Category Archives: Open Source

The Programming Historian

Developing our on-line toolkit…

Here at conversationsEAST we are humanists, who work in web publishing with tools and techniques, more often than not devised by others, to create workflows that allow us to share a range of knowledge and experiences with others.

Imagine our delight when the economic historians and project writers in our office  discovered The Programming Historian.

‘The Programming Historian is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed suite of tutorials that help humanists learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate their research’.

If you are interested in big data, the humanities, research and have but a passing acquaintance with ‘code’, then this is a great bookmark to preserve.

The Programming Historian contains principles and techniques across a range of disciplines and thematic approaches to digital data manipulation and publishing…

‘Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Data Management, Data Manipulation, Distant Reading, Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Network Analysis, Digital Exhibit Building, Programming, and Web Scraping. Our tutorials include nearly a dozen lessons on popular DH tools such as MALLET, Omeka, and QGIS’.

The resources available are all Open Source and are published under a Creative Commons license. They are published to the Gold Open Access Standards and are fully compliant with HEFCE publishing requirements for scholars in the UK.

The portal is a volunteer project and is supported from the Rosenzweig Centre for New Media at the University of New Mexico.

‘This project is an attempt to demonstrate what open access academic publishing can and should be. Please tell your librarian to include the project in your library catalogue’.

We have added it to the conversationsEAST digital toolkit management list for future use.

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Idly drifting betwixt Stanford and Harvard…

 

Imagining the world without the web as an intellectual resource is almost impossible now. All those decades ago, applying for your research and travel grants to gain a foothold aboard ship or achieve landfall in another country, to see and hear academics speak, or to consult texts, is now long a thing of the past.

With the advent of on-line resources comes the inevitable change in publication policy and the context of publication review and update. The two resources below represent some of the best examples of access to classic historical thought and an easy flow into current thinking and research.

This journal is published under a Creative Commons license, our team are strong supporters of Open Source software and other Open Publishing initiatives.  Dive into these resources regularly, they repay repeat visits…

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

An invaluable on-line publication which delivers insightful and contemporary research into philosophical thought and related disciplines. The works included in the encyclopedia are drawn from and embedded with the best practices of rigorous academic review, from…

those persons with accredited Ph.D.s in Philosophy (or a related discipline) who have published refereed works on the topic of the proposed entry. By refereed works we mean either articles in respected, peer-reviewed journals or books which have been published by respected publishing houses and which have undergone the usual peer review process prior to publication.

However, what is interesting, is the editorial board’s commitment to review and updating of texts, which affords the invited authors of the works published the opportunity to amend , annotate or add to their original work as their research or trends in their chosen discipline demand change.

It is the a way of using the web to refresh and renew the encyclopedia in front of your eyes, with an immediacy and currency that is generally impossible in traditional paper and binding formats. It doesn’t replace the book, it supplements it.

You can read more about the Stanford Open Access publication model here.

Some recently changed and updated texts in the encyclopedia include the following.

There’s a great temptation to make it, for the enquiring mind, the only site worth bookmarking in your browser. See if you agree.

The 51 volume work:  The Harvard Classics

Originally published in the early 1900’s by Harvard President, Charles W. Eliot, the works are freely available on-line from Project Gutenberg.

The author of this short piece had a well respected friend who, in the early days of the internet (…the 1990’s now seem such a long time ago) was well read, but who decried the ‘web’ as irrelevant. Pages full of ‘blue links’ was how he described it. Whilst then perhaps an accurate description, it is is a terrible disparagement of the hyperlink.

My response today would be to get him to click through to the Harvard Classics. Whether your interests are in Plato, Milton or Robert Burns there is much to enjoy here.

They who set themselves to give precepts must of course regard themselves as possessed of greater skill than those to whom they prescribe; and if they err in the slightest particular, they subject themselves to censure…

The quotation above is drawn from Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking the Truth in Sciences by Rene Descartes, found on the Gutenberg bookshelf. A piercing insight into politics and management, as much as to science we think.

You can also enjoy the fruits of the novelist too. Fiction from Walter Scott, Tolstoy and Balzac are freely available. Being tempted to read online offers choice in terms of format. All the works in the Gutenberg Harvard Classics canon are available in your web browser, ePub versions and for your Kindle or downloadable as plain text files.

Education… has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.

G.M. Trevelyan in English Social History (1942), quoted above, perhaps rather cruelly prefigured the future critique in Richard Hoggart’s work The Uses of Literacy (1957).  Hoggart’s thesis was that the ‘massification’ of culture has detached communities and individuals from their traditional ‘urban culture’.

