As a historian I like to think that I’m comfortable with the idea of fields dying. Maybe they’re reborn and live to fight another day (like diplomatic history, or so we all keep hearing), and maybe they never really die at all (like quantitative history, safely entrenched at Paris 1-Sorbonne).
But what about the old workhorse geographic fields like, say, French history? Unless you are Natalie Davis, being a French historian over the last five decades or more probably meant that you, well, went to France to do your research. And why did you go? You told your department chair and your grant funders and your colleagues that you had to get to the archives and the libraries, of course. But let’s be honest here: French historians don’t go to France to get to the documents. Instead we wed ourselves to documents that just so happen to be found only in France, “forcing” us to go there, usually when the weather there is super great, or at least super crappy at home. That’s why we became French historians in the first place. There are a few exceptions to this rule: the handful of self-loathing sad sacks we all know who hate wine and cheese and cigarettes, but this is no time to be cruel. Continue reading
This past week’s THATCamp Firenze was a huge success, offering plenty of opportunities to learn about new projects and the various national and international flavors of digital humanities that are flourishing in Europe. But seriously, on a blog with this title, how can I ignore the most spectacular part of the trip?
- So much pork fat. Note my plate’s single sad leaf of radicchio (it was actually delicious).
- Serge shows Sharon, Amanda, and me how it’s done.
Zotero’s server infrastructure has evolved in countless ways since the project’s 2006 launch, but most of those changes are super boring and not worth remembering. Over the past two months, however, we moved the bulk of Zotero’s back end to Amazon Web Services, a step that I believe is uniquely noteworthy in the context of digital humanities projects and their long-term sustainability. In this post I describe the recent changes to Zotero’s architecture. In the next post I’ll discuss why these changes are important for the digital humanities. This story is long, but it has a moral, and also a van. Continue reading
Because I live under a rock (Vietnam), I only recently discovered the Google Charts API. When I saw that it supported maps, I thought it might be fun to plot the sales data for Zotero File Storage provided by the nonprofit corporation I started along with a bunch of other academics. Bear in mind that these maps only reflect the billing addresses associated with purchasers of Zotero storage. Zotero’s general user base is even more globally distributed and several orders of magnitude larger than the subset depicted here. Nonetheless the results are stunning, I think, and something that pleasantly reminds me of the last throes of a game of Risk. We have work to do in Africa and the Middle East. Click the thumbnails below for full-size, detailed images.
I met up with my French colleague Marin Dacos today while he was in the middle of giving an exam on digital publishing to his humanities master’s students. While many U.S. graduate students (and professors) would balk at such a “factual” exam, I suspect that they would have a very tough time getting through it unscathed.
How would you or your students fare with a test like this? I’ve translated the questions into English. You have ninety minutes. Go!
Basic questions and definitions (13 points)
- In Wikipedia, what do “Diff” and “Edit war” mean?
- Name the XML formats useful for electronic publishing and specify their particularities.
- How does PageRank work? What are the advantages of this system? What are its drawbacks?
- Who is Tim Berners-Lee? What is the W3C?
- What is metadata? What is Dublin Core?
- What is DRM? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
- What is single source publishing?
- What is the difference between the PDF and EPUB formats?
- What is Zotero? What does it do?
- What is a DOI? What is name resolution?
- What is interoperability? What is OAI-PMH? What are the main verbs of OAI-PMH and what do they do?
- What is the attention economy?
- What is the Creative Commons License? What is its purpose?
Synthesis (7 points)
- Electronic publishing falls into three categories. For each type of electronic publishing, provide a definition, at least one representative example, its main technical characteristics, its principal qualities, and its major faults.
- The publishing industry is searching for an economic model of electronic publication. Present the different strategies currently under development (name, basic description, example, advantages, disadvantages)