IliADS @ Hamilton College

On July 28, 2016 by Michelle Warren

Laura and I are spending the week at the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship at Hamilton College. The institute is a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in Remix while collaborating with colleagues with a wide range of expertise and experience. The model is project-based and team-based, so the prospects for synergy and serendipity are high. Since we have a whole week together, we have time to make discoveries, solve problems, and even produce new research.

Each team is assigned a coach–ours is the fantastic Alicia Peaker–and has access to dedicated time with other experts. In the liberal arts environment, this model includes core roles for undergraduate researchers. Our team is in the midst of transition and we were hoping that our new Junior Research Scholar Divya Kalidindi could join us for the week, but unfortunately she has to be in class at Dartmouth (we did arrange some productive Skype meetings though).

We came in with the goal of assessing Year 1 and planning for Year 2. We planned to consult about GIS and mapping (an interest of Divya’s), but weren’t really sure what else we would learn or what we would prioritize. Laura thought that her librarian expertise would be well suited to thinking about the cataloguing project on our wishlist. We stumbled upon a happy convergence when this effort led us to produce a clean list of manuscript location information that Divya can use to begin some experiments with mapping software (modular method wins again!). Along the way, we learned some cool computing tricks (detailed in another post).

Goals:

  • Assess feasibility of rebuilding the Imagining History catalogue as a database
    • Extract links and text from old web pages
    • Clean up and structure the extracted information
    • What metadata scheme?
    • What database platform?
  • Define Divya’s six month project
    • Learn about mapping platforms
    • Curate spatial data
  • Progress on domain and theme transition
    • Configuration issues with the WordPress instance installed on Dartmouth server
    • Design issues and learning curve with a more sophisticated theme

Conclusions:

  • The database is attainable! The timeline remains indeterminate.
  • It’s worth spending time on data curation over the next year. With some well structured core materials, we will have more options for a variety of experiments. We should maybe even return to the OCR-conversion project
  • Learn more about web design issues before committing (especially in relation to site sustainability) (for now, we’ve given the current site an organizational refresh)
  • The lines between data and metadata can be blurry, which is both interesting and confusing.
  • People from a wide variety of backgrounds are interested in our work (relief!)

 

 

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