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Shakespeare Goes to the Opera Part 1: Scraping Query Results from Opening Night!

A little over a week ago, the Stanford University Library announced the launch of a new collection/tool that was created in collaboration between hText Services and the Music Library: Opening Night! Opera and Oratorio Premieres. It is a Blacklight gem web application (Ruby on Rails application powered by a SOLR index) of the metadata for 38,000 different operas and oratorios when they were first performed between 1589 and 2001. My two part blog post series titled "Shakespeare Goes to the Opera" focuses on three things: sharing a methodology for unlocking metadata from query results in an application like Opening Night! via web scraping; sharing how to use Google Fusion tables to create interesting visualizations and analyses; and demonstrating Opening Night! has metadata that is of interest even to those of us without formal training in Music, or more specifically the history of operatic performances.

On DHThis, a Slashdot for the Digital Humanities

A recently launched site, DHThis, aims to be the Slashdot of the Digital Humanities. I have some reservations about the platform they chose, which I discuss at some length on my blog.

A GeoHumanities Special Interest Group

Today the Association of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) announced the creation of a GeoHumanities Special Interest Group, instigated and co-chaired by yours truly and Kathy Weimer, Curator of Maps and the Map & GIS Coordinator at Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives. We were simultaneously inspired to get this started at the recent DH2013 conference in Lincoln, after noting that several well-attended sessions featured papers with geographic, spatial-temporal, and what I call “placial” perspectives and related methodologies.

Debating the Methods in Matt Jockers's Macroanalysis

On September 3rd we had our second meeting of the Stanford Digital Humanities Reading Group, in which we discussed Matt Jockers’s new book, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History. Because Jockers is a former colleague, a co-founder of Stanford’s Literary Lab, and a friend to several people in the reading group, I went into this meeting anxious that we might all be too happy with his book to sustain ninety minutes of conversation. I was very wrong. Jacqueline Hettel, whose Ph.D. research focused on text analysis of domain-specific language using corpus linguistics, prompted a vigorous debate about the methods Jockers uses in Macroanalysis. Hettel’s primary critique is that the statistical methods behind topic modeling, word frequencies, and other methods that undergird the book’s chapters are heavily dependent upon a set of assumptions common to NLP, Chomsky, and other primarily American approaches to understanding language.

ORBIS Design Challenge

Since its launch in May 2012, ORBIS has always been very popular. This is in spite of breaking some fundamental web design rules, such as placing the key interactive element on a non-descript tab rather than the opening page. But the capacity to calculate travel times and cost for oxcarts and armies in the Roman world is still a "killer feature" and traffic to ORBIS remains steady.