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DH Midterm (Hess and Michael)

DH MIDTERM: The Homer Multitext

Describe and evaluate the significance of the scholarship for the humanities:

This project addresses the variance between different versions of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey and attributes them in a cultural and historical framework. Many scholars of classical studies refer to these two literary sources to develop a better understanding of ancient Greek societies. By providing multiple sources of the same stories, the website allows for researchers to evaluate the Homeric poems in more ways.

How does the project push forward (or fail to push forward) the state of knowledge of a discipline?

One of the tools that this project offers is a search ability to find lines in the Homeric poems from multiple sources. From this, users have access to multiple sources of the same lines of poetry and can further analyze the different perspectives offered by each source. This is a great feature because users can compare the sources precisely. This function falls short, because it fails to provide translations of the transcriptions from the primary source. This really limits this project’s potential to be applied to the discipline of classical studies. Adding a translation feature would allow the project to be utilized by researchers who speak languages other than the ones used in the source text.

Can you identify the project’s primary research question? What is it? A series of questions?

How are Homer’s texts changed over time with respect to various historical frameworks? How can the evolution and multiformity of Homer’s texts be understood in its many different historical contexts?

Describe and evaluate the project’s design and interface. Evaluate the interactivity and modes of navigation of the project.

A drawback of this project is the lack of description and lack of engagement with the users. For example, the manuscript browsers do not offer instructions on how to efficiently utilize its function. Offering a brief introduction/explanation of the search tools would improve this project’s utility to a wider range of users.

Navigation: The site’s navigation is simple. There are tabs along the top of the page that, when clicked on, bring up their respective pages which can be further navigated through utilizing hypertext within the reading and through “Next” and “Previous” options which help guide the user through a sequence of ordered pages.

Accessibility/Readability: While the site is free to access and is easily searchable, the information it presents cannot readily be used by a layperson. Images of manuscripts are written in ancient Greek with no translation provided.

What technologies does the project employ (both front-end and back-end) and how does the scholarship make use of these technologies?

The HMT depends on many code libraries as well as specific programs that address specific needs of the project. For example, Mandatory On-going Maintenance (MOM) is a project that validates and verifies editorial work for the HMT project. It assembles a single archive from project data in various XML and .csv files then uses the library to analyze the contents. The HMT virtual machine is available for use by editors to validate material. A front-end technology that this project employs is the MS browser which allows users to search for a specific line from Homer’s texts and the website will bring up multiple different versions so that similar passages can be readily compared.

Maintenance/ Sustainability: The HMT includes various manuscripts of different versions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, all of which the website claims are currently being edited. The site contains a link to a project blog that lists updates as well as discusses on-going research related to the HMT.

What do you consider to be the successes and failures of the project?

A notable success of the project is the simplicity of its navigation as well as the MS browser it provides as a tool. The browser allows any line from multiple variations of Homer’s texts to be searched and compared which helps users answer the website’s research questions. A failure of the project is its inability be efficiently utilized by a layperson. The archive includes thousands of images of text from multiple different versions of the Iliad and Odyssey that are all written in ancient Greek. While having images of the original manuscripts is ideal, no translation is readily provided, limiting the website to only be fully utilized by those who can read Greek.

The project fails to stay up to date with its visual layout. The content of the project is adequate, but the way it is presented could be improved. How the information is delivered is just as significant as the information itself when it comes to digital humanities projects. Many of the pages of this website simply presents text in a bland and minimal arrangement. The aesthetics of a website should keep up with modern day standards so that the impression is that the project is updated and maintained.

Consider the role of the project director (listed in parentheses). What influence does the project director have on the project’s success (or failure)?

The Homer Multitext project’s current director (Gregory Nagy) values the multi-generationality of the team working on the project, and because of this, students and professors whose level of study ranges from undergraduate to post baccalaureate help to shape dynamic models of research to teach at all levels of education.

Credibility/Funding: The Homer Multitext Project is funded by several prestigious organizations such as The National Science Foundation, The National Endowment of the Humanities, and The Mellon Foundation. Additionally, contributions are collected from multiple colleges and universities such as Washington University, Harvard University, and Gustavus Adolphus College.

