Recently I wrote a rather long guest blog post for OpenPompei, an Italian group interested in Pompeii, open data, and community engagement, about the PBMP. The post turned into a manifesto about what I’d like to do with the PBMP and for digital archaeology at Pompeii more generally. Naturally, it belongs here as well (reblogged):

Wishing for Data, Working for Data: a manifesto for an Open Pompeii

OpenEntrance

Post by Eric Poehler

An Open Pompeii, for me, has been a dream since 1998, since the first time I ever thought about the archaeology of the ancient city. That dream is recalled almost every day: each time I need to find an obscure book, make a map, access an archive, or visit a building on the site. The dream became a calling in 2007 when I discovered that a colleague and I had each, unaware of the other, been spending hundreds of hours digitizing the landscape of Pompeii to run our analyses. How much better might those hundreds of hours been spent in the context of our research? How much more might we understand? That experience was the origin of Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project and the beginning of a recognition for me that we are losing information and losing opportunity by failing to cooperate and failing to organize. I was therefore elated to learn of OpenPompei and the SCRIPTORIVM (and its impressive video announcement), not only because it represented a step towards wider collaboration, but also because it came from within the Italian community. I’d long wished for a like-minded Italian community, and now it seems that wish is coming true. Thus, it seems appropriate to share a few other wishes for Pompeii. What follows is a ‘wish list’ of projects that I’ve been interested to see started, pushed forward, and in some cases to be finished.

“Spatializing the city”: Attaching data to places and architectures.

The important explosions of research on Pompeii over the last 250 years on Pompeii have, in one way, been exactly that: intense fragmentations of a unified urban environment into categories of study (archaeology, art history, classics, epigraphy, history, etc….), the instruments of scholarly communication (articles, lithographs, manuscripts, and now 3D models), and in many cases literal separation from the city (into museums, private collections, and the pockets of visitors). It is time to bring the data back home. There are innumerable opportunities to put the representations of frescoes, mosaics, inscriptions, and objects back into their natural spatial environments and we are fortunate to have at our disposal remarkable works of aggregation to accomplish this: Pompei. Pitture e Mosaici, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana, Studio sulle provenienze degli oggetti rinvenuti negli scavi borbonici del Regno di Napoli, Pompeii in Pictures, Fortuna Visiva, among others. Yet we seem to find ourselves in the paradox to stand at once on the shoulders of giants and in their shadows. We have thus far been unable or unwilling to take on both the genius and the failings of these scholars and projects in order to do something more. Happily, this is beginning to change.

The Ancient Graffiti Project, lead by Rebecca Benefiel and Sara Sprenkle, has accepted the challenge to put the epigraphic record back in order, allowing users to search for graffiti by content, class, and location. Imagine (as at least Paavo Castren and Henrik Mouritsen must have done) what questions we might ask about the epigraphic landscape when the physical landscape is a companion rather than an obstacle. I wish this project all the greatest success.

We need to do this same work for the frescoes and mosaics. Recently Domenico Esposito has shown the great value of not only studying a specific wall painting style, but also considering its spread across the city. Surely geographically locating all the information about wall and floor decorations contained in Pompei: Pompei: Pitture e Mosaici (PPM) – styles, subject matter, materials, etc. – will create a whole new universe of questions for art historians and others. For those who are interested in this topic, you’ll be happy to know that through the exceptional efforts of some great students (esp. Tess Brickley, Sarah Chen, and Ethan Liu) we have scanned the entire PPM and created a beta CAD file of almost every room in every building in Pompeii, each individually named with the room label given in the PPM. The CAD file is available here, but for copyright reasons, sections of the PPM scans are available by request.

Similarly, recent books and articles by Miko Flohr, Steven Ellis, Pia Kastenmeier, and Nicholas Monteix (among others) have all brought the economic questions of production, consumption, and retail activities down to the level to the individual room. These questions too are ready to be explored further and expanded upon by incorporating their data into a spatial frame. Much of this work has focused on chronological change as well as identification and description, which brings us to an even greater challenge to the spatial representation of Pompeian data: objects and stratigraphy. Like the difficulties the Ancient Graffiti Project faces in precisely relocating individual inscriptions, the definition of find spots from the early excavation reports can be a significant challenge. It is one, however, we should no longer avoid for its difficulty. With example of Pim Allison’s work on the Casa del Menandro and the publication of the Bourbon era finds by Pagano and Prisciandaro we are in a better place to consider the value of the finds record both the level of the individual room or building and at the scale of the entire city. Once again with the help of fantastic students (Pompeii 492a, Spring 2015) I have been able to digitize and transform Pagano and Prisciandaro’s table of finds of the early excavations and they are now ready for the careful, hard work of attaching them to the urban landscape. The finds records from modern excavations – and more importantly, their stratigraphic descriptions – have even richer and denser evidence to offer. Many research projects have GIS and digital recording procedures incorporated into their fieldwork practices and I urge them to share those data as soon as they are able, perhaps even as part of their initial reports, but hopefully not long after final publication.

