Category Archives: digital_archives

call for papers: what to do with a million books

The Humanities Division at the University of Chicago and the College of Science and Letters at the Illinois Institute of Technology are hosting an intriguing colloquium on the future of research in the humanities in response to the rapid growth of digital archives. They are currently accepting paper proposals, which are due at the end of August.
Here is the call for papers:
What to Do with a Million Books: Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science
Sponsored by the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago and the College of Science and Letters at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Chicago, November 5th & 6th, 2006
Submission Deadline: August 31st, 2006
The goal of this colloquium is to bring together researchers and scholars in the Humanities and Computer Sciences to examine the current state of Digital Humanities as a field of intellectual inquiry and to identify and explore new directions and perspectives for future research.
In the wake of recent large-scale digitization projects aimed at providing universal access to the world’s vast textual repositories, humanities scholars, librarians and computer scientists find themselves newly challenged to make such resources functional and meaningful.
As Gregory Crane recently pointed out (1), digital access to “a million books” confronts us with the need to provide viable solutions to a range of difficult problems: analog to digital conversion, machine translation, information retrieval and data mining, to name a few. Moreover, mass digitization leads not just to problems of scale: new goals can also be envisioned, for example, catalyzing the development of new computational tools for context-sensitive analysis. If we are to build systems to interrogate usefully massive text collections for meaning, we will need to draw not only on the technical expertise of computer scientists but also learn from the traditions of self-reflective, inter-disciplinary inquiry practiced by humanist scholars.
The book as the locus of much of our knowledge has long been at the center of discussions in digital humanities. But as mass digitization efforts accelerate a change in focus from a print-culture to a networked, digital-culture, it will become necessary to pay more attention to how the notion of a text itself is being re-constituted. We are increasingly able to interact with texts in novel ways, as linguistic, visual, and statistical processing provide us with new modes of reading, representation, and understanding. This shift makes evident the necessity for humanities scholars to enter into a dialogue with librarians and computer scientists to understand the new language of open standards, search queries, visualization and social networks.
Digitizing “a million books” thus poses far more than just technical challenges. Tomorrow, a million scholars will have to re-evaluate their notions of archive, textuality and materiality in the wake of these developments. How will humanities scholars, librarians and computer scientists find ways to collaborate in the “Age of Google?”
Colloquium Website
November 5th & 6th, 2006
The University of Chicago
Ida Noyes Hall
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Keynote Speakers
Greg Crane (Professor of Classics, Tufts University) has been engaged since 1985 in planning and development of the Perseus Project, which he directs as the Editor-in-Chief. Besides supervising the Perseus Project as a whole, he has been primarily responsible for the development of the morphological analysis system which provides many of the links within the Perseus database.
Ben Shneiderman is Professor in the Department of Computer Science, founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and Member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and the Institute for Systems Research, all at the University of Maryland. He is a leading expert in human-computer interaction and information visualization and has published extensively in these and related fields.
John Unsworth is Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at the University of Virginia where he also led the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. He has published widely in the field of Digital Humanities and was the recipient last year of the Lyman Award for scholarship in technology and humanities.
Program Committee
Prof. Helma Dik, Department of Classics, University of Chicago
Dr. Catherine Mardikes, Bibliographer for Classics, the Ancient Near East, and General Humanities, University of Chicago
Prof. Martin Mueller, Department of English and Classics, Northwestern University
Dr. Mark Olsen, Associate Director, The ARTFL Project, University of Chicago
Prof. Shlomo Argamon, Computer Science Department, Illinois Institute of Technology
Prof. Wai Gen Yee, Computer Science Department, Illinois Institute of Technology
Call for Participation
Participation in the colloquium is open to all. We welcome submissions for:
1. Paper presentations (20 minute maximum)
2. Poster sessions
3. Software demonstrations
Suggested submission topics
* Representing text genealogies and variance
* Automatic extraction and analysis of natural language style elements
* Visualization of large corpus search results
* The materiality of the digital text
* Interpreting symbols: textual exegesis and game playing
* Mashup: APIs for integrating discrete information resources
* Intelligent Documents
* Community based tagging / folksonomies
* Massively scalable text search and summaries
* Distributed editing & annotation tools
* Polyglot Machines: Computerized translation
* Seeing not reading: visual representations of literary texts
* Schemas for scholars: field and period specific ontologies for the humanities
* Context sensitive text search
* Towards a digital hermeneutics: data mining and pattern finding
Submission Format
Please submit a (2 page maximum) abstract in either PDF or MS Word format to
Important Dates
Deadline for Submissions: August 31st
Notification of Acceptance: September 15th
Full Program Announcement: September 15th
Contact Info
General Inquiries:
Organizational Committee
Mark Olsen,, Associate Director, ARTFL Project, University of Chicago.
Catherine Mardikes,, Bibliographer for Classics, the Ancient Near East, and General Humanities, University of Chicago.
Arno Bosse,, Director of Technology, Humanities Division, University of Chicago.
Shlomo Argamon,, Department of Computer Science, Illinois Institute of Technology.

