The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle for educating children and teens about the early history of the United States. Public interest in the Founding Fathers’ lives and views is high — at the moment, Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton is at the top of the NYT’s paperback nonfiction bestseller list, where it has resided for 35 weeks, and also appears on the e-book nonfiction bestseller list, while Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book on George Washington has a place on the hardcover list. Some die-hard musical fans have moved beyond the Chernow biography into primary sources like Aaron Burr’s journals and John Laurens’s letters.
It’s not only the musical’s content that’s gained a spot in the public eye, though — its critical acclaim and widespread popularity have meant that DH-esque projects relating to its lyrics have attracted mainstream attention of a kind that similar projects on other subjects rarely get. Raplyzer, Eric Malmi’s 2015 program analyzing assonance and other rhymes in rap lyrics, was covered in a handful of sources as a light “computers, whatever will they do next” story — the non-specialist sources largely focused on the aspect of the project where the computer generated raps of its own, rather than on its analysis. (It goes without saying that rhyme analysis tools developed by literature scholars for poetry, like this one by Elise Thorsen and David J. Birnbaum, don’t even get that media attention.) Meanwhile, in 2016, Hamilton’s reputation led the Wall Street Journal itself to develop an algorithm similar to Malmi’s to use on the show’s lyrics; due to the show’s broad appeal, this was widely shared online.
Although the website Genius, a database of rap lyrics and other content with crowdsourced annotations, had been widely covered before its association with Hamilton, observers took particular note of the speed and thoroughness with which the site’s users marked up the show’s libretto. Genius’s strength, as it related to Hamilton specifically, lay in the breadth of knowledge of its crowdsourcing crowd: hip-hop aficionados picked up the references to Grandmaster Flash, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, fans coming from a musical theatre background noticed the shout-outs to South Pacific and The Last Five Years, and history buffs provided more context for details that are elided or come up only in passing, like the Battle of Fort Necessity, the Whiskey Rebellion, Hercules Mulligan’s slave Cato, or New York’s prominence in the 1770s. These annotations help a reader understand the musical both as a 21st-century document and as a narrative of the 18th-19th century.
Crowdsourced digital humanities projects frequently deal with much larger corpora than this, which need to be put into indexable form before they can be used by researchers. Such projects are therefore less subjective and less demanding of subject area knowledge. A selection of crowdsourced DH projects:
- Shakespeare’s World: Transcribe handwritten recipes and letters from early modern England
- Metadata Games: Identify and tag images, audio, and video
- AnnoTate: Transcribe artists’ diaries and sketchbooks
- Operation War Diary: Tag people, dates, troop movements, and other key details in WWI unit war diaries
- What’s on the menu?: Transcribe historical restaurant menus
- 18thConnect/TypeWright: Proofread and correct mechanical transcriptions of 18th-century documents
Hamilton fans interested in reading the title character’s writings can find them at Founders Online. A few that may be of interest:
- “The Farmer Refuted”, actually far more eloquently insulting than its paraphrase in the musical
- First preserved letter from Hamilton to Eliza Schuyler, his future wife, apologizing for having offered to drive her and a friend to a party before remembering that he was not a good enough driver to do so
- Draft of an Opinion on the Constitutionality of an Act to Establish a Bank, one of Hamilton’s most noted political successes. This draft, with cross-outs and additions, is an interesting look at Hamilton’s thought process!
- Letters between Hamilton and Aaron Burr (1, 2, 3, 4) leading up to their duel, signed — indeed — “I have the honor to be your obedient servant, A. Hamilton/A. Burr”
- And many more!
The musical Hamilton, winner of a slew of awards including (most recently) 11 Tonys, has gained notice as a vehicle... MORE
[Invited guest post by Rebecca Pac]
Funded by the Knight, Mellon, Shuttleworth, Sloan and Helmsley Foundations, Hypothes.is is an online tool that allows you to annotate online texts. The goal is to create “free, open, non-profit, neutral” (Hypothes.is, About us, 2016) tools to support the Annotator project, which is working to make the web and online resources easy for everyone to annotate. Annotations can be used to leave comments on specific lines of text (rather than in a comments section), provide citations, view what other researchers have commented, or take notes for personal use.
Hypothes.is is available as a bookmarklet, a Google Chrome extension, and as an addition to a website. For more information or to get started annotating, visit the Hypothes.is website.
[Invited guest post by Rebecca Pac] Funded by the Knight, Mellon, Shuttleworth, Sloan and Helmsley Foundations, Hypothes.is is an online... MORE
New technology has made it possible to read recycled fragments of Medieval manuscripts that have been hidden from view for centuries. Bindings made between the 15th and 18th centuries often (it is estimated 1 out of 5) contain hidden manuscript fragments that can be from much older texts. It was commons practice for bookbinders of the time to cut up and recycle handwritten books from the middle ages following the invention of printing. Thanks to macro x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (MA-XRF), it has become possible to read these older texts used to create 15th through 18th century manuscripts without removing the bookbindings.
