Archive for September, 2006

First Swedish CC-licensed PhD

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

From the Creative Commons blog:

The first Creative Commons licensed PhD to be defended on 2nd October in Göteborg, Sweden.

The PhD thesis entitled Disruptive Technology: Effects of Technology Regulation on Democracy deals with the negative democratic effects which often arise when attempts are made to regulate the Internet technology.

By studying the attempts to regulate the disruptive effects of Internet technology and the consequences of these regulatory attempts on the IT-based participatory democracy this work shows that the regulation of technology is the regulation of democracy.

The work has been written by Mathias Klang who is Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden.

The PhD thesis is the first of its kind to be released under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5) in Sweden.

New humanities videos from UC Berkeley

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Among the Arts & Humanities videos just released by the University of California at Berkeley, there is “Ancient Egypt and the Tebtunis Papyri.”

CFP: A Million Books!

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Very large digital libraries and the future of the humanities: What do you do with a million books?

With Google Library and the Open Content Alliance, backed by Microsoft and Yahoo, very large collections are beginning to take shape. At one extreme, we may find the best academic library ever created available on-line either for free or priced to reach a mass market. Even if this vision is not fully realized, we need to consider the prospect of having much more material previously available only in print libraries available to a much larger on-line audience. What are the implications for academia and especially for the humanities, as large, industrially produced, lightly structured digital collections present the published record of the past? The Mellon Foundation is supporting a year-long study of this problem.

We are particularly interested in the interaction of core technologies (e.g., converting page images to text, managing multiple languages and especially historical languages, and converting full text to machine actionable data) and humanities domains such as classical, early modern and English language studies. We welcome thoughtful contributions on any key issue: subscription vs. open access and/or open source, personalization and customization, new publications that build upon access to large, stable collections, new groups of contributors building Wikis or other community driven systems; the development of new services (e.g., machine translation, automatic bibliographic databases, dynamically generated timelines and maps). All submissions should consider possible implications for three audiences: those already engaged in a given area of the humanities, academics looking to work with a broader range of primary sources (e.g., using machine translation to explore Renaissance Latin), and members of society as a whole, both in the United States and abroad, who will have unprecedented access to the published record of humanity.

Papers should address one or more of the following audiences: computer and information scientists conducting research with potential application in the humanities; digital librarians, both commercial and academic; funders investing in a digital infrastructure for the humanities; professional academics conducting teaching and research; members of the general public exploring the record of humanity.

Abstracts (up to 800 words) due December 15. (This deadline has been extended to include results from the “Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science:WHAT TO DO WITH A MILLION BOOKS?? (Nov 5-6, 2006:

Abstracts will be made available for public discussion January 15 with key submissions invited to be developed into full papers due April 1, 2007 for discussion at a workshop at Tufts University, May 22-24, 2007.

For further information, contact

For further background:

New blog for Papyrology news

Monday, September 25th, 2006

A message from G. Schwendner (Wichita State University):

I am putting up a weblog to keep track of new publications, announcements etc. in papyrology (my field). We see these, for the most part, on the Papy-list, but the archives are resticted to list members, and so its news does not flow very far. Most important, it does not get into the seach engines. Anyway, below is the url; let me know what you think. I have not had the time to reformat the Greek that appears in the tables of contents, but the publishers’ pdf versions are linked, and few, I think, are searching the web for unicode Greek text at this point.

On-line Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women

Monday, September 25th, 2006

A message from Judith Lynn Sebesta (University of South Dakota):

Call for Collaborators to The On-line Companion to The Worlds of Roman Women

The On-Line Companion to the Focus Reader, The Worlds of Roman Women,1 expands the book’s wide representation of Latin texts by and about women dating from the earliest periods through the fourth century CE. The medium of a website, moreover, offers the opportunity to integrate visuals to texts, thus enabling users to make connections between language and material culture. The Companion has two major parts.

