John Unsworth “Scholarly Primitives: what methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?” (Ben, re discovering: was your citation link purposfully not to the article itself?)

Discovering — reliance on description, categorization .. full text left to the power of google-like search of web contentas expressed in HTML. No reliable access to image content expressing text unless (often crudely) OCRs and/or turned into a full-test PDF at some cost. Poor lexical search power across “what’s out there”. Yet we see this successfully achieved in niches, e.g., song lyrics, perhaps because it is current /owned/cared-for content, ready to be promoted and appreciated by a wide fan base, strong commercial backing.

Annotating can be both a tool for illuminating and understanding but can also be a great too for expanding the discoverability of resources. The power of crowd sourcing …

With example of “annotation and comparison: biologists do it too”, would be interesting to ponder lists of equivalences across disciplines, e.g., Selecting vs Sampling) and Comparing

  • manuscripts and maps : region of interest
  • music : passages, movements — instrumental lines? comparing performances?
  • audio/video : scenes, tracks, snippets
  • scientific data : isolating groups by common factos, comparing against varied other criteria (e.g., same ethnicity, different decades)?


  • canonical primitives, like geo-rectification and overlays, word clouds, timelines, bar/line/pie charts
  • vs uniquely revealing/artistic, like Dante visualization?

Apropos second reading “Disciplinary Impact and Technological Obsolescence in Digital Medieval Studies1”, primitives suggest enduring/evolving technolgy for representation, while specialized visualizations might suffer. How will the Dante 360-degree canto/line/word spiral be viewed in tomorrow’s browser or game console?


17 January 2017