All posts by mhoffman

Homer Multitext Mid Term Heson and Mike

 

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

 

Crowdsourcing

Write a “short” blog post discussing the benefits and drawbacks of developing a crowdsourced project.

A benefit to crowdsourcing projects is that they allow massive projects that would otherwise take a small group of people thousands of hours to complete or that otherwise would be impossible, to be accomplished by hundreds to thousands of individuals who all participate in collecting and/or transcribing information in a comparably much shorter time. Additionally, crowdsourcing on websites will increase with direct respect to the demand of the website’s information. Information is updated in real time which will help to ensure that the website remains relevant. Information may also come from a variety of sources which helps the website to become diverse and promote a connection to the community.

There are a wide array of drawbacks in relying on crowdsourcing to promote progress in mass projects. I will speak to three main underlying problems of crowdsourcing. First, the information supplied by the public may not be entirely accurate or, for that matter, may be completely inaccurate. Secondly, it is difficult to review the mass amounts of information supplied via crowdsourcing. Thirdly, there are no repercussions for sabotage on sites using crowdsourcing (e.g. a punishment for those who are not acting to promote progress in the site), therefore there is no way to inhibit the propagation of misinformation in society that is promoted from crowdsourcing sabatorors.  Ultimately, all three of these drawbacks lead to one simple but overwhelming problem: is crowdsourcing information accurate, and if it is not, how do we sift out the information that is blatantly false.   

 

Charles Feinberg

Michael Hoffman

DH Project Evaluation

The difference between a website and a digital humanities (DH) project is that a website is much more diverse term and could have a wide variety of purposes while a DH project organizes a collection of data such as literary archives, poems, historically related documents, or music in such a way that is conducive to answering a specific question or achieving a certain purpose. A DH project functions to preserve and present data with easy accessibility and clarity while a website does not have to achieve any sort of purpose.

Digital Harlem http://digitalharlem.org/

What is the research question?

What was everyday life for African New Yorkers in Harlem like from 1915 to 1930?

Fundamentals for Initial Review

The main page of the website includes a Google map with manipulable information that can be displayed overlaying the map. The possible information includes popular nightlife locations, locations of arrests, churches, and sports arenas and stadiums. Tabs all across the top of the page can help the user navigate further from here.

Crediting

A source tab is present that lists where all the information presented was obtained which include a compilation of case files, newspaper articles, and papers.

Intellectual Rigor

The information presented is academically stimulating. The use of an interactive map and timeline of events in Harlem during this time period is paired with a short narrative of the life aspect that is being currently studied. The effective organization makes learning efficient and extensively detailed.

Crossing Research, Teaching, and Service

This project provides an extensive display of information that shows how everyday life was like for Africans during this time period. The interactivity of the map allows one to search for information concerning the general population as well as tracing an individual’s life with access to information such as a timeline of life events, his or her occupation, and residence. From this information, inferences could be made about his or her choices about what living conditions inspired the actions that led to his or her arrest or just to life in general.

Peer Review

The American Historical Review published an article concerning Joshua Sternfeld’s extensive review of Digital Harlem. The article praised the review for pointing out strengths and weaknesses but criticized it for not recognizing how Digital Harlem “visualizes the facets of the daily life of ordinary residents and relationships grounded in place that are missing from the existing picture of the neighborhood” (Robertson). The article praised the project’s interactivity but felt that it lacked framework “that could assist users who were not familiar with the data to make sense of the maps they created” (Robertson).

Impact

While anyone may access it, the project is designed with academic scholars or historians in mind as a layperson might find the information difficult to build upon and connect to the larger framework.

Approximate Equivalencies

The information presented is precise, unique, and detailed. It was derived from case files, newspaper articles from the respective time period, and articles, none of which are readily available to the general public. This project provides one of the best resources for finding information and drawing conclusions about life in Harlem during this time.

Development Cycles, Sustainability, and Ethics

The projects is currently still under development so updates may still be underway. As it is, the project website functions well and does not need maintenance and provides a rich historical archive of information concerning African life in New York so it is sustainable.

Experimentation and Risk-Taking

One risk of this project is that the information displayed is specific and uncommon which may result in the project being underused and forgotten.

