Archive for July, 2011

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They’re Crowdsourcing Papyrus Transcription!

July 28, 2011

One of the hot time-wasting-at-work activities for underemployed and geeky office workers this summer has been the New York Public Library’s What’s on the Menu? project, which asks the public to help transcribe historical restaurant menus from a very large collection.  Menus can’t be reliably transcribed automatically by Optical Character Recognition (OCR), because they tend to use unusual fonts and layouts. In further evidence that there’s a passionate user group out there for nearly any topic, volunteers at the menu transcription project have so far transcribed 475,731 dishes  from 8,821 menus.

What else can’t reliably be transcribed by OCR? Papyri! (Or anything written by hand; for the ancient world this mostly means papyri.)  The Ancient Lives project invites the public to help transcribe items from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, whose excavation is described at some length.  The project has gotten a lot of press, and there has also been discussion on academic list-servs, with some skepticism about whether the public will be willing and/or able to crowdsource ancient Greek handwriting, and some concerns about the ethics of asking the public to contribute to a project while giving nothing in return.

Ancient Lives is hosted by Zooniverse, which describes itself as a “citizen science” website, and hosts multiple crowdsourcing projects, the majority related to astronomy – participants are asked to look at images of space, many from the Hubble telescope, and identify anomalies, classify galaxies by shape, etc.  The site states it has had 445,501 volunteers (a free login is required to participate) and if the testimonials at the site are reflective of this population, the volunteers are largely enthusiastic, and feel they are being rewarded, for example by learning more about astronomy. One keen-eyed amateur astronomer discovered a new phenomenon, now named after her (Hanny’s Vorweerp is the original; they are now a known and soon-to-be-formally-published phenomenon called Vorweerpjes!)

Could Ancient Lives be a teaching tool in the classroom for you?  Could introductory Greek students get practice recognizing Greek letters by transcribing papyri (or would non-standard handwriting confuse them)? Would an assignment to explore the site fit in to a general Greek Civilization class, or a literature class that reads works whose documentation is affected by the finds at Oxyrhynchus (Menander, for example)?  Or might it be a fun way to procrastinate from that syllabus-writing you should be doing this week?

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Scholarly Journals in the News…

July 20, 2011

My Twitter feed broke out in a tizzy yesterday at the news that Aaron Swarz was charged with breaking into a wiring closet at MIT (with which he was not affiliated; during the incident he was employed as a Fellow at the Harvard Center for Ethics [!]) while wearing a bike helmet over his face, and using a personal laptop to download some 4 million articles from Jstor.  Jstor issued a statement about the case, emphasizing that they had not asked for the prosecution, and they do have a service to allow scholars to work with large corpora of articles, if they ask permission first. Demand Progress, an advocacy organization with which Swarz has been affiliated, also released a statement, describing the charges as “bizarre” and arguing that Swarz was being prosecuted for the equivalent of “checking too many books out of the library.”

Usually when my Twitter people are in a tizzy about something they agree with one another, but yesterday they were quite divided – some saw this as a case of advocacy for academic freedom on the internet, and some saw this as a straightforward illegal act (whether or not it should be a matter of criminal charges).  Comments on articles in the New York Times and Wired were similarly variable – and one thing that struck me was the level of ignorance about Jstor from many, especially those in the computing community.  The first 10 comments on the Wired article mostly simply ask, “What is Jstor, and why should we care about this?” Ah, the academic bubble we live in!

Some important questions are being brought forward, and I think it is healthy for the “information on the internet should be free” and the “in the real world, we agree to licensing agreements and violating them is bad” camps to engage with one another.  Jstor is a wonderful service, but it is an expensive one (prices are here); it’s a not-for-profit, but one commenter alleges that more than 10 of its employees have salaries over $250,000 (are they hiring? do they want me?!?).  Should Jstor do more to make its materials accessible to the public? What about the things in Jstor that are out of copyright due to age?

Barbara Fister manages to pull the Swarz incident into her current post, titled “Breaking News: Academic Journals Are Really Expensive!”  If you’re a librarian reading this, you probably know all about the crisis in scholarly publishing; if you’re a student or a faculty member and don’t know, you should find out, because this is a big issue that directly relates to your career.  Looking at article comments, and the current Twitter search for Jstor, can give you a fascinating glimpse at others’ worldviews (whatever yours might be.) As for mine, I find myself in agreement with the comments by Peter Suber in 2008, on an Open Access manifesto apparently written by Swarz.

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Research Workflow and Digital Texts

July 13, 2011

I continue to be interested in academic workflows in general, and how digital tools and texts are being incorporated (or not incorporated) into them.  I’ve written up a first draft of an essay on the project I and some colleagues did with Kindles in an English class this past spring, and am currently most struck by the responses of those students who struggled with the immateriality of a digital book.  Some students took to the Kindle like a duck to water, but others (in surveys) wrote of their disorientation within the e-book, because of their ingrained habit of dealing with books as material objects as well as content containers.

