Archive for August, 2007

Virtual London shelved as OS refuse to license data to Google

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Seen in last week’s New Scientist:

A 3D software model of London containing over 3 million buildings in photorealistic detail is now unlikely to reach the public because of a dispute between a UK government agency and Google.

The full article requires subscription, but the long and short of it is that Google wanted to incorporate the Ordnance Survey-derived data from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Awareness (at UCL) into Google Earth, and were negotiating for a one-off license fee to cover the rights. However, the British agency Ordnance Survey refused to license their data on anything but a license that required payments based on the number of users. Some mapping and visualisation experts fear that this is more significant than a simple failure of two commercial entities to reach an agreement.

Timothy Foresman, director-general of the fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth in San Francisco in June, fears that OS’s decision could set a precedent: “The OS model is a dinosaur,” he says. “If the UK community doesn’t band together and make this a cause célèbre, then they will find the road is blocked as further uses [of the OS data] become known.”

2nd Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

From Martin Mueller at Northwestern (full disclosure: I’ll be a speaker):

The program for the Second Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science has now been set, and you can see it at

The Colloquium will take place on Sunday and Monday, October 21-22, 2007 at Northwestern University. This is an event jointly sponsored by the Illinois Institute for Technology, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. Registration is free, and you are cordially invited to attend.

Information about logistics will appear shortly on the web site. You may also contact the conference coordinator, Nathan Mead (n-mead2 at northwestern dot edu).

There still is room for poster sessions, and we will be delighted to receive and review submissions on a rolling basis. Please send them to dhcs-submissions at

The theme of this year’s colloquium is “Exploring the scholarly query potential of high quality text and image archives in a collaborative environment.” The presentations range widely across cultures and technologies. There are digital surrogates of Mesopotamian cylinder seals and of 3,000 clay statuettes from a Chinese Buddhist temple that make you see things you could not easily see “in the flesh.” How to find readable and manipulable representations of the symbols that appear in Isaac Newton’s alchemical writings. How to explore the “countless links” that are at the heart of the Orlando Project about Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. How to make the history of North Carolina speak in different ways when the print records (a massive work of late nineteenth century scholarship) are translated into a digital medium.

A special session on Monday will explore the different ways in which quite similar technologies of text mining support different goals in legal, literary, and business analysis, and it will ask what these different approaches can learn from each other.

The keynote speakers, Matt Kirschenbaum (The Remaking of Reading) and Lew Lancaster (Beyond 2-D Text/Plan: The Chinese Buddhist in 3-D) nicely define the range of topics. Ray Siemens will sum it all up.


Friday, August 24th, 2007

Why I gave up on my university’s email years ago:

Along with the neat-o peripheral gizmos like messaging, calendars, and collaboration tools, the outsourced systems are more stable, have better spam filters, and provide much more storage space than the typical university’s in-house system.

Seemed like a no-brainer…  (Colleges Outsource E-mail to Big Players, U.S.News & World Report)

Sounds familiar!

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

from Scott Jaschik, Publishing and Values, Inside Higher Ed, August 22, 2007:

A number of outside observers believe that the tensions visible in anthropology this week are challenging other disciplines, too. “At the most fundamental level, we’ve got a lot of these scholarly societies facing a set of frankly difficult decisions,” said Clifford A. Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, a collection of scholarly, computing and library groups. “They’ve got missions that often speak very broadly to disseminating and advancing knowledge in their discipline. They’ve got a membership that in some disciplines is increasingly convinced that the way to do that is more openness in publication and more innovation in publication, but these societies have got sort of addicted to these revenue streams from their publication programs over the last few decades, and are trying to figure out if they want to make the transition to a new model and — if so — how do they navigate the transition.”

(hat tip – Peter Suber)

The Metrics of Social Scholarship

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

from Laura Cohen’s Library 2.0: An Academic’s Perspective:

I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Jensen’s piece, The New Metrics of Scholarly Authority, published in The Chronicle on June 15. This is one of the best articles I’ve read about metrics that can be applied to social scholarship.