Academic Contribution: While the site seeks to present the textual transmission of the Iliad and Odyssey in a historical framework, it leaves it up to the user to discover and engage themselves with Homeric tradition. It offers a library of images and texts of various versions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey told during different time periods to examine the changes of the text over time and places it within cultural and historical contexts.

Room for Growth/Extendibility/Raise other Questions?:

The extendibility of this website is very limited as most other versions of Homer’s works have been lost or destroyed over time. The archive has already collected images from the best quality sources that still have managed to exist today. However, one addition that could have educational value are videos of plays being performed with respect to each version. Additionally, translations should be provided in order for anyone to be able to utilize the website.

Michael Hoffman

Heson Oh


Lab 3 [Georgia, Hess, & Seamus Collab]

Exercise 1:

2nd website:

This map portrays the dynamic progression of the battle within the duration three days

It plots the summarized movements of each army for each day

Provides specific timeline of events for each day

This map portrays the preparational positioning of each army and strategy before the battle began

This is a more broad representation of the first day of battle from the strategic perspective of Jackson’s army

4th website:

The comparison between the old and new satellite images of California show the differences and similarities between the two.



2nd website:

The descriptions on the side panel gives an in depth view into the specific times and events of the battle.

The opposing armies are clearly identifiable by their colors

Each number represents one of the definitive events of the day

An interactive timeline between May 2nd and 4th

The superimposed map of 1863 on the map of today provides perspective between the two time periods. The pictures of the personnel give a face to the name instead of just providing details on the soldier.


4th website:

Multiple previous satellite images of west coast of mexico on top of current satellite imagry

The ability to see all three different satellite images highlighted together

A spatial perspective in order to give depth

Description on the two different Gemini flights

The same islands are outlined in each of the photos to provide the perspective of each picture

Interactivity between similar landmarks for example when Isla San Jose selected on one map, it is selected on the other two images


C: 2nd website:

The site should provide a more general statement on the focus of research of the site. The site needs to have a general overview in order to show viewers exactly what they are looking at. The project also lacks a bibliography and the source of information is unclear.


4th website:

The visual aspect of the site is confusing for viewers due to the overlapping of pictures. It is not apparent that one picture is a zoomed in shot of the larger satellite picture. Also, the island names are hyperlinked but don’t give extra information about themselves.


Exercise 2:


Atlantic Network Project:

The spatial argument tracks the slave trade through the atlantic and provides maps that analyze the slave casualties as well as the weather patterns during the voyages.

Twitter Site:

Twitter in realtime shows the tweet with the search term of the user’s choice along with a chosen location. The results of the search vary depending on if the subject and location correlate. The maps are moveable and continue to search as the pin is moved.



Atlantic Network:

The Atlantic Network project uses current ArcGIS maps as a base. There are two separate maps which display the information. The first map has a white and gray base with ship paths marked by purple lines, as well as slave deaths marked by black dots with increasing size in relation to number of deaths. The second map is in full color with similar ship paths, but slave deaths are measured by density.  A third map allows both to be seen with a swipe bar to separate the two.

Twitter in realtime:

Twitter in realtime uses a pin that locates the search term in a specific area. The pin is moveable and will readjust and reflect the new location’s results. The search buffer can also readjust according to size.


Atlantic Network


Twitter in realtime:

I would add a filter to the tweets to regulate whose tweets are visible. It could be filtered by most popular, most commented on, and most retweeted.  I would also extend the time of the visible tweets past 3 days in order to provide a more in depth search. I would also add the ability to expand the range of the geographic location



Hypercities acts as an active database that has many active sites. It is a platform to find many different types of information, not just one category. Neatline’s information is stagnant. This project is not an actively updated database like Hypercities is. The project uses a finite amount of information in an interactive map. With the Hypercity twitter map, the search is customizable, which improves the project’s ability to be interactive and engaging.