The Pompeii Quadriporticus Project will soon be doing just that: sharing in multiple formats the outputs of our research for scholars and the lay public alike. We’ve already begun sharing our images. For scholars, we anticipate soon sharing tabular and descriptive data accompanied by drawings and matrices of our interpretations, further supported by 3D renderings and GPR results. For the public, and especially for visitors to Pompeii, we are planning to create online a series of nested histories of the Quadriporticus – growing in detail and complexity as the user desires – that are geolocated so that, like targeted advertisements, people can read about the past on their own device without large placards detracting from the experience of the past. There are countless areas of the city that can benefit from the same kind of geolocated information.

Equally, there are countless documents that are waiting in archives and libraries that need to be online and available for use. Archives like those of Halstead van der Poel in the Getty (which draws on Warscher documents), or those collections of papers of former superintendentsrecently discussed in the Rivista di Studi Pompeiani hold a unique set of information and unique perspective on the great excavations and research agendas of the 20th century. To that end, perhaps it is time to consider an oral history project of the many important Pompeian scholars – previous superintendents and directors of the site, heads of foreign research projects, independent researchers, etc. – whose work asked the questions that we in the 21st century are now trying to answer. For the 18th and 19th centuries, collections of artworks and maps can offer a great deal of evidence about the early excavations. Projects such as the excellent Fortuna Visiva are already in place, but the need for systematic and comprehensive collection and open sharing of these illustrative documents remains a desideratum. In exploring the question of early maps, once again with my students, we created a Zotero site of the mapsknown in the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianum and attempted to locate and some cases, digitize these maps. Combining a complete list of maps of the excavations with the CAD file of room-level spaces, it will be possible to create a maps that shows the 250 year process, year-by-year and in some cases day-by-day, of Pompeii’s disinterment. The pace of excavation, the recovery of objects, the locations of work, all can be normalized and made comparable by the giving them spatial properties in a GIS.

For the PBMP, there’s a short wish list of features and capabilities that I’m hopeful to realize in the future. The first is the creation of a means to discover, receive, and ingest new citations into the bibliography. This is a problem with many obvious open access and community-based solutions in addition to need for the technical expertise to implement it. A second desired feature is a natural language processing procedure to parse the many full-text objects attached (or in the process of being attached) to our bibliography in order to find all – and all the meaningful – locations in Pompeii mentioned in the text. What is meaningfully discussed in a text and what is merely mentioned, and which does the user need, are issues to resolve. Next on the list is a flexible and intuitive design for a versioning archive of the spatial data with the purpose to serve not only the different versions of the PBMP base data, but also to make available the many different interpretations of the site that are represented by different shapes of space. That shops are attached to the shape of a house, or not, has important ramifications for how we interpret the entire ancient city from a number of perspectives: when attached one assumes economic dependence if not direct ownership of the shop by the house; when separate, one presents a landscape of far greater independence in property ownership and the assumption of an economic class to own those shops. The shape of space matters and it is crucial not to hard code historically meaningful assumptions into digital representations without making those assumptions explicit AND without offering at least the opportunity to choose a different set data with a different set of assumptions. Finally, I’m wanting and working toward a connection from the bibliography to the GIS such that when bibliographic search results are returned, the meaningful locations contained within those results are displayed on a map to accompany the list of citations. I’ve called this an “instant gazetteer” that will change and narrow with every new search.

These are some of the more GIS based items on my “wish list” for an Open Pompeii. Nearly all of these projects can start with the initiative of a single person who is fascinated by Pompeii and who believes that fascination will only grow through engagement and contribution. Anyone can find and add content to online platforms: citations, maps, artworks, etc. Secondary teachers and university professors can engage their students in projects that not only educate, but also don’t waste the effort expended in the process of learning. Build lessons that build things. Let me unpack that a bit further by analogy. Lifting weights builds muscles. What if the movement of those weights could be used to power the lights at the gym? Learning builds intelligence. What if the act of learning increased the total ‘weight’ of content for the next act of learning? Events like SCRIPTORIVM and community-building groups like OpenPompei are especially important right now as we regularly lose as much information about the ancient world into silos of data as we do from the continuous, if irregular collapses of walls and crumbling of plasters. Even some conservation efforts conceal evidence in the name of preserving it: one needs only to look at the long tradition of covering walls with a mortar to prevent its erosion, but at the cost of hiding all the details of its history of construction. While the community of Pompeianisti cannot save the site directly, we can do incredible work to support the work of conservation by providing a broad, dynamic, and most of all open sets of data that can be used in planning and research. Surely the worst thing we might do is to squander the resources we have by duplicating efforts the way my colleague and I did back in 2007.

