Author Archives: Loren Springer

Linked Data

Just to understand what is linked data, I found the dummies version. So the Bizer et. al article told me RDF triple is helpful when there are two or more data sets and I’m trying to search for two things that have a relationship. The two things I’m searching for have URIs and are linked together so that if I search for Albert Einstein across multiple databases then Theory of Relativity is going to appear in the results as well because the two things are related, they are linked by tagging. This brings us to earlier conversations about documenting the methodology for tagging. If I work on a project that is going to create a web or linked data then the methodology or tagging must be documented for all the RAs to follow and it would be helpful if it were published so people know how to search and have an explanation for what comes up during a query.

The tool I reviewed attempts this. If we remember the query function didn’t work at the time of the tool review, but it pulled from Google’s database and used crowdsourced tag overlays to produce results from queries. It uses the Web of Science model which I think is or is related to linked data. After seeing this tool and its methodology, we may ask ourselves for the purposes of our particular projects whether its better to crowdsource the tags/links or have a method in place to have RAs tag/link?



Saturday’s Digitorium

Dr. Bohannon was speaking my language with her short talk on digital natives, digitial literacy, and a sort of alternative and/or flipped approach to teaching first year composition. It was the most informative session for me and I want to follow her work on digital literacy which is and will be a huge field for research in teaching and learning in secondary education. My question to her, and I hope I get to ask her, how much does her department of DH and the KSU department of curriculum and instruction talk to each other? Surely they are trying to learn about her work in digital literacy and maybe she could benefit from learning what they know about pedagogical knowledge.

Later: I just received an answer from Dr. Bohannon. She took classes in the college of edu to learn how to write programmatic objectives that are measurable. She wants to work on fostering interrelationships between the humanities departments and the education departments and believes DH its the platform on which to build it. She said to her knowledge there are no projects by colleges of education and humanities departments for pedagogy. As noted by articles on DH, the university departments are too fortified and need more interrelationship.

Though I had notes from the plenary by Dr. Miller, now they pale in comparison to Dr. Adams’ and Dr. Bohannon’s talk. What is most telling about DH is this: “What will measure success in the future is ’12 people have adopted my code base for their project,’ not in what journal have you published.”

Dr. Adams wins the best pun/ quotes: “There is an ungodly amount of Biblical texts…” “I don’t think anyone of us has divinity telling us what passage to read to give us meaning as did St. Augustine, but we do have computational tools to help us.” His project is fascinating. The larger implication is that the sort of metadata his project provides can help students learn to read– in the broad definition of the word “read”, which is interpreting meaning from close and distant reading.

Databases in DH

I echo Matt Smith’s sentiments about the author assessing value between two mediums, that is print and digital mediums. I don’t believe that digital is the only medium which foregrounds questions. Many research articles begin with questions, provides some answers, and more often than not end with more questions for the future. However, the author of “Databases: Intro to Relational Databases & Structured Query Language” may intend that digital mediums are more question-agnostic than print media. When using a database, answers are perceived as less concrete since they rely purely on the query in data cultures or digital mediums. Print media requires disaggregation of data from a research question and reconstruction of data when trying to use it for another purpose. Databases leave more room for manipulation of data, yielding more uses out of a data set. The data can be contextualized for  more than one purpose due to the ability to manipulate queries. So, data cultures are transforming humanities because researchers no longer reverse engineer documents to find the questions, instead the questions guide the data that is being collected in the digital medium.


I am doing this blog entry differently than normal — I am writing my questions as I go along and I will strike them if they are answered after further reading. This discusses the origins of TEI.

1. Ok so SGML is a markup meta-language. SGML is a set of rules for making a markup language. SGML is composed of containers and an SGML conformant language — rules about containers and their “content models.” A “document type definition (DTD)” follows rules specified by SGML.

2. Why would I put a “declarative markup” with a “style sheet” instead of just making the words styled/formatted correctly in the first place? The author says combining the style and declarative markup is counterintuitive because a marriage of style and structure  is a deeply engrained in our beliefs.

3. The author says style and structure is disjointed in markup, but then he says:

“The strength and weakness of SGML derive from the same fact: you need a document type definition, which means that you have to think ahead. Writing in SGML or any of its variants involves a willingness to shoulder upfront investments for the sake of downstream benefits.”

So are style and structure really disjointed? We still marry style and structure because we’re thinking ahead about the DTD and consequently design the SGML.

XML is the answer to the problems of SGML and HTML. “You can use XML without thinking ahead and make up your elements en route as long as they nest within each other. This is called writing “well-formed” rather than “valid” XML. Purists discourage this but people will do it anyhow.” So I was essentially correct in my above question; they created a spin of language known as XML to allow us to marry style and structure without losing the computing power of SGML.

4. Seriously, why not HTML if it is universal?  “HTML always lives in sin because it constantly violates the cardinal rule of separating information from the mode of its display.”