The Worlds section includes Class, Religion, Childhood, Learning, Marriage, Family, Body, State, Work, and Flirtation. Each World opens to reveal a thematic image of women in this world, a brief essay on this World, a list of on-line texts and hyperlinked images. The glossed on-line texts are hyperlinked as well. For example, the introduction to Gnome Pierinis (Work) Flavian ornatrix is hyperlinked to a Flavian woman’s bust with elaborate hairstyle.

The Instructional section contains: a Guide to Using the Site; an Annotated Bibliography; Activities for Classroom Use; Syllabi and Lesson Plans; and Credits and Contributors. The annotated bibliography is hyperlinked to materials such as downloadable theses, essays, articles, and more.

Future development of the Companion will extend the geographic reach of Companion to all the provinces. We will add essays on aspects of Roman culture and women’s lives.

This point leads to our call for collaborators from all Latin teachers on all levels. “Collaboration” includes suggestions for additional texts; correction, revision and expansion of glosses and vocabulary for readings; evaluation of the grammatical difficulty of a text; sharing of images (that are legally in free-use) and syllabi; submission of glossed texts, classroom activities and annotated bibliographical items; identifying useful links; writing essays for teachers and/or students; and continuing updating of knowledge in the field. To make suggestions or to volunteer as a Companion collaborator, contact either Ann Raia ( or Judith Sebesta (

British Academy: “copyright is hindering scholarship”

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

British Academy says that copyright is hindering scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

Baroness Onora O’Neill, the President of the British Academy, chaired the launch event and welcomed the report. “From the national point of view,” she said, “it is timely and provides a helpful contribution to the current debate about whether the UK’s intellectual property framework is fit for purpose. The report shows that the copyright system may in important respects be impeding, rather than stimulating, the production of new ideas and new scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.”

On-line versions of the report and guidelines are available from:

Open Source Critical Editions workshop

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

A workshop on Open Source Critical Editions will be held on Friday 22nd September in King’s College London. The workshop is co-organised by the AHRC ICT Methods Network, the Perseus Project, and the Digital Classicist. The workshop programme is available online, and we have also made the text of positioning papers available in full. Responses may also be posted in the Wiki, and discussion will continue beyond the workshop itself either here or on the Digital Classicist mailing list.

Oral Tradition

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Via rogueclassicism comes the news that The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition now offers universal, free access to its academic journal.

Zotero – the next generation research tool

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Dan Cohen has new blog posts about the Zotero project, which among other things has just landed substantial new support from Mellon.  For interesting details of where things stand, read Dan’s blog; meanwhile here’s a summary of what Zotero can do:

  • captures citation information you want from a web page automatically, without typing or cutting and pasting on your part, and saves this information directly into the correct fields (e.g., author, title, etc.) of your Zotero library
  • lets you store—beyond citations—PDFs, files, images, links, and whole web pages
  • allows you to easily take notes on the research materials you capture
  • makes it easy to organize your research materials in multiple ways, such as folders, saved searches (smart folders), and tags
  • offers fast, as-you-type search through your materials so that you can quickly find that source that you only vaguely remember
  • lets you export formatted citations to your paper, article, book, or website
  • has an easy-to-use, modern interface that simplifies all of your research tasks, with “where has that been?” features such as autosaving your notes as you type
  • runs right in your web browser and is a platform for new forms of digital research that can be extended with other web tools and services
  • is free and open source
  • has a name that is loosely based on the Albanian (yes, Albanian) word zotëroj, meaning “to acquire, to master,” as in learning

Call for Collaboration/Latin Treebank

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

A message received yesterday from David Bamman at Perseus:

The Perseus Project has recently received a planning grant from the NSF to investigate the costs and labor involved in constructing a multimillion-word Latin treebank, along with its potential value for the linguistics and Classics community. While our initial efforts under this grant will focus on syntactically annotating excerpts from Golden Age authors (Caesar, Cicero, Vergil) and the Vulgate, a future multimillion-word corpus would be comprised of writings from the pre- Classical period up through the Early Modern era. To date we’ve annotated a total of 12,000 words in a style that’s predominantly informed by two sources: the dependency grammar used by the Prague Dependency Treebank (itself based on Mel’cuk 1988), and the Latin grammar of Pinkster 1990.

