Fall into stride with fake words with foolish connotations.
Flipping your hair, looking back at me, but by now I’ve already
My mind a bouncing rattle.
Fall into stride with fake words with foolish connotations.
Flipping your hair, looking back at me, but by now I’ve already
My mind a bouncing rattle.
Your inside jokes used to burn holes in my brain
and I was funny
And I’ve got to go, and, again, you’ve
Got to go.
Interacting takes up
The Keats Connections Project is a digital humanities project with the purpose of articulating contextual and historical connections between the poetry of John Keats and his life and letters. The aim of Keats Connections is to be a resource encompassing all 241 letters and all 54 poems of John Keats, making connections between them and connections within them to contextual information. We created this project in order to allow researchers, archivists, students, and Keats enthusiasts alike to have access to a user-friendly and collaborative resource towards viewing the connections between contexts and the life and writings of the poet John Keats.
This project will address the lack of digital representation of the connections and contexts seen in the poetry and letters of John Keats. As scholars of Keats well know, Keats’s letters reveal his writing process and show the formation of his ideas by revealing the reasoning and thoughts behind his poetry. However, there is not currently a resource allowing for a direct connection between his poetry, his letters, and his life. There is the well-documented “Keats Letters Project” that produces each of his letters on the 200th anniversary of their authorship (which will be complete in late 2020), and there is the digital chronology entitled “Mapping Keats’ Progress” that traces Keats’ life, but there is no project that connects his life and letters with his poetry, the most celebrated area of his life.
This project utilizes the Omeka publishing service to present our information with the use of items, collections, and pages on an exhibit to allow users the ability to view poems, letters, and contexts in the way that best suits their needs. The organization of the site includes a page outlining all poems in alphabetical order, a page displaying all correspondences in alphabetical order by last name, a page with all poems and letters organized by date, and a page with embedded text analyses organized alphabetically. Viewers and researchers can view the poems and letters as both items and as pages in an exhibit to allow for either a quick singular viewer through items that are searchable in Omeka’s advanced search query (unfortunately for our viewers it appears that our non-advanced search bar does not display results at all), or a more immersive interactive experience through an exhibit where the viewer can see the content with none of the source information that comes with the item viewer (Dublin Core) mode in Omeka. One downfall of the exhibit page viewer, however, is that users cannot use the search bar to locate the pages, so they must utilize the menus created in order to conduct their viewing.
Through the exhibit pages and/or items in Keats Connections, when viewers select their choice of poem, letter, or contextual item, they are directed to work with clickable text embedded with links that, when clicked, leads them to the resources and works (poems/letters) connected with the property they are viewing; all of which open in new tabs to allow for quick comparisons between properties.
Within these connected resources are many different ways that information and connections are presented and explorable to viewers: there are location connections showing where Keats wrote specific poems and letters which have maps embedded in them; there are links to people that Keats was connected with that showcase images and textual information; there are Voyant-embedded textual analyses pages set up for each poem and letter; and a Neatline timeline that shows a broad overview of the key life events of John Keats in a visually stimulating map that takes users on a digital walking tour of his life and movements; it also acts to visually represent how his poetry and letters occur in historical time by showing where they exist in reference to space and time.
The many different ways Keats Connections presents information act in unison to bring the viewer into a uniquely digital visual environment. Having images and maps within the resources on Keats Connections immerses the viewer in the visual and spatial environment of John Keats; that is, they can see the people, places, and things mentioned in the words and better interpret the texts. The implementation of text analysis directly on-site lets users quickly see the most common words and themes in the texts without having to outsource the text themselves, and for those who were not aware of text analysis/Voyant Tools, it alerts them of the existence of such an ability in their future research. The timeline feature allows users to make conclusions about the occurrence of Keats’ poetry through a historical lens, making for a better understanding of the consideration of time in reference to Keats’ poetry and letters and also allows for viewers to make efficient connections between the important events in his life and writing. Finally, alongside these different ‘ways of viewing,’ Keats Connections has enabled the use of Hypothesis.is on every page of the resource, and we encourage users to make both personal and community annotations on the texts in order to collaborate on developing connections between sources and texts. We will implement the connections made by the annotations of the resource’s community by researching their connections and adding them to the resource; this action will not only cause Keats Connections to fulfill its goals faster, but it also creates a space that is open to the interpretive power of many minds working together rather than a one-sided viewpoint of the texts.
