9.599 online publishing

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Sun, 3 Mar 1996 18:15:39 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 599.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Costis J Dallas <dallas@hol.gr> (66)
Subject: Re: 9.597 online publishing

Andrew Armour [quoted from a private message] wrote:

>Thanks for your information on the situation in Athens. I was supposing that
>there were already compellingly useful on-line resources for archaeologists
>(such as the digital photo archives you mention) situated outside Greece. I
>guess not. But rather than wait for the local legal problems to be worked
>out, I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to go ahead and set up, say, a
>photo archive on a server in the USA?

This is an interesting (and essentially good) point: location of the
information, in a networked culture, should not really matter. I find myself
using Classical archaeology resources in Perseus (and some other places)
quite often, but, for research, one has still to depend vastly on
photographic material (not to mention scholarly literature) not available in
digital form. But I'm one of very few Athenians who do so.

I suspect the reason why archaeological digital resources are not yet de
rigueur in Athens is not unrelated to the lack of established practice in
using of information technology among local archaeologists. Many
arcaheologists are still circumspect as regards the effect of information
technology on scholarship. Success of major national projects, such as
Polemon, involving the Monuments and Sites register of the Ministry of
Culture, and major museums such as the Benaki and Acropolis museum, will
help validate a new institutional culture. But there's dire need for direct
support for familiarisation and training, and open discussion of the
organisational (rather than only legal) rpoblems. Foreign arcaheological
schools in Athens have a key role to play in transfering experience and
opening up the discussion on these issues.

Also, Ray Siemens comments on the issue of availability of online resources:

>let me add that another related issue lies with what scholars _can find_ of
>relevance to their interests from within the information available online.
>This may be a naive question, but how do we effectively manage, from
>qualitative/evaluative and (more to my intended line of inquiry)
>'navigative' standpoints, materials which are self-published?
This is not a naive question at all. It can be generalised to encompass the
useability of all non-structured (textual, multimedia) scholarly resources
potentially available on the net: corpora, image bases, papers, complex data
sets and diagrammatic information. I'm involved (through ICS/FORTH, the
Institute of Computer Science of the Foundation for Research and Technology,
Hellas) in Aquarelle, a European Commission-funded project, studying the
problems of accessing digital resources on European museum collections.
These resources include not only formatted data records, but also what might
be called "folders": all the contextual, unstructured or complex information
items usually stored in physical folders or dossiers.

There's a wealth of problems in Aquarelle, related to what is the
appropriate specification of a "folders" interface intended for scholars and
professional users in museums. The relevant aspect, re: Ray's point, is that
the form (or "genre"), quality and structure of such information is, as in
the case of self-publishing, unpredictable. Useability problems, such as
what's the global view of information, are significant: to provide for
intelligent (and intelligible) navigation logic, semantic modelling of the
underlying domains *and* the access patterns may be necessary, although I
like the use of UDC or LC Headings as a global view by some digital library
sites. Semantic distance, as used for example by the Excite engine, is also
interesting, since it models well the stepwise associative manner typical of
a lot of humanities research practice. And there's also the issue of a
"closed world assumption" which, as scholars are more IT-based, will
eventually discriminate against those scholarly resources *not* available
on-line (how do you know what you haven't found in the Web does not exist?)!

This is leaving aside the local functionality of a scholar's workstation for
access of these materials, which should far exceed what is currently
provided by WWW browsers.

Dr. Costis J. Dallas <dallas@hol.gr>
20, Zephyrou Street, 145 63 Athens, Greece
voice-fax (+301) 80 84 193, voice 80 11 156