Category Archives: Web Technologies

Registration Opens for “Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts” at KCL…

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We are delighted to announce the programme for On the Same Page: Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts at King’s College London. This two-day conference will explore the potential for the computer-assisted study of Hebrew manuscripts; discuss the intersection of Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities; and share methodologies. Amongst the topics covered will be Hebrew palaeography and codicology, the encoding and transcription of Hebrew texts, the practical and theoretical consequences of the use of digital surrogates and the visualisation of manuscript evidence and data. For the full programme and our Call for Posters, please see below.

Registration for the conference is free. As places are limited, we recommend registering at an early point to avoid disappointment. To register, please click on this link: https://on-the-same-page.eventbrite.com

Refreshments will be provided, but attendees should make their own arrangements for lunch.

Very much looking forward to seeing you in May,

Stewart Brookes, Debora Matos, Andrea Schatz and Peter Stokes

Organised by the Departments of Digital Humanities and Theology & Religious Studies (Jewish Studies)
Co-sponsor: Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies (CLAMS), King’s College London

Call for Posters
Are you involved in an interesting project in the wider field of Jewish Studies? Would you like to have a presence at the conference even though you’re not giving a paper? If so, then you might like to consider submitting a poster which summarises the objectives, significance and outcomes of your research project. We’ll display posters throughout the conference and if you attend with your poster, then you can talk about your work with attendees during the lunch breaks. Display space is limited, so please send a brief summary (max. 100 words) of your research/project to sephardipal@lists.cch.kcl.ac.uk. The deadline for the receipt of submissions is Thursday 30th April 2015. Notice of acceptance will be sent as soon as possible after that date.

Conference Programme 

Monday 18th May 2015

8.45 – Coffee and registration

9.15 – Welcome

  • Stewart Brookes and Débora Matos (King’s College London)

9.30 – Keynote lecture

  • Chair: Andrea Schatz (King’s College London)
  • Colette Sirat (École Pratique des Hautes Études): The Study of Medieval Manuscripts in a Technological World

10.30 – Coffee/Tea

11.00 – Session 1: Digital Libraries: From Manuscripts to Images

  • Chair: tbc
  • Ilana Tahan (British Library): The Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project at the British Library: An Assessment
  • César Merchán-Hamann (Bodleian Library): The Polonsky Digitisation Project: Hebrew Materials
  • Emile Schrijver (Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana/University of Amsterdam): The Real Challenges of Mass Digitization for Hebrew Manuscript Research

12.30 – Lunch break

13.30 – Session 2: (Roundtable): Digital Images: Scale and Scope

  • Chair: Jonathan Stökl (King’s College London)
  • Rahel Fronda (University of Oxford): From Micrography to Macrography: Digital Approaches to Hebrew Script
  • Ilana Wartenberg (UCL): Digital Images in the Research of Medieval Hebrew Scientific Treatises
  • Estara Arrant (University of Oxford): Foundations, Errors, and Innovations: Jacob Mann’s Genizah Research and the Use of Digitised Images in Hebrew Manuscript Analysis
  • Dalia-Ruth Halperin (Talpiot College of Education, Holon): Choreography of the Micrography

15.00 – Coffee/Tea

15.30 – Session 3: Digital Space: Joins and Links

  • Chair: Paul Joyce (King’s College London)
  • Sacha Stern (UCL): The Calendar Dispute of 921/2: Assembling a Corpus of Manuscripts from the Friedberg Genizah Project
  • Israel Sandman (UCL): Manuscript Images: Revealing the History of Transmission and Use of Literary Works
  • Judith Kogel (CNRS, Paris): How to Use Internet and Digital Resources to Identify Hebrew Fragments

17.00 – Keynote lecture

  • Chair: Stewart Brookes (King’s College London)
  • Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (École Pratique des Hautes Études): The Books Within Books Database and Its Contribution to Hebrew Palaeography

Tuesday 19th May 2015

9.15 – Keynote lecture

  • Chair: Peter Stokes (King’s College London)
  • Malachi Beit-Arié (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The SfarData Codicological Database: A Tool for Dating and Localizing Medieval Codices, Historical Research and the Study of Book Production – Methodology and Practice

10.15 – Session 4: Digital Palaeography: Tools and Methods

  • Chair: Julia Crick (King’s College London)
  • Débora Matos (King’s College London): Building Digital Tools for Hebrew Palaeography: The SephardiPal Database
  • Stewart Brookes (King’s College London): A Test-Case for Extending SephardiPal: The Montefiore Mainz Mahzor

