Digital Humanities

Challenges of Classics in the Digital Age: Working with the DCC

Written by  Daniel Plekhov of Dickinson College.

The use of digital media as a pedagogical tool has allowed students the ability to access a virtually unlimited number of resources in a way that was simply not possible with pre-digital media. For those working to create these online digital media tools, it is difficult to fight the temptation to provide for students everything and anything that can be of interest or benefit to them. So many resources can often times be distracting and a user may find themselves clicking farther and farther away from what they had initially come to find. In a time when everything is indeed no more than a click away, we must consider what is valuable to include and what is distracting or unnecessary. Such consideration becomes highly subjective, and questions must be asked as to what audience a digital media tool caters to, and what their needs are. These are the problems that are being addressed by the Dickinson College Commentaries (DCC) in creating a tool for students of Classical languages. Being such a student myself, and also working on the DCC, I was able to confront these issues from both sides.

The DCC presents classical texts alongside ancillary information necessary for readers and scholars. Such information in print media has been customarily seen in margins, indices, or appendices, but can here be represented alongside the text, fully tailored to the needs and benefit of the reader. External to the texts are such useful tools as vocabulary lists for Latin and Greek, which can be displayed according to alphabetical order, parts of speech, frequency, and semantic grouping. Words that appear in high frequency are omitted from the supplemental vocabulary lists provided for each text, encouraging a more rewarding sight-reading experience. The emphasis here is on keeping the reader with the text as much as possible, which makes selection of supplemental material a very careful process.

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Costing Out a Small Digital Humanities Lab

In conversations with fellow digi-dorks, it became clear I was looking at this wrong. To answer the question, how much does it cost to start a small digital humanities lab; first, consider the most expensive element: personnel. The other costs: a few computers, web-hosting, software, and furniture are relatively inexpensive. The other big issue, and one where the costs may not necessarily be monetary, is physical space. Is there office or lab space available on campus?

Before approaching the question of cost though, there has to be a serious look at need. Do you need a digital humanities lab? What’s the purpose? Is this the equivalent of an Internet cafe from 2002, just something to check off on a list of features and services, or is it filling a demonstrable need for students and faculty?

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Neatline

This month I’m attending a workshop on Neatline. The software works with Omeka and seems like it may be a low barrier mapping tool. Right now, I’m imagining it as geo-referencing software that allows users… Read More »Neatline