The First of May in German Literature

The First of May in German Literature

Introduction by OpenMethods Editor (Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra): Research on date extractions from literature brings us closer to answering big questions of “when literature takes place”.  As Frank Fischer’s blog post, First of May in German literature shows, beyond mere quantification, this line of research also yields insights on the cultural significance of certain dates. In this case, the significance of 1st of May in German literature (as reflected in the “Corpus of German-Language Fiction” dataset) was determined with the help of a freely accessible data set and the open access tool HeidelTime. The brief description of the workflow is a smart demonstration of the potential of open DH methods and data sharing in sustainable ways.

Bonus one: the post starts out from briefly touching upon some of Frank’s public humanities activities.

Bonus two: mention of the Tiwoli (“Today in World Literature”) app, a fun side product built on to pof the date extraction research.

Undogmatic Literary Annotation with CATMA in: Annotations in Scholarly Editions and Research

Undogmatic Literary Annotation with CATMA in: Annotations in Scholarly Editions and Research

Introduction: Digital Literary Studies has long engaged with the challenges in representing ambiguity, contradiction and polyvocal readings of literary texts. This book chapter describes a web-based tool called CATMA which  promises a “low-threshold” approach to digitally encoded text interpretation. CATMA has a long trajectory based on a ‘standoff’ approach to markup, somewhat provocatively described by its creators as “undogmatic”, which stands in contrast to more established systems for text representation in digital scholarly editing and publishing such as XML markup, or the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). Standoff markup involves applying numbers to each character of a text and then using those numbers as identifiers to store interpretation externally. This approach allows for “multiple, over-lapping and even taxonomically contradictory annotations by one or more users” and avoids some of the rigidity which other approaches sometimes imply. An editor working with CATMA is able to create multiple independent annotation cycles, and to even specify which interpretation model was used for each. And the tool allows for an impressive array of analysis and visualization possibilities.

Recent iterations of CATMA have developed approaches which aim to bridge the gap between ‘close’ and ‘distant’ reading by providing scalable digital annotation and interpretation involving “semantic zooming” (which is compared to the kind of experience you get from an interactive map). The latest version also brings greater automation (currently in German only) to grammatical tense capture, temporal signals and part-of-speech annotation, which offer potentially significant effort savings and a wider range of markup review options. Greater attention is also paid to different kinds of interpretation activities through the three CATMA annotation modes of ‘highlight’, ‘comment’ and ‘annotate’, and to overall workflow considerations. The latest version of the tool offers finely grained access options mapping to common editorial roles and workflows.

I would have welcome greater reflection in the book chapter on sustainability – how an editor can port their work to other digital research environments, for use with other tools. While CATMA does allow for export to other systems (such as TEI), quite how effective this is (how well its interpretation structures bind to other digitally-mediated representation systems) is not clear.

What is most impressive about CATMA, and the work of its creator – the forTEXT research group – more generally, is how firmly embedded the thinking behind the tool is in humanities (and in particular literary) scholarship and theory. The group’s long-standing and deeply reflective engagement with the concerns of literary studies is well captured in this well-crafted and highly engaging book chapter.

[Click ‘Read more’ for the full post!]

Fragmentarium: a Model for Digital Fragmentology

Fragmentarium: a Model for Digital Fragmentology

Introduction: One of the major challenges of digital data workflows in the Arts and Humanities is that resources that belong together, in extreme cases, like this particular one, even parts of dismembered manuscripts, are hosted and embedded in different geographical and institutional silos. Combining IIIF with a mySQL database, Fragmentarium provides a user-friendly but also standardized, open workspace for the virtual reconstruction of medieval manuscript fragments. Lisa Fagin Davis’s blog post gives contextualized insights of the potentials of Fragmentarium and how, as she writes, “technology has caught up with our dreams”. 

Automatic annotation of incomplete and scattered bibliographical references in Digital Humanities papers

Automatic annotation of incomplete and scattered bibliographical references in Digital Humanities papers

The reviewed article presents the project BILBO and illustrates the application of several appropriate machine-learning techniques to the constitution of proper reference corpora and the construction of efficient annotation models. In this way, solutions are proposed for the problem of extracting and processing useful information from bibliographic references in digital documentation whatever their bibliographic styles are. It proves the usefulness and high degree of accuracy of CRF techniques, which involve finding the most effective set of features (including three types of features: input, local and global features) of a given corpus of well-structured bibliographical data (with labels such as surname, forename or title). Moreover, this approach has not only been proven efficient when applied to such traditional, well-structured bibliographical data sets, but it also originally contributes to the processing of more complicated, less-structured references such as the ones contained in footnotes by applying SVM with new features for sequence classification.

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A World of Possibilities: a corpus-based approach to the diachrony of modality in Latin

A World of Possibilities: a corpus-based approach to the diachrony of modality in Latin

Introduction: Hosted at the University of Lausanne, “A world of possibilities. Modal pathways over an extra-long period of time: the diachrony in the Latin language” (WoPoss) is a project under development exploiting a corpus-based approach to the study and reconstruction of the diachrony of modality in Latin.
Following specific annotation guidelines applied to a set of various texts pertaining to the time span between 3rd century BCE and 7th century CE, the work team lead by Francesca Dell’Oro aims at analyzing the patterns of modality in the Latin language through a close consideration of lexical markers.

Digital scholarship workflows

Digital scholarship workflows

Introduction:  In this post, you can find a thoughtful and encouraging selection and description of reading, writing and organizing tools. It guides you through a whole discovery-magamement-writing-publishing workflow from the creation of annotated bibliographies in Zotero,  through a useful Markdown syntax cheat sheet  to versioning, storage and backup strategies, and shows how everybody’s research can profit by open digital methods even without sophisticated technological skills. What I particularly like in Tomislav Medak’s approach is that all these tools, practices and tricks are filtered through and tested again his own everyday scholarly routine. It would make perfect sense to create a visualization from this inventory in a similar fashion to these workflows.

Narrelations — Visualizing Narrative Levels and their Correlations with Temporal Phenomena

Narrelations — Visualizing Narrative Levels and their Correlations with Temporal Phenomena

Introduction: Introduction by OpenMethods Editor (Christopher Nunn): Information visualizations are helpful in detecting patterns in large amounts of text and are often used to illustrate complex relationships. Not only can they show descriptive phenomena that could be revealed in other ways, albeit slower and more laborious, but they can also heuristically generate new knowledge. The authors of this article did just that. The focus here is, fortunately, on narratological approaches that have so far hardly been combined with digital text analyzes, but which are ideally suited for them. To eight German novellas a variety of interactive visualizations were created, all of which show: The combination of digital methods with narratological interest can provide great returns to Literary Studies work. After reading this article, it pays to think ahead in this field.