As a researcher, I’ve realized it is not within my expertise to claim (though I’m not without opinions) what are the best ways to save and/or to use Pompeii. As a foreigner, moreover, it’s not my place to make demands. But, as one of many committed specialists and community members, I can make a difference. In my case, I can put aside the natural inclinations to retain control over the data and research products I’ve produced (and, importantly, paid for) and “give it away” to others in imperfect, incomplete, or “in progress” forms. My aims are not wholly altruistic, however. I do want and do claim authorship and credit for the digital products I’ve made and I do hope that in making them widely available those digital objects will build a legacy for the efforts that created them. At the same time, I also wish to be part of an on-going philosophical shift in the way that we create and share data, especially academic data. It is a shift that we desperately need. In my opinion, building a data set or even describing that data in a narrative is no longer enough, one needs to take their ultimate validation in the number of people those data reach and how many choose to use it. For academics, such a shift is not merely structural; its not about how we peer-review databases or how we evaluate digital work. It’s also a cultural shift. We need to learn to be comfortable with the reality that data are messy and to share them anyway. We need to be willing to move the entire discipline ahead, along with our own specific publications, by sharing imperfect, incomplete, and in-progress works. And yes, we need to do this within the structures of academic labor and power (i.e., hiring, promotion, and tenure).

There’s so very much more to say on this topic and at another time I probably will. For this discussion I’ll leave it here by thanking OpenPompei and SCRIPTORIVM for letting me contribute to their noble cause and by taking my own advice, letting the most recent GIS data of the PBMP– imperfect, incomplete, and in-progress as they are– go off for the betterment of our Pompeian community.

Documentation on Linking Data

With the first GIS map of Pompeii now available online, we are turning more of our attention to the problem of connecting our spatial data to our bibliographic data. While there is still some important spatial work to be done with the current map, the planning and documentation for the bibliographic integration serves as a worthwhile distraction. To that end and following a discussion last week with Alexander Stepanov, the PBMP’s GIS architect, I’ve decided to write up some very quick documentation for our data and their connections as a blog post. I’ve also decided to try something else new. Below is a Google Slide with the designs and discussions we drew on a whiteboard as the background. Over this are shapes representing files we need to link together with their names hyperlinked to their locations on the web (as hosted sites or Dropbox objects). In this way, the blog post operates in three different dimensions:

  1. As a public discussion
  2. As a living, internal document
  3. As an interface to the repository of files we’re using.

The files listed are as follows:

A single file of spatial data to start, the Propeties by Eschebach (Prop_ESCH), representing all the building and occupied spaces in the city. Later this will expand to include other, more generalized features of the landscape, such as the City Blocks, Gates, and Fortification Walls.

Three files from the Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana are given here:

  1. The first 10,000 citations (GYG Citations_BIBLIOGRAPHY) completed from the NBP as there were prepared for uploading to Zotero (and then to Omeka). This shows how the data were divided and might be recombined.
  2. A list of property addresses from the Spatial Index from the NBP (GYG Citations_INDEX). This gives as a one-to-many relationship the address of a property and the one or more citations that relate to it.
  3. A list of addresses per citation as extracted from the full-text of the first two volumes of the NBP (GYG Citations_TEXT). This gives as a one-to-many relationship the bibliographic citation as given by Garcia y Garcia and the one or more addresses that relate to it.

Naturally, there will be a significant overlap between #2 and #3, which will reduce the total number of connections, but also offer a chance to preform quality control test on the data as extracted from the NBP.

If thinking of this a merely a spatial data problem, the work to be done is non-trivial, but also not conceptually difficult. That is, if all we wanted to do was to connect the bibliographic data to the map so that users could click on it and access that information, the process would be straight-forward: combine and proof tables #2 and #3, then join them to the spatial data of Properties by Eschebach. Indeed, that *is* our primary goal, but we also want those bibliographic citations to be linked to their full references on our other platforms (i.e., Zotero and Omeka). Moreover, we want users to be able to use search functions in the map – beyond navigating and clicking – to both find and leverage bibliographic information. For example, we want people to be able to search for an author in the map and have the sites and buildings associated with that author appear highlighted. The user should also then be able to create a new search off of this subset of data, using either additional bibliographic criteria or spatial definitions. To make these functions possible, however, the data stored in the map cannot only be reference numbers linked out to other resources. Finally, we would like to eventually have searches in our bibliography be (passed to and) responsive in the map, so that the results of regular bibliographic searches might be visualized in the map as well as in the listing of citations.