Jensen, Director of Web Communications at the National Academies, anticipates a future in which several activities of scholarship, many of which utilize the tools of Web 2.0, will define the future of scholarly authority. He calls this “Authority 3.0.” He comes up with seventeen possible metrics. It’s a great read.

Keyboard shortcuts

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

From liquidicity, keyboard shortcuts for about every character key available on a Mac.

E-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

See and forwarded from Classicists mailing list




Sub-Faculty of Ancient History

E-Science, Imaging Technology and
Ancient Documents

Applications are invited for two posts for which funding has been secured through the AHRC-EPSRC-JISC Arts and Humanities E-Science initiative to support research on the application of Information Technology to ancient documents. Both posts are attached to a project which will develop a networked software system that can support the imaging, documentation, and interpretation of damaged texts from the ancient world, principally Greek and Latin papyri, inscriptions and writing tablets. The work will be conducted under the supervision of Professors Alan Bowman FBA, Sir Michael Brady FRS FREng (University of Oxford) and and Dr. Melissa Terras (University College London).

1. A Doctoral Studentship for a period of 4 years from 1 January, 2008. The studentship will be held in the Faculty of Classics (Sub-Faculty of Ancient History) and supported at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Oxford E-Research Centre. The Studentship award covers both the cost of tuition fees at Home/EU rates and a maintenance grant. To be eligible for a full award, the student must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for a period of 3 years before the start of the award.

2. A postdoctoral Research Assistantship for a period of 3 years from 1 January, 2008. The post will be held in the Faculty of Classics (Sub-Faculty of Ancient History) and supported at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Oxford E-Research Centre. The salary will be in the range of £26,666 – £31,840 p.a. Applicants must have expertise in programming and Informatics and an interest in the application of imaging technology and signal-processing to manuscripts and documents.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 21 September 2007. Further details about both posts, the project, the qualifications required and the method of application are available from Ms Ghislaine Rowe, Graduate Studies Administrator, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’ , Oxford OX1 3LU (01865 288397, It is hoped that interviews will be held and the appointments made on 11 October.

Professor Alan Bowman
Camden Professor of Ancient History
Brasenose College,
Oxford OX1 4AJ
+44 (0)1865 277874

Director, Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents
The Stelios Ioannou School for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies
66 St Giles’
Oxford OX1 3LU
+44 (0)1865 610227

Moving toward greater usefulness…

Monday, August 20th, 2007

from Inside Google Book Search:

Today we launched a new feature for Book Search to help more people access the world’s great public domain works. Whenever you find an out-of-copyright book in our index, you’ll see a “View plain text” link, which lets anyone access the text layer of the book. As Dr. T.V. Raman explains on the main Google blog, this opens the book to adaptive technologies such as screen readers and Braille display, allowing visually impaired users to read these books just as easily as users with sight.

This is an exciting step for us in our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. To learn more about Google’s efforts to make books and other digitized content more accessible to everyone, check out Dr. Raman’s full post.

Who edits Wikipedia?

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

A very interesting site has been doing the rounds of news and blogs lately, which allows users to trace anonymous edits of Wikipedia articles by comparing to the public record of registered IP addresses. The WikiScanner is itself neutral as to the kind of searches one may carry out–it merely accesses and mashes-up information from two publicly available sources–but many of the most public implementations (such as those collected by Wired magazine) have been political, moral, or salacious. So, for example, users with an IP address registered to the office of a given religious organisation might be shown to have “anonymously” edited the Wikipedia entry on that religion, whitewashed crimes or scandals, or slandered rival groups or individuals of their own organisation. (All this by way of example only–actual instances you can look up for yourself.)

This is not only an interesting and imaginative example of a mashup, but also a potentially very useful control on one of the biggest threats to Wikipedia’s much-vaunted “neutral point of view”–namely the ability of wealthy corporations or individuals to hire lobbyists and PR agencies to clean up their profile on the web. More transparency means more accountability means more reliable information. Potentially. Effectively this tool removes the ability to edit completely anonymously, without raising the bar to entry in the Wiki community by requiring registration and identification.