Two interesting essays I’ve read recently on this topic are available open-access:

Cull, Barry W., 2011. “Reading revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in academe, ” First Monday 16: 6, at http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3340/2985

Hillesund, Terje, 2010. “Digital reading spaces: How expert readers handle books, the Web, and electronic paper,” First Monday 15: 4, at http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2762/2504

A recent Institute of Classical Studies (London) Digital Classicist Seminar was not specifically focused on reading of digital texts, but took a broader approach to discussing the research practices of academics, and specifically classicists and archaeologists, among others.  Agiatis Benardou spoke on a project that conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 scholars as an attempt to understand their research workflows (as part of planning for a European project to create digital research infrastructure.) I haven’t had the time to listen to the audio of the seminar, which is available as a link, but the introduction, the tweets from the session and the slides available in .pdf all are quite interesting.

It’s a basic principle of librarianship that understanding the patron’s needs is paramount (Ranganathan, “Every reader his book,”), and it’s exciting to see that those developing digital research tools are first seeking to understand user needs and existing practices, before tool development even begins. While we can and do expect user behaviors to change as a result of new technologies – and some of my reluctant Kindle readers will probably figure out a way to feel at home with an e-book as they become more common – it’s also important to know where your users are, and not just where you want them to be going.

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UGA Libraries Classics-Related Acquisitions: June 2011

July 5, 2011

In the four weeks since my last post on this topic, the UGA Libraries added 3625 items to the Main Library collection. Works of interest to those in Classics and related fields include the following (in LC call number order):