As you can see from teh image, we’ve got an outline of how we’ll do this. Nonetheless, if you are a GIS architect, a digital collections librarian, data designer, or all around smart person and have an opinion on how this might be done, in all or in parts, please do email me: Pompeiana[AT]gmail.com

– EP

Zotero: the first 10,000 (almost) citations

The first 10,000 citations about Pompeii have now been prepared and 9,956 have been uploaded to our Zotero library. Users can search the library, reorder the display, export records, produce formatted citations, and add references to their own collections. These citations still have issues in need of correction due to both human error and text character translation. We hope to improve the citations and eventually add more using the PBMP Zotero Group. Please sign up and get in touch (PompeianaATgmail.com) if you are interested.

Most of the content in the Zotero library is self-explanatory, as the redundancy of the table below demonstrates. There are, however, two fields that need some clarification to be properly used or ignored. These are:

  1. Loc. In Archive: This is PBMP ID, a unique, sequential number assigned by the project.
  2. Call Number: This is the NBP ID, a (mostly) unique, alphanumeric designation assigned by L. Garcia y Garica in his landmark three volume work, Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana. Use this number to discover further information about the author, editions of the publications, reprints, and reviews. Volumes I and II are still in print and volume III is newly available. We encourage you to encourage your library to purchase the remaining copies of these works.

 

Item header: Title of the work

Item Type Publication format, such as book, journal article, artwork, etc.
Title Title of the publication.
Author Author(s) of the publication.
Series Editor Name(s) of editor(s), or various authors (AA.VV) if there is no specific editor.
Series Name of publication series, if any.
Place Place of publication.
Date Year of publication.
# Of Pages Extent of pages in the publication.
Language Language of publication.
URL  Link to Full-Text of the publication.
Loc. In Archive PBMP ID
Call Number NBP ID

Pompeii: The First Navigation Map

The PBMP’s first full map for navigation is now online. You can start to explore Pompeii in the map embedded below, or go to the full site for more space and options. If you want to customize the map or make a presentation from it, sign in to / sign up for your ArcGIS Online account and save a copy to your own webspace. The link is at the upper right of the embedded map page. [Click here to download the files as a map package or as Shapefiles (with minor improvements from online version) or as an illustrator file of just the architecture]. Below the map is additional information about the files, the information they contain, and their display.

The “Pompeii: Navigation Map” is essentially a set of nested tiles that change the display of the city as one zooms in and out to change the scale of the map. Overlying these are a series of vector-based files, which are used almost exclusively as invisible, data rich layers. That is, the transparency for many of the files set to 100% so that the information about Pompeii those files hold can be accessed (via a pop-up window), but their rendering does not slow the loading of the map.

Users may find the information in the following files to be of interest:

Data-Rich Layers

Elevations Points: This layer is turned off by default and set to not appear until the view scale reached 1:2500. Above sea level elevation data at 5cm or 10cm resolution from multiple sources: Corpus Topographicum Pompeianaum (1984); De Caro, S. (1979); Eschebach and Müller-Trollius (1993); Etani et al, 2003; Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia.

Eschebach ALL: (West & East). Due to the number of features in the original file (Properties by Eschebach), the file was split in two along the via Stabiana. The user should notice little difference. There are, however, some significant issues to be aware of in the spatial consistency of properties for those interested in the area of individual features. Because the properties were drawn to express the functional categories assigned by Eschebach and not the contiguous physical boundaries of the building, there are overlaps, gaps, and duplications in the data. We are working to improve these data. For the moment, caveat emptor. These files do, however, contain information of importance to researchers, including:

  1. Address of the Primary Door according to Eschebach (1970; 1993).
  2. Functional Category according to Eschebach (1970; 1993).
  3. A link to image of the property at Pompeii in Pictures.
  4. The Date(s) of excavation according to the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianaum (1984).
  5. Area of the property in square meters.

PBMP CTP (Features): The 628 properties in this file represent the properties described in the “Structures” section of the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianaum (1983), pars. II. This layer contains information of importance to researchers, including:

  1. Address of the Primary Door.
  2. Page number of the information in the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianaum (1983), pars. II.
  3. All known names of the property: Name (1) – Name (15).
  4. Bibliographic reference for each known name of the property: Ref. Name (1) – Ref. Name (15).
  5. A link to image of the property at Pompeii in Pictures
  6. Area of the property in square meters.