This project acts as an explorable ‘window’ into the personal and historical meanings behind Keats’ poems and letters, allowing scholars to share their research and for students and enthusiasts to gain a better understanding of the author and his poetry in an easily accessible format; it acts as a tool for further study and exploration in instances of focused research; and it meets the ever-growing need for the presentation of knowledge in a concise, transferrable, collaboration-friendly, and openly accessible format.
We hope you enjoy your time in The Keats Connections Project, and we also hope to hear your ideas and connections in Hypothesis upon browsing our mock-up.
Mariah, Josh, and Harjinder
English 201: Computing in the Humanities is the course at my university that begun this “adventure” in digital humanities, and the instructor has asked that we provide a more open and developed response to the course through our blogs. He gave us prompts to respond to, and this post outlines my feedback and thoughts to these prompts and towards my experience with this class.
*Note: this was a short summer term class that ran from May to June 2018.
Coming into this course, I did not know that digital humanities existed as an area of academic focus. Based on the course description, I thought that it was about the creation of a digital environment for articles and information written and distributed online. That is, I thought it was based on how to publish online materials in different formats (i.e. a blog or an online academic article) with a focus on the publication process (how to get an article published online, how to format an article for online publication, etc.). So my assumptions were close, but still not quite what the course ended up focusing on (digital humanities as a subject, creating a DH project). I at least understood that it was going to involve some online writing!
I have done some work with blogs online in the past when I thought I wanted to be a web/graphic designer instead of an English graduate (I thought graphic design was more towards designing and photography, not coding for some reason), so I did come into this course with some background knowledge on how to use digital interfaces such as WordPress. That being said, I still had trouble creating the final project because I had no understanding of the resources available towards creating the type of project I wanted to create. I understood how to set up and run the (this!) blog and I think pretty easily comprehended how to use resources such as Mattermost, Hypothesis.is, and, although a little more difficult, the back end of Wikipedia; but when speaking with other participants of the class I got the idea that they had a lot of trouble using the digital resources provided, so I feel that some more guidance would be beneficial in terms of teaching students how to do specific things in these programs. Perhaps more guided tutorials or small graded assignments with walk-through information provided would help students get acclimated.
Although I thought this course would be based on publication and digital text production, I still enjoyed learning about DH and I hope that this class will be developed more in a longer semester in the future, because it is a topic that I think is gaining traction and should be available for students to experiment with! In terms of the course organization, I felt that it was paced well for the summer semester in that the readings and assignments were doable in the amount of time we were given; however, I felt let loose from the course a bit too much as I did not know what was expected of us going in with what was wanted for each singular assignment. The statement that we should have a minimum of two blog posts and two comments was not enough for me to quite grasp what our involvement was being graded on in terms of our hypothesis comments and the final assignment. Clarifying this information in Mattermost was helpful, and comfortable, but it would have been nice to have a more precise outline of these things at the beginning. I also felt that the assignment descriptions on the class blog could have been posted sooner to allow us some more time to think about the final project and such would have made it better for students to be prepared, especially with the final project.
The final project was a good way to develop and showcase what we have learned throughout the course. I especially like that we can interact with the work that all of our classmates have done, because as humanities majors, we tend to do our work privately, missing the opportunity to develop ideas from each other. Some criticism I have about the final project is that it was very loosely outlined. I realize that it can be difficult to outline a project such as this where each student has very different ideas on what they want to produce, but when going into my project, I did not know what would be counted for the project’s final assessment, especially since some students might be more skilled with handling digital resources (e.g. a Computer Science major’s project vs. a non-computer literate humanities student’s project) and can make their project look and act exactly as they would like it to, where other students might not be able to put their ideas in such a nice format, skewing the grading of the assignments. Skewing the grade might not (is probably not) the case in our class, but there is the possibility that it may happen if the assignment is not fleshed out more with specific expectations of what the end result should be that doesn’t take into account a pre-course trained ability with computers.
The readings for this course were interesting and helped to comprehend the realm of digital humanities, but I think some more readings towards helping the students to work in digital humanities would have been helpful as well. The use of hypothsis.is to annotate the readings was a great way to spur student interaction with the readings in an online course where students are normally left on their own: I felt that it was a good substitute for in-class participation. I found the videos presented by the embedded librarian to be the most helpful resource to me, and I think more videos from the instructor(s) would have been a helpful resource. Perhaps over time these videos can be archived for students to rely on in future classes as well.
