Tag Archives: digital collections

Princeton’s Center for Digital Humanities, News – excerpt

Here is a short news article from Princeton explaining some of the projects they are undertaking at their Center for Digital Humanities. It gives an excellent example of how a humanities undergraduate can work with a faculty member to do real research using digital tools. This is the kind of work I would like to do with undergraduates!  I’ve included an excerpt below and the link to the article.


Sometimes, opposites attract.

Princeton senior Brian Lax is an English major, passionate about British literature. He is also passionate about computer science and is earning a certificate in statistics and machine learning. Determined to marry these two seemingly disparate parts of his academic experience for his senior thesis, he set out to track revisions of poems by W.H. Auden across time — using the computer as his chief research tool.

Working with his adviser, Meredith Martin, associate professor of English and director of theCenter for Digital Humanities, Lax began his journey into the field of digital humanities.

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Big data meets the Bard – FT.com

Big data meets the Bard – FT.com.

Yet another article about the perhaps “diabolical” use of “Big Data” in the humanities. The article describes the author’s reactions to a Skype seminar from the Stanford Literary Lab. While I don’t think that “Big Data” will replace actually reading novels, I did cringe at this quote:

Ryan Heuser, 27-year-old associate director for research at the Literary Lab, tells me he can’t remember the last time he read a novel. “It was probably a few years ago and it was probably a sci-fi. But I don’t think I’ve read any fiction since I’ve been involved with the lab.”

But reading books, and analyzing Big Data, as I’ve said before on this blog, are different –and complementary–tasks.

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Aaron Swartz, Internet Activist, Dies at 26 – NYTimes.com

Aaron Swartz, Internet Activist, Dies at 26 – NYTimes.com.

The death of Mr. Swartz, apparently by suicide, is a tragic loss to the open access movement, and indeed to the world at large. He is perhaps most famously known for having hacked into the computer network at M.I.T. and then downloading most of the articles available on JSTOR in an attempt to make them free to the public. He was facing charges for that act that could have netted him years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

JSTOR itself, it should be noted, declined to press charges. It was the State Prosecutor for Massachusetts* who pursued Mr. Swartz (to his death, some would argue).

As an academic who participates in the process of scholarly information production and exchange, I have some understanding of the time, money, and effort it takes to conduct research, write and publish articles, run an academic journal, collect and curate said articles, and archive them in ways that make them available to others in a useful form. That work deserves fair compensation. But at the same time, corporations have become gatekeepers to that information (which is often produced at public expense at public universities, funded by public grants) and are charging what appear to be exorbitant amounts of money for access.

The Open Access model of information production and distribution requires a fundamental restructuring of the way information is produced, circulated, and valued in our culture. The current model is deeply entrenched, and will not change without significant buy-in from stakeholders who are currently highly resistant. Thus some activists are taking back their power by circumventing the system and forming alternate systems outside the current publishing structure. Mr. Swartz was one of those. He did so, not for any gain of his own, but because of his passionate conviction that the producers and users of information need to take back control of their intellectual property and make it freely available (or as free as possible). The entire system of scholarly production and exchange is changing, and the sooner the corporations that tie up intellectual information in proprietary databases realize this, the better.

*Correction: an earlier version of this post said it was the federal government that pursued prosecution of Mr. Swartz. The corrected information is above.

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UK Reading Experience Database – Home

UK Reading Experience Database – Home.

Wow. Here is a database that may do some of what I want to do with my Literary Interlocutors database.  I found the link when I was examining the “What Middletown Read” site. I will comment more on this when I have a chance to look at it more closely.

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