March 27, 2012 in Evening, Home, Reading, Reflecting, Visualization

On the bank of the Rhine

On the bank of the Rhine

Back at home in Bonn, I go for a run to the Rhine and back to counteract the effects of a “sitting day”. It is almost dark outside. Later on, I read a bit of Ben Fry’s Visualizing Data having in mind our attempts to visualize the Book of the Dead Archive. So far, we have created a lot of what Fry calls “generic displays”: geographical maps, bar charts, pie charts, and so-called donut charts which reveal the characteristics of the database’s content. But we have also gone further and created individual charts like a radiating representation of the proximity of neighbours of a specific Book of the Dead spell or even an all-embracing neighbourship visualization (see Patrick’s post discussing this). So we have intuitively heeded Fry’s advice that “complex data sets used for specialized applications require unique treatment”.

Neighbourship of spells

Neighbourship of spells

However, questions impose themselves: Is it possible to develop a tool for information visualization that is generic in the sense that it is not bound exclusively to a specific project with specific data? And that is flexible and customizable at the same time, so that it can be used to create meaningful visual representations tailored to particular needs of different projects? Or is it an either-or-decision between generic, yet not necessarily illuminating, and well-fitting individual case solutions requiring programming?

How can we enhance the dynamics and interactivity of the visualizations (e.g. via SVG- or script-based animations) if the browser turns out to be too small in some cases (compared to possible printout formats)?

We will surely continue to think about this kind of questions…

A TEI glossary

March 27, 2012 in All Day, Office, Project Work

A TEI glossary

Encoding a glossary in TEI

The edition of the AmEx is TEI-based, so I deliberate on which module(s) and elements to use for the encoding of the glossary. As with other encoding questions, the rich- and comprehensiveness of TEI is revealed at this point: I could use elements provided by Chapter 3 (“Elements Available in All TEI Documents”) – e.g. a loosely structured list with glosses  – or the Dictionary Module. As the structure of the glossary at hand resembles that of a dictionary entry very much – there are a lemma and a translation, followed by examples, quotes, notes and cross-references – I go for the latter.

Nevertheless, not everything is clear-cut. One thing I wonder about is: why is <cit> used for translations of the lemma and for examples, regardless of whether they are originally internal or external to the text? According to the Guidelines, <cit> is a “(cited quotation) [which] contains a quotation from some other document, together with a bibliographic reference to its source.” and continuing “In a dictionary it may contain [...] a translation of the headword, or an example.” No further explanations here and a quick search in the general TEI mailing list archive does not shed any light on this, either. So I decide to join the mailing list of the SIG “TEI for Linguists” to be aware of ongoing discussions concerning the dictionary module.

Some changes to the XSLT intended for bringing the glossary to the presentation level, and here we see the result (which will be hosted at the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel, by the way), including links to examples and external resources:



The result

At the Office

March 27, 2012 in Blogging, Morning, Office

At the CCeH Office

At the CCeH...where nature meets cultural heritage and technology

This is my workplace – which I usually share with my colleagues (compare this picture to a version posted by Patrick Sahle on the Day of DH in 2009). Today, Patrick is working at home, Franz on another floor and Jonathan has a day off, so my company consists of the magpies planning to nest under the roof and our potted plants. If I see the leaves behind my screen, I know that everything is fine, if I don’t see them anymore, I know that they need attention and water. But as you can see, today the plants are in good shape, so I start to work on the Amoenitates Exoticae (AmEx), more precisely the encoding of the glossary containing words and phrases rarely or not witnessed at all beyond the AmEx.


About me

March 27, 2012 in Biography, Blogging, Morning, Office

As to studies, I have a degree in Latin American Studies (Romance philology, Economics, Iberian and Latin American History) and have taken courses in humanities IT. in 2009, I started working as Junior Web Development Assistant at a UN organization in Bonn and in parallel on the XML/XSLT-side of the digital edition of the Amoenitates Exoticae (a travelogue – enhanced by multifaceted geographical, political, social and cultural observations -  from 1712 written in Latin by the German physician and humanist Engelbert Kaempfer). Last summer, I left UNU and joined the CCeH (Cologne Center of eHumanities)-team at the Cologne University (have a look at the Day of DH of my colleagues Patrick Sahle and Franz Fischer). So since then, I have delved deeper into the Digital Humanities and am now working 50:50 on the Engelbert Kaempfer project and at the CCeH. During the last year, we focused on the egyptologian project The Book of the Dead – A Digital Archive of Text Witnesses. We set up an eXist database and experienced the advantages of a native XML database when dealing with XML data but also its trickinesses. Besides the Book of the Dead project, we support other projects in “going digital”: ongoing projects of the Northrhine-Westfalian Academy of Science and the Arts as well as new projects which are about to start. At the beginning of the year, I joined the Institute for Documentology and Scholarly Editing (IDE).