11.15 – Coffee/Tea

11.45 – Session 5: Digital Corpora: Analysis and Editing

  • Chair: Eyal Poleg (Queen Mary University of London)
  • Ben Outhwaite (Cambridge University Library): Beyond the Aleppo Codex: Why the Hebrew Bible Deserves a Better Internet
  • Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (École Pratique des Hautes Études), co-author Hayim Lapin (University of Maryland): A Digital Edition of the Mishna: From Images to Facsimile, Text and Grammatical Analysis
  • Nachum Dershowitz (Tel Aviv University), co-author Lior Wolf (Tel Aviv University): Computational Hebrew Manuscriptology

13.15 – Lunch break

14.30 – Keynote lecture

  • Chair: Débora Matos (King’s College London)
  • Edna Engel (The Hebrew Palaeography Project, Israel): Hebrew Palaeography in the Digital Age

15.30 – Session 6: Data and Metadata

  • Chair: tbc
  • Sinai Rusinek (The Polonsky Academy at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute): Digitally Reading from Right to Left
  • Yoed Kadary (Ben Gurion University): The Challenges of Metadata Mining in Digital Humanities Projects

16.30 – Concluding roundtable

17.00 – Refreshments

The conference convenors would like to thank the Departments of Digital Humanities and Theology & Religious Studies as well as the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies at King’s College London for their generous support. With thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Book Department for permission to use the image from Lewis O 140 (The Masoretic Bible of Portugal). Photograph courtesy of Débora Matos.

 

 

 

PHEME: Computing Veracity in Social Media

(Guest post from Dr Anna Kolliakou, who gave a guest seminar in DDH a few weeks ago. Anna and Robert would be very interested in collaborating with anyone in DH who has interests in their project.)

Pheme
Computing Veracity in Social Media
www.pheme.eu

From a business and government point of view there is an increasing need to interpret and act upon information from large-volume media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and newswire. However, knowledge gathered from online sources and social media comes with a major caveat – it cannot always be trusted. Pheme will investigate models and algorithms for automatic extraction and verification of four kinds of rumours (uncertain information or speculation, disputed information or controversy, misinformation and disinformation) and their textual expressions.

Veracity intelligence is an inherently multi-disciplinary problem, which can only be addressed successfully by bringing together currently disjoint research on language technologies, web science, social network analysis, and information visualisation. Therefore, we are seeking to develop cross-disciplinary social semantic methods for veracity intelligence, drawing on the strengths of these four disciplines. The Department of Digital Humanities, an international leader for the application of technology in social sciences, was the appropriate platform for researchers from the SLAM Biomedical Research Centre at KCL, one of PHEME’s partners, to present their proposed work in veracity intelligence for mental healthcare with an aim to develop academic collaborations with academics interested in social media analysis, NLP and text mining. For more information…

Seminar: June 2, 2014: Robert Stewart and Anna Kolliakou

Social media poses three major computational challenges, dubbed by Gartner the 3Vs of big data: volume, velocity, and variety. PHEME will focus on a fourth crucial but hitherto largely unstudied, big data challenge: veracity. The relationship between clinicians and their patients has already been changed by the internet in three waves. First, the provision of pharmaceutical data, diagnostic information and advice from drug companies and health care providers created a new source for self-directed diagnosis. Secondly, co-creation sites like Wikipedia and patient support forums (e.g. PatientsLikeMe) have more recently added a discursive element to the didactic material of the first wave. Thirdly, the social media revolution has acted as an accelerant and magnifier to the second wave.

Prof Robert Stewart and Dr Anna Kolliakou, from the SLAM Biomedical Research Centre at King’s College London, have started the process of re-tooling medical information systems to compete with this new context. This will facilitate practical applications in the healthcare domain, to enable clinicians, public health professionals and health policy makers to analyse high-volume, high-variety, and high-velocity internet content for emerging medically-related patterns, rumours, and other health-related issues. This analysis may in turn be used (i) to develop educational materials for patients and the public, by addressing concerns and misconceptions and (ii) to link to analysis of the electronic health records.

In this seminar, they will be discussing the development of 4 main demonstration studies that aim to:

  1. Identify social media preferences and dislikes about certain medication and treatment options and how these present in clinical records
  2. Monitor the emergence of novel psychoactive substances in social media and identify if and how promptly they appear in clinical records
  3. Explore how mental health stigma arises in social media and presents in clinical records
  4. Ascertain the type of influence social media might have on young people at risk of self-harm or suicide

Improve performances with jQuery best practices

Nowadays we include jQuery almost by default in most of our DDH projects. It offers so much to both designers and developers that it would be very difficult to complete a project without it.

As with most libraries, jQuery includes an incredibly large collection of elements and behaviours, more than we will ever use in one single development.

