Category: Digital Humanities

Regional Diversity of ADHO Authors

What's Under the Big Tent? ADHO Conference Abstracts, 2004-2014In you case you’re addicted to the self-definition of digital humanities, here’s a healthy scoop DH conferences analyses! For some time now, I’ve been working with Scott Weingart on a longitudinal study of Alliance for Digital Humanities Organization (ADHO) conference abstracts. Last week, at the DHSI Colloquium, we presented some of our initial findings, and I thought I would share bits of them here as well. Scott has written a series of blog posts on DH conferences, if you need more (meta)DH in your life. 

Our Dataset

For this study we’ve scraped ADHO conference programs and abstract books of 2004-2014 for:

  • unique authors
  • author institutional affiliations (if provided)
  • academic departments (if provided)
  • presentation types (panels, posters, plenaries, papers, etc)
  • presentation text (abstract or full paper, whichever are in the programs)
  • keywords (if available)

It should be noted that all of our points of analysis are about the ADHO conferences, not for digital humanities as a field/discipline/method(s), even if indicative of the other.

Regional Diversity

We started our analysis by surveying the regional diversity of ADHO presenters, since ADHO is a collection of international organizations. To our list of authors, we’ve added their countries based on their institutional affiliations, and we have clustered them by region. We’re still working on 2014 and 2015, but here’s the breakdown of all unique authors, 2004-2013:

ADHO Regional Diversity 2004-2013

ADHO has been overwhelmingly Americas centric in terms of presenters (US: 851 | Canada: 202 | Mexico: 1 | Peru: 1 | Uruguay: 1), with Europe coming in second at 794. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that for years that ADHO took place in the Americas, 70% of presenters were from the Americas, although they made up 50% of presenters when the conference was held in Europe. However, overall, regional diversity seems to be increasing, with notable increases of authors from Asia and Oceania. But we have yet to see scholars from African countries attend. Everywhere else the trends are pretty clear: a slow move eastward of authors as the conference itself moves eastward. It’ll be interesting to see how things change in Poland in 2016, and wherever it winds up going in 2017 and, even if Americas centric, if 2017 in Montreal and 2018 in Mexico City will mean more international contributors (especially from Latin America).

ADHO Regional Diversity by Year
ADHO Regional Diversity by Year, 2004-2013

While regional diversity of ADHO authorship is growing and becoming less insular, there remains greater diversity of projects related to other regions.Juxtaposing our map of unique ADHO authors to Alex Gil’s map of DH projects from Around DH is telling: DH has a global outlook, even if ADHO presenters are primarily from the Americas and Europe. This year’s dh2015 is the first time ADHO is held outside of the Americas or Europe, and once we’ve compiled our author list of 2015, it’s likely we’ll see the most regional diversity compared to previous years.

ADHO regional diversity
ADHO Presenters’ Country Affiliations, 2004-2013
DH Project Map from 'Around DH in 80 Days' -  Alex Gil
Around DH in 80 Days – Alex Gil

This is just a snapshot of our findings in relation to regional diversity of ADHO authorship, so stay tuned for more posts on other categories of analysis. Or, check out Scott’s blog and our slidedeck from the DHSI Colloquium: .

– nickoal

TEI and Plain Text Files for Reuse

From Michelle Dalmau, Interim Head of Digital Collections Services at Wells Library, Indiana University:

In honor of Open Access Week, and motivated by a recent mock keynote debate, A Matter of Scale,” presented by Matt Jockers and Julia Flanders as part of the Boston Area Days of Digital Humanities Conference, I present for exploration, re-use and re-mixing outside of their native interfaces TEI (P4 & P5) and plain text files of the following e-text collections published by the Indiana University (IU) Libraries:

These files are made available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0) license and can be downloaded or forked from githib,, which includes a detailed readme file that you should, um, read, about this initiative.

I encourage you to share your uses (intended, past, and future) of this data on our repository’s wiki space: <> so we can track your magic.

Have fun!


Twitter:  @mdalmau

The evolution of marriage practices

Early modern historians introduced new methodologies in studying the history of marriage, largely because of the sweeping changes in marriage laws and practices that took  place in the sixteenth century, including the shift from femme covert  to women being able to inherit and manage their own property. From history, we have learned that the only continuity in marriage is change and redefinition.

Steven Mintz article featured in Inside Higher Education, “Does History Matter?” (2 July2013), in light of  the fall of DOMA, writes a great piece reminding us that, while history is not a linear progression, it shows that there’s a misconception that “the notion that same-sex marriage deviates from a timeless, unchanging marital norm.”

So, yes, history matters.

3D Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral

Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral

Bill Endres of Kentucky University has released Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral, a beautiful beta version of 3D images of St Chad Gospels and Wycliffe New Testament, with great functionalities. Just hold down the alt key, left-click the mouse and drag it so that the cursor location becomes the point around which the page rotates [haven’t tried touch screen yet]. It’s like you’re there!