Summary Statement

The lab showed how GIS technology is used through a multitude of websites. Some websites were more clear than others while showcasing various types of information. The question of “What’s the point?” was very clear in the “Gemini over Baja California” and the “Battle of Chancellorsville.” The two are navigable websites that have specific spatial research arguments. The importance of location is clear; the Gemini project explores a zoomed in shot of the overall satellite view while the Battle project displays important locations of a specific armed conflict. Both maps are interactive and allow the user to access more information; the two give spatial perspective through an adjustable sidebar that allows zoom. However, a drawback is that they are both static images of events/places in the past. The satellite images are from 1965 and 66 while the map from the battle dates back to 1863. Overall, both projects from exercise one offer strong spatial arguments and representations with clear and navigable maps. As the lab progressed, thick mapping emerged as the vital piece to spatial humanities.  The ability to overlay data on interactive maps allow historians to relay information more effectively than a simple narrative piece, i.e. make a spatial argument.  In both the Twitter in Realtime and Atlantic Network Project, the goal is to present their information using interactive maps in relation to a specific set a data.  The Atlantic Network Project’s spatial argument is in relation to deaths along the slave trade’s path, while the Twitter in Realtime’s argument is a two kilometer area’s responses in relation to a current topic.  Even though the topics of the two projects are different, their use of thick mapping create a spatial argument.  The Atlantic Network Project makes a stronger spatial argument since it is a directed toward a specific set of information, rather than an “up to the user” search option. Also, the three map setup of the Atlantic Network Project’s allows for a more directed argument to be made. Each project in this lab offered different perspectives about their subjects and were able to do so with the utilization of GISystems. Hypercities offers different types of GISystems than Neatline. Hypercities presents projects that are much more interactive. The “Mapping Twitter in Realtime” project presented an interactive search engine. Browsers can filter for tweets that contained specific “buzzwords” within a specific geographic location. This GIS uses VGI to supply the results for the search. We can draw numerous different conclusions from the various possible searches. This project is dynamic because the results for each search change as time passes because there is a constant supply of tweets. This project has potential for many applications, specifically commercial exploitation. Businesses can use this tool to observe the behavior of individuals in a certain geographic location and capitalize on their demands. This is an example of a highly interactive GISystem that provides a tool to the public. This project allows people to better understand the behavior of individuals in a geographic location. All of these spatial humanities projects allow us to digest information visually and in ways that offer different perspectives. Presenting information in this manner allows us to potentially draw different conclusions that we otherwise would not be able to.  

Solo Post [Lab 3]

These projects were all examples of GISystems. Each offered different perspectives about their subjects and were able to do so with the utilization of GISystems. The “Mapping Twitter in Realtime” project presented an interactive search engine. Browsers can filter for tweets that contained specific “buzzwords” within a specific geographic location. This GIS uses VGI to supply the results for the search. We can draw numerous different conclusions from the various possible searches. This project is dynamic because the results for each search change as time passes because there is a constant supply of tweets. This project has potential for many applications, specifically commercial exploitation. Businesses can use this tool to observe the behavior of individuals in a certain geographic location and capitalize on their demands. This is an example of a highly interactive GISystem that provides a tool to the public. This project allows people to better understand the behavior of individuals in a geographic location.

DH Writing Assignment 2: Autodesk 123D

Autodesk 123D Design is an application that is widely used to create 3D models. “123D Design is a free, powerful, yet simple 3D creation and editing tool which supports many new 3D printers.”[1] I have had the pleasure of using it previously during a previous internship, but it had been three years since I used it last and I was looking forward to any modifications that they made to the program. 123D Design comes with a considerable learning curve. Simply being able to navigate the application (as in panning, changing angles, etc) efficiently takes time. Once you get over the initial learning curve of the program, it is easy to make your first 3D model. I was able to create a spiral staircase in after about 10 minutes of re-familiarizing myself with the tools ( I think that the key to 123D Design’s success is the simplicity of the layout and the tools. But even with these simple tools, you can still create detailed models. Compared to Autodesk Autocad, 123D Design’s interface is much less complicated and less crowded. Granted, Autocad can do far more, but for what it is made for, 123D Design is the perfect place for beginner 3D creators to start. Over the past three years, the application has not changed that much except for the addition of a few additional tools. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality holds true here.

Autodesk 123D has also developed many other applications with the common theme of simplicity. With 123D Make, you can convert 3D models made with 123D Design into 2D cross-sections, so that if a 3D printer is not available, you can still make a 3D model by gluing together cross sections made from cardboard or wood. 123D Creature is a kid-friendly phone/tablet app that helps create monster-like models on a simple portable device. This level of support from Autodesk is great because it introduces the world of 3D modeling to so many different applications and it encourages and facilitates new designers to try 3D computer modeling without the financial investment.