In terms of the embedded librarian, they were a wonderful resource for students to have in the class, and I hope that they can be implemented in further classes (especially since ours was excited and knowledgeable about DH!). I do feel that there was a gap in understanding as to what she had to offer to students though, as it was not quite explained how the librarian could help us other than that she is there to be of help to us. It can be hard to go for help if one doesn’t understand what exactly the person can help with. Perhaps an outline of what students can go for help with would make the librarian more accessible to the class, even if it outlines some abilities and the student can get a feel for the types of things they may get help with from someone who is not the professor.
I really enjoyed the promotion of learning and experimenting that this course provided, and I never felt like I should know everything previous to coming into the class (which I have felt like in previous classes — even lower level ones): something which is very important for a class such as this where it is all about ideation and communication! I also thought that the fact that the assignments were matched to blog posts was intuitive and made the class feel more connected with one another (something that can be difficult to achieve in an online class). I liked that we could see and comment on each others’ assignments and experiences and thoughts towards the assignments. In my experience, there is not enough shared assignments and ideas that are not group work, and it was so nice to be able to share my work and read the work of my classmates! My class might not have been the most talkative in terms of assignment sharing, but I liked it nonetheless. Maybe this is due to students not understanding how to work with the systems of their blog? I also felt that the instructors were knowledgable, open, and understanding with students in the class, and I enjoyed and earned from the feedback I was provided in my blog posts.
Due to this course being shorter than a normal semester, the final assignment did feel like a rush to the end with little guidance, but in future (longer) classes, I think that the final should be given earlier and with more in-class (or online tutorial) direct guidance towards the skills of how to accomplish certain things in the digital environment. I think that with more time to give direct guidance the students would feel more capable of accomplishing a digital project for the first time. I do believe that this course would be both more fun and more comprehensive if it were taught in a face-to-face class environment, where students can show their computers to each other and to the instructor, but it is still successful in the online environment (and is probably more in line with the DH ideals in that way).
This course was interesting and I certainly learned a lot. I will be able to take my knowledge of DH and apply it to further non-digital humanities scholarship! I will especially take away the values taught in the class towards collaboration and learning, and was given good ideas towards how I might want to teach a class utilizing these values and assignments if that is the route I take with my degree.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have enjoyed this little experiment in DH!
This project will address the lack of digital representation of the contexts behind Keats’ poetry represented by his experiences and responses to the world around him as seen through his letters and through historical contexts occurring around him. As scholars of Keats well know, Keats’s letters reveal his writing process and show the formation of his ideas by revealing the reasoning and thoughts behind his poetry. However, there is not currently a resource allowing for a direct connection between his poetry and his letters. There is the well-documented “Keats Letters Project” that produces each of his letters on the 200th anniversary of their authorship, and there is the digital chronology entitled “Mapping Keats’ Progress” that traces Keats’ life, but there is no project that connects his life and letters to the most celebrated area of his life: his poetry.
Not only will this specified digital project act as a comprehensive resource for scholars of Keats, it will also, in future developments, act as a template for other projects in the digital humanities that wish to address a need in the realm of other authors or texts towards the comparison of contexts and texts. This template will be open-source and editable to allow for all areas of research to develop an easily accessible and organized database. It will promote the sharing of information as it will be accessible to both those in a specialized area and those of general interest, and all projects inspired by the creation of the template will create an all-encompassing database of information on the web.
To address this gap of knowledge, this project will utilize timeline software, text analysis software, and text encoding software to present information on Keats’ biographical details, his letters in connection with his poems, and to show relevant historical contextual information that directly relates to his poetry. This project will utilize the Omeka platform and its plugins to bring it to life, specifically the Omeka-driven Neatline application that allows for the creation of unique and personalized visual projects. The project will use Shanti Interactive tools (specifically “Many Eyes” and “Shiva” to create a timeline visualization. Orange by Biolab will be used as a text analysis and processing software. Timeline software (Timeglider) will be used at the bottom of the screen to place the letters in a historical context by date: each letter will connect to the timeline with an identifying mark to place it in relevance to history and to Keats’ life. The timeline will be clickable, with the option to minimize it into a spanning line or maximize it on a particular point of interest. Researchers will have many options of browsing including searching by letter, poem, or date with the option for a timeline (showing contextual dates) or page (of poem or letter) viewer. These options allow for inquiry in multiple forms, making room for the development of unique projects that stem from the information the visual-digital database provides.
