasingly interact with other applications. This “service-oriented architecture” offers new opportunities to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Breeding’s LTR on the topic thus comes at good time, when we all should know more about Web Services and what it has to offer our organizations. Thankfully, ALA nabbed someone with impeccable credentials and the ability to explain complex topics simply and clearly. Breeding uses the well-known Amazon and Google Web services as examples, even including code listings (a minor quibble is that the code should be downloadable from somewhere, for those that want to try this out). At the end of this 49-page publication is a summary of library automation vendor support for Web services within their applications. From this survey it is clear that Web services is not in your future — it is here now. If you feel behind it is because you are, and this fine LTR is just what the doctored ordered as your cure. – RT

FRPAA 2006

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

From Current Cites:

Sternstein, Aliya. “Bill Demands Free Public Access to Science ReportsFederal Computer Week 20(15)(15 May 2006): 56. – It only makes sense, right? Taxpayers should have free access to the science research that they’ve paid for. Well, that access would be guaranteed if a bill introduced by Sens. John Coryn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) — the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 — makes it into law. Says the article, “It mandates that agencies with annual research budgets of more than $100 million to implement a public access policy granting swift access to research supported by those agencies.” Basically. this means that articles reporting on publicly funded research must be made freely available online six months after publication in a scholarly journal. Some 11 agencies are covered: the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; and the National Science Foundation. The article notes that “some publishers believe the six-month provision will disrupt their business models, and they remain skeptical that legislation is needed.” The Association of American Publishers (AAP), which opposes the bill, “is urging that an independent study be conducted to measure the bill’s potential impact on scientific quality, the peer-review process, and the financial standing of journals…” – SK

Arxiv includes some research on matters related to the ancient world

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Alun Salt at blogographos notes the presence of certain academic papers on classics-related topics in the physicists’ OA repository.

Homeric Catalogue of Ships in Google Earth

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Bret Mulligan sends word that he has begun a set of placemarks for the major contingents named in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships (Iliad, II.494-760).

A Don’s Life

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Alun Salt at Blogographos alerts to a new blog by Mary Beard:

A Don’s Life — Mary Beard on Culture Ancient and Modern

Update: Aegean Bronze Age in Google Earth

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

I’ve added many more placemarks and grouped them by category (e.g. palaces, peak sanctuaries, Cycladic sites) in subfolders which may be turned on or off (depending on what you want to see) in the left panel of the Google Earth user interface.  The project continues to be available from the Gooogle Earth Community forum.

Picasa for Linux

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Google releases a version of its image managment system for Linux.

Pottery processing

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Posted at the request of Peter Pavúk:

Dear friends and colleagues.

We would like to invite speakers for our joint session on modern approaches to pottery processing. For full abstract check out the following link, please, but do not hesitate to contact me for any further information:

What is computer literacy?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Discussion started in Slashdot today:

By Cliff on where’s-the-on-switch

rbannon asks: “Computer literacy is becoming an increasingly used term in education, and more and more schools are being asked to set computer literacy goals for their students. Unfortunately for too many, it means being able to use Microsoft products, and that’s all. However, I see it much differently, and I cannot help but think that computer literacy is all about using computers to be able to communicate more effectively. With that in mind does anyone have any recommendations for computer literacy goals, and how to measure them?”

The discussion that follows is good, but doesn’t really address the question I would like to ask: what should we define as adequate computer literacy in the context of teaching Digital Humanities at university level? (Teaching all humanities students, not just the Applied Comp specialists…)

Minoan Crete in Google Earth

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Today I spent some time associating placemarks for Minoan sites with scholarly resources. The file could obviously be developed much further but even now it may have some utility. I posted it to the Google Earth Community forum, whence it may be downloaded and displayed in your copy of GE. In several cases it’s possible to zoom in all the way to visible excavations.
People have asked in the comments section how such a file might be deployed. I plan to try using it in the classroom in the fall, as the portal to texts and images related to the sites we are studying. The choice of “front-end” should place a desirable emphasis on geographic and topographic considerations.

Historical placemarks in Google Earth

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Browsing through the message board for the Google Earth Community shows that various enthusiasts have been busily creating themed sets of placemarks.

Jane Austen’s Life and Works

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

An interesting example of Google Earth put to use for literary history.

Baidu Baike

Friday, May 19th, 2006

from a CHE piece on a rip-off of Wikipedia in China:

It’s worth noting that China’s censorship policies make it virtually impossible for a true open-source encyclopedia to exist.

