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Fall Workshop Series: Digital Humanities (Resources Galore!)

This semester, Falvey Memorial Library presented a fall workshop series on Digital Humanities, organized by Laura Bang.  Laura works in Special and Digital Collections and she is actively involved in the Philadelphia Digital Humanities community.

The fantastically informative workshops provided an introduction to DH techniques and applications and took place in Falvey on various Saturdays from 9AM to noon. Since we were provided with tons and tons of resources, I’d be glad to share some with you! For an overview of the individual workshops and the projects/softwares explored, keep scrolling.

September 6: Intro to Digital Humanities 

dirtOur five-session workshop began with an introductory lecture by Mitch Fraas, the Schoenberg Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. As you might guess, we talked about the most popular question on the block: what are digital humanities? As this intro lecture proved, the best way to figure it out is to jump into one of the many projects you can find online. Definition by application! Fraas provided tons of resources; here are some excellent places to start.

Voyant-tools.org
viraltexts.org
historyharvest.unl.edu
earlynovels.org
mappingbooks.blogspot.com
http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/
http://dirtdirectory.org *Reading about these tools will really give you a good sense of the applications of DH.

 

September 20: Coding Basics

The second workshop was a fun and approachable introduction to coding by Kate Lynch. We used Processing, which is not only a programming language, but also a development environment with an enormous online community. The software is free to download and open source. The Processing site is loaded with beginner tutorials.

I pointillized ‘Lil Bub! On the left behind the kitty, you can see the Processing window and code.

DH Bub 2

October 4: Audio Editing

audacity-windowsWorkshop number three covered basic audio editing. We played around with Audacity, a free, open source audio recording and editing software. You can download it right from the Audacity page. You can find plenty of royalty free sounds and tracks on the web for your projects on websites like freesound.org. The Audacity page also has plenty of tutorials, but I find YouTube tutorials are the most helpful for software training. Search “Audacity” and you are sure to find hundreds!

 

October 25: WordPress as a Content Management System

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The fourth workshop explored WordPress as a content management system. WordPress.com, as you might already know, allows you to create a free blog, but it is not highly customizable. Based on your wants and needs, it might be perfect for you. However, if you’re looking for a software script to create a website, check out WordPress.org. According to the About page,

WordPress started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins and widgets and themes, WordPress is limited only by your imagination. (And tech chops.)

To get started with the WordPress software you’ll need a web host, but the software itself is free and open source.

 

November 8: Mapping/GIS

DH MappingThe fifth and final workshop introduced basic data mapping and visualization. Using CartoDB and openly available data sets from OpenDataPhilly, we learned how to import and create tables and how to customize maps based on those tables.

Sarah Cordivano, the workshop instructor, enthusiastically expressed the importance of projects such as OpenDataPhilly, a resource that

“…is based on the idea that providing free and easy access to data information encourages better and more transparent government and a more engaged and knowledgeable citizenry… By connecting people with data, we’re hoping to encourage users to take the data and transform it into creative applications, projects, and visualizations that demonstrate the power that data can have in understanding and shaping our communities.”

For more information on OpenDataPhilly, visit the About Us page.

 


Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

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‘Cat in the CAVE

CAT-STAX

 I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.


CAVEToday at 2:00, Villanova’s CAVE is officially open. In honor of opening day, this week’s blog post will be all about immersive virtual reality—for those of us who might not even know where to begin thinking about the creative and academic applications of virtual environments.

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert. I’m a virtual reality noob. I’m writing this with no in-depth technical expertise—just a whole lot of geeky excitement. But I do play (and, by way of literary theory, study) video games, and my personal interest in virtual reality’s possible applications is heavily biased towards, well, play. And by “play” I don’t mean to imply the installment is only for entertainment (nor do I think its entertainment and audio/visual/tactile immersion possibilities should be minimized, especially for the arts and humanities). I mean “play” as in stepping inside a world and getting your hands virtually dirty, like a kid in a sandbox.

But before we talk Earth science and data visualization, whet your VR palette with the incredibly cool Tilt Brush (aka “Microsoft Paint for the Year 2020”).

Oculus_vs_Morpheus-740x580-580x450Depending on your hobbies, you might have already heard about the VR movement in video games a la Oculus Rift  and Project Morpheus. These are headset-based immersive mechanisms, while the CAVE is quite literally a virtually immersive walk-in cave. Still, if you want to explore discussion of virtually reality without scholarly pressure, the gaming community is a good place to start.

If you feel like you’re ready to brave the technical background and scholarly applications of virtual reality, The Verge posted a feature video on The Virtual Reality CAVE, featuring UC Davis’s setup, KeckCAVES. A little digging into UC Davis’s ongoing projects, which include applications in Earth science, data visualization, and responsive media, is a fun way to get your feet wet!