The poems and letters will be displayed as a document with clickable highlighted text that opens a box beside the originating poem/letter of interest detailing information that connects the poems, letters, and contextual information in one place. The highlighted text will allow users to view the corresponding information to each highlight as they read a poem/letter. Multiple matches for one highlight will open all matches for that highlight at once with scaling ‘boxes’ that automatically adjust to allow all boxes to fit, but also allow the viewer to select sizes if they so wish. If the viewer wishes to see all the contextual information for a poem or letter, they may click “view all” at the top corner of the poem/letter’s screen. This will push the poem to the top of the page instead of to the side and all the contextual/connecting information will be viewable below the poem.
The ‘boxes’ will be closable to allow the viewer to choose which information to view. They may be opened again by clicking on the link within the originating text. If the viewer wishes to see poems compared with contextual information they may open a new instance of the project in a new tab or window. This allows for the project to remain as uncluttered as possible.
The timeline at the bottom of the page will act as a reference point for the dates of the viewed poem / letter, showing the reference date(s) with an indicator. There will also be a timeline viewer that will show the timeline in full view and state all dates referenced, and will have information on historical and biographical contexts relevant to Keats.
This project aims to target the gap of knowledge towards easily visualized connections between texts and author contexts in a digital environment. It will act as an explorable ‘window’ into the personal meaning behind Keats’ poems to gain a more easily accessible understanding of the author and of his poetry. It will act as a tool for further study and explorations in not only Keats scholarship, but as a future template for all other areas of focused research. As such, this digital project meets a growing need for a concise and transferrable space that draws textual connections in a digital-visual environment; instead of spending time accessing separate information from multiple areas and tracking down texts to then make connections, scholars and students can use more time towards the development of their ideas and publications based on information they have secured in an organized digital format.
Working with Timeline.js was an interesting experience. I really enjoy how the program allows you to place information in a simple spreadsheet, and then have the timeline just ‘create itself:’ it just simply works with your input of information.
I decided to do a short timeline of the life of the Romantic poet John Keats, the author I believe I will be focusing on for my Masters thesis in 2 years time (application due a year in advance!). I wanted to do my timeline on Keats because it was a topic I was interested in, and thought that making a digital timeline would be a nice way to visualize his life and learn more about his life. The dates I selected within the timeline are the ones I found to be the most important to a telling of his life story. I did not want to create a timeline with every single little detail because it would have been either very long with small bit of information on each slide, or there would be too much information crammed onto one slide. I found that by going through the process of selecting the points I felt were most important showed me how to sift through a wide range of information coming from multiple areas to then come up with a project that showcased the points most integral to understanding the person behind the author.
I would have liked for the timeline to be more customizable with options to select different colours and outline options. I would also like the option to have more than one photo in one slide instead of having to make a new slide to have a different photo. It might also be nice to have the timeline show every point all at once instead of one by one. Although the ability for options such as these are sacrificed, the timeline acts as a nice visual for someone who needs to create something quickly, and it works quite well.
One thing I had trouble with at first was placing the timeline on my blog, but this was quickly fixed when I realized that I needed to switch from the visual viewer to the code viewer to input it, otherwise the code would be presented as text instead of as the timeline itself.
The uses of this tool are many: a researcher can place their research in a timeline on their website to show anything from their own research to a sort of resume showcasing when they have done which writing and such; a student or professor can use it as a visual in a presentation; a museum or public research website/project can use it to present exhibits and information; and Digital Humanities projects can use it as a way to showcase a project in general.
Limitations that I see with this tool is that, while it fits the description of a Visualization, where it allows for the “transformation from data to visual representations in order to facilitate effective and efficient cognitive processes in performing tasks involving data” (Chen et al. 6), it does not allow much room for showcasing an argument, thesis, or “hypothesis evaluation” (5). It is more for presenting factual information based on a range of dates. It would be most helpful in a historical or biographical context, but not for projects that require information that does not pertain to a date format such as aggregate data.
This tool has limited ability to “contribute to new and emergent ways of understanding the material,” the definition of the “best” type of visualization according to Sinclair et al., as while it has options for researchers to input many different types of media within the slideshow to present information in a new way, it does not particularly allow for a researcher to present their thesis alongside their data unless they have another tool working with it that presents it separately. That is, the tool does not have the option for multiple slides on one page, so the information would most likely be crammed onto one page which is not very user-friendly.
