Archive for December, 2006

Why Can’t a Wiki Be More Like a Blog?

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Thoughts on new blog/wiki hybrids from the Library 2.0 blog.

Requirements for mass digitization projects

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Joseph J. Esposito has a post on the liblicense-l list at Yale wherein he makes some points worth bearing in mind:

My concern is a practical one: Some projects are incomplete in their design, which will likely result in their having to be redone in the near future, an expense that the world of scholarly communications can ill afford. There are at least four essential characteristics of any such project, and there may very well be more. (more…)

Under the tree

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

My wife just gave me a copy of John Maeda’s The Laws of Simplicity, a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Maeda, whom I heard once at an ACH-ALLC meeting in Georgia, ranks on my top-three list of really inspiring speakers along with John Seeley Brown, who once addressed a HICSS convention in Maui, and also Ben Shneiderman, who lit up the recent Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science with his talk on information visualization (a topic that usually makes me yawn).

Gotta separate the wheat from the chaff

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

George Will, criticizing Time magazine’s choice of Person of the Year, notes that “Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves for their own satisfaction.” No doubt that’s a true statement, strictly speaking, but even a few notable counter-examples like K. C. Johnson’s Durham-in-Wonderland can excuse a multitude of sins, as far as I’m concerned. Johnson has done a phenomenal job of covering a range of topics at the heart of the Duke lacrosse hoax, from egregious prosecutorial misconduct, to the manifold ways in which members of the “Committee of 88” Duke faculty disgraced themselves (and now hope nobody will notice), to the spinelessness of the Duke administration. Durham-in-Wonderland is a credit to the genre and shows what a skilled practitioner like Johnson can do with it.

Archimedes, again

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Yet another piece on the the Archimedes palimpsest, this one in the L. A. Times.

“The team made progress on a few pages, but it may take decades — or longer — before technologies are developed that can unveil all the texts.”

Grassroots book-scanning for uncompromising OA

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

As complaints multiply about quality control in the Google book scanning initiative, this sort of approach begun by Nicholas Hodson looks increasingly promising to me.  (Had to laugh about the blue and the pink coding, though!)

Our Cultural Commonwealth

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

From the ACLS:

The ACLS is pleased to announce that “Our Cultural Commonwealth: The final report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities & Social Sciences” was released December 13, 2006.

In 2004, ACLS appointed the Commission and charged it to recommend how the humanities and social sciences could develop online research environments that would empower scholars and students. The Commission, chaired by John Unsworth, Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has worked over two years to present a guide to achieving that goal.

A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported the work of the Commission and the publication of the report.

Response to APA/AIA statement

Thursday, December 21st, 2006
A joint APA-AIA Task Force on Electronic Publication has issued a call for comments on its statement. (There’s also a draft summary of issues and possible recommendations.)
Greg Crane (Editor in Chief of the Perseus Digital Library) has offered a response.

3D and Museum Exhibitions

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

From Current Cites:

Entlich, Richard. “The Missing Dimension in Web-based Museum Exhibitions: Obstacles to Adding Depth to Digital Data” RLG DigiNews 10(6)(15 December 2006). – This “FAQ” feature in RLG DigiNews “provides a brief discussion about the development of 3D technology on the World Wide Web, its adoption by museums, and the obstacles that continue to keep the creation, dissemination, and management of 3D imagery via the Web from becoming a fully mainstreamed activity.” It provides a useful summary of 3D technologies such as VRML, QuickTime-VR, Shockwave3D, and others, along with examples of them in use. Although there have been various obstacles to the wide adoption of 3D technologies, the piece ends on a hopeful note with standards being solidified, high-capacity networks more widespread, and end-user computers gaining in capability for graphic rendering. RT

Mass digitization of books

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

From Current Cites:

Coyle, Karen. “Mass Digitization of Books” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32(6)(November 2006): 641-645. – A very well done overview of mass and near-mass digitization of books by Google, the Open Content Alliance, Microsoft, Project Gutenberg, and many library-based projects. Coyle touches on issues such as workflow, output and book structure, user interface, standards, preservation, and scoping the project. If you’re interested in this topic, this is the single best overview currently available. Highly recommended.

Greg Crane on CNN

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

From Google library: Open culture?

The University of California, which also belongs to the Open Content Alliance, has no regrets about allowing Google to scan at least 2.5 million of the books in its libraries. “We felt like we could get more from being a partner with Google than by not being a partner,” said university spokeswoman Jennifer Colvin.

But some of the participating libraries may have second thoughts if Google’s system isn’t set up to recognize some of their digital copies, said Gregory Crane, a Tufts University professor who is currently studying the difficulty accessing some digital content.

