Tag Archives: DH

Editors’ Choice: Data and Humanism Shape Library of Congress Conference

Via Digital Humanities Now: http://ift.tt/2dFSSnv

The presentations at the Library of Congress’ Collections As Data conference coalesced into two main themes: 1) digital collections are composed of data that can be acquired,  processed and displayed in countless scientific and creative ways and 2) we should always be aware and respectful that data is manipulated by — and derived from — people.

Read full post here.

Are You Ready for the Revolution in Scholarly Communications? | The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

[a tip o’ the hat to Kathy Low]


“There’s a revolution taking place,” says Donald J. Waters. Digital technologies are dramatically expanding and equalizing access to resources in the humanities, he notes, with vast implications for the entire field.

Source: Are You Ready for the Revolution in Scholarly Communications? | The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Scientists Discover That James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Has an Amazingly Mathematical “Multifractal” Structure | Open Culture


Scientists Discover That James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Has an Amazingly Mathematical “Multifractal” Structure

in Art, Literature, Math| March 16th, 2016 1 Comment

It has long been thought that the so-called “Golden Ratio” described in Euclid’s Elements has “implications for numerous natural phenomena… from the leaf and seed arrangements of plants” and “from the arts to the stock market.” So writes astrophysicist Mario Livio, head of the science division for the institute that oversees the Hubble Telescope. And yet, though this mathematical proportion has been found in paintings by Leonardo da Vinci to Salvador Dali—two examples that are only “the tip of the iceberg in terms of the appearances of the Golden Ratio in the arts”—Livio concludes that it does not describe “some sort of universal standard for ‘beauty.’” Most art of “lasting value,” he argues, departs “from any formal canon for aesthetics.” We can consider Livio a Golden Ratio skeptic.

Far on the other end of a spectrum of belief in mathematical art lies Le Corbusier, Swiss architect and painter in whose modernist design some see an almost totalitarian mania for order. Using the Golden Ratio, Corbusier designed a system of aesthetic proportions called Modulor, its ambition, writes William Wiles at Icon, “to reconcile maths, the human form, architecture and beauty into a single system.” Praised by Einstein and adopted by a few of Corbusier’s contemporaries, Modulor failed to catch on in part because “Corbusier wanted to patent the system and earn royalties from buildings using it.” In place of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, Corbusier proposed “Modulor Man” (below) the “mascot of [his] system for reordering the universe.”

Perhaps now, we need an artist to render a “Fractal Man”—or Fractal Gender Non-Specific Person—to represent the latest enthusiastic findings of math in the arts. This time, scientists have quantified beauty in language, a medium sometimes characterized as so imprecise, opaque, and unscientific that the Royal Society was founded with the motto “take no one’s word for it” and Ludwig Wittgenstein deflated philosophy with his conclusion in the Tractatus, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” (Speaking, in this sense, meant using language in a highly mathematical way.) Words—many scientists and philosophers have long believed—lie, and lead us away from the cold, hard truths of pure mathematics.

And yet, reports The Guardian, scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland have found that James Joyce’s Finnegans Wakea novel we might think of as perhaps the most self-consciously referential examination of language written in any tongue—is “almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.” Trying to explain this finding in as plain English as possible, Julia Johanne Tolo at Electric Literature writes:

To determine whether the books had fractal structures, the academics looked at the variation of sentence lengths, finding that each sentence, or fragment, had a structure that resembled the whole of the book.

And it isn’t only Joyce. Through a statistical analysis of 113 works of literature, the researchers found that many texts written by the likes of Dickens, Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, Umberto Eco, and Samuel Beckett had multifractal structures. The most mathematically complex works were stream-of-consciousness narratives, hence the ultimate complexity of Finnegans Wake, which Professor Stanisław Drożdż, co-author of the paper published at Information Sciences, describes as “the absolute record in terms of multifractality.” (The graph at the top shows the results of the novel’s analysis, which produced a shape identical to pure mathematical multifractals.)

This study produced some inconsistencies, however. In the graph above, you can see how many of the titles surveyed ranked in terms of their “multifractality.” A close second to Joyce’s classic work, surprisingly, is Dave Egger’s post-modern memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and much, much further down the scale, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Proust’s masterwork, writes Phys.org, shows “little correlation to multifractality” as do certain other books like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The measure may tell us little about literary quality, though Professor Drożdż suggests that “it may someday help in a more objective assignment of books to one genre or another.” Irish novelist Eimear McBride finds this “upshot” disappointing. “Surely there are more interesting questions about the how and why of writers’ brains arriving at these complex, but seemingly instinctive, fractals?” she told The Guardian.