  • The good bits: it’s ready to use, highly customisable and, most more often than not, cross browser compatible.
  • The bad bit: might not be as performant as a custom built JS library.

Performance is key to a successful website, even more so when dealing with a large amount of data.

Although we might not want to go down the route of custom built JS libraries (time consuming), we can adopt some good practices to keep performances at their best while enjoying every bit of this jQuery magic.

This document covers some of the common standards worth looking at: jQuery Coding Standards & Best Practices.

Reporting from MEX 2013

I recently struggled to get back into writing, whether for lack of time or for the ability to focus on one single subject. And that’s why it took me so long to report back about my experience at MEX, last September.

MEX is a conference about mobile user experience that happens periodically in London. As they put it themselves:

MEX is an event focused on user modes as the raw ingredients of digital experience across phones, tablets, PCs, wearables and more. Learn from expert speakers, develop skills & ideas in facilitated creative sessions and gain lifelong access to a network of fellow pioneers.

I applied for a scholarship and, luckily enough, I was granted a place.

The round of speakers was pretty impressive and I was looking forward to find out more about the latest in the field.

My goals

Since I have only recently started to approach UX in a more didactic way rather than instinctively (Finally! You say, I agree), I wanted to find out:

  • How much of what I do by instinct is right and how much is wrong
  • How do you sell UX to a client?
  • How much psychology is involved?
  • Tips on how to approach UX

The talks

★★★☆☆

I enjoyed Sofia Svanteson and Per Nordqvist‘s enthusiasm while presenting their ‘Explore’ talk, on how task based interactions are becoming limited, they only work when a user has a specific goal to achieve. James Taplin told us how technology and focus on UX can help improve the world promoting the ‘Principal Sustainability’. I learnt how much easier could the process of learning be, when you get the UX right, as Arun Vasudeva showcased some examples of rich content integration in education.
The interesting concept of co-creation was mentioned by Lennart Andersson, while Ben Pirt showed us how badly UX is implemented in hardware design! Where is the power button?
Jason DaPonte talked about his Sunday Drive app and hinted at the still unutilised potentials to integrate UI with existing devices (car navigation systems in this case).
Then we learnt how the majority of young users don’t listen to digital music in a ‘traditional’ way anymore, they prefer platforms like YouTube, Spotify, Grooveshark and how this generates an opportunity for developing a new design and offer a different experience. As Brittney Bean introduced us to her new project Songdrop between a joke and the other.

After all this information in one single day I wasn’t sure I could absorb more on day 2, but I did.

I discovered my inner (Forrest) Gump, as James Haliburton put it. How our receptive mode depends on context and spontaneity and how indeterminate and non-committal it can be.
Amy Huckfield intends to improve the life of children with ADHD with her research ‘Children with ADHD: The untapped Well of Future Creatives’, basically helping the child re-engage and re-focus after losing attention through an interactive wristband.
Rich Clayton explains how his Travel Time app could help business analyse their geographic data in an affordable way, because time could be more important than distance.
And finally Davide “Folletto” Casali tells us that 70% of the projects fail because of lack of users’ acceptance. We tend to adapt the tools we have, rather then look for the right ones to satisfy our needs, even when developing. To quote Bruno Munari:
“Complicare è semplice. Semplificare è difficile.” (To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult.)

The ‘Creative sessions’

I didn’t particularly enjoy the Creative Sessions. Attendees were split in groups and were supposed to discuss and explore different topics. I was in the Create group and to date I am not sure what our objectives were. Maybe the topic was too broad. We ended up starting various interesting conversations on how to define a currency other than money to help potential users (we had set our target on students as an example), but we ended up with few ideas on a platform that could help with this currency exchange rather than an idea on how to enhance creation through user experience.

Conclusions

I find myself using a fairly common approach to user experience design, although I wasn’t aware I was doing it. That means there is a lot of room for improvement and definitely UX is becoming a conscious part of my design since stage one of sketching from now on.

Is UX changing?
Yes, it is. User are getting ‘smarter’ and UX needs to adapt quickly and continuously. Fairly obvious, but it’s because it’s obvious that it’s easy to forget. It’s not just the devices that are changing, users are too.
People want rich(-er) content, they look for it, feeling like they are making their own choices, but they do look for guidance and good UX design can be that guide.

Off topic things I learnt

The th sound is really a challenge for us Italians (I hope Davide “Folletto” Casali won’t get offended by this comment).
But I also learnt that the letter j makes Scandinavians struggle.