Based on a little internet reading, the possibilities of virtual reality in scholarly, scientific and creative application are innumerable—but are not all fully realized, or even drafted. And that’s the cool part: if this is the forefront of a new wave, this is your chance to brainstorm, too.

How could you imagine immersive virtual reality used in your field of study?

 


Michelle Callaghan, Graduate Assistant, Communication and ServicArticle by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.

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Special Collections project on WWI to be featured on PCN broadcast

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 2.02.00 PM
Verizon Channel 9 – which is PCN, Pennsylvania’s non-profit cable network, broadcast a show entitled Philadelphia in World War I. For those who missed it, this program will be re-broadcast Saturday, July 26th at 5:35 pm and again on Sunday, July 27th at 04:35 am.

This program includes an interview with Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight and other speakers involved with the “Home Before the Leaves Fall: a Great War Centennial Exposition” which features World War I content from Villanova University as well as other heritage organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Experience World War One as it happened day by day, 100 years ago at http://wwionline.org.

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Demian Katz receives Lifetime Pop Culture Achievement Award

FOIGHT-&-KATZ2

Michael Foight (right) presenting the award to Demian Katz (left).

As part of the VuPop Popular Culture and Materials Conference each year, a worthy conference attendee is awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for activities related to the preservation and scholarship of that specific material type. This year’s recipient is Demian Katz, library technology development specialist from Falvey Memorial Library. Demian is one of the world’s foremost acknowledged bibliographers and collectors of print interactive fiction and appreciated by gamebook fans all over the internet for Demian’s Gamebook Web Page, an international reference guide to interactive books, solitaire role-playing, and game-inspired fiction.

Katz recently donated more than 2,500 print game books and other related materials to the Department of Special Collections at the University of California Santa Barbara.  The Demian Katz Gamebook Collection (Mss 294) is now currently open for research using the Online Archive of California primary resource finding aid.

For more information on this year’s VuPop conference, visit here. For more on the interactive fiction genre, visit here.


 

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David Uspal Upholds Library Tradition – Receives the Latest Facultas Award

Uspal & Facultas AwardDavid Uspal, senior web specialist for library services and scholarly applications, received the Spring 2014 Facultas Award on May 20 at the annual University Faculty Staff Picnic. Uspal is the seventh Falvey Memorial Library employee to receive the Facultas Award. The late Therese Dougherty received the Fall 1996 Facultas Award, followed by Bente Polites, Special Collections and reference librarian, fall 2004; Phylis Wright, Interlibrary Loan Office, spring 2006; Domenick Liberato, Access and User Assistance, fall 2007; Barbara Quintiliano, Instructional Design Librarian, fall 2008; and Susan Ottignon, research librarian, spring 2012.

The Facultas Award is presented each fall and spring semester by the Faculty Congress to “acknowledge and honor the contributions of staff members of the Villanova community,” “focus attention on the vital, yet often unnoticed, services essential to the smooth and efficient functioning of the Villanova community, especially the academic faculty,” “recognize persons who would not be otherwise recognized …” and “reinforce among our fellow faculty the importance and diversity of staff support work in all areas of the University.” The Facultas Award constitutes a plaque and a Wildcard gift certificate.

This is Uspal’s second University award. The University Staff Council presented a Work Process Improvement (WPI) award to him in spring 2013 for the interactive map of Falvey Memorial Library that he developed.

Uspal says, “I want to thank Villanova University and Falvey Memorial Library for bringing me on board three years ago and the Technology Development team and the Digital Library team for being supportive of our efforts in the realm of Digital Humanities. A big thank you to all the students and faculty for helping us pilot our way through our initial Digital Humanities projects. Finally, a special thanks to Laura Bang, the Digital Scholarship Coordinator for the Aurelius Digital Scholarship initiative, who has masterminded Villanova’s push into the Digital Humanities universe and without whom this award would have been impossible.”

Interim Library Director Darren Poley comments, “David Uspal is a wonderful asset to Falvey. His blend of deep knowledge as an information technologist with an ever cheery disposition and excellent people skills is incredibly rare. We are indeed fortunate to have David in the Library where he works so well with both staff and the patrons we serve.”

Uspal relaxes by reading and playing board and video games/interactive fiction. His interest in interactive fiction is aptly shown by his involvement with VuPop 2, an annual conference which explores pop culture and mass media.

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VuPop 2: Interactive Fiction in Print and Online

VUPOP POSTCARD PRUF

VuPop 2: Interactive Fiction in Print and Online, a conference sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library, takes place in the Library today. VuPop 2 is the second in the series of annual conferences exploring popular culture and mass media.