I enjoy how simple this tool is to use for someone looking for a dated timeline to add to their project or website, but for it to be a groundbreaking tool in digital humanities scholarship, it would need some more features and adjustments. The tool is certainly a good static visualization, but it is not a good tool for partaking in research except to present one’s own or view someone else’s research surrounding a very narrow topic entailing historical, dated information.
Thanks for reading!
Edit: I found a timeline that includes most of the features that I felt were missing from Timeline.js: it’s called timeglider, and they have a free account for students!
When I read about the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative, I immediately started thinking about how Prince George (my hometown) could take part. The monuments that came to mind for Prince George were, of course, Mr. P.G. and the Prince George welcome sign: both of which are already represented on the Prince George City Wikipedia page. I was surprised at how quickly I was stumped on which other monuments necessitated representation — there had to be more than two. However, after a quick search on the internet of Prince George community art, I realized how many art installations there are in Prince George that I see every day and don’t truly notice.
Going through this experience showed me just how important it is to share the monuments and culture of our towns, cities, and countries; if we weren’t to share them with the world, they might go under-appreciated. I decided to go see the monuments and public art installations in town to put them into Wikimedia Commons because I feel they deserve to be shared with the world and celebrated. To put them on such a commonly used and high-profile resource such as Wikipedia puts these art works in the spotlight, and allows others to appreciate them: leading possibly to their interest in our northern town. I went and took photos of lots of the artworks in town, but this is not even close to the amount of public art we have in Prince George, so I would love if others went and shared some of the others in town! If you’d like to see the data/images I have submitted to wiki commons, you can see them here.
I had a lot of trouble with this project mostly due to the fact that I did not know where to put the images I uploaded to the commons to be relevant to the monuments initiative, especially since Prince George is not a listed area with qualifying monuments. In lieu of submitting them to the loves monuments page, I submitted them to the Prince George, British Columbia page in the same way one would submit to the loves monuments page. I chose my submitted images because I felt that these monuments and art installations should be represented on Wikipedia and they complied to the values of the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative of uploading data and images to the web to preserve and share them with the world. If I were to pick two of my images to submit to the contest specifically, I would choose my image of the Bridget Moran statue by Nathan Scott and of the Millennium Unity Pole by Ron Sebastian (Gwin Butsxw) and Peter George because I feel that they are the best photos out of the bunch, and they also reflect two very important and well-known monuments in Prince George that the community involves itself with quite commonly. What I mean by this community involvement is that people take photos with these monuments quite frequently: sitting beside Bridget Moran, posing with her and pretending she’s alive; and children poking their heads through the hole at the bottom of theMillennium Unity Pole and posing as if they were a part of the totem. I think that the community (and people from out of town too!) doing such things physically shows the values and ideas behind the monuments themselves. The Bridget Moran statue is there to celebrate her legacy, and people taking a moment to pose with her allows her to show them her legacy and to keep it preserved in the next generation. The totem pole is there to celebrate unity, and by people not being able to resist poking their heads through to take a photo, they embody that celebration of unity.
This assignment took me a lot longer than I expected (partly because I always think larger than I have to and submitted around 20 photos for 5 different art installations instead of 2 images… ). The initial steps were straightforward: first the photos had to be taken, then they had to be edited, then I had to upload them. And then I had to link them to the wikimedia page that was outlined in these instructions. This step proved very difficult and involved a lot of ripping hair and grinding my teeth because I could not figure out how to do it because I did not know where these images were supposed to go exactly. I tried multiple things including trying to set up a gallery of my images under a subheading on the Prince George, British Columbia Wiki page (which proved unsuccessful due to my lack of knowledge and direction on the subject — but I did figure out how to code a gallery though), linking the images to the wikimedia commons page that I searched in the wikimedia commons search bar (wrong place, back out, escape, help!), and uploading them to the wiki loves monuments uploader that stated that the 2017 contest had already been completed but I could share my images anyway. This last trial led me into the page that allowed me to find (finally!) the listed monuments not just from the UK but from Canada as well. Finding this page was also unsuccessful due to my previously stated reasoning however, because Prince George is not listed as having any points of interest. I finally decided that I would show the files having been uploaded in the Prince George page (linked above) and would also link my own personal uploads page (also linked above) to show which photos are mine should anyone else upload. I am still conflicted about this decision as when I go to the Prince George page, I do not see where my photos are displayed except for at the link at the very bottom of the page that says “Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prince George, British Columbia”, but I do not know where else to place them and I followed the instructions we were given for this post prompt (I hope it’s correct).