Read the full post “X-rays reveal 1,300-year-old writings inside later bookbindings” by Dalya Alberge at The Guardian, US Edition.
New technology has made it possible to read recycled fragments of Medieval manuscripts that have been hidden from view for... MORE
[The following invited quest post has been provided by Rebecca Pac. Rebecca is a graduate student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. The Digital Publishing Services and Research & Education Departments at the Phillips Memorial Library are thrilled to have Rebecca interning with us this summer. Rebecca’s professional focus is academic libraries, research and research education, and digital publishing. Rebecca will be providing more posts during her internship, so stay tuned!]
Recently, the Netherlands EU Presidency announced that all publicly-funded scientific research in Europe will be published as open access by 2020. They also released The “Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science,” a document which lists the goals, steps, and benefits of open access in the sciences.
Releasing scientific research as open access articles will make new research more relevant and available to researchers, as well as interested citizens. Open science “has the potential to increase the quality and benefits of science by making it faster, more responsive to societal challenges, more inclusive and more accessible to new users” (“The Amsterdam Call for Action” 4, 2016). By making these articles freely available, new research can be read as soon it comes out by anyone who’s interested, rather than requiring access through a university after an embargo period or paid access to a single article. Open access in the sciences will also benefit those outside the science field. The Call for Action notes that by making research available to the public, entrepreneurs can use the findings to come up with new products and services.
A link to the full-text of the “Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science” is provided at European University Association News.
[The following invited quest post has been provided by Rebecca Pac. Rebecca is a graduate student in the Graduate School... MORE
Edward P. Doyle, O.P., 1907-1997, was a member of the Providence College faculty from 1941-1954. During a leave of absence for military service Father Doyle served as a World War II U.S. Army Chaplain. As a member of the 104th Infantry Division, Father Doyle was present at the liberation of the concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany.
The collection includes photographs, text documents, and a single audio file (including a link to the video from that audio file). The focus of this collection is Father Doyle’s personal photographs from the liberation of the Nordhausen Concentration Camp. These images are deeply disturbing, so caution is advised.
Digital Publishing Services recently added the Father Edward Doyle, O.P. Collection to our dpml.providence.edu site. Edward P. Doyle, O.P., 1907-1997, was... MORE
tl;dr: Voyant Tools is a free, open, web-based tool for textual analysis.
Voyant Tools is an open, web-based tool for textual analysis. Using the tool is easy. Go to the site and link to or upload your text (the system accepts a wide variety of formats including PDF, XML, TEI, and more). Once you ingest the text or corpus you are presented with a dashboard of visualizations and tools. Some of the tools built into Voyant include: Cirrus, a word cloud generator; Summary, a helpful overview of the corpus; Mandala, a visualization that shows the relationship between terms and documents; and many more (explore Voyant’s helpful documentation for the full list of tools). Another great feature is the ability to generate a URL for the entire corpus dashboard or specific visualizations which can then be linked to or embedded into web-based writing.
Voyant Tools creators Stéfan Sinclar (@sgsinclair) and Geoffrey Rockwell (@GeoffRockwell) have also written a book called Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities (2016, MIT Press). Rusty on your Greek and wondering what “hermeneutic” means, anyway? So was I. Hermeneutic means interpretive or explanatory and comes from the Greek “hermenēus,” interpreter. The book is accompanied by an extremely rich and helpful web site, Hermeneuti.ca, that uses Voyant to visualize and interpret the book’s content while providing examples of how humanities scholars might integrate textual analysis visualizations into their writing. One interesting example is found in Now Analyze That! in which speeches on the topic of race by Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright are analyzed.
Text analysis has been part of the digital humanities toolkit for some time. Voyant has been in existence since 2013 and several examples of how it has been used in digital pedagogy are available. These include Brian Croxall’s (@briancroxall) discussion of using Voyant Tools to analyze Hemingway; an explanation of how Voyant Tools was used to analyze a corpus of runaway slave advertisements in the U.S. antebellum south as part of a digital history course at Rice University; and a recent write-up on ProfHacker.