5. But why is this important to separate information from mode of its display? Why not call it humanities computing if we want to separate the two? “If you want to use the Internet to move stuff in and out of databases, it becomes very useful to have a markup language with clearly defined containers and content models.That is the impetus behing XML, the “Extensible Markup Language,” which will supersede HTML wherever complex and precise information  is at a premium.”

Let me Google that for you

Inside the walls of universities, colleges of education are telling future teachers, “It’s okay that students can’t remember what year Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue; they can look it up on the internet.” Professors of teacher education say what is important is students can use, manipulate, analyze, and criticize the information, not that they can remember a piece of information. Professors of teacher preparation embrace technology, or at least accept there is no reversal in technological advances, so why fight it? The author mentioned Socrates and his disdain for the written word; Socrates believed technology would make us less intelligent because the brain would become less sharp, essentially, from less use. If we look at the brain like a computer, then not having to retain facts in the brain leaves more memory and processing power for the important functions like critical analysis, evaluation, or analyzation.

Though, in terms of technology and computational outputs, there is usually not room for intersectionality or a complicated answers. Computation lends itself more to math and sciences when it comes to solving problems — find an objective output. However, answers about the humanities and social issues usually are less than objective. Humanities and answers to life’s great questions require interconnectedness, sometimes go unanswered, or only get more complicated as more evidence is uncovered.

So, the technical aspects of digitization and technological improvements relinquish energy formerly spent on memorization of facts/information to increased utilization for processes like analysis. Though, with a loss of touch with the quintessential aspect of humanities – humanness – objective answers will be promoted and be the process by which the complicated, non objective answers about life’s deepest questions will be answered. Therefore, what is the answer to ‘is Google making us stupid?’ The human says it is not as simple as an algorithmic binary of yes or no, it is to be contemplated on a level deeper than Google’s ability to piece together the right process with the right sequences of words.

Poco DH

I began by reading the Postcolonial Digital Humanities website pages. Not having a background in English studies, rather in education pertaining to social studies, I wanted to know what it was that postcolonial humanities entail. I have some notions of what it means for history, but wanted to know if it was similar for literature. I found a University of Wisconsin handout discussing what is postcolonial literature. Postcolonial literature concerns the reclaiming of spaces and places; asserting cultural integrity; and revising history ( What_is_Postcolonial_Literature_). I see counter narrative as a potentially useful methodology at the intersection of digital humanities and postcolonial humanities. Barrett questions whether or not digital humanities works in a post-national space or if post-national is just the new nationalism? It seems that digital humanities lends itself to post-nationalism, however, Drucker shows that the economics of digital humanities might subject itself primarily to national/government funding until solutions are worked out among publishers, libraries, and other entities involved in the dissemination of scholarly research. Collectively, what I am hearing from Drucker and from Barrett is postcolonial digital humanities may seem as if it lives in the post-national realm, but until funding comes from sources that are not government derived, post national digital humanities may continue to be projects in nationalism. I have drawn such a conclusion from broad notions that large corporations and the government may only fund projects which fall in line with their already existing beliefs. For example, the government funded grant agencies might not fund a project that does not shed positive light on the US government, like a project which looks at stories about US involvement in Iraq from the perspective of Iraqi citizens during the War on Terror. So without funding coming from private interests, the post national name for DH merely is a mask for national.



Initial thoughts on DH

As I type this blog post on my Macbook Pro, glance at an article on my iPad, then grab my iPhone to text a colleague about a topic from this course, I realize how Porsdam placed well Steve Jobs’ quotes about the marriage of technology and the liberal arts/humanities as the reason for Apple’s massively successful products. Porsdam and others believe the same is true for the growing field of DH. Not knowing anything, even generally, about digital humanities prior to this course, I see from the Porsdam and “Digital Manifestos” readings how the entire field of humanities is going to change as a result of it’s marriage to technology. At first I thought, much like described in the articles, DH would be a toolkit for publishing standard print texts and I did not understand why there was a whole graduate class offered on it. Now I see how the methodology of humanities will be challenged. I thought of history and my professors who just published books. What does it mean for historians’ methodologies if they did not go to the archives themselves, rather retrieved it from an online database. How will historians begin to critique these sorts of DH projects, their limitations, and methodologies? Do historians begin to critique the curation of digital humanities projects as they critique sources used in books? Those were my initial thoughts after reading the “Digital Manifestos” and Cordell, and Porsdam posed some of those same questions in the context of the science versus humanities debate within DH.

In my field, secondary social studies education, we talk about teachers having TPACK: technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge. We say that technology should never be used for technology’s sake, but should be used to enhance the learning experience or allow the learner to engage in activities that did not exist without technological innovations. I perceive that the new DH parallels what I have learned about use of technology in the classroom. The new DH is not simply adding a document to a website, but it is a place for construction and collaboration of knowledge that could not be done with print or traditional mediums. I’m getting weirdly excited about learning the implications for the classroom from learning about DH.