Archive for July, 2009

Stanford’s Virtual Archives Open House

Friday, July 24th, 2009

This is copied from an announcement I received through the Exlibris listserv, and I thought readers of The Stoa would be interested as well. I’m not a big proponent of Second Life, but I do like seeing how people are coming up with interesting (and potentially useful) ways to use the technology. I feel the same way about Twitter, incidentally.


Have you heard about virtual worlds? Ever wonder what how they might be used in the world of archives and special collections?

Come find out at Stanford University’s Special Collections and University Archives’ virtual “Open House” in the virtual world Second Life on Friday, July 31st from 9:00 to 11:00a.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during these hours for an overview of our new Virtual Archives which allows scholars to discover and use our primary resources in a virtual environment.

For the first time scholars and the casual passersby can walk Stanford’s closed stacks and browse some of our manuscript collections—a practice not offered in real life. Stanford’s Virtual Archive is a very small but growing subset of our deep storage facility replicated in Second Life. Patrons can open virtual Hollinger boxes and a sampling of scanned documents from the real life box will appear along with a link to that collection’s online finding aid. They can then post their reference questions on the bulletin board which sends email to our Special Collections staff. Stanford’s Virtual Archive provides access to patrons around the world without endangering the collection.

Second Life (SL) is a virtual world where more than 15 million users have created avatars–or online personas–enabling them to explore SL and interact with others from in real time. Reference in SL occurs through in-world text and voice chat as well as our reference bulletin board.

Please join us at our Open House to learn more at the following SLURL address (this is the Second Life location for the Stanford University Special Collections’ Virtual Archive): This address launches the Second Life application from your web browser. For those not already in SL, joining is free at and we will be happy to help get you acclimated in-world. Look for Sicilia Tiratzo and my colleague in SL, Mollie Mavendorf. We will be on hand to demonstrate the archives site and answer your questions. We look forward to seeing you “in world” on July 31st.

GRBS Free Online

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Recently circulated by Joshua Sosin:

Volume 49 (2009) will be the last volume of GRBS printed on paper. Beginning with volume 50, issues will be published quarterly on-line on the GRBS website, on terms of free access. We undertake this transformation in the hope of affording our authors a wider readership; out of concern for the financial state of our libraries; and in the belief that the dissemination of knowledge should be free.

The current process of submission and peer-review of papers will continue unchanged. The on-line format will be identical with our pages as now printed, and so articles will continue to be cited by volume, year, and page numbers.

Our hope is that both authors and readers will judge this new medium to be to their advantage, and that such open access will be of benefit to continuing scholarship on Greece.

– The editors

(I for one think this is great news: we know that online publications are read and cited some orders of magnitude more widely than dead tree volumes; we also know that many academic journals are largely edited, administered, peer-reviewed and proof-read by a volunteer staff of academics who see none of the profit for expensive volumes–so why not cut out the middleman and publish these high-quality products directly to the audience?)

Assisted Transcription Software

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Posted on behalf of Ben Gracy at the University of Denver: an article on an assisted transcription system that uses OCR. It sounds fascinating.

*edit: elsewhere in the article reference is made to “ancient documents and manuscripts”, which indicates that this system has been developed for handwritten materials in addition to printed… although the word “handwritten” itself doesn’t appear in the article.*

Traditional Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems give rise to transcription problems and provide results with many errors that need to be edited afterwards. State, however, is a transcription system that integrates a series of tools with which images can be processed in order to remove noise and clean up the original image, the page structure can be detected, the text can be recognised and mistakes can be quickly and easily edited with interactive tools such as an electronic pen applied directly on the text. Andrés Marzal, one of the researchers in the project, explains: “It is a practical solution to the problem of a supervised transcription, since it shortens the most time-consuming phase, that is, editing the automatic transcription so that it is true to the original”.

Call for Book Proposals in Digital Classics

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Gorgias Press is expanding its interest in technology and classics and welcomes book proposals regarding digital classics research, for both monographs (including revised dissertations) and edited collections (based on conference sessions or otherwise). Proposals should be no more than 4 pages pdf and include contact details and a biography of the author(s), an overview of the topic and its importance, a brief description of all chapters, and a summation of how this text will relate to other texts in the field. This is an open call. Please send proposals to

Digital Classicist seminars update

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Note that we have had to make a change to the programme for the Digital Classicist ICS seminar series.

The correct details are on the Digital Classicist website.

July 24 Leif Isaksen (Southampton)
‘Linking Archaeological Data ‘

July 31 Elton Barker (Oxford) & Leif Isaksen (Southampton)
‘Herodotos Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive’

(ie these two papers have been swapped around)

Remenber also that all presentations are podcast along with slides via an RSS feed.