Day of DH at Emory – starting off

Sermin and Connie waiting for customers

Arriving at work, I greet the staff of the ECIT help desk. The Beck Center shares space with the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching, who help faculty and staff with teaching with computers. They offer a wide variety of courses, and great help. Here at the reception desk are Sermin and Connie.

Day of DH – my space

Here’s my cubicle; I prefer the on-desk method of filing. My first task for today after reading the mail is to update some project plans. One plan is to migrate all our data from TEI P4 to  P5. And this migration is in service of adding documentation about all our tag sets using the tagdocs module. I was inspired by John Walsh’s  and Syd Bauman’s descriptions of that  process.

Day of DH – Gregory Crane is speaking!

Fortuitously, Dr. Gregory Crane is speaking in the library today.

Kind enough to pose for a picture!

His topic was “Digital Humanities for the Long Term: How Scholars Develop and Sustain Digital Projects.”

Not Digital Humanities but...

Humanities in a Digital Age

He had two salient pieces of advice: get lots of money and partner with a library. Libraries are in it for the long haul, and he believes that we (libraries) should be looking to foster and support digital projects.

We need editors, he says, to make objects of interest useful to every human being. We need to rethink every aspect of the digital process.

He spoke of expanding the “intellectual space” through 2 dialectic processes: learning new connections, and contributing by creating new nodes in an information network. We expand the intellectual space by deriving value from information by learning skills; we need to augment current researchers; we need to lower barriers of entry; and we need global participation.

In particular we need to partner with the sciences, and learn from them, and adapt their tools to humanities research. He spoke of the power of understanding cultural contexts to expand our understanding. He suggested text mining for topic discovery. By looking at changes over time, a researcher can explore connections or trends that had gone unnoticed.

He is interested, naturally, in multilingual text mining.

And he is passionately interested in involving undergraduates in real research projects.

This talk will eventually be available at the Emory University ITunesU site.

Answering questions after the talk

He talked for 45 minutes, then answered questions, and then took more questions from people standing around.

Day of DH – working with student staff

Around noon two of the graduate students who work for the Beck Center arrive.

Lori works on digitzing and proofing for the Eliot project

Lori Bailey is our main student staff for the Eliot Prose Project, supporting the editors and the press who are creating the volumes of the Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot. The Beck Center has digitized and placed the text and images on line for the editors to access. When a volume is complete we will transform the text to TEI and deliver it to the press. It is a great experiment. Thanks to TEI, especially Lou Burnard and Sebastian Rahtz, for the transformation stylesheets.

Stewart prepares for the P5 migration

Stewart Varner is the Beck Fellow this year, as he finishes his dissertation and his library degree. He has worked on a fair number of our projects, including the Eliot project, over the last few years, and now will help us with the P4 to P5 migration.

Any time the students come in there are issues raised and questions to discuss. Lori needs a french dictionary to check the spelling in the text she is proofing. Stewart and I have determine the branching and tagging scheme in subversion for the migration. I seek the wisdom of the software engineers, who explain that I should do it opposite of what I was thinking. That is usually the case!

Day of DH – sharing space

The Beck Center shares its space with two other groups, ECIT and the Data Center. I’ve already mentioned ECIT, but here’s Wayne Morse, the director:

Wayne Morse, ECIT director

The Data Center assists researchers, including faculty and students, with their numerical and geospatial data needs. Here are my two neighbors who staff these areas:

Rob O'Reilly, director of the Data Center

Michael Page, geospatial services librarian

Day of DH – afternoon

Wow, what a busy day!

A small group of us were able to consult with Dr. Crane for about 45 minutes in the afternoon. We discussed the role of librarians in making and keeping resources intellectually accessible. Present were the library director and associate director, the director of the manuscript, archives, and rare book library, and some of the digital strategists and software engineers. Our imagination is fired by Dr. Crane’s stories of student research and contributions to a text corpus, as well as the ability to mine large bodies of text.