  • Culto di Asclepio nell’area mediterranea: atti del Convegno internazionale, Agrigento, 20-22 novembre 2005 Convegno internazionale su “Il culto di Asclepio nell’area mediterranea” (2005 : Agrigento, Italy)
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BL820.A4 C67 2005
  • Against Eunomius, Basil, Saint, Bishop of Caesarea, ca. 329-379.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR65.B34 C6613 2011
  • Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor: church and war in late antiquity, Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor, 6th cent.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR160.P84 C5513 2011
  • Political history of early Christianity, Brent, Allen.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor BR166 .B73 2009
  • North Sea archaeologies: a maritime biography, 10,000 BC to AD 1500, Van de Noort, Robert.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC77.U5 V36 2011
  • Geoarchaeology, climate change, and sustainability
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC77.5 .G463 2011
  • Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge : conference proceedings, odz, Poland, 5th-7th September 2007 Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge (2007 : odz, Poland)
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor Folio CC79.E85 A74 2007
  • Body parts and bodies whole : changing relations and meanings
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor CC79.5.H85 B63 2010
  • UK Chapter of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology: Proceedings of the CAA UK Chapter Meeting, University of Liverpool, 6th and 7th February 2009 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (Organization). U.K. Chapter. Meeting (2009 : University of Liverpool)
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor Folio CC80.4 .C644 2009
  • Decade of discovery: proceedings of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Conference 2007 Portable Antiquities Scheme Conference (2007 : British Museum)
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DA90 .P66 2007
  • Archaeology of the upper Witham Valley: prehistoric visitors, Iron Age settlement, and a Romano-British landscape dominated by a new villa, Jolliffe, Thomas H.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DA670.W83 J65 2010
  • Roman and native in the central Scottish Borders, Wilson, Allan.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DA777.7.B67 W55 2010
  • Athenian myths and festivals: Aglauros, Erechtheus, Plynteria, Panathenaia, Dionysia, Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF123 .S68 2011
  • Dividing the spoils: the war for Alexander the Great’s empire, Waterfield, Robin, 1952-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF235.4 .W38 2011
  • Aegina: contexts for choral lyric poetry: myth, history, and identity in the fifth century BC
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF261.A18 A34 2010
  • Agora des Italiens’ in Delos: Baugeschichte, Architektur, Ausstattung und Funktion einer spathellenistischen Porticus-Anlage, Trumper, Monika.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DF261.D3 T78 2008
  • Ruin of the Eternal City: antiquity and preservation in Renaissance Rome, Karmon, David E.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG63.5 .K37 2011
  • Celio orientale : contributi alla carta archeologica di Roma, tavola VI settore H, Consalvi, Francesco.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DG66 .C66 2009
  • Arezzo nell’antichita
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DG70.A74 A74 2009
  • Spazio del potere: la residenza ad abside, l’anaktoron, l’episcopio a Torre di Satriano: atti del secondo convegno di studi su Torre di Satriano, Tito, 27-28 settembre 2008
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG70.T675 S63 2009
  • Roman Empire: roots of imperialism, Morley, Neville.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG77 .M67 2010
  • Fumosae imagines : identita e memoria nell’aristocrazia repubblicana, Montanari, Enrico, 1942-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG83.3 .M66 2009
  • Nuovo e antico nella cultura greco-latina di IV-VI secolo
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG271 .N86 2005
  • Augustus, first Roman emperor: power, propaganda and the politics of survival, Clark, Matthew D. H., 1970-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DG279 .C53 2010
  • Zenobia of Palmyra: history, myth and the neo-classical imagination, Winsbury, Rex.
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DS99.P17 W56 2010
  • Wadi Araba in classical and late antiquity: an historical geography, Smith, Andrew M. (Andrew Michael), 1967-
    Location: Main Library 4th floor Folio DS110.A683 S45 2010
  • Herodes und Jerusalem Herodes-Konferenz (2nd : 2007 : Ruhr-Universitat Bochum)
    Location: Main Library 4th floor DS122.3 .H35 2007
  • Archaeological ceramics: a review of current research
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GN799.P6 A73 2011
  • Latrinae et foricae : toilets in the Roman world, Hobson, Barry.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GT476 .H66 2009
  • Ancient graffiti in context
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GT3912 .A54 2011
  • Ancient dancer in the modern world: responses to Greek and Roman dance
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor GV1783 .A5 2010
  • Republicanism, rhetoric, and Roman political thought: Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus, Kapust, Daniel J., 1976-
    Location: Main Library 6th floor JC83 .K37 2011
  • Stato nell’antica Roma, Valditara, Giuseppe.
    Location: Main Library 6th floor JC83 .V35 2008
  • Immortal Alexander the Great: the myth, the reality, his journey, his legacy.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor N5635.A4 I66 2010
  • Representation of monkeys in the art and thought of Mediterranean cultures: a new perspective on ancient primates, Greenlaw, Cybelle.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor Folio N7668.M65 G74 2011
  • Contemporary art and classical myth
    Location: Main Library 7th floor N7760 .C65 2011
  • Musei Capitolini: le sculture del palazzo nuovo
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NB115 .M858 2010
  • Statue romane della collezione di Girolamo Egidio di Velo dei Musei civici di Vicenza Vicenza (Italy). Settore musei civici.
    Location: Main Library 7th floor NB115 .S73 2010
  • Syrian and Phoenician ivories of the early first millennium BCE: chronology, regional styles and iconographic repertories, patterns of inter-regional distribution
    Location: Main Library 7th floor Folio NK5860 .S97 2009
  • Pliny the Elder: themes and contexts
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA9 .M686 Suppl. no. 329
  • Diodorus’ mythistory and the pagan mission: historiography and culture-heroes in the first pentad of the Bibliotheke, Sulimani, Iris.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA9 .M686 Suppl. no. 331
  • Writing Greek: an introduction to writing in the language of classical Athens, Anderson, Stephen, 1954-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA258 .A534 2010
  • Morfologia del greco tra tipologia e diacronia Incontro internazionale di linguistica greca (7th : 2007 : Cagliari, Italy)
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA283 .I53 2007
  • Sub imagine somni: nighttime phenomena in Greco-Roman culture
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3014.D73 S824 2010
  • Theatre of the condemned: classical tragedy on Greek prison islands, Van Steen, Gonda Aline Hector, 1964-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3026 .V36 2011
  • Performing Greek drama in Oxford and on tour with the Balliol Players, Wrigley, Amanda.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3238 .W75 2011
  • Rhetorique de la priere dans l’Antiquite grecque, International Society for the History of Rhetoric. Conference (16th : 2007 : Strasbourg, France)
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA3265 .I56 2007
  • Sopporta, cuore… : la scelta di Ulisse 1. ed., Cantarella, Eva.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4037 .C2588 2010
  • Making of the Iliad: disquisition and analytical commentary, West, M. L. (Martin Litchfield), 1937-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4037 .W48 2011
  • Homer und die deutsche Literatur
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4152.G3 H64 2010
  • Lucian’s Dialogi marini, Bartley, Adam Nicholas.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4230.D47 B37 2009
  • Sotto il velo di Pantea: Imagines e Pro imaginibus di Luciano, Cistaro, Maria, 1978-
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4230.I443 C57 2009
  • Lucian for our times
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4236 .L82 2009
  • Descriptio Sanctae Sophiae; Descriptio ambonis,  Paul, the Silentiary, 6th cent.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4263.P7 E37 2011
  • Oedipus Rex, Sophocles.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4414.O7 M75 2011
  • Xenophon’s mirror of princes: reading the reflections, Gray, Vivienne.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA4497 .G73 2011
  • Roma antica e il testo: scritture d’autore e composizione letteraria 1. ed., Pecere, Oronzo.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6027 .P47 2010
  • Commentary on the sixth satire of Juvenal, Nadeau, Yvan.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6448 .N24 2011
  • Mondo animale nella poesia lucreziana tra topos e osservazione realistica 1. ed., Camardese, Daniela.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6485 .C34 2010
  • Love poems, Letters, and Remedies of Ovid, Ovid, 43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6522 .A213 2011
  • Aurelii prudentii Clementis V.C. libelli: cum commento Antonii Nebrissensis 1. ed., Nebrija, Antonio de, 1444?-1522.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6648.P7 N43 2002
  • On benefits, Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, ca. 4 B.C.-65 A.D.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6661 .D213 2011
  • Sistema della comunicazione nella Fedra di Seneca, Calabrese, Evita.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6664.P5 C35 2009
  • Hercules epitrapezios Novi Vindicis: introduzione e commento a Stat. Silv. 4,6, Bonadeo, Alessia.
    Location: Main Library 3rd floor PA6698 .B66 2010
  • Archaologische Bibliographie: Beilage zum Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archaologischen Instituts.
    Location: Main Library 2nd floor Main Z5132 .A6