For instance, Tufts worries Google’s optical reader won’t recognize some books written in classical Greek. If the same problem were to crop up with a digital book in the Open Content Alliance, Crane think it will be more easily addressed because the group is allowing outside access to the material.

Google “may end up aiming for the lowest common denominator and not be able to do anything really deep” with the digital books, Crane said.

Response to APA/AIA

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

A joint APA-AIA Task Force on Electronic Publication has issued a call for comments on its statement. (There’s also a a draft summary of issues and possible recommendations.

Greg Crane (Editor in Chief of the Perseus Digital Library) has offered a response.

Intel developing electronic Qur’an

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

from Engadget:

The device, known as the E-Quran, is a handheld, low-power computer … which contains the full text of the Islamic holy book along with audio versions in 40 languages and interactive, interpretive material.

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.

Semantic Web podcasts

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Keith Alexander at Semantic Humanities is compiling a list of podcasts on the theme of the Semantic Web.

CAA 2007

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

The Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) to be held in Berlin in April is still accepting papers and registrations.

It is the aim of the conference to bring together experts from various disciplines to discuss new developments in computer applications and quantitive methods in archaeology. These include methods and applications of 3D reconstructions, geographic information systems, web data bases, photogrammetry, statistics, and many other subjects. With its interdisciplinary approach the conference will discover different layers of perception, and this is why “layers of perception” is the CAA 2007 conference theme.

Call for examples from “TEI by Example”

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

The Centre for Scholarly Editing and Document Studies (CTB) of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, the Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH) of King’s College London, and the School for Library, Archive, and Information Studies (SLAIS) of University College London, are involved in the joint project “TEI by Example”.

Featuring freely available online tutorials walking individuals through the different stages in marking up a document in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative, these online tutorials will provide examples for users of all levels. Examples will be provided of different document types, with varying degrees in the granularity of markup, to provide a useful teaching and reference aid for those involved in the marking up of texts.

Eight tutorial modules will address a wide range of issues in text encoding with TEI:

1. Introduction to text encoding with TEI
2. The TEI header
3. Prose
4. Poetry
5. Drama
6. Manuscript Transcription
7. Scholarly Editing
8. Customizing TEI, ODD, Roma

To build as much as possible on available sources of existing practice in the field and to be able to present a broad view on the wide variety of encoding practices, we warmly welcome you to contribute TEI-encoded examples (either fragments or complete texts) that are applicable to any of these subjects. Examples are preferably encoded as TEI P5 XML texts, but also texts encoded in TEI P4 XML, other XML formats, or other (documented) electronic formats are of interest. Even examples of less-ideal encoding practices are welcome, since the idea of learning by error is a valuable didactic principle. Please do provide some indication of the errors or controversies in such examples when appropriate. After selection and editing, the example fragments will be incorporated in the freely available online deliverables, which will be issued under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license (see All contributors will be credited.

The examples can be sent (preferably compressed in .zip format and with an indication of applicability and credits due) to Please do not hesitate to contact us for any inquiries regarding copyright issues or any more general issues.

Kind regards,

The project team:

Ron Van den Branden, Melissa Terras, Edward Vanhoutte

Grumentum: latest from Troels Myrup

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Troels Myrup has added new images to the Stoa Image Gallery:

I’ve added photos from Grumentum in Lucania (Southern Italy) to the Stoa Gallery. Charming place but fairly remote. It’s kind of hard to think that tourists will ever come here in hordes as the local council seems to believe. Recently, a new project has excavated the baths and parts of the forum, shedding new light on the city’s late antique development. The project’s website is currently offline.

Flash Earth

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Use Flash Earth to try different mapping sites conveniently to see which has the best imagery for the site in which you are interested.

Chiron web: collaborative Classics

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

A very welcome announcement in the mail today:

I would like to communicate with you the birth of a new collaborative site, so that you can announce it at

Name: Chiron

The site is made by (and for) Spanish teachers of Greek and Latin in Secondary Schools. There are several similar sites ( and others), but the distinctiveness of this one is that it is focused to the easy collaboration that new tools (web 2.0) bring to all of us. We provide, with Creative Commons license (as possible):

– blogs aggregation,
– a list of web resources (in a wiki),
– a social tagger (blinklist),
– a repository of images (flickr),
– some courses in Moodle,
– a Google calendar.

The site was born 2 months ago and ints contents and users are rising. As an example, we have collected more than a thousand images with Creative Commons license ready to download. We are testing a Forum at: were you could see the “making of” of the site for the past two weeks, in Spanish of course.

Perhaps this new site could encourage other teachers to build some similar sites in other countries and languages.

José M. Ciordia