That popular culture had de-classed society and debased, to some extent, the feeling for history or cultural connection across communities. Whilst it is inescapably evident that the internet and access to technology has irrevocably changed society, there is still a demand for classic literature and the wrangling with challenging thought.

We think the modern, Western autodidact doesn’t necessarily spend long days in the community library anymore alas, rather he or she inhabits the web world to educate and inform the mind.

We offer the hyperlinks above as evidence of our argument!

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Being a creative person…

In his recent RSA Annual Lecture, Matthew Taylor espoused creativity. How the RSA should exist to ‘…empower people to be capable, active participants in creating the world we want to live in…’

See the movie on YouTube See the original film on YouTube here

phoneIcon You can listen to a full audio broadcast of the event here too…

In his lecture Matthew argues that we stand on the edge of a vast plain of opportunity. Social, technological and philosophical changes in the last century have the potential to enable every person to be creative, in the widest sense.

His core argument cites Amartya Sen, amongst others, who have argued that with the creativity that education and open-ness deliver, runs alongside a reliance on resources. These must be garnered, deployed and accounted for too.

He does stress that in this century those resources are, or can be for most, free. This journal, for example, is a product of imagination and the utilisation of Open Source software to create and deliver information and opinion to a social network.

Although we would bind ourselves to the argument it does not fully extend itself, yet, into the sphere of hardware. The technology we need to deploy free assets still comes at a cost, a la Amartya Sen.

Matthew also presses us to the concept that creativity is not the sole remit of high culture alone. For a creative individual, it is perhaps starting a new socially focused enterprise, writing and publishing new works or working with others to deliver societal change.

This notion of ‘the social’ is a strong theme in the lecture. Matthew argues for the collapse of ‘Fordism’ and traditional passive consumption of services in the local authority arena. The social transaction in the workplace and wider civic society itself undergoing dramatic change at the social/technological interface. This change, the lecture makes clear, is still under way. Destination unknown.

In the final part of the lecture we hear of two key restraints on creativity.

One is the ever increasing ‘gap’ to reach those who enjoy privilege and wealth. Matthew cites Thomas Piketty’s recent argument that the traditionalist, narrow pyramidal social and economic structures of the past continue to eat into the resources, and undertake exploitation of, the majority in the present. The spectre of Marx is at the feast, even for Piketty.

Secondly, the Weberian notion of ‘splitting’ is a key restraint argued for by our lecturer. ‘Social pyramidism’ is reflected in the largest corporations, whether in the civic domain or in private hands. Where individuals are completely constrained by function and hierarchy…to the detriment of their own creativity.

We would probably extend this argument slightly further, in that the traditionalist, elitist and pyramidal organisation creates a culture of fear, not of creativity. All creative people recognise the tone of those emails, the sense of ‘beyond my pay grade’, that any attempt at initiative and new thinking can create.

This personal creativity is fostered, we would argue, in the private, domestic domain to the disregard of the corporate structures that the individual labours under….perversely perhaps, in order to acquire the technology to be properly free.

In conclusion, the lecture pitches us into the argument of ‘civic effects’, where success for a creative society will be an ad-mixture of engagement in civil society, the activation and support of creative ‘doers of things’ and the press to change entrenched behaviours, in order to disrupt the traditional pyramidal approach.

It’s a powerful argument from and for the RSA and should be heard widely.

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DataUp updated

The Open Source, award winning data curation programme, DataUp was recently subject to a comprehensive set of updates, which were launched at 2014 International Data Curation Conference in San Francisco.

The new version of DataUp gives administrators the opportunity to select and define metadata, as well as auto-define the meta values loaded by users and can now run  a Data Quality Check, at an administrator level, to verify the data input from system users. Checking to see that entries and uploads comply with repository requirements.

This release is the fruit of much work done at the California Digital Library, and was supported by the interneticon Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  interneticon Microsoft Research says of DataUp in its endorsement…

Presently, DataUp supports two different types of repositories, though more can be added via repository adapters: (1) a personal or organizational Microsoft OneDrive repository or (2) a repository that adheres to the ONEShare standard developed by the California Digital Library.

You can read more about DataUp on the interneticon California Digital Library web page here. New users can get started on-line by simply logging in with their existing Microsoft account details from this page. interneticon

dataUpLogoButtonIf you are interested in Open Source software, cloud applications and research data access and manipulation DataUp is a useful tool. Not the only cloud based service available to researchers, but readily accessible and easy to get started with we would argue.

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