 

The September 11 Digital Archive http://911digitalarchive.org/

What is the research question?

 

What was the history of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and what were the public responses?

Fundamentals for Initial Review

The website layout is clearly organized and easily navigated. Tabs are listed across the top of the site as well as a search bar to provide a more specific and efficient navigation of information. Collections are further organized by type such as audio files, art, first responder accounts, photography, and personal accounts.

Crediting

While there is a tab that specifies all the sponsors of the project, links to many documents or art pieces are present but the names of the authors or artists are not always present on the project page itself despite being readily viewable in the documents themselves. Sponsors include the Library of Congress and American Red Cross.

Intellectual Rigor

Sources are derived from many locations that range from Smithsonian National Museum of American History collections to personal accounts. Because of this, the credibility is not strong and may be unsuitable for academic use. That said, over 3,500 pages are present which suggests that many credible sources exist.

Crossing Research, Teaching, and Service

This project provides the ability to search through letters, photographs, and personal accounts that can tell the story of the attacks through a different lens than many are used to.

Peer Review

This project has been working alongside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History as well as the American Red Cross Museum and was accepted by the Library of Congress as the first major digital acquisition of September 11, 2001.

Impact

The project collaborates with many credible museums to convey this information as publicly as possible. The vast number of personal accounts, photography, and art all help to allow people to understand the effects of the attacks on a more personal and unique level.

Approximate Equivalencies

The website is often a secondary source as data was collected from various museums. However many of the files that are presented on the webpage are only organized and available to the public there.

Development Cycles, Sustainability, Ethics

The project is extensively reviewed and credited as it was accepted into the Library of Congress. As it was accepted by the Library of Congress, it will be sustained and archived effectively.

Michael Hoffman

 

 

Works Cited.

Robertson, Stephen. Digital Mapping as a Research Tool: Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930. The American Historical View. 08 February 2016. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/121.1.156 

Writing Assignment #2: Kickstarter and Crowdsourcing

Kickstarter is a website that allows users to accept global public donations to fund a set project. Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal (Wikipedia). People who back Kickstarter projects are provided with rewards that increase in value and may include the product that the project will create based on the amount they donated. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected. Given this there is still no guarantee that the project creator will be able to complete the project due to underestimating the project’s costs or unforeseen technical difficulties arise. Despite this risk, Kickstarter has received over $1.9 billion in donations since it began in 2009 from 9.4 million backers to fund over a quarter of a million various projects that include films, stage shows, literature, and technologies (Wikipedia). The most highly funded projects on Kickstarter include the Pebble Time smartwatch and the card game, Exploding Kittens, which collectively reached about $30 million in donations.

The type of crowdsourcing that Kickstarter utilizes is known as crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising financial contributions from a large number of people. Kickstarter therefore is an excellent example of crowdsourcing because all funds for projects are collected from public contributions. Advantages of using crowdsourcing may include improved costs, speed, quality, flexibility, scalability, or diversity (Prpić). Kickstarter definitely benefits in these ways from utilizing crowdsourcing as alternative funding. Kickstarter can be used so project creators can “make a lasting impact on society, culture, and the economy” (Kickstarter.com). Kazoo Magazine, which was funded through Kickstarter, reaches a target audience of young girls that inspires them to be smart, strong, and fierce and features interviews with women astronauts and athletes. Ukiyo-e Heros is a Japanese wood printing business that employs 15 people who would otherwise have a difficult time in an established and impenetrable industry (Kickstarter.com). Despite this, the team has shipped their handcrafted woodblock prints to more than 60 countries around the world (Kickstarter.com). As shown from examples like these, projects are widely diverse and can have a profound impact on culture and society because projects can come from anywhere in the world. For this reason, I believe Kickstarter is one of the best examples of crowdsourcing.

Michael Hoffman

 

Works Cited.

Kickstarter.com https://www.kickstarter.com/about?ref=about_subnav

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. “Crowdsourcing – Wikipedia” n.d. Accessed February 13, 2017.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing

Prpić, John; Taeihagh, Araz; Melton, James (September 2015). “The Fundamentals of Policy Crowdsourcing”. Policy & Internet. 7 (3): 340–361. doi:10.1002/poi3.102

Writing Assignment 1: What is DH?