Of the finding that stream-of-consciousness works seem to be the most fractal, McBride says, “By its nature, such writing is concerned not only with the usual load-bearing aspects of language—content, meaning, aesthetics, etc—but engages with language as the object in itself, using the re-forming of its rules to give the reader a more prismatic understanding…. Given the long-established connection between beauty and symmetry, finding works of literature fractally quantifiable seems perfectly reasonable.” Maybe so, or perhaps the Polish scientists have fallen victim to a more sophisticated variety of the psychological sharpshooter’s fallacy that affects “Bible Code” enthusiasts? I imagine we’ll see some fractal skeptics emerge soon enough. But the idea that the worlds-within-worlds feeling one gets when reading certain books—the sense that they contain universes in miniature—may be mathematically verifiable sends a little chill up my spine.

via The Guardian

Related Content:

Hear All of Finnegans Wake Read Aloud: A 35 Hour Reading

See What Happens When You Run Finnegans Wake Through a Spell Checker

James Joyce Reads From Ulysses and Finnegans Wake In His Only Two Recordings (1924/1929)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Whither the Digital Humanities? – Hybrid Pedagogy

The Digital Humanities (DH) can be viewed in two ways: as emerging and as emergent. Emerging: Over the last two decades, as it grew from humanities computing into digital humanities, it spawned a range of analytics, journals, conferences, institutes, books, anthologies, courses, programs, and projects that carry its imprimatur with a degree of confidence signifying… Read More

Source: Whither the Digital Humanities? – Hybrid Pedagogy

Plagiarism is Dead; Long Live the Retweet: Unpacking an Identity Crisis in Digital Content

“What oft was thought but ne’er so well express’d” Alexander Pope’s eighteenth century advice to writers — now known as content producers — has a new relevance for the Internet Age, although in the discussion that follows, a more exact phrasing match might be, “It’s already a meme, but (driven by FOMO) I need to…

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Databasing Historical Records: Some of the Challenges < Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative

       Structuring a database is not an easy task. During this year of work, we have faced many challenges that have required from us great intellectual efforts and reflection. Nevertheless, I have heard from “digital humanists” and programmers that because we have a software developer, we are not making the database, that someone is doing it for us. The underlying argument is that we need knowledge on basic principle of programming such as HTML and CSS to claim authorship in the making-process. Having that programming skills today is helpful. However, that our participation on programming is limited does not mean we are not the main creators of the database. This blog shows some of the main challenges that make us -the historians- crucial for this type of project and it is, in part, an answer to technocratic point of views on the relationship historians and software developers.

First, the concept of the project –databasing baptismal records–, is ours. This project is not something that anyone could have imagined without the proper historical training. You need to know about sources, their internal logic, the institutions that produced them, paleography, and other language skills. It is important to decide the fields that can be extracted from the sources without violating the integrity of the documents. We have to respect historical concepts and to know that their meanings changed over time. We decided how to organize the fields in a coherent and hierarchical way. We need to translate our needs to programmers without historical training. We, historians, are the most important actor. Thus, HTML and CSS play a minor role to conceive the idea. The developing part is crucial, but should not be confused with the first step. This assertion is true for those cases where social scientists rely on programmers to materialize their projects.

      We had important elements in our advantage when we started this project. First, the digitized copies of the original documents are available online. The project “Ecclesiastical & Secular Sources for Slaves Societies” (ESSSS) has digitized and posted online the parish records from Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, and Florida. Without this amazing repository, our database would have been impossible. These baptismal records are geographically, linguistically, and temporally diverse but, due to the centralized nature of the Catholic church, they are also homogeneous sources, regardless of language, period, and region. This circumstance makes them the perfect candidate to build a transnational standardized database. It makes also doable to move the data from the digitized documents to an accessible, searchable, malleable, and “cleaner” digital format. It sounds easier than it is though.

      Defining the categories or fields that will be in the search tool is definitely challenging. Even when the documents are homogeneous, there is often new information showing up we need to decide if it deserves an individual field or not. Databases must have a limited universe of regular fields to make them functional.  We restricted our variables to those that regularly appear in the documents and those which do not show up frequently are included in the field “Miscellaneous.” Deciding the fields is not the only challenge. Naming the fields is another difficult step. Take the example of race and ethnicity. Categories, language, and meanings of race differ over time and by region. For instance, the are sometime equatable categories of race from the Portuguese and from the Spanish-speaking world. Anglo-speaking regions have had different definition of race. In both cases, race categories are subjected to change over time. We do not want to violate the documents, thus, we kept race as it appears in the sources, including the original language. Something similar happens with African ethnic designations in the Americas. Across different regions, African origins are defined in every document as nations. We keep the term “nation” as it appears in the document, although sometimes these categories do not represent and ethnic identity that carried meaning in an African context. These decisions resulted after long discussions and after reading the most important historiography on the topic. There is always a great space for disagreement. The next post will discuss how we structured the fields in a relational diagram.


from Electra Atlantis: Digital Approaches to Antiquity http://ift.tt/1W4BdpA

The state of museum technology? < Mia Ridge (Open Objects)

On Friday I was invited to Nesta‘s Digital Culture Panel event to respond to their 2015 Digital Culture survey on ‘How arts and cultural organisations in England use technology’ (produced with Arts Council England (ACE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)). As Chair of the Museums Computer Group (MCG) (a practitioner-led group of … Continue reading The state of museum technology?

The post The state of museum technology? appeared first on Open Objects.

from Electra Atlantis: Digital Approaches to Antiquity http://ift.tt/1PKqdZO

Interactive Criticism and the Embodied Digital Humanities

“The tenacity of / writing’s thickness, like the body’s / flesh, is / ineradicable, yet mortal” (87). ~ Charles Bernstein, “Artifice of Absorption” Critical analysis is visceral. When I write it, the tips of my fingers tingle. When I speak it in a classroom, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end….

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