I’ve yet to find any interesting academic examples of biased “anonymous” edits–and I guess they’d be hard to pin down because the range of IPs registered to a university would typically include lab workstations and other machines accessible by a large number of people. I’m sure something interesting will turn up, however. Keep looking.

More on openness and Google Books

Friday, August 17th, 2007

As a follow-up to Dan Cohen/s post yesterday in which he lamented the lack of an API to Google’s book digitization efforts, there’s further discussion today, in the form of an interview of Brewster Kahle by Andrew Richard Albanese, Scan this book!  Library Journal, August 17, 2007:

The Library of Congress also announced it is going to work with the Open Content Alliance. That’s what it takes. It takes guts on the part of our leadership to keep librarians first-class members of this information world, not just in a service role of feeding the machine and then checking out at the end of the day because everything’s going to be handled by some great search engine in the sky. No. It should be handled by us. We have the tools to build this open world right now. We can invest in ourselves, in the traditions that we come from. This is a choice.

Learn a foreign language on the cheap

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

from Lifehacker:

The No Thick Manuals wiki details how to learn a language efficiently using two free, open source applications. The first is jVLT (java Vocabulary Learning Tool), a completely cross platform flash card application. The second is StarDict, a Windows/Linux-only dictionary that provides an impressive array of features and dictionaries. Granted, most of us would require some textbooks and/or audio supplements, but anyone learning a language needs a good dictionary and some flash cards, and these free desktop applications sound a lot simpler than making flash cards by hand and manually looking up words in your dictionary.

Not to be missed: 2

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

In “Google Books: Champagne or Sour Grapes?,” Dan Cohen provides some of his usual thoughtful and well-stated correctives to the latest anti-Google jeremiad making the rounds, Paul Duguid’s “Inheritance and loss? A brief survey of Google Books.”

Complaining about the quality, thoroughness, and fidelity of Google’s (public) scans distracts us from the larger problem of Google Books. As I have argued repeatedly in this space, the real problem—especially for those in the digital humanities but also for many others—is that Google Books is not open.


Not to be missed: 1

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

I hadn’t realized until just now that Melissa Terras is writing in her own blog, but its very good to know. I’ve added her to the blogroll on the right under Digital Studies.

Session on Digital Reconstruction at Villa of the Papyri conference

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

(Thanks to Lizzie Belcher, Classics outreach officer at Oxford for drawing my attention to this.)

A Conference on The Villa of the Papyri

Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September, 2007
Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies and Christ Church, Oxford

Of particular interest to Digital Classicists ought to be the Sunday afternoon session:

Session 3. Digital Reconstruction

2:05 – 2:10 pm Introduction

2:10 – 2:50 pm
Diane Favro (UCLA)
From pleasure, to ‘guilty pleasure,’ to simulation: rebirthing the Villa of the Papyri

3:00 – 3:40 pm
Dirk Obbink (University of Oxford)
Innovation and Impact in Digital Reconstruction of the Herculaneum Library

3:50 – 4:30 pm
Richard Janko (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
The leaves of the Sibyl: rediscovering the lost originals of forty Herculaneum papyri

4:40 – 5:00 pm Tea

5:00 – 5:40 pm
Mantha Zarmakoupi (University of Oxford)
The digital model of the Villa of the Papyri: issues of reconstruction

5:50 – 6:30 pm
Reinhard Förtsch (Universität zu Köln)
Fragmented understanding of Roman Villas. Some levels of perception in antiquity and 3 D

6:30 – 7:00pm Discussion and concluding remarks.

Open access and convenience

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

This CHE piece caught my eye, esp. one of the suggestions made as to why people may not be using library-adminstered electronic resources so much:

The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ list of Top 100 Tools for Learning — culled from top-10 charts created by e-learning experts — names a wide array of tech tools that professors have come to love. Among the items that made the cut are Web browsers, e-mail clients, RSS feeders, blogging programs, and, of course, Microsoft’s evergreen PowerPoint presentation software. But online library resources, which would seem like a good fit for e-learners, are notably absent from the master list. What gives? “It’s not as if the responding experts ignored information-retrieval tools,” writes Steven Bell at ACRLog. “Both Google and Google Scholar are on the top-100 list. And it’s not as if these experts wouldn’t know something about library databases.” Mr. Bell, the associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple University, argues that librarians just haven’t done a good job of advertising their online databases and e-journal collections as instructional tools. But Stephen Downes, the author of OLDaily, says the lack of library services on the list could be evidence of bad tools, not a lack of publicity. Mr. Downes, a senior researcher for Canada’s National Research Council, says he has access to a major online library portal, but that he has used the services only twice in six years. “The reason,” he writes, “is that it is not convenient, not even remotely, especially with the layers of security involved in protecting publisher’s intellectual property.” If digital library resources should, in fact, be thought of as instructional technologies, are they actually meeting the needs of e-learners and other scholars?  –Brock Read

(Emphasis added.)

Change to British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships Scheme

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Picked this up and copied it from mailing lists:

From: British Academy []
Sent: Wed 08/08/2007 02:43

Change to British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme

The timetable for applications for British Academy Postdoctoral fellowships has been brought forward in order to provide for earlier announcements, to give universities more time to plan to integrate Postdoctoral Fellows into departmental teaching and other programmes. The process will be conducted over two stages instead of one, in order to reduce the burden on HEIs. The deadline for outline submissions is 15 October 2007 for awards to be taken up from September 2008. Institutions are required to countersign outline applications but need provide no further information at this stage. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in December 2007, and those who successfully pass the initial selection stage will be invited to submit full bids by the deadline of 28 February 2008. Institutions are required to provide detailed information, including a complete statement of support and the financial appendix showing Full Economic Costs (FEC), only at this second stage. Awards will be announced in May 2008.

Details and application forms are available from

Contact: Research Posts Department 020 7969 5265 or email:

The British Academy
10 Carlton House
London SW1Y 5AH

Tel: 020 7969 5200
Fax: 020 7969 5300

The Common Information Environment and Creative Commons

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Seen on the Creative Commons blog:

A study titled “The Common Information Environment and Creative Commons” was funded by Becta, the British Library, DfES, JISC and the MLA on behalf of the Common Information Environment. The work was carried out by Intrallect and the AHRC Research Centre for studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law and a report was produced in the Autumn of 2005. During the Common Information Environment study it was noted that there was considerable enthusiasm for the use of Creative Commons licences from both cultural heritage organisations and the educational and research community. In this study we aim to investigate if this enthusiasm is still strong and whether a significant number of cultural heritage organisations are publishing digital resources under open content licences.

(Full report.)

This is an interesting study worth watching, and hopefully the conclusions and recommendations will include advice on coherent legal positions with regards to Open Content licensing. (See the controversy surrounding yesterday’s post.)

“Two thousand years of mankind and medicine” (in open access images)

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

(Seen at BoingBoing.) The Wellcome Trust have released thousands of images relating to the history of medicine online for free under a Creative Commons (non-commercial) license. This is a very nice collection, and the classical material includes everything from a papyrus fragment of the Hippocratic Oath, to a vase painting showing ancient Greek surgery (not to mention a huge amount of modern stuff, of course).

This is likely to be a great resource for teaching materials and slideshows. I wonder if any of our papyrologist or history of medicine colleagues could tell us whether there’s genuine research potential in here?

Top 100 Alt Search Engine list

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

I saw last year’s Top 100 posted here from Read/WriteWeb. They’ve just put out this year’s Top 100.

The author says: Some of them did not even exist a year ago. One of my goals is to show my readers the “latest and the greatest” search engine innovations. The motto for the blog [ASE], after all, is “the most wonderful search engines you’ve never seen,” and my favorite comment of all is, “Wow! I didn’t even know that most of these existed!”

These are great examples to give students in class exercises to show them that the Google way is not the only way!