Paleographers can  annotate images and generate unique URLs, instructors can interactively share medieval material culture with students, and historians and DHers can nerd out! The possibilities are endless.

DH and Knowledge Design

Digital Humanities is about experimentation. DHers are pioneers. By means of creating and discovering new ideas and facilitating new kinds of research questions, DHers create tools and develop new methods to perpetuate scholarly conversation as well as keep the humanities relevant. In addition to creating tools like many of the ones we’ve encountered, DHers are also designers. As the dissemination of knowledge takes new digital form in our currently evolving communication ecosystem, DHers design and present materials in ways that printed text did not so easily allow. Jeffrey Schnapp, the director of metaLAB at Harvard University, succinctly points out the following:

When you move from a universe where the rules with respect to a scholarly essay or monograph have been fully codified, to a universe of experimentation in which the rules have yet to be written, characterized by shifting toolkits and skillsets, in which genres of scholarship are undergoing constant redefinition, you become by necessity a knowledge designer. (Shaw 2012)

In expressing our scholarship digitally, we are also in command of how to present it in innovative ways. And, others have taken notice of DH’s designs, it seems. For instance, Jerome McGann, co-founder of NINES, from University of Virginia, has worked with Gale Cengage on their Nineteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database. Since McGann works with Gale, I don’t find it a coincidence that they have included text analysis tools such as their term clusters and term frequencies, which look like some of the tools we have used in our DH training.

Perhaps as we create scholarship in digital form and with various new tools, we as librarians and DHers may also want to consider how to effectively present knowledge in ways that make sense for new publishing models, whether it’s in the form of an online journal or a website with pedagogically motivated visualizations in databases. Furthermore, it seems important to ask, how might what we produce and how we choose to disseminate it to enhance academic study? Ultimately, the answers will develop from our experiments with new modes of research and expression, as well as reflection on and innovation in how we communicate in the digital world.

[On a related note, check out Peter Katz recent post “There is no outside the medium: Interface essentialism and the death of print (and the digital)“]

Dynamic Reading of Maps vis-à-vis GIS

This week, we’re discussing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Digital Humanities. Prior to reading our course materials, when I thought about GIS, generally what came to my mind were images of historical maps overlain modern maps, more generally to show changes in cartography, comparing new natural and human-built structures to old visualizations in maps that were previously nonexistent or measured incorrectly by cartographers. Largely because I confined my thoughts to GIS uses in tandem with my current technological abilities and historical understandings heavily influenced by the early modern period, I thought about how I have read maps over the years. Maps are texts, and as David Ramsay points out, they include meta of “supra” narratives. These narratives have driven my interest because they illuminate relative worldviews. For instance, today, most world maps will include the Atlantic Ocean positioned at the center and the North Pole at the top, which reflects a modern Eurocentric / Western worldview. Conversely, this sixteenth-century world map shows the world “upside down”

and this Ptolemaic-based fifteenth-century map draws on the centrality of trading powers in the Middle East, placing it at the center.

While I considered these sort of historical conceptions of place as shaped by their worldviews,  I also thought about these in terms of narratives in relation to one another. And, in relation to the potentiality in GIS, in “The Potential of Spatial Humanities” (2010), D.J. Bodenhamer sums it up rather nicely:

[H]uman activity is about time and space, and GIS provides a way to manage, relate, and query events, as well as to visualize them, that should be attractive to researchers.

This sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? While still blurring the lines between text and image, moving away from simple side-by-side comparisons of maps, GIS allows for what David Rumsay calls dynamic readings of maps. With GIS, we can combine information and visualizations of maps, as multi-stacked-layered visualizations, such as multiple historical maps on top of each other, along with topographical maps, and embedded on Google Earth for digital interaction. See David Rumsay’s 3D of Los Angeles, for instance.

However, while I did indeed think about maps as a means of reading human activity and GIS as multilayered, one aspect I hadn’t considered as greatly was that of what Rumsay pointed out in his DH2011 keynote speech: one of the challenges of GIS is that maps are already in themselves visualizations of information, and GIS techniques essentially create visualizations of visualizations. So it would seem that the interactivity of these visualizations, and thus makes the digital interface, extremely important.

What can we gain from GIS? Like all the other DH methodologies, such as text analysis and topic modeling, it seems that while GIS can most certainly help illustrate “the known” through what Cooper and Gregory (2010) call “mere spatial visualization” and as thinking tools, GIS techniques can also drive new research questions as research tools for “critical interpretation.”

[This was probably my favorite GIS example from David Rumsay’s DH11 talk and his Map Collection, and I wanted to post it here because I thought it was neat… and I love Cassini: Cassini Celestial and Terrestrial Globes]