Some more online resources

May 29, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m passing on two data visualization tools mentioned to me by Chris Collins:

Many Eyes, a respository for data sets, with visualization tools and discussion forums, sponsored by IBM;

Processing, “an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions.”

Also of interest:

FlowingData, a data visualization blog;

Webmonkey, a web development repository for user-created tutorials, reference material, and code snippets.


“Green Paper on Digital Humanities at UofT”

May 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In case participants haven’t seen it, the Spring 2009 University of Toronto Libraries Newsletter (available as a .pdf download from the Library website) has an article by Mary Ann Mavrinac, Chief Librarian at University of Toronto Mississauga, “Digital Humanities: Transforming Libraries, Advancing Scholarship.”

The article mentions a 2008 report, “Green Paper on Digital Humanities at UofT,” co-authored by professors Bob Gibbs, Director of the JHI, and Brian Cantwell Smith, former dean of the former Faculty of Information Studies (now the Faculty of Information): A copy can be obtained here:

DH at UofT

I think this green paper should be mandatory reading for the working group, because it provides an excellent and pertinent springboard for the discussions the working group proposes to have, and will help us generate our own green paper. There are a number of points in the Gibbs and Cantwell Smith green paper that require further debate, for example:

1. In defining DH, the paper says “it is best viewed as ‘extra-disciplinary'” (2), yet it still views DH as taking place with the traditional boundaries (limitations?) of “the humanities.” However, as the membership of this working group demonstrates, DH challenges the boundaries and definition of “the humanities” by forming collaborations on a much broader scale than those between traditional humanities disciplines. (Interestingly, a number of participants have complained about the prescriptive nature of the JHI profile registration form because it makes assumptions about who is involved in humanities research rather than letting those who are involved in humanities research establish the parameters of what constitutes a humanities researcher).

2. The conceptualization of DH as comprising three groups of people: Humanities Researchers, DH Researchers, and Constructors. Divisions like this will be a major issue of interrogation in the working group. True, the authors acknowledge in a footnote that in DH research, “distinctions between and among these categories begin to dissolve” (4) (yes, under ideal conditions), but I find the descriptions provided for these groups to be artificial. It is essential that we think beyond these limiting distinctions and account for a much broader spectrum of DH practice and practitioners.

3. The green paper is fundamentally a call for support and resources to enable the institutionalization of DH at U of T, directed at the university administration. While this would indeed be wonderful, it should not be seen as the only model to do DH at U of T. Institutionalization comes with its own problems (bureaucracy, inflexibility, reification). Another model the working group should discuss is what might be called the ‘self-help’ model of DH, where DH researchers come together and pool their expertise and resources to achieve a mutually-beneficial goal, and then go on to form new partnerships that will help grow their projects. Another model might be termed the ‘entrepreneurial’ model, where DH scholarship is developed outside the university, within the wikinomic world of mass colloboration, which dissolves boundaries between academe and the public realm it is supposed to benefit.

Visual Thinking at U of T

May 26, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The KMDI (Knowledge Media Design Institute) at U of T is currently sponsoring a public lecture series on “Visual Thinking“. Two lectures have already been given (they are archived as webcasts on the Visual Thinking site).

I would draw the group’s attention particularly to the “Information and Data Visualization” lecture on Thursday 4 June at 5:15PM.

Mapping Development Websites

May 24, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Here are two sites that members interested in doing mapping should explore:

Google Code (click on the ‘APIs and Tools’ link under Developer Resources, and the click on the ‘Geo’ link under Products)

Flickr Services (see also

A rudimentary mapplet can be seen on Google Books, in the ‘About This Book’ section for some books, which feature a ‘Places mentioned in this book’ mapplet; here’s the one for Dracula (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Data Visualization Widgets

May 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four widgets from the SIMILE project (see the ‘Exhibit’ widget in particular)

Some more visualizations

May 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here are two sites on data visualization I find very interesting:


information aesthetics

Here are two visualizations inspired by nature:





Another type of mapping…

May 10, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

…the working group might explore (from the history flow website – the image is from Discover Magazine):

A map of edits to Wikipedia's article on Evolution

A map of edits to Wikipedia's article on Evolution

(More maps can be seen on the Gallery page of the history flows website)

‘Mapping the Digital Humanities’

May 10, 2009 at 11:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is a preliminary announcement of a course at the University of Washington, Seattle, which appears to cover the same ground as that proposed by the working group.

Geospatial Methods for e-Humanities Research

May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s an interesting workshop being held across the pond that touches on the proposed focus of the group’s application development work:

Announcing a DHO Workshop: Introduction to Geospatial Methods for e-Humanities Research

Date: 21 May 2009, 11:00-16:00

Venue: Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2

To Register:

Presenters: Mr Anthony Corns (Discovery Programme), Mr Shawn Day (Digital Humanities Observatory), and Dr Rob Sands (University College

In the very recent past, geospatial methods and the use of GIS in particular was limited to a very small group of scientists and researchers in the environmental sciences and remote sensing. In the past few years, humanities scholars have begun to adopt similar tools and methods and apply them to the areas of classics, languages, history, literature, the performing arts and others to visualise complex datasets or those of larger magnitudes. This visualisation has provided intriguing new perspectives for both analysis and presentation of research in the humanities. “An Introduction to Geospatial Methods for e-Humanities Research” is a workshop designed for researchers engaged with digital humanities projects. It will provide examples of how visualising textual, numerical, social data can aid in the analysis and presentation of humanities research. Led by Anthony Corns of the Discovery Programme, Rob Sands of the UCD School of Archaeology and Shawn Day from the Digital Humanities Observatory, the workshop will provide opportunities for learning through lecture, group discussion, and hands-on exercise. Specific topics will include the variety of formats and standards that exist for working with geospatial data as well as some of the more popular tools that are applicable for humanities researchers.

This workshop is aimed at the absolute beginner, and there will be plenty of time scheduled for questions and discussion.

Registration is required and a limited number of places are available.

To register for this workshop, please visit:

For more information on this workshop please visit:

Drucker on doing DH

May 7, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s a recent article that reveals how timely and important the questions the working group will deal with are:

Drucker, Johanna. “Blind Spots.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 55:30 (3 April 2009): B6-B8.

Available on ProQuest

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