The incredible thing about 123D Design is that Autodesk has simultaneously developed a community with this application. The website,, provides a blog and an open project browser where anyone can download and publish designs. Autodesk makes it very simple to share designs by providing “share” links via different social media platforms. There are forums that offer a lot of support for the community and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials as well. Though I do not do a lot of 3D modeling these days, I still that that this community that Autodesk has developed is incredible because it facilitates the sharing of creativity, knowledge, and ideas. This is an incredible digital humanities project because it provides a public platform for human expression.



DH Lab 1

What kinds of patterns are being examined and how are they being measured in the projects found at the Stanford Literary Lab?

This project was an attempt to quantify abstract verbal concepts in different literary concepts.

They quantified the different identifiers we use for literature: diction, genre, medium, and character. They used modern technology to analyze these identifiers for massive databases such as or eighteenth and nineteenth century London novels.


Review the visualizations listed below.  What makes these visualizations successful? How would you measure their success?  If you had to develop a list of features that make these visualizations successful, what might those include?


Overall, each of these visualizations were clear and easy to read. In that way, they were successful. The more ways that a visual representation used to organize the information allowed the information to be digested more easily. For example, the use of color made the information more organized. In the Make Grey Your Best Friend project, they described the different uses of grey across digital humanities projects to note how powerful grey can be for information display.


However, they all hold the potential of being misleading and suppressing important information. For example, the Chicago Planning Agency (CPA) only shows options for public transportation without necessarily acknowledging the influence of privately owned vehicles. The CPA also only shows the videos and photos they have access to of particular areas within the city, which may not be representative of that part of the city. With the color example, different colors have certain connotations, as addressed in the Make Grey Your Best Friend, which again, may be misleading.


Go to Dirt (Digital Research Tools) and choose one (1) tool listed under “Analyze Data” and one tool listed under “Visualize Data.”  How might these tools be useful in analyzing large amounts of data?


Analyze Data: Altmetric


Altmetric combs through data on responses to academic papers on social media. I would use this tool to find interpretations of difficult articles in math, such as a recent paper published by Terence Tao. This tool could be used to search through those interpretations to find one that is understandable. Alternatively, we could use it to compare reactions to powerful articles from famous mathematicians, such as Terence Tao to similarly impactful articles from less famous mathematicians such as Robert Kantrowitz.


Visualize Data: Ptolemaic [a computer application for music visualization and analysis]


Ptolemaic visually displays audio data in different formats. This tool can be used to find trends in music throughout history. Different chord progressions and keys signatures from different genres can be represented along side each other to display the evolution of music throughout history. We could also use this tool to distinguish which chords and keys are most commonly found in pop music. Maybe we can make a correlation between key signatures and popularity of music.

DH Writing Assignment 1

Writing Assignment #1:  Define “digital humanities” in your own words.  Be sure to refer to your readings and class discussion when drafting your working definition for “digital humanities.”

I see the interaction between humans and the digital world to be “natural”—not in the sense that we were, in some way, meant to build the digital world. This new age of information feeds our innate sense of curiosity. But we need to make a distinction between the users of the digital world and its creators. Lincoln Mullen claims that “digital humanities is a spectrum… all humanities scholars use digital practices and concepts to one degree or another, even those who do not identify as digital humanists.”[1] Mullen goes on the claim that we are all being transformed by this new world. So whether it was intentional or not, the creators of the digital world created the next step in human evolution. They created an entirely new environment that is forever changing but theoretically limitless in resources. Each user has an impact on this environment and alters it forever—it is dynamic. The interaction between humans and this digital world feeds this environment with the information it needs to evolve further. But then the question to ask is: does this environment really need us to evolve? During this race to generate the “perfect” AI, this question is a natural one to ask.  And when will we know if we have created a self-aware, self-sustaining being? It is difficult to tell because we would judge this based on the context of our own humanity. What if by some miracle a form of intelligence formed on its own in the digital world? If the digital world is based on our humanity and if “[h]umanities computing is precisely the automation of every possible analysis of human expression (therefore, it is exquisitely a “humanistic” activity), in the widest sense of the word,”[2] then would this being’s thought process be more like that of a human’s or something entirely different?

Digital humanities is a forever changing environment where we can add, reflect, and advance our own humanity.