Geocoding your data

In many projects, the collection of data results in a list of items whose distribution can be shown spatially. The process of Geocoding assigns a location (or set of locations) to an item of data; perhaps the site of a battle, the source of a text or the home of notable person. Such visualisations allow for new perspectives on the relationships of data , spatial or otherwise. A long winded way of geocoding would be to simpy go through the data, record by record, and assign it a set of coordinates using a third party resource. If the list is short or if a very precise location is needed then this may be a practical solution, however it easy to underestimate how long it takes to go through what may at first appear to be a short list.

Alternatively, data can be captured directly into a Geographic Information System (GIS) such as ArcGIS or the freely available Quantum GIS, ensuring a location point is recorded with each record added to the data set, though this may be impractical in dark, dusty archive or may not lend itself well to your workflow. Often projects don’t require the sort of pinpoint accuracy that might be needed in scientific project and regional or town level locations are suitable and even preferable.

In many cases these research records end up as spreadsheets with a single column dedicated to recording location and given the ease with which data formats can be converted and imported into other systems, this is an efficient way of systematically recording and organising.

If you have the know how, and perhaps some special data requirements, building your own solution for geocoding is fairly straightforward. Given a list of post codes for example you will quickly be able to create a geocoded dataset with a simple data table join. Matching multiple fields, expecting multiple matches and ranking the results is more tricky.

Fortunately, there seem to be an ever increasing number of freely available resources with which to geocode your data. The Ordnance Survey of Great Britain last year released post code point data and a national gazetteer that can be used to resolve a placename to coordinates. Going beyond the UK, Nominatim is a geolocation service offered by OpenStreetMap, and the Google maps API also offers geocoding (though this is usually limited to restricted number of requests per day). Pamela Fox has created a great Google gadget for use with Google docs that will take your spreadsheet, query the Google geocoding service and return a list of coordinates for you to incorporate into new columns. A especially nice feature is that even when you (inevitably) have a few records left over that couldn’t be matched, they can be physically dragged and dropped on a familiar Google map and these too are given coordinates.

The problem with making the best use of these resources is that very little thought is given to how location is recorded at the moment of capture so that it might be made use of programmatically at a later stage, usually with the location field being treated as free text rather than a discrete data type. The spreadsheet column for place or location may contain extraneous words and punctuation which prevent automatic matching. The hierachy of location information is rarely considered. Sometimes, secondary or tertiary possible candidate locations are recorded in the same column. In order to use any automatic geocoding process there is usually a need for extensive data cleaning which must often be done at least partially manually.

To avoid this situation a few simple guidleines should be considered before embarking on a spreadsheet data acquisition that you anticipate may be geocoded.

  1. Always record the best location you can regardless of your requirements – this will give you far more options for geocoding later on. If you have post code use it, a house number even better
  2. Always split the location components across several columns – Don’t mix in cities with villages and colloquial names. Have a hierarchy in mind, split it across several columns and stick to it. e.g. House, Road, Town, County, Country. You don’t have to fill in every field for each record but keep the schema consistent. Don’t worry about presentational considerations as these values can be concatenated in another column and the data will be far more easily manipulable in this form
  3. Don’t merge several locations in one field – If, as is often the case there is more than one candidate for a location, record them in seperate columns. A GIS technician will be able to associate several points to one record if necessary. If you are worried about the spreadsheet becoming unwieldy, put these columns to the far right of the sheet as they may not be needed very often
  4. Avoid abbreviations and colloquial names – they are hard to match up in geocoding exercises
  5. Avoid punctuation – Question marks and exclamations will mess up the match and even humble commas should be avoided as many formats will use them as column delimiters
  6. Avoid ambiguity – Add more detail than you might think immediately necessary and spare a thought for the poor geocoder who, less familiar than yourself with the dataset, may need to choose from one of the 11 different Newports in the UK or more than 30 worldwide!
  7. Keep it on one line – Other data fields may naturally lend themselves to multiple row entries, but try to stick to the rule of one row, one record. If you need more space in a cell, turn on word wrapping and make the cell higher and wider.

Following these guidelines will allow you to make the best use of your data when using tolls like Google docs gadget above. You can try geocoding on different columns, or combinations of columns, or using the best available column in each record.

 

 

Induction 2011 – Web Technologies

Induction Day 2011
Induction Day 2011

This week I had the opportunity to attend the Induction Day for the MA DH, MA DCS and MA DAM students. It was a great opportunity to meet this year’s students and talk to them about their interests and the different optional modules on offer.

In the last few weeks, Raffaele Viglianti and I have been busy preparing the arrival of a new optional module, Web Technologies, which we are very excited about. On this module, we aim to teach students to develop and design a website not only using some of the most important technologies for the web (XHTML, CSS and JavaScript), but also applying the principles of user-centred design, accessibility and information architecture.

With this new module we are hoping students can gain an understanding and insight into web technologies and learn to present content and information on the web.