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I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


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I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


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I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


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I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


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I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


Intro to Digital Humanities, Day 6, Lesson 2 Start

I am a student of the “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course @edx.org.

Today I started lesson 2 and completed lesson 1.5 (check the previous post in this blog).

Lesson 2 is on “Digital Humanities Projects, tools, and questions they support”.

The lesson starts with a discussion.

Discussion

Read and consider this quote taken from the book, Digital Humanities:
“The digital environment offers expanded possibilities for exploring multiple approaches to what constitutes knowledge and what methods qualify as valid for production. This implies that the 8-page essay and the 25-page research paper will have to make room for the game design, the multi-player narrative, the video mash-up, the online exhibit and other new forms and formats as pedagogical exercises. Playful, imaginative, participatory work is not the enemy of education but its exuberant and vital engine. New standards of assessments will be necessary as skills change. We struggle less to remember facts than we do to remember where and how to find them–and how to assess their validity.” (Digital Humanities External link, 24-25)
Do you agree or disagree that in addition to writing, other teaching and research practices grounded in digital tools and formats should be considered part of the “vital engine” of education?

My answer:
Title:
I strongly agree and see it as natural

Body:
I strongly agree, and I see the expansion as only natural. Languages evolve, writing evolves, and it was never literally about scribbling on a medium. “Writing” is about capturing ideas. Sculptors may write on stone, photographers may write on stills, videographers on video, etc. Now we have more tools and different media than ever before in human history, so some will prefer brushes to pencils, cameras to brushes, an artificial programming language to natural English, 3D virtual models to maquettes, and so on.

The way we express ourselves, should fit who (or what) we want to communicate with, but that is also a fact of the past. The big difference is in the diversity available to us. Diversity can be tough to accept, for many reasons, some rooted in fear, some rooted in the need to defend one approach, but is here and now, and with costs of opportunity so low, that there is nothing to lose in at least trying different forms of expression.

Some new forms of expression will quickly establish themselves as the preferred for certain interactions but, more commonly, all forms require a maturing time. One good example is Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality in particular, which has been slowly evidencing itself, when done properly, as an highly effective learning tool.

I published my answer as a new post @ https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:HarvardX+DigHum_01+1T2019/discussion/forum/186cebae9711244392f2bad2da5e7ac33d033da6/threads/5d87b8fb84452a07c6002ac8

Intro to Digital Humanities, Day 6, Lesson 1.5

I am a student of the “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course @edx.org.

Today I started lesson 2 and completed lesson 1.5.

Lesson 1.5 ends with two interesting questions.

Question 1
The student is given two texts (biographies excerpts) and has to identify categories of information present in BOTH.

My original answer was: name, gender, profession, and level of education.
The answer considered correct, adds the “birth country” category. I do NOT agree that BOTH texts allow the reader to extract the birth country information. You can judge by yourself later in this post, because I copy/paste the passages.

My reasoning is that for Sir Derek, the reader is given a very complete birth address (but without an explicit country) that allows inferring that the birth country is England, but not with absolute certainty. Is there no other place in this world with that same address? I recon not, but is it safe to assume so, from that small text alone, as instructed?

For Lu Zuquian, the text makes no mention to a birth place nor country. From the very beginning, the reader thinks “China”, and everything that follows reinforces that, but the paragraphs are referring to where the man lived, studied, worked, not to where he was born. Based solely on the given short text, I think one cannot take for granted that Lu Zuiquian birth country is China.

After being told that my answer was not correct, I feared that I was misinterpreting the question and that I should check categories present in either text, so I resubmitted the answer, signaling all categories. Having failed again, I started ticking off the most improbable choices, until my submission was accepted. It was a frustrating first “graded” moment.

Question 2
The student is requested “three words that come to your mind when you think about how the structure or use of a database could have unintended meaning or negative consequences?”
I approached the problem, by first simplifying the question to “how can the use of a database have negative consequences?”
Then I formulated one quick answer, not exactly in single words: “there can be exposure of sensitive information, to unmerited users”.
Finally, I picked three related single words:

  • sensitivity
  • security
  • necessity

It seems that no one approached the problem my way, because my words ranked like this:
sensitivity 0%
security 1%
necessity 0%

What follows are the “biographies”, if you want to reason by yourself.

Biography #1
From the biography of Lü Zuqian in the History of the Song dynasty (China)
Lü Zuqian, whose style name was Bogong, was a grandson of the Right Assistant Director to the Imperial Secretary [Lü] Haowen. His family lived in Wuzhou beginning in his grandfather’s generation. The learning of Zuqian was based on family tradition, and embodied the textual transmission from the Central Plain of the north. When he grew up, Zuqian studied with Lin Zhiqi, Wang Yingchen, and Hu Xian. He also was friends with Zhang Shi and Zhu Xi, and thereby his understanding gained in clarity.
At first he obtained official rank by way of the protection privilege but later he obtained his Presented Scholar degree and also passed the special decree examination for “Erudite Learning and Exceptional Literary Composition.” Then he was appointed as the Instructor at School for the Imperial Clan in the Southern Outer Office of the Hostel for the Imperial Clan.
Song shi, chapter 434, translation by Peter Bol

Biography #2
From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (UK)
Wanless, Sir Derek (1947–2012), banker and policy adviser, was born on 29 September 1947 at The Gables, Elswick Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, the only child of Norman Hall Wanless (1911–1980), lorry driver, and later storeman at a Tyneside cement works, and his wife, Edna Mary, née Charlton (1915–2008). Educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne, he had a Saturday job at the Darlington branch of the Westminster Bank, and won a Westminster Bank scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1967, to read mathematics. In 1970 he was senior wrangler (awarded the top first-class degree in mathematics). On 25 September 1971, at the parish church in Walker, Newcastle, he married Vera West (b. 1949), clerical officer, and daughter of William West, shipyard caulker; they had one son and four daughters.
Wanless joined the National Westminster Bank (formed in 1968 from the merger of the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial Bank) in 1970, rising rapidly to become area director for the north-east, based in Leeds, in 1982. In 1986 he moved to London as director of personal banking, and as such led the team which developed the Switch debit card. Following his appointment as chief executive, UK financial services, in 1990, he was promoted to the position of NatWest group chief executive in 1992. But he was held responsible by the board for problems which developed at NatWest in the 1990s, culminating in a £90 million trading loss in NatWest Markets, the investment arm, in 1997, followed by the failure of proposed mergers with Abbey National, and then Legal and General, in 1999. When, later that year, the share price collapsed, he was forced to resign, and shortly after this, early in 2000, NatWest was taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Anne Pimlott Baker, January 7, 2016

Intro to Digital Humanities – Day 5

I am a student of the “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course @edx.org.

Today, I learned “Critical Reflections on Digital Humanities” (lesson 1.5).
I consumed the following lessons:

  1. Instructions
  2. DH Timeline
  3. History of Digital Humanities
  4. Critical Code Studies
  5. Digital Humanities and Design
  6. Computation is Not Value Neutral

I made a GIF of the timeline, available at the end of this post.

There were two discussions.

Discussion #1

Think about this timeline.
As you study the items we’ve included on this timeline, we encourage you to raise questions about them and discuss items that you think should be added or removed. You may wish to come back to this throughout the course, but the point we’re trying to make with this timeline is that many different kinds of people, technologies, and other infrastructure have come together to create the practice we know today as digital humanities. Undoubtedly there are many ways to summarize or evaluate the influences that have shaped humanities research. And a timeline is only one way to organize that summary.
We want to hear from you about your impressions regarding the historical events that have led to current digital humanities practice. Which items should be added or removed? Enter your post in the discussion forum below.

My answer (#1) follows.

Title:
I would not include all of the current entries; I reason about “enabler and multiplier” solutions vs. particular projects

Body:
I regard “writing” as humanity’s all-time greatest invention. No writing, no memory, making it much harder (impossible?) for new generations to fully benefit from their antecessors’ progress. So, I do agree with 1440’s printing press inclusion in the timeline, because that represents a significant higher level of “memory technology”, not only for recording purposes, but also for information diffusion.

The 1800’s “humanities” landmark, with a reference to the 15th century, is relevant in the sense that it acknowledges some of the first dedicated and explicit critical studies of human creative works.

1946’s father Roberto Busa + IBM project was unknown to me. I understand its inclusion, but I am hesitant on its relative relevance; I think its relevance is very much lower on the “scale”, compared to “printing press”, for example. One of the reasons I think this, is that at the time, software development was so tightened to the hardware itself, that there weren’t even standards for how to code characters – ASCII (a very relevant standard for encoding characters) is something of the early 1960s. This means that software creators would not agree in details so low, as how to represent an “A” (or any other symbol) in code. The consequence is that whatever tool IBM created for the study, its operation would be/was limited to a very specific IBM machine, requiring highly specialized people to do anything it with. In other words, my perspective is that any digital tool will only be worth mentioning by the time its inputs and outputs have reached a more “open”, or at least “standardized” maturity.
OCR, at least after standards for character encoding, is understandable in the timeline.

“Situationist International”, which I also learned about from this timeline, allowed its contributors experimentation worth the records. I will assume other collectives were doing the same, but they did not achieve the same notoriety.

1960s’ Geographical Information Systems, are the precursors of my favorite “leisure” software: Google Earth. Google Earth is underappreciated. It is so empowering, to be able to virtually travel to anywhere on Earth (and beyond!), and learn more from there! Tomlinson’s system was very different, but was the seed to everything that followed, so I find his contribution highly deserving of the timeline.

“The medium is the message”, is certainly not a consensus, when interpreted from an importance perspective, but it does apply to much of the communications happening today, via all the media. I would NOT include this sentence in the timeline.

Instead of “first two-node” network (a classification I do not agree with), I would pick the underlying key technology as one of the greatest all-time inventions: “packet switching” is about the digitalization of information and dividing/organizing it in digital packets whose sending/receiving order is NOT relevant, contrary to what happens in analogue conversations. Hence the packets can travel different routes, some longer, some shorter, some readily available, some found inaccessible (in case of war, some physical paths can get destroyed, yet it might still be possible to deliver the packets through alt-structures), and get assembled at the destination, according to metadata in each packet – its sequence number. To me, this ranks as high as the “printing press”.

The Internet changed, and will keep changing, everything. We all work on the shoulders of giants, and any technology is only possible as the top layer of a big stack of all the previous supporting technologies; so it can sound unfair to say that the Internet is the most important landmark of them all, in the timeline under discussion, but that is how I see it.

I agree with the PC in the timeline. As a tool, it was the first tool enabling individuals’ access to the Internet.

As with “Situationist International”, specific organizations’ work, no matter how interesting, is only subjectively more or less important, than others’, so I would not include MIT’s “Interactive Cinema Group”, “Index Thomisticus” and the “Dartmouth Dante Project” in the timeline. If they are to be included, what to say of many of Douglas Engelbart’s projects (a fundamental person in multimedia thinking and doing)? And what about Theodore Nelson’s hypertext works (the person who coined many of the hyper* expressions and many related ideas)?
I would instead look to include technologies, even if only conceptualized, as Vannevar Bush’s “Memex”.

TEI and the WWW are foundations, platforms, on which people build; so, as “enablers”, they fit my view of what is most justifiable in the timeline. On the other hand, Google Books and Wikipedia are superb, wonderful projects, built on top of “enabler technologies”, but not exactly at the same multiplier level.

I published my answer (#1) as a new post at the following URL: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:HarvardX+DigHum_01+1T2019/discussion/forum/9b86718d2363f1a198f41058d31f2dc1a61a4c3c/threads/5d86390c8149fd09370029dd

Discussion #2

Now that you have learned more about some of the critical theory behind digital humanities work, we want to know how your thinking has changed? What topics or ideas surprised you the most? What might have been most relevant to your own research interests?

My answer (#2) follows:

Title:
Confirming the growing reach of Digital Humanities and two “surprising” situations, to be picky

Body:
As I proceed in the course, the more I feel the constant opportunities for Digital Humanities studies in today’s world, a personal growing interest in the field, and how the label might even apply to some projects of mine.
The strong multidisciplinary of the field is not surprising me, nor is its heavy collaboration with digital/computational techniques, technologies and tools. In that sense, my thinking has not changed.
I have to be picky, but I can identify two situations which I still need to understand better: one is the relevance given to specific projects (“Corpus Thomisticum”, “Dartmouth Dante” and “The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti); the other is a different perspective I might have of the concept of “scale” and its handling by humans.
Regarding the specific projects, I understand their merits and even their pioneering nature, but I am unconvinced that they are/were engines for the advancement of Digital Humanities. I see them as examples of, but not as the engines for. For this reason, I was expecting complementary sentences, stating “there are other examples” and/or clarifications on their main contributions.
Regarding the perspective of “scale”, I sometimes perceived the one-sided idea that computational approaches scale-up without issue, contrary to humans. In fact, scaling-up is a huge computational challenge for non-linear problems, and humans can be surprisingly good in handling massive sets of data, for a mix of reasons. One pop example is how only very recently Artificial Intelligence was able to beat humans at the game of Go.

I published my answer (#2) as a new post at the following URL: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:HarvardX+DigHum_01+1T2019/discussion/forum/b89ce8e812f9c61c8b19bb9b161119fe1ad65886/threads/5d865c448149fd0978002b49



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