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Elijah Meeks's blog

The Day of DH

Today is the Day of DH, when digital humanities practitioners try to document what a "typical day" looks like in their engagement with digital humanities. There is an official site that hosts blogs from self-identified community members and which, due to technical difficulties, I can't currently contribute to. But that gives me a moment to list the various Stanford folks who are taking part in Day of DH and highlight their blogs:

Linguistics, Philosophy, & Textual Research Librarian Jacqueline Hettel's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Librarian Glen Worthey's Day of DH

Academic Technology Specialist Jason Heppler's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Research Developer Karl Grossner's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Specialist Elijah Meeks' Day of DH

If you are at Stanford and think of yourself as doing digital humanities scholarship, let me know and I will happily add you to the list.

What Makes a Minard?

The updated ORBIS is rapidly approaching completion, and with its finishing touches comes the need to describe some of the things that it does. Most of its new functionality, such as the routes or cartograms, are from the earlier version, though with much more control given to the user in their creation. But there’s a new option, which I’ve called a Minard Diagram, that produces an inky, snakey, arterial chart out of the ORBIS network. Here is a Minard Diagram for fastest routes from Athens to the rest of the Roman World.

Digital Humanities Curio Cabinet

The Online Computer Library Center, or OCLC, submitted the latest in a genre of self-reflection by library leadership focused on where and whether digital humanities intersects with the library. Conveniently, Bethany Nowviskie, head of one of the major alt-ac powerhouses* in digital humanities--the Scholar’s Lab at the University of Virginia--responded with a pointed critique.

SUL Digital Humanities Project Support - Call for Proposals

The School of Humanities and Sciences and Stanford University Library invite faculty and graduate students in all areas of the humanities to submit a research project proposal. Projects will be selected on the basis of their significance and contribution to the scholar’s disciplinary field, theoretical and methodological sophistication, creativity of approach and technical innovation. 

This support does not include any funding. Rather, project support awarded to successful applicants consists of library specialist staff and resources providing software development, project management, data modeling, and research support for a fixed period of time (typically 6-12 months, depending on the scope of the project).


ORBIS is nearly two years old, and the ongoing update to the site has me once again in conversation with a cartographers, geographers, designers, and digital humanists. A new response I get, when describing the growing feature list of ORBIS v2, is some variation of "What do people use this for?" The fact that ORBIS still generates decent traffic* seems even more remarkable than its appearance in gaming forums, college essays and high school courses. The ultimate answer to the question is that most people play with it, running routes and contrasting the results with their own experience or intuition of travel in the regions where they run their routes. But, as has been noted in earlier essays about the project, ORBIS was built for the purpose of displaying dynamic distance cartograms, and the Google Maps interface was just an affordance that came along from developing that functionality. And so one of my major goals in updating ORBIS is to dramatically improve the cartogram functionality, as well as provide mechanisms to improve the use and understanding of what is a very abstract concept. This is as much a design challenge as a coding challenge, especially when it comes to properly distorting the routes that make up the network along with the sites.


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