While treebanks provide valuable training data for computational tasks such as grammar induction and automatic syntactic parsing, they also have the potential to be used in traditional research areas that Classicists in particular are poised to exploit. Large collections of syntactically parsed sentences have the potential to revolutionize lexicography and philology, as they provide the immediate context for a word’s use along with its typical syntactic arguments (this lets us chart, for example, how the meaning of a verb changes as its predominant arguments change). Treebanks enable large-scale research into structurally-based rhetorical devices particularly of interest to Classicists (such as hyperbaton) and they provide the raw data for research in historical linguistics (such as the move in Latin from classical SOV word order to romance SVO).

The eventual Latin treebank will be openly available to the public; we should, therefore, come to a consensus on how it should be built. To that end we encourage input from the linguistics and Classics community on the treebank design (including the syntactic representation of Latin) and welcome contributions by annotators (for which limited funding is available).  Interested collaborators should contact David Bamman ( at the Perseus Project.

A pre-order special for Unicode 5.0

Monday, September 18th, 2006

The Unicode(R) Consortium announces that pre-orders of Version 5.0 of the Unicode Standard can be made now through the Unicode Consortium’s website. As a special introductory offer, The Unicode Guide — the handy tri-fold developer’s reference guide — will be included with the Version 5.0 book at a combined price of $40.00 for both. This offer will expire on October 15, 2006.

To pre-order, go to:
For further details on the book, go to:

The new version defines 1,369 new characters, including additional mathematical and linguistic symbols, and characters needed for Greek, Hebrew, Kannada, and for minority language support. Five new scripts are added in 5.0: Balinese, N’Ko, Phags-pa, Phoenician, and Sumero-Akkadian Cuneiform.

Besides defining new characters, Unicode Standard 5.0 now contains the Unicode Standard Annexes, and includes significantly updated figures, tables, definitions, and tables.

The text itself provides better guidance on the handling of combining characters, Unicode strings, variation selectors, line breaking, and segmentation. This latest version is the basis for Unicode security mechanisms, the Unicode collation algorithm, the locale data provided by the Common Locale Data Repository, and support for Unicode in regular expressions. Improved expression of the Unicode encoding model makes it much clearer how to represent Unicode text in UTF-8 and other encoding forms. Character properties have been systematized and greatly extended to help with Unicode text processing. This new version is a major update which supersedes and obsoletes all previous versions of the standard.

Unicode is required by modern standards as XML and is widely supported in computer systems. Windows Vista runs on Unicode 5.0 and Google, Yahoo!, and ICU all have plans to upgrade to it.

The book is smaller and lighter than Unicode 4.0.
Publication details: Hardback, 1472 pages, $59.99 (list price)

For ordering questions, contact:
Magda Danish, Sr. Administrative Director, The Unicode Consortium

Graduate work in digital humanities and new media

Monday, September 18th, 2006

Stéfan Sinclair has produced a handy list.

Wikipedia and human freedom

Monday, September 11th, 2006

From The Observer:

The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries. Jimmy Wales, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, challenged other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing.

Wikipedia, a hugely popular reference tool in the West, has been banned from China since last October. Whereas Google, Microsoft and Yahoo went into the country accepting some restrictions on their online content, Wales believes it must be all or nothing for Wikipedia.

His stand comes as, a joint campaign by The Observer and Amnesty International for free speech on the web, continues with the support of more than 37,000 people around the world. The campaign calls on governments to stop persecuting political bloggers and on IT companies to stop complying with these repressive regimes.

Wales said censorship was ‘ antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there’s no one left on the planet who’s willing to say “You know what? We’re not going to give up.”‘

Whose side are they on, anyway?

