A flow chart for Busa’s “Mechanized Linguistic Analysis”

Steven Jones has just put up a historic flowchart from the Busa Archive at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. See A flow chart for Busa’s “Mechanized Linguistic Analysis”. Jones has been posting important historical images associated with his book Roberto Busa, S.J., and the Emergence of Humanities Computing. This flow chart shows the logic of the processing using punched cards and tape that was developed by Busa and Paul Tasman (who is probably one of the designers of this chart.) The folks at the Busa Archive had shared this flow chart with me for a paper I gave at the Instant History conference in Chicago on Busa’s Methods. Now Steven has shared it openly with permission.

For more on the Busa Archives and what they show us about the Index Thomisticus as Project see here.

The Isolator, A Bizarre Helmet For Encouraging Concentration (1925)

From Geoff I learned about The Isolator, A Bizarre Helmet For Encouraging Concentration (1925). The Isolator was developed in 1925 by Hugo Gernsback a science fiction pioneer (and editor of Science and Invention magazine.) The idea is to force you to focus on your writing (with lots of oxygen.)

One wonders if it works? Could it be even more useful now?

Research Data Management Week

This week the University of Alberta is running a Research Data Management Week. They have sessions throughout the week. I will be presenting on “Weaving Data Management into Your Research.” The need for discussions around research data management is described on the web page:

New norms and practices are developing around the management of research data. Canada’s research councils are discussing the introduction of data management plans within their application processes. The University of Alberta’s Research Policy now addresses the stewardship of research records, with an emphasis on the long-term preservation of data. An increasing number of scholarly journals are requiring authors to provide access to the data behind their submissions for publication. Data repositories are being established in domains and institutions to support the sharing and preservation of data. The series of talks and workshops that have been organized will help you better prepare for this emerging global research data ecosystem.

The University now has language in the Research Policy that the University will:

Ensure that principles of stewardship are applied to research records, protecting the integrity of the assets.

The Research Records Stewardship Guidance Procedure then identifies concrete responsibilities of researchers.

These policies and the larger issue of information stewardship have become important to infrastructure. See my blog entry about the TC3+ document on Capitalizing on Big Data.

The DH Experience Game on Vimeo

We have put up a video of the The DH Experience Game on Vimeo in the INKE Vimeo channel.

John Montague and Luciano Frizzera have designed a cool game that allows people to play at collaboratively completing digital humanities projects. We are now working with GO::DH to make the centers and projects real ones from around the world.

Supporting Digital Scholarship

The Tri-Council Agencies (Research councils of Canada) and selected other institutions (going under the rubric TC3+) have released an important Consultation Document titled Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada. You can see a summary blog entry from the CommerceLab, How big data is reshaping the future of digital scholarship in Canada. The document suggest that we have many of the components of a “well-functioning digital infrastructure ecosystem for research and innovation”, but that these are not coordinated and Canada is not keeping up. They propose three initiatives:

  • Establishing a Culture of Stewardship
  • Coordination of Stakeholder Engagement
  • Developing Capacity and Future Funding Parameters

The first initiative is about research data management and something we have been working on the digital humanities for some time. It is great to see a call from our funding agencies.

Perma, and Figshare

Thanks to Twitter I’ve come across a number of new online tools of use to academics:

Perma comes from Harvard Law and allows you to create a permanent archive of something you are linking to. You go to the site, enter a URL that you want archived and it gives you a new URL for the Perma version which lets you see what the page looks like now and what it looked like when archived. This allows us to quote web pages that may either disappear or be changed. Here is the link to the archived version of Theoreti.ca: http://perma.law.harvard.edu/0f8ojk5Phmc – this is a version before this blog entry.

Figshare is a cloud based archive for academic data. You upload data and then provide metadata for the dataset. People can comment on it, download the data and so on. It seems to do in a fairly clean fashion what university repositories do. I’m not sure of their business model. I uploaded Wendell Piez’s electronic edition of Frankenstein to try it out.


Check IT Out!

I posted on 4Humanities a questionnaire that I call Check IT Out!. The idea is to give administrators and researchers a tool for checking out the research information technology (IT) that they have at their university. I developed it for a talk I give tomorrow at the Digital Infrastructure Summit 2012 in Saskatoon. I’m on the “Reality Check Panel” that presents realities faced by researchers. Check IT Out! is meant to address the issue of getting basic computing support and infrastructure for research. It is often sexier to build something new than to make sure that researchers have the basics. That raises the question of what are the basics, which is why I thought I would frame Check IT Out! as a series of questions, not assertions. Often people in computing services know the answers to these, but our colleagues don’t even know how to frame the question.

History of Project Management page

On the web I came across this page on the History of Project Management on the web site lessons-from-history.com. Most histories of project management are pathetic, this is more substantial. The page and associated pages come from a forthcoming book on The History of Project Management.

The Latin word projectum means, “to throw something forwards.” The word “project” originally meant “something that comes before anything else is done”. When the word was initially adopted, it referred to a plan of something, not to the act of actually carrying this plan out. Something performed in accordance with a project was called an object. This use of “project” changed in the 1950s when several techniques for project management were introduced: with this advent the word slightly changed meaning to cover both projects and objects. However in certain projects there may still exist so called objects and object leaders, reflecting the older use of the words.

As an alternative view, you might try What Monty Python Taught Me About the Software Industry which applies selected key gems of Python wisdom (like “I’m not dead”) to the software development process.