[Humanist] 23.221 digital differences

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Aug 7 07:53:32 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 221.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 13:09:49 +0100
        From: "Joshua D. Sosin" <joshua.sosin at DUKE.EDU>
        Subject: Re: What difference does digital make?


You might be interested to read about the current Integrating Digital 
Papyrology project, which aims among other things to start building a 
bit of superstructure on top of the foundation that is more or less in 
place already: http://idp.atlantides.org/trac/idp/wiki/DDBDP (see link 
at bottom of page: 

What you say about the BL is of course absolutely correct. Several 
papyrologists have talked for years about the value of a digitized BL. 
The online papyrological texteditor that we are building now will be 
able both to accommodate collaborative entry of existing BL entries as 
well as permitting (peer reviewed) proposal and introduction of 
corrections directly to the databank. But it will also allow the 
community of scholars to take direct control of bringing up to date the 
core data, which are, as you say,  in places woefully out of date.

All best wishes for what sounds like a stimulating thesis!

Josh Sosin

Lemaire Pascal wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> I'm currently finishing my graduation paper for a MA in sciences and 
> technologies of information and communication and my research topic is 
> the use of new computer technologies in epigraphy and papyrology. My 
> main conclusion on the topic raised here is that what's been built is 
> a foundation, an infrastructure which is not yet fully complete but on 
> which we can begin to build the tools that will be the real game 
> changers.
> For exemple the greek and latin papyri have been digitized a long time 
> ago and those ressources are now the building blocks on which the 
> papyrological navigator is built, a kind of mashup making a lot of 
> informations comming from various projects availlable in a single 
> place. I've also seen projects in various places where chronological 
> and geographical data are used to display dynamicaly informations on a 
> map and have an animation of the evolution of, for exemple, a 
> personnal name through the ages. It's been done both for medieval and 
> classical research projects.
> But despite all this we still have to face some serious issues which 
> we'll only be able to deal with if we do more new digitalisation 
> projects and if we can overcome some publishers refusals.
> For exemple the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri holds a lot of 
> information but a lot of it is old, dated and obsolete and putting it 
> up to date would take a massive amount of time and ressources. But 
> solutions like a digitalisation of the /Berichtigungsliste der 
> griechischen Papyrusurkunden aus Ägypten/ could help since it lists 
> all new editions of already published texts and the new data could be 
> added automaticaly to the Papyrological navigator's data and allow the 
> researchers to always work on the latest edition of the texts. 
> Otherwise we'll probably see an increase of mistakes based on the use 
> of digitized but out of date ressources.
> But what I also see is a growing distance between those who use the 
> digital ressources and those who don't due to either lack of skills or 
> of ressources. In many universities with smaller staff you may find 
> specialists working alone in their office without any support, even 
> whole departements lacking any kind of IT staff to help them with 
> their research.
> One may maybe go as far as saying that one of the main result of 
> digital humanities is not a more widespread diffusion of knowledge but 
> rather in the birth of a somewhat more exclusive group of researchers, 
> those with the know how and the ressources. With increased books 
> prices and tightening budgets this could really exclude some from the 
> cutting edge of research and make them "second rate" not through lack 
> of professionalism but due to economic exclusion.
> The answer for that would be to have more collaborations, more 
> inter-university projects, more international projects with shared 
> ressources but in order to promote those it is also needed to tell 
> those not so computer litterate colleagues that such project do exist 
> and have a real use and tell them where to go for more informations 
> because they may simply not know that places like this mailing list 
> exists.
> For exemple I myself became involved because, as an undergraduate 
> student in classical history, an assistant came one day to ask me "how 
> does one make a web site" because he wanted to put online his 
> research. It is only by chance that we learned about TEI and then 
> EpiDoc (which better suits our needs) and that we decided to go in 
> this direction.
> No one we knew in the university was interested in thoses topics when 
> we started and it is only now that computer use in historical and 
> classical philologic researches is (very) slowly growing.
> Pascal Lemaire
> Université Libre de Bruxelles

Associate Professor, Classical Studies, Duke University
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Editor, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies
Co-Director, Duke Data Bank of Documentary Papyri


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