Welcome to the January 17, 2011 edition — the inaugural edition — of the Digital Humanities Blog Carnival.
I’m excited to share with you eighteen blog posts from the last month, each of which carves out some corner of the digital humanities for closer examination. Whether the posts highlight interesting projects, solicit help on others, or offer critical examination of just how and why technology is affecting traditional humanities research, the posts gathered below offer a glimpse into the issues with which those who self-identify as digital humanists concern themselves.
I solicited submissions on any topic in the Digital Humanities and asked people submitting a blog post to categorize their submission as either a Criticism, Call for support, Project Highlight, or Funding Opportunity. The eighteen posts shared below represent the first three categories. I received none that could be called a Funding Opportunity. While this is disappointing, since finding diverse and consistent sources of funding is a need for everyone in the DH, it is also not surprising. I hope that in the future, however, more funding opportunities can be identified and shared via this carnival.
As scholars, the limits of our capacity for analysis are often defined by the tools we have at our disposal. As a result, innovation in the digital humanities often revolves around the digital tools we can bring to bear on our work. Perhaps the most exciting new tool released in the last month is the Google’s Ngram Viewer, a tool empowering the public to search more than 5 million volumes of text, digitized by Google. (citation)
For example, tracking the rise and fall of use of the term Nature, as opposed simply to nature, could add evidentiary support to a literary scholar trying to pinpoint beginning and end dates of British Romanticism. Distant reading is controversial and scholars who employ such techniques go to lengths to justify the value of their findings.
In Initial Thoughts on the Google Books Ngram Viewer and Datasets, Dan Cohen shares his reflections on how Google’s Ngram Viewer might be useful to humanities scholars.
Mike at The Aporetic offers thoughts on the (limited) value of Google’s Ngram Viewer in The Segway of Digital Searching.
And in Online collaboration in the humanities, H Niyazi offers an introductory post showcasing the use of Twitter and RSS feeds as research aids. Describing the submission, Niyazi says “an experience in an art history research query about a Botticelli painting is used as an example. The post also includes discussion of art history centric search engines.”
As a result of these posts, for the future I will add Tools as a fifth category of submission.
Whether he intended to be provocative or not, William Pannapacker‘s guest post at The Chronicle’s Brainstorm, “Digital Humanities Triumphant?,” turned him into January’s gadfly of the Digital Humanities. Throughout the blogosphere, Pannapacker’s thoughts on the Digital Humanities’ representation at the 2011 MLA conference provoked the most responses.
Stéfan Sinclair interprets and responds to Pannapacker in Digital Humanities and Stardom.
In The (DH) Stars Come Out in LA, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum responds to Pannapacker and looks at the role of “stardom” in this nascent field of study.
In Navigating DH for Cultural Heritage Professionals, Sheila A. Brennan also responds to Pannapacker by offering several suggestions for how newcomers can gain a foothold in the digital humanities.
In Digital Humanities Silos and Outreach Perian Sully also meditates on Pannapacker’s post and reaches the conclusion that Twitter may be contributing to DH’s perception of academic insularity. “Stop using Twitter as the vehicle for outreach,” Sully offers.
But in defense of the ubiquitous platform for conversational brevity, H Niyazi makes the case for how Twitter enabled two scholars to collaborate long-distance on art history research. Niyazi says Giorgione, herons and a Carpaccio Knight is a “case study of Twitter based collaboration between independent researchers in the UK and Australia, which resulted in the discovery of a rare iconological marker in a Venetian Renaissance painting.”
In The Four Sons of digital curation, Dorothea Salo uses a parable to explain the need for more and better metadata standards in digital curation.
Call for Support
The post Proposal for THATCamp Project: SF Bay Area and its running commentary describe a project-based follow up to the Fall 2010 THATCamp SF Bay Area. John Fox says, “the idea is to bring to bear the many talents of our community to look at the changing fortunes of a specific SF neighborhood.”
Next up, in Digital Humanities: First, Second and Third Wave, David Berry offers a brief summary of the first two waves of the digital humanities development and a call to map out where the third wave may go (and should go).
On the American Historical Association’s website, Robert B. Townsend offers in Perspectives on History an analysis of how new media is reshaping the work of historians.
In An Open, Digital Professoriat, Scott Jaschik from Inside Higher Ed weighs in on the MLA coverage and asks whether or not new media can change (or is changing) things in the humanities.
In Lorenzo Thomas, “Otis,” Al Filreis, tireless purveyor of recorded, digitized, and archived poetry readings, notes on his blog an exciting new entry on PennSound: a recording of Lorenzo Thomas reading his updated version of The Odyssey. “This is designed for today, it’s the Odyssey for attention-deficit people,” Thomas says, reassuring his audience that he is not about begin a recitation of Homer’s epic. Listen to Thomas read “Otis” on Filreis’ blog or at the PennSound website. The post appears, by chance, while I am reading the Robert Fagles’s wonderful translation of The Odyssey, and is a welcome reminder of each generation’s ability to interpret and find meaning in this classic.
With “A different perspective on digital history,” Marcin Wilkowski launches a new blog and shares his hope that digital history is a serious movement in the humanities, not merely a buzzword or fad.
In Militieregisters.nl and Velehanden.nl, Ben Brumfield highlights a project begun by Stadarchief Amsterdam to enlist the public in indexing manuscript conscription records. Brumfield writes, “I think the project takes an innovative federated approach to scanning materials from multiple archives, as well as a fascinating pay-or-wash-dishes approach to public funding.”
Last but not least, in Philosophers interviewed on radio show, yours truly has a post highlighting a digital humanities project I managed while I worked at the National Humanities Center. The Soundings Project is in its final stages of development, and this post is meant to demonstrate how humanities scholars might find their own point of entry into the vast collection of recordings.