While I was embarking on this project I was thinking about the statement that “capturing data is not passively accepting what is given, but actively constructing what one is interested in” mentioned in the article “Big? Smart? Clean? Messy? Data in the Humanities” by Christof Schoch, as taking and distributing these photos plays into that idea. I have to actively take the photos, and then figure out how to navigate confusing and frustrating code in order to put them out there for everyone to see and appreciate in a substantial and academic/learning based context. The information from the articles we read this week explain how Wiki brings data and people together in order to create a DH project that helps the spread of knowledge and information. I thought that this connection that Wiki has made really illustrates what Scholoch says in the article about combining automatic annotation and crowdsourcing, as they have made it accessible to anyone who has the means and the want to edit the data to go ahead and share their knowledge and/or expertise and/or skills towards the big project. It also illustrates Scholoch’s notion of Big vs. Smart data, where each page or edit is Smart data and the project as a whole is Big data.
I enjoyed this project, and I feel that (as is mentioned in detail in Melanie Kill’s article Teaching Digital Rhetoric: Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Free Knowledge”) it truly solidifies that we as students in the humanities have the ability and the responsibility to share our knowledge with other people, and not just in the classroom, but also in the wider world. I would love to contribute to the wiki loves monuments competition this September (especially since I’m going on an exchange to Scotland!!), and I hope that the initiative grows to support the sharing of monuments all over the world and in smaller areas, not just the larger well-known (and commonly photographed) ones already well represented on Wikipedia.
Researching in the Digital Humanities usually (lets face it: always) implies looking into a ton of online resources of all sorts: just some examples of the design of such resources include the use of mapping tools, data visualizations, text editing and processing tools, and database management systems, to name a few from the Digital Tools Index. Going through all these interesting sources with so many unique aspects to each project can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you are used to a “keep all tabs open” system and end up with tabs so small you can barely click on them (been there).
The next organizational system after the “overwhelming tabs” system comes the “copy-paste into word” system, which can also become overwhelming, and take up a lot of searching time, especially if it is not copied in with some sort of specified organization technique. I have had many research essays scrolling past the information and then quickly becoming confused by which source has which information … and then quickly ending up in the default tab system all over again. As much as I have tried to copy all of the information from both online and print sources in an organized fashion in proper MLA format to save time on my works cited page, it always ends with my essay/project taking much longer than it should because I am scrambling with a bunch of information that may or may not be conducive to my writing.
If you are like me in this aspect, then you may appreciate the online app Evernote.
Evernote allows users to ‘clip’ their online research links into the app itself and then write and even draw on the page that includes the clipping. My favourite feature is the one that allows for the creation of a notebook with a range of sources in one neat and organized format. It gets rid of the endless scroll, and cuts down on the need for multiple tabs (although you can still end up in tab land if you need to). Instead of seeing all your information on one long endless (slow) list as in a word processor, you can see your information in small squares all at once.
This tool greatly changes my research process, making it easier to enter information and even allows for more creativity, which for writing, is a great mindset to be in. The only thing I don’t like so much about the app is that it is not as organize-able as I would like. While it does have the option to make stacks of notebooks, which allows for the creation of multiple notebooks of research towards one project, I would like to see the ability to place specific notes within a notebook on their own ‘page’ so to speak. I can relax easier when I can see all of one type of thing in a well-organized list, and while I appreciate the option to make tags and view all sources under tags, it is still not quite the structure I like to work with. It would also be interesting to be able to print out the entire notebook’s contents all at once instead of only being able to print each note individually.
Browsing around, I found this link that has a number of online tools for helping researchers, well, research, and I may try some of them out to see if they are more what I am looking for. Especially of interest to me is Zotero which is built specifically for research rather than note-taking, the way Evernote is. It is nice to know there are so many different options out there towards research organization, note-taking, project collaboration, and list creation!
I used Evernote to put all of my DH project research in one place, and it has worked pretty well for that purpose as I can go through them and can easily find the projects that I want to go through again, but for an essay where I must write out quotes and things, Evernote is not my favourite method so far.