Open Access & Anti-élitism

Friday, May 19th, 2006

From Academic Commons:

Michael Carroll, Law Professor at Villanova University School of Law , Creative Commons Board Member, and Blogger, turns up the heat in the on-going debate over pending federal legislation that would force open access to research supported with federal money. He suggests that publishers, not content to settle for the obvious economic arguments against open access, have begun working a less savory side of the street: an appeal to elitism. He writes:

The elitist argument holds that taxpayers cannot be trusted with open access because they might harm themselves by misreading or misunderstanding an article written by specialists for specialists. In the case of biomedical research, the argument goes, open access could lead non-specialist members of the public to self-treat, to fail to seek medical attention, and/or to disobey doctor’s orders.”

Sometimes the debates around technology’s future feel like tilting at windmills. Arguments like Carroll’s remind us that the stakes are high, and that there are in fact genuine consequences to the outcomes of what often feel like arcane technical debates.

New Mellon prizes

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

from the CHE:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2006 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration, a new contest that will recognize leaders in the field of open-source software. The awards will recognize nonprofit groups that have made great strides in collaborative software development over the past year. And the winners will collect handsome (and, the foundation hopes, helpful) prizes: Noteworthy projects will receive grants of $25,000 or $100,000, depending on how widespread their appeal is. The Mellon Foundation has recruited a virtual who’s who of computing experts to judge the entrants. The panel includes Vinton G. Cerf, a key figure in the founding of the Internet, and Timothy J. Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web.

Pisidian Antioch in Google Earth

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

From The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology comes Building a New Rome: The Imperial Colony of Pisidian Antioch, including lots of photographs and models, as well as an overhead view of the 3D restoration of Antioch mapped over the location of the city on the globe.

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.

Public education

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

from the Google blog:

In my day, we thought calculators were neat

5/16/2006 02:55:00 PM

Posted by Aidan Chopra, Program Manager, Education

The Maine Learning Technology Initiative is an innovative program that equips every one of the state’s public middle-school students with a laptop computer. This fall, more than 36,000 students will receive brand-new Apple iBooks pre-installed with great software.

We think the whole thing sounds terrific, so we’re donating Google Earth and SketchUp Pro to Maine for installation on every public-school computer in the state. They accepted, and now it looks like Maine will be the first state in the US to have Google Earth, SketchUp Pro, and the 3D Warehouse available to every student, teacher, librarian, and administrator who wants it.

Information about the SketchUp for Education program can be found here. Government agencies that would like to follow Maine’s lead are welcome to drop us a line at

A new translation of Euripides’ Medea, bearing a CC license

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Celia Luschnig has produced a new translation of the Medea as part of the Diotima anthology. Special thanks to John T Quinn, Translation Editor for Diotima, for his help. (There’s also a pretty-print PDF version.)

This work bears a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Other works by Celia Luschnig:

And by John T. Quinn:

Speakers at Convocation on Humanities Warn About Privatization of Materials (CHE)

Monday, May 15th, 2006

(An excerpt from an article by Richard Byrne in the CHE — subscription needed)

A joint convocation held by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Association of American Universities to assess the state of the humanities drew over 200 scholars and administrators — as well as two prominent Congressional advocates for arts and letters — to a hotel here on Friday.

The convocation, which was pegged in part to a 2004 report issued by the association, “Reinvigorating the Humanities,” eschewed much of the doom and gloom that has surrounded such gatherings in recent decades. Speakers largely agreed that scholarship in the humanities was vigorous, but that the disciplines still faced serious challenges posed by the digital revolution, a rigidity in academic organization, and a lack of public outreach.

Ideas that struck the strongest chord at the convocation included a call from some speakers to resist the increasing privatization of the raw material of scholarship by corporations as such material is digitized.

Changes in copyright law to extend the length of time that material remains in copyright and efforts by companies such as Google to digitize books into privately controlled databases have increasingly placed the source material that scholars in the humanities use in private control for longer periods of time. Both access to such material and permission to reproduce it in published scholarly work have been tightened significantly.

Paul N. Courant, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, argued that such trends are leading to “a pervasive inaccessibility of cultural materials.”

“The humanities are at risk here,” he said at one of the convocation sessions. “We risk losing our own source material. There will be a hole in our history.”

He recommended that universities wage an aggressive campaign to defend and extend the “fair use” provisions of copyright law.

“Scholarship is fair use,” Mr. Courant declared. “Period.”

Copyright term and the public domain

Monday, May 15th, 2006

A handy chart I had not yet seen, from the Cornell Copyright Information Center.