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Timidity and obsequiousness watch; or, Peter Suber nails it:

Universities take industry word for copyright law

By Peter Suber

Cory Doctorow, USC Copyright rules are flawed, Daily Trojan, September 11, 2006. Excerpt:

As students were returning to the USC campus for the 2006-2007 year, they were sent an ominous memo on “Copyright Compliance,” signed by Michael Pearce, USC deputy chief information officer and Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs. This extraordinary document set out a bizarre, nonlegal view of copyright’s intent and the university’s purpose, and made it clear that in its authors’ views, scholarship takes a backseat to copyright….

The memo’s purpose was to warn the student body from using peer-to-peer programs and other file-sharing tools. They did so not to warn them against using these tools to infringe copyright, but rather to warn them against using them at all on pain of losing their Internet access. The memo equates file sharing with infringement.

But this is a narrow and inaccurate view of P2P. P2P systems are the largest libraries of human creativity ever assembled. Even Grokster, the system shut down by the Supreme Court in a highly publicized case last year, was found by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to have more noninfringing documents than were held in the world’s largest library collections – millions, tens of millions of works that were lawful to search and download.

P2P is a collection of material that might have reduced an earlier generation of scholars to tears. As a science-fiction writer, I’ve grown up with grandiose predictions about the future, but no jet-pack futurist was so audacious as to imagine a repository of knowledge as rich and potent as P2P….

Why would USC trumpet this one-sided, extremist view of copyright? Isn’t the university’s purpose to promote scholarship? Shouldn’t a university be aggressively defending scholarship against organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America, whose indiscriminate enforcers send sloppy takedown notices to university profs named “Usher” whose lecture audio files called “usher.mp3” are mistaken for songs by the artist Usher?

The answer is that, according to the memo, “USC’s purpose is to promote and foster the creation and lawful use of intellectual property.”

It’s hard to imagine a more shocking statement in an official university communique. If this statement were true, then the measure of USC’s success would be the number of patents filed and the number of copyrights registered rather than the amount of original research undertaken, the number of diplomas granted, the volume of citations in scholarly journals…

Comment. Cory is right and the problem extends far beyond USC. Universities routinely accept propaganda from the copyright industry as an accurate statement of copyright law. This causes two kinds of harm. First, universities needlessly shrink the scope of fair use and retreat from permissible (i.e. licensed) copying and redistribution, both for entertainment and for scholarship. Second, they abdicate their responsibility to understand the actual rules and teach them to students.

Nabonidus Archaeological Data Management Software

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Nabonidus is a web application designed for Archaeological Excavation data storage, sharing, manipulation and analysis. According to its creators, Nabonidus aims to revolutionize the way archaeologists collect, analyze and interpret excavation data. More specifically it offers:

Simple data collection — all excavation data can be stored simply and easily in the Nabonidus database which can be accessed at anytime from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Complete data privacy — all data is stored securely and excavations can mark their data as public or private as they see fit. Immediate results — Nabonidus gives meaningful statistical feedback immediately upon entering data for your dig.

Cross excavation analysis — Nabonidus’ powerful search engine allows easy cross excavation analysis.

Simple dig configuration — Nabonidus allows you total control over what data your excavation needs to record and how private or public you would like that data to be.

And best of all…It’s free! — Nabonidus is free to any excavation run by a University, charitable or not-for-profit organisation. Commercial excavations will need to pay the a yearly subscription fee. Please go the Register page to sign up. You can be adding contextual data to your excavation within 5 minutes.

Will a patent on sliced bread be next?

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

I had to laugh (along with some others, I see) at Microsoft patent application # 20060195313, filed 31 August 2006:

Method and system for selecting and conjugating a verb

Abstract: A verb conjugating system allows a user to input a form of a verb and display the verb forms. The verb conjugating system allows the user to input the infinitive form or non-infinitive forms of a verb. When a user inputs a non-infinitive form of a verb, the verb conjugating system identifies a corresponding base form of the verb. The verb conjugating system then uses the base form to retrieve and display the verb forms for the verb. The verb conjugating system may highlight the non-infinitive form of the verb within the displayed verb forms to assist the user in locating the verb form of interest.

Isn’t this just what the Perseus DL has been providing for more than fiften years now?