Archive for December, 2007

Digital Curation of Cultural Heritage

Monday, December 17th, 2007

By way of various email lists and blogs, we learn of the call for papers for CIDOC 2008 Athens, “The Digital Curation of Cultural Heritage”:

Digital curation emerged as an important new concept in the theory and management of cultural information.

It covers all of the actions needed to maintain digitised and born-digital cultural objects and data, going beyond digital preservation to encompass their utilisation in the context of their entire life cycle, from acquisition and appraisal to exhibition, learning and commercial exploitation.

The focus of CIDOC 2008 on the digital curation of cultural heritage will allow curators, collection managers, documentalists, archivists and museum information specialists to explore a broad range of theoretical, methodological, professional practice and technological issues related to the appraisal, digitisation, management, representation, access and use of digital cultural assets, such as those increasigly becoming part of museum information systems and digital archives.

A core emphasis of the meeting will be to understand and re-contextualise the know-how and history of established curatorial practice in museums, and memory institutions, in general, in the new field of digital cultural heritage; to review and discuss the applicability of standards- and good practice-related work in the context of managing digital cultural information; and to identify and explore the issues, methods and challenges involved with the development of new genres and contexts of virtual exhibition, e-learning and technology-enhanced services for scholarship and research.


Technology Collaboration Awards

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

An announcement from Mellow (via the CHE):

Five universities were among the 10 winners of the Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration, announced this week. They will share $650,000 in prize money for “leadership in the collaborative development of open-source software tools with application to scholarship in the arts and humanities.” The university winners were:

  • Duke University for the OpenCroquet open-source 3-D virtual worlds environment
  • Open Polytechnic of New Zealand for several projects, including the New Zealand Open Source Virtual Learning Environment
  • Middlebury College for the Segue interactive-learning management system
  • University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for two projects: the Firefox Accessibility Extension and the OpenEAI enterprise application integration project
  • University of Toronto for the ATutor learning content-management system.

Other winners included the American Museum of the Moving Image for a collections-management system, and the Participatory Culture Foundation for the Miro media player. The winners were announced at the fall task-force meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information, and awards were presented by the World Wide Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. –Josh Fischman

Long-term data preservation

Friday, December 14th, 2007

There was an article in New Scientist last week on plans for permanent data preservation for the scientific data. The argument in the sciences seems to be that all data should be preserved, as some of it will be from experiments that are unrepeatable (in particular Earth observations, astronomy, particle accelerators, and other highly expensive projects that can produce petabytes of data). It is a common observation that any problems we have in the humanities, the sciences have in spades and will solve for us, but what is interesting here is that the big funding being thrown at this problem by the likes of the NSF, ESF, and the Alliance for Permanent Access is considered news. This is a recognised problem, and the sciences don’t have the solution yet… Grid and Supercomputing technologies are still developing.

(Interestingly, I have heard the argument made in the humanities that on the contrary, most data is a waste of space and should be thrown away because it will just make it more difficult for future researchers to find the important stuff among all the crap. Even in the context of archaeology, where one would have thought practitioners would be sensitive to the fragile nature of the materials and artefacts that we study, there is a school of thought that says our data–outside of actual publications–are just not important enough to preserve in the long term. Surely in the Googleverse finding what you want in a vast quantity of information is a problem with better solutions than throwing out stuff that you don’t think important and therefore cannot imagine anyone else finding interesting.)

Another important aspect of the preservation article is the observation that:

Even if the raw data survives, it is useless without the background information that gives it meaning.

We have made this argument often in Digital Humanities venues: raw data is not enough, we also need the software, the processing instructions, the script, presentation, search, and/or transformation scenarios that make this data meaningful for our interpretations and publications. This is in technical terms the equivalent of documenting experimental methodology to make sure that research results can be replicated, but it also as essential and providing binary data and documenting the format so that this data can be interpreted as structured text (say).

It’s good to see that this is a documented issue and that large resources are being thrown at it. We shall watch their progress with great interest.

Tinctoris Updates

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Ron Woodley of the Birmingham Conservatoire at Birmingham City University has updated his site on the Renaissance music theorist Tinctoris published here on the Stoa:

Two new treatise texts by Tinctoris are added, relating to technical aspects of late medieval mensural notation: (1) the Tractatus alterationum; and (2) the Liber imperfectionum notarum musicalium. For each of these a newly edited Latin text is provided, along with the first English translations to be published. The complex music examples in both treatises are presented in original notation embedded in the Latin texts, using special fonts designed by the editor to be historically and typographically more accurate than those of other commercially available notation packages. The examples of the Tractatus alterationum have been transcribed into conventional modern notation, within the translation texts, and technical commentary notes are presented which explicate the notational intricacies discussed. Similar transcriptions and commentary notes for the Liber imperfectionum will be available in due course. This update to the site also makes available archive versions in PDF format of two journal articles on Tinctoris published by Ron Woodley in Early Music History in the 1980s, which discuss other historical material related to Tinctoris’s life; these sit alongside more recent articles and papers on the theorist that have been mounted on the site to provide further context to the theorist’s output and reception.


Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Just awful.  More here:

…the bottom line is that Facebook is materially misrepresenting the privacy impact of their Beacon program, and presenting users with the appearance of control over their information when in fact they have almost none.