next text: new media in history teaching and scholarship

The next text project came forth from the realization that twenty-five years into the application of new media to teaching and learning, textbooks have not fully tapped the potential of new media technology. As part of this project, we have invited leading scholars and practitioners of educational technology from specific disciplines to attend meetings with their peers and the institute. Yesterday, we were fortunate to spend the day talking to a group of American History teachers and scholars, some of whom created seminal works in history and new media. Over the course of the day, we discussed their teaching, their scholarship, the creation and use of textbooks, new media, and how to encourage the birth of the next generation born digital textbook. By of the end of the day, the next text project started to take a concrete form. We began to envision the concept of accessing the vast array of digitized primary documents of American History that would allow teachers to formulate their own curricula or use guides that were created and vetted by established historians.
Attendees included:
David Jaffe, City University of New York
Gary Kornblith, Oberlin College
John McClymer, Assumption College
Chad Noyes, Pierrepont School
Jan Reiff, University of California, Los Angeles
Carl Smith, Northwestern University
Jim Sparrow, University of Chicago
Roy Rosenzweig, George Mason University
Kate Wittenberg, EPIC, Columbia University
The group contributed to influential works in the field of History and New Media, including Who Built America, The Great Chicago Fire and The Web of Memory, The Encyclopedia of Chicago, the Blackout History Project, the Visual Knowledge Project, History Matters,the Journal of American History Textbook and Teaching Section, and the American History Association Guide to Teaching and Learning with New Media.
Almost immediately, we found that their excellence in their historical scholarship was equally matched in their teaching. Often their introductions to new media came from their own research. Online and digital copies of historical documents radically changed the way they performed their scholarship. It then fueled the realization that these same tools afforded the opportunity for students to interact with primary documents in a new way which was closer to how historians work. Often, our conversations gravitated back to teaching and students, rather than purely technical concerns. Their teaching led them to the forefront of developing and promoting active learning and constructionist pedagogies, by encouraging an environment of inquiry-based learning, rather than rote memorization of facts, through the use of technology. In these new models, students are guided to multiple paths of self-discovery in their learning and understanding of history.
We spoke at length on the phrase coined by attendee John McClymer, “the pedagogy of abundance.” With access to rich archives of primary documents of American history as well as narratives, they are not faced with the problems of scarcity of assets. This led to the discussion of the spectrum of teaching in higher education. The motivations and resources of history teachers differ greatly. Many history teachers lack the resources, (particularly the adjunct history teacher) or the creativity to move away from the traditional “march” through the standard history survey course and textbook.
The discussion also included issues of resistance, which were particularly interesting to us. Many meeting participants mentioned student resistance to new methods of learning including both new forms of presentation and inquiry-based pedagogies. In that, traditional textbooks are portable and offer an established way to learn. They noted an institutional tradition of the teacher as the authoritative interpreter in lecture-based teaching, which is challenged by active learning strategies. Further, we discussed the status (or lack of) of the group’s new media endeavors in both their scholarship and teaching. Depending upon their institution, using new media in their scholarship had varying degrees of importance in their tenure and compensation reviews from none to substantial. Quality of teaching had no influence in these reviews. Therefore, these projects were often done, not in lieu of, but in addition to their traditional publishing and academic professional requirements.
The combination of an abundance of primary documents (particulary true for American history) and a range of teaching goals and skills led to the idea of adding layers on top of existing digital archives. Varying layers could be placed on top of these resources to provide structure for both teachers and students. Teachers who wanted to maintain the traditional march through the course would still be able to do so through guides created by the more creative teacher. Further, all teachers would be able to control the vast breadth of material to avoid overwhelming students and provide scaffolding for their learning experience. We are very excited by this notion, and will further refine the meeting’s groundwork to strategize how this new learning environment might get created.
We are still working through everything that was discussed, however, we left the meeting with a much clearer idea of the landscape of the higher education history teacher / scholar, as well as, possible directions that the born digital history textbook could take.