Michael Hoffman

Intro to Digital Humanities

2/7/17

What is Digital Humanities?

     In order to create a working definition of digital humanities, it is necessary to examine to what effect of the use of specific digital tools have in a research setting. Michael Kramer discusses in his article, “What Does Digital Humanities Bring to the Table” his students’ use of the WordPress plugin WP-Table Reloaded to analyze coursework. The students found that the tool could present recorded observations in such a way that was highly conducive for developing larger interpretations. “The table sent out a structure—a pathway—for the student to step up as they reached toward a more nuanced assessment” (Kramer). Additionally students were forced to “look, listen, feel, and sense more intensely, more closely, and with more awareness” (Kramer).

     Lincoln Mullen lists several examples in his article, “Digital Humanities Is a Spectrum; or, We’re all Digital Humanists Now” of digital tools used by various people that help organize, present, provide access, and verify multiple literary works. Word documents, print-on-demand machines, archive websites, and Blackboard are among those Mullen lists.

     These examples show how the application of digital tools can enhance multiple aspects of scholarship such as researching, analyzing data, publishing and teaching. With this in mind, my working definition of digital humanities is as follows: an area of academic study that deals with the utilization of digital tools and methods to enhance various aspects of scholarship such as collaborative research, teaching, and publishing that concern humanities disciplines such as philosophy, literature, comparative religion, ethics, history, and the arts.

Sources:

Kramer, Michael. “What Does Digital Humanities Bring to the Table”

Mullen, Lincoln. “Digital Humanities Is a Spectrum; or, We’re all Digital Humanists Now”

Lab 1

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

The projects explores patterns concerning various literary mediums such as eighteenth and nineteenth century novels, poetic forms, and online fanfictions which are measured using a variety of methods such as digital crowdsourcing, prosodic and metrical analysis, natural language processing, and applied statistics.

What makes these visualizations successful?

These visualizations attempt to convey the most information in the most clear and concise way. Additionally, concerning the map of Chicago, the ability to interact with the graphics allows the user to personalize the information which organizes the information specifically for the needs of the user.

How would you measure their success?  If you had to develop a list of features that make these visualizations successful, what might those include?

To determine how successful these visualizations are, a measure of how often the visualizations are viewed and the degree of user interaction with the tool itself. For example, concerning the Chicago visualization, it would be useful to measure what interface features are used by individuals. To make visualizations more successful, the ability to interact to personally organize what information is displayed is a valuable feature.  Additionally, the use of contrasting color and fonts help to highlight what information is most important which contributes to the readability of the visual.

How might these tools be useful in analyzing large amounts of data? 

Sci2 Tool allows for the analysis of scientific data sets through the use of algorithms to process, analyze, and share large amounts of data.

ViewShare allows the user to import data, synthesize visual interfaces, collect data, and facilitates the presentation of said data on other platforms.

Michael Hoffman and Jack Hay

DH Projects Analysis: Salem Witch Trials

 

What kind of files, data, objects are being used in the project in question?

The project uses primary sources in the forms of documents, historical maps, archival collections, contemporary books, court records, letters, sermons, and a catalog of people and accusations.  

 

What’s the project research question? Or, questions?

The goal of the project is to deepen the historical narrative surrounding the witch trials, analyze the events, locate execution sites and test the accuracy of hand-drawn maps with the use of modern tools and digital archiving.

 

What tools are being used?  Created?

The tools used for the project include the use of Geographic information systems (GIS) to expand and analyze historical maps as well as situate events that occurred in Salem during the trials. They used GIS to generate topographical maps and demonstrate the changes in urban geography.

 

What methods are being undertaken?

Using the GIS, specialists utilized the topography of Gallows Hill as well as current maps and aerial photos to create a viewshed analysis of Boston Street and Gallows Hill. This way, they could test the accuracy of Rebecca Eames’ claim that she could see the executions from where she lived as well as Perley’s hand-drawn maps. Additionally, ground-penetrating radar was used to search for relics or human remains at the proposed burial sites.

Michael Hoffman and Jack Hay