Digital Media and Peer Review in Medieval Studies

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Copied from the Digital Medievalist mailing list:

Call for Papers for the 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 8-11, 2008, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The Medieval Academy of America Committee on Electronic Resources invites submissions to the following sponsored session:

“Digital Media and Peer Review in Medieval Studies”

Medievalists are increasingly turning to digital media both to produce new types of scholarship such as encoded texts and non-bookish digital projects (e.g. archives and interactive electronic resources) and to advance and increase the efficiency of traditional forms of scholarship such as critical editions. There is not yet widespread agreement, however, regarding how this new work should count for academic promotion, and many scholars working in these new media find that there are few established avenues for getting their work peer reviewed. At the same time, we are witnessing rapid and widespread changes in how we use print texts (e.g. often in scanned, searchable copies), and many traditional publishers of print journals and monographs are under enormous financial pressures from declining sales and print runs, thereby further limiting access to peer review and opportunities for publication. How can we, as a community, bring scholarship, publishing, and the need for peer review into balance?

Please email abstracts (not to exceed 300 words) to Timothy Stinson ( Please include name, professional/university affiliation, and contact information.

AWMC/Pleiades bibliographic records

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Staff and affiliates of the Ancient World Mapping Center and its Pleiades Project have released draft set of bibliographic records. The information in it was compiled initially from citation handlists and other unpublished working papers of the Classical Atlas Project (1988-2000). It was subsequently verified, updated and expanded with reference to an actual copy of the work cited, or (failing that and where possible) to at least 3 different online library catalog systems or other bibliographic reference sources. Moreover, some available information from publishers’ and authors’ websites has also been consulted.
Detail pages include embedded COinS bibliographic data, so it should be possible to capture the bibliographic data presented using Zotero, and also automatically generated links to Google Scholar.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Slidecast in Slideshare

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

For the Neo-Latin Colloquia site Dot Porter created a couple of SMIL files to permit simultaneous playback of text and audio via Quicktime.  The new Slidecast feature of Slideshare appears to offer similar functionality with greater ease.

Student Bursaries for Computing in History Teaching

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Copied from the Digital Classicist mailing list


The AHRC ICT Methods Network (, which exists to promote and support the use of advanced ICT methods in arts and humanities research, is offering a limited number of bursaries to post-graduate students who wish to present a paper at the conference ‘Distributed Ignorance and the Unthinking Machine: Computing in History Teaching’. The conference takes place on 17 November at The National Archives, Kew, London, and is organized by the UK branch of the Association of History and Computing (AHC-UK).

Applications for bursaries are sought from post-graduate students registered at UK Universities whose research interests are grounded in areas covered by this years AHC-UK conference. These include: when and how you acquired your computing skills, what support and training you had or would like to have had, your perspective on the use of computers in history teaching and identification of key computing skills that history graduates should have and other areas which may be considered to be within the AHC’s sphere of interest. Applicants should submit a paper proposal via the AHC-UK website in the first instance, see

The bursaries are intended to help towards conference expenses. Successful applicants will be able to claim funds up to a total of £200 toward the cost of conference fees, accommodation and travel.

If you wish to apply for a bursary please submit a proposal for the AHC-UK conference in the first instance. You will hear if your proposal has been accpeted by the 28 September. If you are successful please complete the bursary application form, available on the AHRC ICT Methods Network website:

If you have any queries about completing the form please contact Torsten Reimer ( using the heading – AHC-UK Bursary Applications – in the subject bar.

Bursary winners will be asked to submit a short report to the Methods
Network following the conference.

Please address any enquiries about the AHC-UK conference to

Archaeological Computing: available for review

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

I’ve just spotted that this book is still available for review from BMCR after a month since it was listed as available. Surely there must be someone here who would like to get a copy and could review it?

*Eiteljorg, Harrison, II, and W. Fredrick Limp, Archaeological Computing. Bryn Mawr: Center for the Study of Architecture, 2007. Pp. 244.

UK JISC Digitisation Conference 2007

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Joint Information Systems Committee

Copied from JISC Digitisation Blog

“In July 2007 JISC held a two-day digitisation conference in Cardiff and the event was live blogged and podcasted. Here you can find links to all the resources from the conference, from Powerpoint presentations and audio to the live reports and conference wiki.”

The link to this blog which has audio, Powerpoints and PDFs from the wide range of speakers:

There is much there about building digital content and e-resources.

More can be found about the JISC digitisation programme at: