14.0670 news from OUCS

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Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 17:13:13 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 670.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 22:00:09 +0000
             From: Frances Condron
             Subject: news from Oxford

    News from the Humanities Computing Unit, University of Oxford

    Lou Burnard, email: Lou.Burnard@oucs.ox.ac.uk

    We realised recently that the Humanities Computing Unit (HCU) at Oxford
    University Computing Services (OUCS) must be one of the largest dedicated
    Humanities Computing facilities in the world. Its four main components --
    the CHC, The Humbul Hub, the Oxford Text Archive and the HCDT -- between
    them provide an extraordinary range of services and support facilities for
    academic staff and students both within and beyond Oxford. We employ
    twenty staff, over half of them externally-funded, and maintain a high
    research profile. You can read about some of our current activities in
    this issue of HCO, and also by visiting our soon-to-be revamped website at

    Our goal is to ensure that all of our activities contribute to an emerging
    University-wide strategy for teaching and learning which makes optimal use
    of the opportunities offered by information technologies, by accumulating
    expertise in the CHC which can be effectively shared by appropriate
    training services and by collaborative development projects which support
    and enhance teaching and research as practised in this University. We aim
    to retain and enhance our current status as a nationally and
    internationally recognised centre of excellence for humanities computing
    by participating fully in national services such as the Resource Discovery
    Network and the Arts and Humanities Data Service, and in international
    ventures such as the Text Encoding Initiative.

    Reviewing the way the services we offer have changed over the years, both
    in scale and in scope, it seems clear that they have evolved in response
    not simply to technological changes (though these have been far from
    insignificant) but also as a consequence of major changes in the needs and
    perceptions of our user communities. If we are getting anything right
    then, it is because we have been paying attention to you, our
    readers. Here's to continued excitement and upheaval as we move into the
    new century!

    Beyond the Museum: Working with Archives and Collections in the Digital
    Oxford Union Debating Chamber
    20th April, 2001

    Continuing our annual series of one-day colloquia, the Humanities
    Computing Unit in collaboration with the MDA is running a one-day event
    entitled 'Beyond the Museum'. The day will be a mixture of talks and two
    highly topical debates. Full details are online at
    http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/beyond/museum/, and if you wish to register please
    contact Jenny Newman (Jenny.Newman@oucs.ox.ac.uk; +44 (0)1865 273221).

    The Shock of the Old: Innovation and Information Technology in Traditional
    University Teaching
    Computing Laboratory, Oxford
    26th - 27th March, 2001

    The Shock of the Old explores the impact of communication and information
    technologies on teaching and learning in a traditional setting. Speakers
    from around the UK will showcase examples of innovative practice, focusing
    on the contextual factors which determine the success or otherwise of
    using new technologies in teaching and learning. The conference is an
    opportunity to find out about developments in a range of subject areas,
    and to discuss the opportunities available for adapting teaching and
    learning practices and resources between disciplines. You can book online,
    or email Jenny.Newman@oucs.ox.ac.uk

    Humbul Humanities Hub - http://www.humbul.ac.uk/
    New Interface

    Humbul has a new look. As part of the re-development of Humbul as a hub of
    the Resource Discovery Network we have completely redesigned both the user
    interface and the underlying system. Humanities web resources are
    described using a cataloguing process based around the Dublin Core
    Metadata Element Set (see http://www.purl.org/dc/) and stored in a
    relational database. You can now browse Web resources by subject and type
    of resource. We catalogue web resources across a wide range of humanities
    subjects which include: archaeology, history, classics, philosophy,
    literature and culture in English and other European languages, humanities
    computing, religion and theology. Types of resources include primary and
    secondary sources, bibliographic and reference, research and
    teaching-related, and projects or organisations. You can also view
    resources for any subject area by audience or time period (where
    appropriate). The database can be searched by keyword or phrase.

    Over the coming months we are developing other ways of finding online
    resources via Humbul including a subject classification system, advanced
    searching, subject-based featured resources and links to services and
    databases funded by the JISC (see
    http://www.jisc.ac.uk/subject/arts-hum/), user customisation and utilties
    which will allow you to export records for use elsewhere, have automatic
    search results emailed to you or stored as bookmarks, and cross-searching
    of related databases such as the Arts and Humanities Data Service.

    If you are interested in contributing to the development of Humbul in any
    humanities subject area then please contact us.

    Michael Fraser, email: Michael.Fraser@oucs.ox.ac.uk

    Oxford Text Archive (OTA) - http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/
    Depositing with the Oxford Text Archive

    It is now just over two years since the Arts and Humanities Data Service
    (AHDS) and the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) formed a joint
    C&IT policy in an effort to support UK academics with the creation of
    digital resources and to offer a secure home to these resources once they
    are completed. This mutually beneficial partnership is now starting to
    yield exciting results. Taking one AHRB funded resource as an example, we
    hope to illustrate the process by which digital resources can be properly
    preserved with the AHDS and re-distributed back into the Humanities

    "The Making of History" is a collection of digital texts and images which
    centre around the events of 1848 as described in Part III, Chapter I of
    Gustave Flaubert's L'Education sentimentale, and assembled into a
    hypertext package. In addition to the text of the chapter itself, the
    resource comprises of over 300 densely written folios (plans, sketches,
    rough drafts) and a large quantity of historical and documentary notes
    which give context to Flaubert's writings. The use of hypertext to express
    the relationships between the various events and documents could not have
    been achieved as effectively in a traditional print publication. The
    navigation tools provided by the resource allows the user to move easily
    through the information in an non-linear way, offering new, multiple
    readings of the events.

    The new Technical Appendix of the AHRB grant application now requires
    applicants to contact the relevant AHDS Service Provider for technical
    advice on such subjects as the appropriate standards to use when creating
    a digital resource. It also obliges the applicant to offer any
    'significant' digital resource for deposit with the AHDS. Tony Williams,
    Professor of French at Hull University, the principal author of "The
    Making of History", first got in contact with the OTA in the Autumn of
    1999. Satisfied that the project was on a sound technical footing,
    Professor Williams spent the next year developing the resource, and within
    the last month has been back in contact with the OTA to discuss possible
    deposit options. There is no one method by which the OTA will accession
    new deposits, we offer a range of services, ranging from a secure archive
    only option, to making resources freely available for download from the
    OTA web site. Informal negotiations, usually by email, helps to establish
    what the depositor wants while ensuring at all times that the resource
    will be properly preserved.

    The prototype of the resource was sent to the OTA on a CD-ROM, but the
    project can just as easily be viewed as a web page. In the end it looks
    likely that "The Making of History" will be available from the OTA as a
    single downloadable zip archive, with the possibility of mirroring the
    original Hull web site when it finally goes live. Limited CD-ROM
    distribution has also not been ruled out. When the resource is ready for
    deposit a copy of the OTA Depositor Pack will be sent to Professor
    Williams for signing. The pack contains a non-exclusive deposit licence,
    which ensures that all rights for the resource remain with the depositor,
    thus allowing him to distribute the resource in his own way, including
    commercial publication, while maintaining a preservation, back-up, copy
    with the OTA.

    The OTA is continually looking for new resources for deposit, and the AHRB
    is only one potential source of these. Recent new accessions, deposited by
    individual academics, include a Database of Japanese Kanji as well as
    Latin texts by Horace and Ptolemy.

    The process of depositing with the OTA is therefore one of consultation
    and negotiation, with all rights being retained by the depositor. If you
    are creating a digital resource, or know of one, which would benefit from
    deposit with the OTA please get in touch with us. All documents relevant
    to depositing with the OTA can be found on our web site
    (http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/) in the section marked 'OTA Publications'.

    Alan Morrison, email: Alan.Morrison@oucs.ox.ac.uk

    Humanities Computing Development team (HCDT) -
    Sphakia Survey Internet Edition

    The HCDT was proud to launch the Sphakia Survey Internet Edition in 27
    October at Magdalen College Auditorium. The Sphakia Survey is an
    interdisciplinary archaeological project whose main objective is to
    reconstruct the sequence of human activity in a remote and rugged part of
    Crete (Greece), from the time that people arrived in the area, by ca 3000
    BC, until the end of Ottoman rule in AD 1900. Research covers three major
    epochs, Prehistoric, Graeco-Roman, and Byzantine-Venetian-Turkish, and has
    involved the work of many people using environmental, archaeological,
    documentary, and local information. Please visit the Web site for more
    information at: http://sphakia.classics.ox.ac.uk/

    Please see the HCDT Web site at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/hcdt/ for more
    information about our current projects, and to visit our completed
    projects for Theology, History, English, Archaeology, Chinese, and others.

    The full-text version of this edition of HCO on-line is available at

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    Dr Frances Condron, Humanities Computing Unit, Oxford University
    Computing Services, 13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN.
    Email: frances.condron@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk
    Tel: +44 (0)1865 273280
    URL: http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/
    ASTER: http://cti-psy.york.ac.uk/aster/
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