Archive for September, 2007

London Seminar in Digital Text and Scholarship

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Full programme and abstracts online at Institute of English Studies; Thursdays at 1730 in Senate House, London.

10 October:
David Ganz (King’s College London), “Medieval Libraries in the Digital Age”

15 November:
Paul Eggert (New South Wales), “Text as Algorithm and as Process: A Critique”

13 December:
Jan Christoph Meister (Hamburg), “The Myth of the Digital or: Why Humanities Computing is Really Business as Usual”

17 January:
James E. Tierney (Missouri-St. Louis), “British Periodicals, 1660-1800: An Electronic Index”

21 February:
Andrew Prescott (Wales, Lampeter), “Digital Manuscripts: Retrospects and Prospects”

13 March:
Charles Henry (Council on Library and Information Resources), “The Talisman of Format: Celebrating the End of the Book”

17 April:
Marilyn Deegan (King’s College London), “I’ve read the news today, oh boy!”

Open Access publication, anyone?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

The second footnote to a review of Wolfgang Bernard and Christiane Reitz (edd.), Werner Krenkel: Naturalia non turpia. Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome / Schriften zur antiken Kultur- und Sexualwissenschaft. Spudasmata 113. Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2006 by Bernard Kytzler caught my attention:

Werner Krenkel, born 1926, has recently published, for financial reasons (!) in an electronic version (!), his monumental work on Varro, a disc not on the market but available ‘for friends and colleagues’ from Heinrich- Schliemann Institut, University of Rostock: Marcus Terentius Varro, Saturae Menippeae, lateinisch/deutsch, mit Anmerkungen (Rostock 2001). It offers, after a long and detailed introduction, the full text and translation of the 591 fragments surviving from Varro’s 150 satires, plus a profound commentary on each of them. The work is rounded out by an extensive index and a rich bibliography. Krenkel’s collection ‘Naturalia’ discussed here contains a specimen of this electronic publication: Nr. 23, pp. 495-537.

Version control, visualized

Friday, September 28th, 2007

A nice visual overview of the purposes and mechanisms for version control, from Better Explained.

Two new blogs

Thursday, September 27th, 2007
  • Tom Elliott, Horothesia: thoughts and comments across the boundaries of computing, ancient history, epigraphy and geography.
  • Shawn Graham, Electric Archaeology: Digital Media for Learning and Research.  Agent based modeling, games, virtual worlds, and online education for archaeology and history.

UI for Google book search improves

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Inside Google Book Search offers an update of “New ways to dig into Book Search.”

Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative and Digital Library Program of UCLA

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative and the Digital Library Program of the University of California, Los Angeles, are pleased to announce their successful proposal to the Institute for Museum and Library Services program “National Leadership Grants: Building Digital Resources” for funding of a two-year project dedicated to improving data management and archiving tools in Humanities research.

Project Title: “Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative: Second Generation”

The UCLA University Library and UCLA’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures will create the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative: Second Generation (CDLI 2). The project will migrate 450,000 legacy archival and access images and metadata from CDLI to UCLA’s Digital Library Content System, standardizing and upgrading the metadata to improve discovery and enable content archiving within the California Digital Library’s Digital Preservation Repository. The project will add 7,000 digital artifacts with cuneiform inscriptions, including collections housed at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and in Syrian national museums. This project will ensure the long-term preservation of text inscribed on endangered ancient cuneiform tablets. (see the IMLS notice of grants in this cycle)

Principal Investigators:

Stephen Davison
Robert K. Englund

Academic publishers prepare for dirty war against Open Access

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

According to an article published in this week’s New Scientist (full article requires sub):

An unexpected package arrived on my desk earlier this year. The sender did not give a name, and the return address was false. Inside were copies of emails between senior staff at major scientific publishing houses. They were discussing a surprising topic: plans to hire Eric Dezenhall, a public relations guru who has organised attacks on environmental groups, represented an Enron chief, and authored the book Nail ‘Em! […]

Leaked emails and controversial characters like Dezenhall are not normally associated with the staid world of academic journals, but the big publishers are getting a little spooked. Over the past decade, researchers have started to demand that scientific results be set free. […] This is not a message that all publishers want to hear.

This is, I suppose, not terribly surprising to hear when there is money to be made and lost; those benefiting from the status quo will always fight against any revolution or paradigm shift, but this doesn’t mean that change should or can be stopped. Some academic publishing houses have apparently already protested at the dirty arguments that the AAP are circulating in the name of their membership. In the end, as this article argues, I don’t see how this campaign can actually stop Open Access publishing from becoming huge–but it can, of course, affect US executive decisions.

If you don’t have access to the full New Scientist article, see the following NS blog post, which has links to some of the leaked material as well as other references.


Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Hearing Mojo is not happy:

I can’t believe Apple failed to make its iPhone compatible with either hearing aids or cochlear implants. I’m in the market for a mobile phone again and just discovered the lack of compatibility. Given all the hype surrounding the iPhone launch, I’m surprised there haven’t been more complaints, other than the strong objection I just found on Paula Rosenthal’s HearingExchange site, some chatter on Apple forums, and a complaint made to the FCC by the Hearing Loss Association of America. HLAA has done the most advocacy for hearing-aid compatibility (HAC) regulations, which now mandate 50 percent of manufacturers’ handsets meet minimum M3 compatibility standards. The M3 and M4 ratings mean there’s no buzzing when you listen to the phone with your hearing-aid microphone on, and T3 and T4 ratings mean the phone works with the telecoils in your hearing aids. But according to the HLAA complaint: “Apple has now entered the scene and is predicted to shake up the entire wireless industry. Yet they are not, nor have ever been, involved in any discussions regarding HAC requirements.” Steve Jobs is known for his arrogance and inflexibility when it comes to the design of his products. Apple’s treatment of the hearing-impaired population is a great example. What a disappointment.

outsourcing, again

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Cory Doctorow, “Scroogled: Google controls your e-mail, your videos, your calendar, your searches… What if it controlled your life?”


“Evening,” Greg said, handing the man his sweaty passport. The officer grunted and swiped it, then stared at his screen, tapping. A lot. He had a little bit of dried food at the corner of his mouth and his tongue crept out and licked at it.

“Want to tell me about June 1998?”

Greg looked up from his Departures. “I’m sorry?”

“You posted a message to alt.burningman on June 17, 1998, about your plan to attend a festival. You asked, ‘Are shrooms really such a bad idea?'”

Diamond Synchrotron used to read ancient texts

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

(Spotted by Gregg Schwender and seen in a Diamond Lab press release.)

The ultra-powerful I22 Non-crystalline Diffraction beamline (as best as I understand it an application of the laser particle accellerator that produces highly concentrated pure light for scanning at nanoscopic resolutions) is being applied to the reading of damaged parchment and other ancient and at-risk documents. The synchrotron can analyse the condition of collagen in paper or vellum and determine the patterns of any potentially corrosive ink; this is particularly valuable in cases of very fragile texts, such as those partially eaten away by iron gall ink, or ancient dessicated manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I first heard about this story–albeit in very vague terms–at a party last night, and I have to say that my first reaction was disbelief. I assumed that the speaker (neither a digital humanist nor a manuscript scholar) had misunderstood or misrepresented the story of a particle accellerator the size of four football pitches being used to read the Dead Sea Scrolls. Surely the expense involved would just never be spent on something as niche as manuscript studies? (Not to mention that I know excellent results are already being achieved using standard medical imaging technology.) I apologise to my nameless source for my lack of faith. I guess I need reminding occasionally that even people with big and expensive fish to fry can share our obsession with digital and humanistic concerns.

In mediis tutissimus ibis

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Even if it’s true that “People just want to see what’s real,” surely there are times when one needs to step back from technology’s bleeding edge.

JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grants

Friday, September 14th, 2007

NEH Program Officer Jason Rhody sends the following announcement:

As part of its Digital Humanities Initiative, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in the United States is joining with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom to offer support for digitization projects in the humanities. These grants provide funding for one year of development in any of the following areas:

  • new digitization projects and pilot projects,
  • the addition of important materials to existing digitization projects, or
  • the development of infrastructure (either technical “middleware,” tools, or knowledge-sharing) to support U.S.-England digitization work.

Collaboration between U.S. and English institutions is a key requirement for this grant category. Awards range from $100,000 to $240,000 (approximately £50,000 to £120,000) for a one-year period, with projects starting from April 2008 for up to 12 months. The receipt deadline for applications is November 29, 2007.

For further information, review the full guidelines on the NEH website:

For further information about NEH’s Digital Humanities Initiative, please see:

Stanford Humanities Center – Digital Humanities Fellowship

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The Stanford Humanities Center seeks to award one Digital Humanities Fellowship for the academic year 2008-2009 to a junior or senior scholar.

The Digital Humanities Fellowship reflects the Stanford Humanities Center’s commitment to supporting new directions in humanities research. The fellowship is intended for humanities scholars whose research methods are critically shaped by information technology. Projects should be oriented to producing new research outcomes rather than focusing primarily on the creation of archives or software. Appropriate projects will approach significant questions in humanistic study with the aid of new research tools or methodologies.

E-Science, Imaging Technology and Ancient Documents

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Updated version of the Oxford e-science posts with the corrected deadline forwarded to me by Marilyn Deegan:



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 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.