VuPop begins at 9:30 a.m. with registration and light refreshments and ends at 4:30 p.m. Attendees will be welcomed by David Uspal, senior web specialist for library services and scholarly applications, and Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator.

Demian Katz

Demian Katz

Demian Katz, library technology development specialist and an avid collector of gamebooks, is presenting “The History of Gamebooks.” His collection is featured in the exhibit, “Interactive Fiction: An exhibit where YOU are the hero,” adjacent to the Speaker’s Corner where the conference is meeting.

The exhibit, curated by Katz, displays six cases of his gamebooks (plus one loaned by Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant). Each case contains one or more informative placards. The gamebooks are divided into categories such as “Choose Your Own Adventure” which, among other works, has Cinderella’s Magic Adventure open to an illustration and text where the reader makes his or her choice of how to continue. The exhibit will remain on display through the summer.

Other cases show collections of “Infocom,” “Multiplayer Gamebooks,” “Fighting Fantasy” (a British game) and “Lone Wolf” which share a case, and “Oddities,” “Role-playing Games” featuring Dungeons & Dragons, and “Tie-Ins.”

VUPOP2-books-onlyIn the morning session, Rebecca Slitt, PhD, will discuss “Viking, Gunslinger and Madam Midshipwoman: Gender and History in Interactive Fiction.” Dr. Slitt, who taught medieval history at several universities, is now the managing editor at Choice of Games.

Laura Bang and Christopher Hallberg, library technology development specialist, are presenting an interactive reading of “Groom of the Tomb,” which will be followed by a catered lunch for conference attendees.

Afternoon speakers are Christopher Liu, Randy Cook, David Perlman, and Tom Rothamel. Christopher Liu’s topic is “On Writing, Interactively.” Liu is the founder of Adventure Cow, a recently created company which publishes interactive novels. Adventure Cow’s first work, Destiny Quest Infinite, will soon be released.

Randy Cook, whose first adventure game was published in the 1990s, still writes the Legendary Journeys Series and software. Cook’s topic is “Let There Be Light (or at least a simulated torch).”

David Perlman, PhD, the president and founder of E4-Eclipse Ethics Foundation, presents “Interactive Fiction: The Use of Two Forms of Pop Culture to Increase Public Bioethics Awareness.” Dr. Perlman is a visiting assistant professor at the University of the Sciences and a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, both in Philadelphia.

Tom Rothamel, lead developer of the Ren’Py visual novel engine and the host of the largest English language forum dedicated to the creation of these works, has been involved with visual novels for over ten years. His topic is “Visual Novels and Ren’Py.”

The conference ends with a panel discussion and closing remarks followed by an “unofficial Game Night.”


Article by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team. Exhibit graphics by Joanne Quinn. Demian Katz photo by Alice Bampton .

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DH in the Classroom: Aurelius Digital Humanities Launches Second Project

During the spring semester, the Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative launched its second project, a digital edition of El Peru en sus tradiciones en su historia, en su arte. The project was commandeered by Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish Chad Leahy, PhD, who worked with his special-topics Spanish class to digitize and transcribe the text. Guidance was also provided by Laura Bang, digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant, and David Uspal, senior web specialist for library services and scholarly applications. Dr. Leahy explains that the materiality of text as object, the smell and feel of the item itself, has a story to tell us and digital humanities as a new technology has a way of opening this aspect of the text to the world.

chad-repl

  El Peru en sus tradiciones en su historia, en su arte is a 133 page multimedia scrapbook that contains postcards, newspaper clippings, drawings—more than 160 distinct visual objects in all. In many cases, these entries are copied without original sources, raising difficult questions regarding authorship, provenance and purpose. There is no way to prove authorship, but Dr. Leahy speculates that the text may have originated through the Augustinian missions in Peru and was probably a gift. The latest internal date, 1924, suggests that the scrapbook was produced in the latter half of the 1920s. In addition to studying the Peruvian text, Dr. Leahy’s class had the opportunity to develop hands-on digitizing skills while scanning the text Los dramas de la Guerra, a serialized account of the First World War published in Barcelona during the war years.

Phone

Participants loved the way the website reformatted for easy reading on hand held devices.

David Uspal wrapped up the event by explaining the development behind the website. Uspal said, “in addition to the transcription work by the undergraduate students, technical support for the project was provided by Falvey [Memorial] Library’s Technology Development Team, with a large contribution by technology graduate assistant Pragya Singhvi.  Pragya’s work on importing transcription documents and automatically producing TEI and HTML versions of these documents will both help reduce the work necessary on future translation projects (and thus, more likely to get more and varies projects approved) and allow these projects to adopt open standards which will allow for greater use in the academic community.”


Laura Hutelmyer is the photography coordinator for the Communication and Publications Team and special acquisitions coordinator in Resource Management

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Last Modified: May 20, 2014