I decided to play with Voyant Tools using the corpus of correspondence presented on our Dorr Letters Project site. I zipped up all 61 TEI files, uploaded the zip file to Voyant Tools, and got this dashboard:
How cool!? There is a lot to unpack in this data but I’ll highlight a couple of the things that most struck me:
- the most used words in the corpus are: dorr, letter, constitution and state (I didn’t remove the TEI Header, introductory text, or follow-up questions included in our TEI so what shows up in the dashboard is not just representative of the letter content)
- the second 30 letters in teh collection were written by “Anti-Dorrites.” isolating that part of the corpus and then comparing it to those letters written by Dorr might be revealing
- it would be interesting to select only those letters written by Dorr and analyze the frequency of certain terms to see if patterns arise over time in relation to Dorr’s political views (of course, this is a small corpus so broad generalizations are dangerous)
Voyant Tools is simple to use and extremely interesting- give it a try yourself!
tl;dr: Voyant Tools is a free, open, web-based tool for textual analysis. Voyant Tools is an open, web-based tool for... MORE
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in Strong Voices, Indigenous Women, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. It was my first foray into Wikipedia editing, and I was a little intimidated. I knew that Wikipedia uses a special markup language that I wasn’t familiar with, and beyond that I was feeling the import of editing such a hugely popular and public information resource. I’m no expert – who am I to edit this content?
But as I chatted with some of the other participants, it was clear that I wasn’t alone. These feelings are not uncommon among new editors, but overcoming them is a key to righting a big problem with Wikipedia – the lack of diversity in Wikipedia’s scope and content that’s been widely attributed to an overwhelmingly homogeneous editor community. Wikipedia’s gender issue has gained particular attention over the past several years, but the problem goes far beyond that. If you’re not very familiar with these issues, Sara Boboltz provides an incisive overview. As she succinctly puts it, Wikipedia editors are “mainly technically inclined, English-speaking, white-collar men living in majority-Christian, developed countries in the Northern hemisphere.”
There are many theories as to why this is, including the burden that the technical knowledge and time required place on potential editors. For example, women in many communities have less free time to devote to work like this. Also, like much of the rest of the male-dominated internet, women are not always welcomed and are much more likely to face harassment in these spaces, which inherently discourages their participation.
Another big part of this problem is Wikipedia’s notability guideline, which says that a topic has to have “received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject” in order to be included in Wikipedia. It’s one of the ways that Wikipedia tries to maintain the integrity of its content, but it’s not hard to see the perpetuating effect that this guideline has on the lack of coverage of historically disenfranchised groups of people in our documented history.
If Wikipedia’s aim is to compile “the sum of all human knowledge”, everyone should be represented in the editor community. And as Wikipedia continues to grow as one of the most popular websites in the world, and its content becomes increasingly visible and authoritative, this is increasingly crucial. For example, Google now pulls Wikipedia content into it’s biographical sidebar making the information even more prominent.
The good news is that the Wikimedia Foundation is keenly aware of this problem and dedicating resources toward correcting it. For example, in 2012 they released VisualEditor, a more user-friendly editing interface and they’ve also allocated funds to initiatives that are building content on under-represented communities and subjects, like Wikipedia edit-a-thons.
While events like edit-a-thons are very successful at introducing Wikipedia editing and creating a safe space for first-timers to learn, a problem this entrenched and complex will require long-term engagement from this new wave of editors. We all have a right, and I might also argue, a responsibility, to participate in the documentation of our collective knowledge and history, and for all its shortcomings, Wikipedia provides an amazing space for us to do just that. In the words of co-founder, Jimmy Wales, “See that link up there? ‘edit this page’. Go for it, it’s a wiki.”
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in Strong Voices, Indigenous Women, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Schlesinger Library on... MORE
SPARC Europe (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has launched a new service – Europe’s Open Access Champions – focusing on highlighting those who are driving Open Access forward in Europe’s academic communities. These administrators and scholars share their personal views on what still needs to be done to achieve more Open Access.
SPARC Europe (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has launched a new service – Europe’s Open Access Champions –... MORE
Several news outlets reported this week that the Beatles Anthology albums have just been released by Apple Records to digital streaming services worldwide. This is a significant development, as the Beatles’ music was long withheld from digital streaming services; it was not until December 2015 that the first of their catalog became available across platforms, a release which included the band’s thirteen U.K. studio albums and four compilation sets.
Anthology, Volumes 1-3, originally released in 1995 and 1996, are compilation albums that include rarities, studio outtakes, and alternative versions of iconic tracks They have been remastered at Abbey Road Studios by the same engineers who worked on the 2009 reissue of the same set. All three albums are available now on Apple Music, Spotify, GooglePlay, Tidal, Deezer, and Rhapsody, as well as other platforms. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)
Several news outlets reported this week that the Beatles Anthology albums have just been released by Apple Records to digital... MORE
The latest installment of the Faculty Author Series is now available. Fred Drogula, Associate Professor of History, is the latest featured author. Drogula’s new book, Commanders & Command in the Roman Republic and Early Empire, explores how concepts of authority, control over territory, and military power underwent continual transformation throughout the history of the Roman Republic.
The latest installment of the Faculty Author Series is now available. Fred Drogula, Associate Professor of History, is the latest featured author. Drogula’s new... MORE