What are your thoughts on the Evernote app? Do you use it or another app to organize your research, notes, ideas, &c.?
I would be really interested to hear your research strategies as well, as I love hearing new ideas towards organization and approaches to essay/project work. I feel that it is too easy sometimes to get stuck in one way of doing something and not realize how difficult a certain approach may be until new ideas are shown.
The interesting DH projects I have been checking out this week are all available to view through my public Evernote folder, but I would like to highlight a couple of them here to discuss them more in detail.
The project is geared towards academics who are interested in the types of more academic exhibitions, but it addresses less academic public as well. I think that the fact that this project is about the presentation of information to anyone who is interested in the exhibitions is important as it truly displays the DH value of information as a publicly accessible to promote collaboration and idea generation. The resource is funded by a charity, and as such, this could pose a problem in terms of longevity, as the funds could be retracted. Other than this small insecurity, this resource has a wealth of exhibits to view, so it seems to be long-standing.
If there were one thing that I would critique the project on, it would be the ability to search for keywords to find exhibits of interest, as right now the project is only a long scrolling line of exhibitions. I think that with a search feature there would be an increase in traffic to the project as people would be able to search for things they are directly interested in instead of having to scroll endlessly in the hopes that there is something related to what they’d like to see. Otherwise this resource is well organized, with small pictorial cues to show the viewer what each exhibit does (i.e. it says which exhibits are digital or are only in person), and it has some very interesting exhibits (e.g. “Smelly Remedy”, a digital exhibition looking at what’s called womb fumigation in the 17th century print).
2. I will mention one more interesting DH project here in detail, and that is the Decima mapping project. This project has a GIS interactive map that details the landscape of Florence, Italy in the 16th century. The Digital Humanists behind this project have worked very hard to make the map as accurate as possible with hand-drawn images of buildings that accurately reflect their research of the social and physical landscape of Florence in the 1500s and early 1600s. Users can draw on the map, zoom in and out with different street views of the city, and can even compare consensus data from before, during, and after the Black Plague. There are even tools on the map allowing for the comparison of data from different areas of Florence. The University of Toronto and the SSHRC counsel support and maintain the project, and it is made for scholars and non-scholars alike. The map is a bit confusing to just jump into at first, but they have tutorials and information for those who are unsure how to use GIS mapping software. I think something that would enhance the project even more would be the ability to share and comment in a group setting on the map to create a more community-driven environment towards the research. One other slightly disappointing factor of this project is that in order to utilize SQL analysis features of the map is that one is required to have an ArcGIS account. I seriously recommend checking this project out as it is a well done virtual project that has thought of every detail in terms of it’s visualizations.
Researching these projects this week has made me question what the definition of a website versus a DH project is. What is the differentiation between a regular ol’ website versus that of a DH project? Both classifications involve the sharing of information on a digital platform, and both often involve communication between people. So what’s the difference?
In my mind, a website is a digital space that shares information on general topics, a fashion blog for example, or a digital platform such as Facebook, and a DH project is a digital space that has the key goal of sharing well-researched information in a creative and user-geared format. Some websites may involve sharing well-researched information pertaining to the Digital Humanities in their own right (such as this website), but the differentiation between the two is that one of them is geared towards the project itself, not a page that encompasses any information whenever it would like to. That is, the DH project is something that is built for researchers and all people interested based around an idea such as sharing the exhibits held at a library or outlining very specific research towards a person, place, or thing, &c., such as the Darwin Correspondence Project that that very specifically outlines all of Darwin’s letters and information gathered from those letters.
The DH project is a digital project that clearly defines the content displayed, and is more of a researching experience than it is a page on the internet constantly changing. While the project may change over time to adapt to the ever changing information and technologies available, the scope of the project stays the same and it is geared towards research and the display of historical or social information grounded in scholarship. For example, the Cambridge University Library Exhibition Project will always share information pertaining to their exhibits that have been well-researched, and has the goal of sharing that information with anyone with access to the internet. They will not change this aspect of the webpage, but they may use a different software to display this set information. A website on the other hand is not scholarly researched, and it changes its content constantly; its goal is anything but academic.
Thus, while a DH project is a website, a website is not a DH project, and while a DH project uses the same programs and aspects a website uses, a website does use these functions towards a focused, narrow research goal.
This is my definition of a DH project vs. a website, but what are your thoughts? Do you think that there is a difference between a website and a DH project, or do you view them as synonymous?
