[Humanist] 28.795 open access; a formative mind

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 6 10:19:19 CET 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 795.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Gregory Crane <gregory.crane at tufts.edu>                   (58)
        Subject: Getting to open data for Classical Greek and Latin: breaking
                old habits and undoing the damage of current practices

  [2]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (40)
        Subject: the formative mind

        Date: Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:55:10 +0100
        From: Gregory Crane <gregory.crane at tufts.edu>
        Subject: Getting to open data for Classical Greek and Latin: breaking old habits and undoing the damage of current practices

Dear Humanists,

At this point (early 2015), it seems clear to me that shifting new 
textual editions to an open access framework is only a matter of time -- 
at least for those researchers who draw their salaries in large measure 
from state funding and/or who depend upon state sponsored research 
support to produce those editions. It has been more than a decade since 
Creative Commons published its first licenses (2002) and 25 years since 
the TEI began describing ways of creating machine actionable editions 
(the late 1980s). If anyone wants to see what is possible, they should 
familiarize themselves with the Papyrological Editor at 
http://papyri.info/. If you feel that the infrastructure at 
http://papyri.info/ does not go far enough and you are a student of 
Greek, Latin or some other language, then you should see what you can do 
yourself to help improve the situation.

I forward the beginning of a blog post that considers this transition 
but that particularly focuses on the problems of our legacy data: what 
do we do about textual data  to which commercial entities can now claim 
copyright and over which they can exercise control?

  Getting to open data for Classical Greek and Latin: breaking old
  habits and undoing the damage -- a call for comment!

Share  http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php 

Gregory Crane
Professor of Classics and Winnick Family Chair of Technology and 
Tufts University

Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities
Open Access Officer
University of Leipzig

March 4, 2015

Philologists must for at least two reasons open up the textual data upon 
which they base their work. First, researchers need to be able to 
download, modify and redistribute their textual data if they are to 
fully exploit both new methods that center around algorithmic analysis 
(e.g., corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, text mining, and 
various applications of machine learning) and new scholarly products and 
practices that computational methods enable (e.g., on-going and 
decentralized production of micro-publications by scholars from around 
the world, as well as scalable evaluation systems to facilitate 
contributions from, and learning by, citizen scientists). In some cases, 
issues of privacy may come into play (e.g., where we study Greek and 
Latin data produced by our students) but our textual editions of, and 
associated annotations on, long-dead authors do not fall into this 
category. Second, open data is essential if researchers working with 
historical languages such as Classical Greek and Latin are to realize 
either their obligation to conduct the most effective (as well as 
transparent) research and or their obligation to advance the role that 
those languages can play in the intellectual life of society as a whole. 
It is not enough to make our 100 EUR monographs available under an Open 
Access license. We must also make as accessible as possible the primary 
sources upon which those monographs depend.

This blog post addresses two barriers that prevent students of 
historical languages such as Classical Greek and Latin from shifting to 
a fully open intellectual ecosystem: (1) the practice of giving control 
of scholarly work to commercial entities that then use their monopoly 
rights to generate revenue and (2) the legacy rights over critical 
editions that scholars have already handed over to commercial entities....

[For the full text, see 

        Date: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:06:20 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the formative mind

Allow me to recommend a brilliant book, How Reason Almost Lost its Mind 
(Chicago, 2013). I will get to the contents, but first, to feed our 
thoughts on how books can be written, I quote the first paragraph of the 

> This book began at "The Strangelovian Sciences" workshop, held at the
> Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) in
> March 2010. Out of that workshop a Working Group of six crystallized,
> who met once again in Berlin for six weeks in the summer of 2010 to
> write, discuss, revise, discuss again, and revise yet one more time
> in order to produce a jointly authored book. Our conversations, both
> formal and informal, were wide ranging, critical, unpredictable,
> sometimes heated, and always engrossing. Without them, this book
> could not have come into being, no matter how diligently each of us
> worked in solitude. We regard it as a collective work. An impeccably
> rational device ordered the authors' names: a randomizing computer
> program.

Now for the contents. The book has a place on our bookshelf for its 
detailed portrait of a Cold War project to redefine rationality in the 
light and darkness of impending thermonuclear warfare. A loosely 
connected group of highly influential people in the U.S. (Herbert Simon, 
Oskar Morgenstern, Herman Kahn, Anatol Rapoport, Thomas Shelling et al) 
"harnessed this picture of rationality -- optimizing, formal, 
algorithmic, and mechanical -- in their quest to understand phenomena as 
diverse as economic transactions, biological evolution, political 
elections, international relations, and military strategy."

As for relevance to us, consider that this period, from the explosion of 
the first Russian nuclear bomb in 1949 (when Fr Busa began his work) to 
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (when the Web was released), 
was when digital humanities as we know it now began. It is easy enough 
once you have the dates of the Cold War in sight to understand in broad 
terms how scholars might be iffy about computers, but the situation gets 
far more interesting when you begin to realise how profoundly the world 
in which these scholars lived and worked was affected -- and remains 

Read it tonight!

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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