Footnote 7 is useful:

A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was even lower: 7%. See Barbara Ringer, “Study No. 31: Renewal of Copyright” (1960), reprinted in Library of Congress Copyright Office. Copyright law revision: Studies prepared for the Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-sixth Congress, first [-second] session. (Washington: U. S. Govt. Print. Off, 1961), p. 220. A good guide to investigating the copyright and renewal status of published work is Samuel Demas and Jennie L. Brogdon, “Determining Copyright Status for Preservation and Access: Defining Reasonable Effort,” Library Resources and Technical Services 41:4 (October, 1997): 323-334. See also Library of Congress Copyright Office, How to investigate the copyright status of a work. Circular 22. [Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 2004]. The Online Books Page FAQ, especially “How Can I Tell Whether a Book Can Go Online?” and “How Can I Tell Whether a Copyright Was Renewed?“, is also very helpful.

Scan this Book!

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Kevin Kelly, Scan This Book! New York Times, May 14, 2006:

For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future. Until now. When Google announced in December 2004 that it would digitally scan the books of five major research libraries to make their contents searchable, the promise of a universal library was resurrected….Brewster Kahle, an archivist overseeing another scanning project, says that the universal library is now within reach. “This is our chance to one-up the Greeks!” he shouts. “It is really possible with the technology of today, not tomorrow. We can provide all the works of humankind to all the people of the world. It will be an achievement remembered for all time, like putting a man on the moon.” And unlike the libraries of old, which were restricted to the elite, this library would be truly democratic, offering every book to every person….Ideally, in such a complete library we should also be able to [go beyond books and] read any article ever written in any newspaper, magazine or journal. And why stop there?…

From the days of Sumerian clay tablets till now, humans have “published” at least 32 million books, 750 million articles and essays, 25 million songs, 500 million images, 500,000 movies, 3 million videos, TV shows and short films and 100 billion public Web pages. All this material is currently contained in all the libraries and archives of the world. When fully digitized, the whole lot could be compressed (at current technological rates) onto 50 petabyte hard disks. Today you need a building about the size of a small-town library to house 50 petabytes. With tomorrow’s technology, it will all fit onto your iPod. When that happens, the library of all libraries will ride in your purse or wallet — if it doesn’t plug directly into your brain with thin white cords….

Turning inked letters into electronic dots that can be read on a screen is simply the first essential step in creating this new library. The real magic will come in the second act, as each word in each book is cross-linked, clustered, cited, extracted, indexed, analyzed, annotated, remixed, reassembled and woven deeper into the culture than ever before….Buoyed by [the] success [of Wikipedia], many nerds believe that a billion readers can reliably weave together the pages of old books, one hyperlink at a time. Those with a passion for a special subject, obscure author or favorite book will, over time, link up its important parts. Multiply that simple generous act by millions of readers, and the universal library can be integrated in full, by fans for fans….When books are deeply linked, you’ll be able to click on the title in any bibliography or any footnote and find the actual book referred to in the footnote. The books referenced in that book’s bibliography will themselves be available, and so you can hop through the library in the same way we hop through Web links, traveling from footnote to footnote to footnote until you reach the bottom of things….

Science is on a long-term campaign to bring all knowledge in the world into one vast, interconnected, footnoted, peer-reviewed web of facts. Independent facts, even those that make sense in their own world, are of little value to science. (The pseudo- and parasciences are nothing less, in fact, than small pools of knowledge that are not connected to the large network of science.) In this way, every new observation or bit of data brought into the web of science enhances the value of all other data points. In science, there is a natural duty to make what is known searchable. No one argues that scientists should be paid when someone finds or duplicates their results. Instead, we have devised other ways to compensate them for their vital work. They are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own….To a large degree, they make their living by giving away copies of their intellectual property in one fashion or another.

(hat tip, Peter Suber)

Scholarly Research Trends in the Humanities

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Jordan Ballor has posted part of his talk on “various views of what scholarly publishing in the digital age looks like,” including these bits

Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig complain of “the balkanization of the web into privately owned digital storehouses,” and the fact that “the most important commercial purveyors of the past are…global multibillion-dollar information conglomerates like ProQuest, Reed Elsevier, and the Thomson Corporation, which charge libraries high prices for the vast digital databases of journals, magazines, newspapers, books, and historical documents that they control.” …

Perhaps the representation of digital publishing as a binary opposition between “multibillion-dollar information conglomerates” and “academics and enthusiasts” does not exhaust the possibilities. Alas, those of us in the humanities who look to the government for succor are likely to be jilted. Greg Crane, a professor of classics at Tufts University, points out the ambiguous position of the humanities when it comes to government sources of funding for academic technology. He writes, “The biggest government funders of academic technology are the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation whose aggregate funding ($20 billion and $5 billion respectively) exceeds that of the National Endowment for the Humanities ($135 million requested for 2003) by a factor of 185.”

(hat tip to Peter Suber)

More SketchUp: the Pantheon

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

The Pantheon, situated in Google Earth.