In reading A SHORT GUIDE TO THE DIGITaL_HUMaNITIES by Anne Burdick, Johanna
Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp, the ideas I held towards modern scholarship from my years of study in English Literature became unrooted: how did I not know that Digital Humanities (DH) existed? Why had I never thought that such a large and socially provoking area of humanities was a definable area of scholarship, or even a study-able area of social interest?
The definition of DH in A SHORT GUIDE is “new modes of scholar-ship and institutional units for collaborative, trans-disciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publication … it is defined by the opportunities and challenges that arise from the conjunction of the term digital with the term humanities ” (2). Due to it’s choice of complicated words and the lack of explanation it provides, I do not connect with this description of DH, especially as someone who has just ‘jumped in’ to the field. Delving further into the document, I got my bearings more around what the study of DH is; however, the definition of DH at The Open University is much more approachable: “Digital Humanities is the critical study of how digital technologies and methods intersect with humanities scholarship and scholarly communication. It investigates the use of digital tools and software for interpretation and analysis … [it] allows scholars to approach old problems with new means, or to ask new questions that could not have been asked with the traditional means of humanistic enquiry.” Thus, DH is the use of digital applications in humanities scholarship, and the influence that those applications have on the workings of society.
Turning this definition towards the operation of scholasticism in the humanities, particularly in the study of English (my specialization), I ask ‘what is Digital Humanities’? In my experience, DH functions to preserve and distribute historical documents (as in library databases such as archive.org, or this interesting website I found today that documents “the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945,” with entries of readers’ reactions to the contemporary works of their time (a type of ‘old-fashioned’ version of DH perhaps?)). DH also functions as one of the main, if not only, forms of interaction between academics. That is, e-mail and other digital platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle have become the main form of communication between professors and students and between scholars, with some classes now being offered exclusively online, with no face to face interaction between instructor and student.
These uses of digital resources go against the classification of DH in A SHORT GUIDE, which states that “The mere use of digital tools for the purpose of humanistic research and communication does not qualify as Digital Humanities. Nor, … [is it] to be understood as the study of digital artifacts, new media, or contemporary culture in place of physical artifacts, old media, or historical culture.” Why doesn’t the use of digital resources in a humanities subject qualify as DH? If that is not a proper definition of DH is, then what is? Based on the many unique definitions seen in the thread “How Do You Define DH?”, the use of digital media and tools for research and communication is a definition that many people accept. Aaron Mauro from UVIC, for example, states that “If you are making or using digital tools to study, archive, or create ‘something’ in the humanities, you are a digital humanist!”
I would agree with Mauro, as the use of these databases and forms of communication act to form our current history, and are indeed the documentation of ideas and issues present in our society. These resources act as our ‘version’ of physical written words (‘antique’ society’s’ technology, which is interesting to think about), and as such allow for projects in DH to occur. These present forms of documentations seem to me to be the projects that DH scholars embark on, whether it is the creation of a database or the use of these online forms towards a project scope. Without them, scholars would not be able to embark on any digital forms of scholarship. Projects’ in A SHORT GUIDE are a type of scholarship that “requires design, management, negotiation, and collaboration. It is also scholarship that projects, in the sense of futurity, as something which is not yet” (4).
The biggest question I have coming away from the plethora of definitions and uses of the DH is why is there a separate field called the digital humanities? Why must we classify a distinguished ’DH’ scholarship, separating it from the other humanities? I understand that the projects are intensive and do require an intensive skillset, but if the goal is to have a project be collaborative, would not someone from Humanities be partner with someone from the tech world? Or alternatively learn coding and the like from another area of scholarship such as computer science, therefore leaving the “Digital Humanist” as someone in a field of study such as History or English who has partnered with a Computer scientist and/or website designer?
If the goal of DH is to share and collaborate, preserve knowledge and present information in a digital platform, then why does A SHORT GUIDE define and limit the world of DH? To me, DH is a branch of project creation that scholars now use to present and to communicate their knowledge and understanding digitally, and it’s scope does not need to be narrowed to a definitive definition with rules and “Do not’s”. I enjoy that we as a society have come so far to be able to explore and use technology to affect and share knowledge, but with that sharing, we should step away from limiting classifications.
What are your thoughts on the definition of DH? Do you agree with the current classification of DH, or do you question the validity of separating DH from the rest of the humanities into its own class?