Tag Archives: Scholarship

“Twitter and Blogs are first drafts of scholarship…”

Borrowing that line from samplereality’s Tweet, the writer Mark Sample was correcting a statement after realizing the project George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media and Tom Scheinfeldt was launching, Anthologize, planned to give ‘better binding’ to such scholarly works. As we have learned however, the One Week | One Tool project has done more than just provide an application for “publicizing” blogs and mapping texts with possibly related and funky imagery. Analyzing collaboration within a new realm of scholarship is the real gift of the seven day, twelve person project.

However, as was said by Ms. Stevens earlier, the One Week… project was an experiment in highly irregular circumstances. Time is an issue which obviously will present itself in any situation. Gioia is correct though: The focus should not be on “crash programs” strategy and management. Any group forming a consensus will run into problems of disagreement and the question of internal leadership may or may not also rise. But with regards to DH, how could people facing ordinary constraints (time, money, jobs, families, multiple competing projects, laundry etc.), complete projects with greater efficiency.

Unfortunately, I am unsure what more can really be added from the previous post.

David Mimno and fatty tuna

David Mimno made an important distinction about theory vs. practice when he pointed out that MALLET (or any DH tool) is a method, not a methodology.  MALLET can uncover thematic patterns in massive digital collections, but it is up to the researcher using the tool to evaluate the results, pose new questions, and think of possible new uses for the tool.  In our class discussion, Mimno compared different roles in topic modeling to Iron Chef:  he makes the knives (MALLET), librarians dump a lot of fatty tuna (the corpus of text) on the table, and the humanists are the chefs who need to make the meal (interpreting and drawing new conclusions from the results).

As a librarian, I have never thought of myself as a provider of fatty tuna, but I get the general point. What role do librarians and other alt-academics play in DH? Can a librarian be a tool maker, a chef, a sous-chef, a waitress, or something else entirely?  What does it mean to curate content and devise valuable ways to access that content?  Is it scholarship? I am not sure if I can answer that question, but I do see many new ways to apply MALLET as a search and discovery tool which would be very useful for scholarship.

Can we do better than key word search to find relevant information in huge collections of digital text? Would search terms created from the body of the text itself be more accurate than hand-coding using the very dated and narrow Library of Congress subject headings? The DH literature on topic modeling doesn’t have much on libraries, but I did find the following information. Yale, U. Michigan, and UC Irvine received an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to study Improving Search and Discovery of Digital Resources Using Topic Modeling. See also an interesting D-Lib Magazine article on using topic modeling in HathiTrust, A New Way to Find: Testing the Use of Clustering Topics in Digital Libraries