Display Layers

Fortification Walls: Sixteen sections, between the defensive towers and city gates, of Pompeii’s extant fortifications are shown and named.

Defensive Towers: Eleven of the twelve known (by inscription) defensive towers surrounding Pompeii are shown and named.

Gates: The seven known gates to Pompeii are shown and named.

Unexcavated Areas: Three primary areas still not yet excavated (in Regions I, III, IV, V, and IX) are shown and named, as well as isolated areas along the interior of the fortification walls.

City Blocks: The excavated extent of the city blocks (insulae) are shown and labeled.

Streets: There are 97 streets and passage areas represented in this file with the extend of the street and its name given according to their modern conventional nomenclature (in Italian).

Alleys: Six passages within city blocks and disconnected from the street network shown and named.

Sidewalks: The excavated extent of the pedestrian sidewalks are shown.

Stepping-Stones: The 316 known stepping-stones within the street network are shown and named.

Forum: The forum, though also given a designation as a city block (VII 8), is shown here as its own feature.

Water Towers: The twelve water towers are located and labeled according to the nomenclature established in Larsen, 1982.

Fountains: Thirty-four public fountains, including both the complete footprint of the fountain and its interior basin, shown, symbolized to show the basin with water, and named.

Projected City Blocks (insulae): This is layer is turned off by default and expresses 46 extrapolated city blocks that remain partially or completely unexcavated. Some areas are almost certainly accurate (Regions I, III, and IX), while other are somewhat more speculative (Regions IV and V).

PBMP CTP (Tiles): This layer is turned off by default and represents the location of the 628 properties described in the “Structures” section of the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianaum (1983), pars. II. This layer visualizes the locations in the PBMP CTP (Features) layer, but does not contain that layer’s attribute data.

PBMP Bibliography: Excel → RIS → Zotero → Omeka.

PBMP Bibliography: Excel → RIS → Zotero → Omeka.

The existence of an online, searchable, 13,000+ reference bibliography on Pompeii is tantalizingly close. With the expertise of two great UMass Librarians, Aaron Rubinstien (University and Digital Archivist) and Ron Peterson (Discovery and Integrated Systems Coordinator), the PBMP has moved our massive spreadsheet of citations into bibliographic formats readable by the content platforms we intend to use. Out first attempt to publish the bibliography is now available on our Zotero and Omeka sites. The process of migrating those citations to the web, although it appeared to be a simple one, has not been easy.

In no small part, this difficulty is the legacy of the ‘boot strap’ beginnings of the PBMP. In 2009, before this project was funded by the NEH, ACLS, UMass DHI or CHFA (again I thank them all!), and before Garcia y Garcia partnered with Arbor Sapiente to update his work and publish online as pdfs, I began scanning the Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana and correcting the terrible OCR transcripts in Microsoft Word. With the generous funding from UMass, it became possible to parse those word docs into tabular form and hire students to continue to correct the data. Originally, I had intended to use Microsoft Access to produce easy to use forms for students to continue the process of correcting the raw citation text and splitting it into appropriate fields. Ironically, “Access” was not easily accessible for students (not included in Microsoft Office for Students). For this reason, we shifted to Excel.

Doubtless because I am not a librarian and am not educated in their best practices, I was surprised to learn that neither Zotero nor Omeka would import from Excel, .csv, .tsv, or .txt. Surely this is to protect the specifically structured contents from being regularly fed into the wrong fields. Our task was therefore to convert our spreadsheet formatted data into one of the formats that our platforms would accept. Zotero will import from Zotero RDF, MODS, RIS, BibTeX, Refer/BiblX, and unqualified Dublin Core RDF, while Omeka, importantly, can import from Zotero. It therefore seemed appropriate to create a chain of transformations: Excel → RIS → Zotero → Omeka. Aaron, Ron, and I mapped the fields to be transferred from Excel to RIS and then Aaron wrote the scripts that processed that translation. He then imported them to Zotero with its native import tool, getting 12,804 records online. It was obvious at this point, however, that the encoding of special characters in Excel and their re-expression in Zotero was going to be problematic. Universal character and symbol recognition and translation is an endemic issue. For example, the title of this post was first translated into the body of this post by Worpress as “Excel à RIS à Zotero à Omeka”. Continuing our transformation chain, Aaron then applied the “Zotero Import” Plugin to import the Zotero records into Omeka. 10,479 records we imported before some error was introduced that halted the import.

Zotero_EXFor a first attempt, our process of translation and upload was remarkably successful, but these results are obviously not good enough. Beyond the problems already mentioned – special character issues and missing records in Omeka import – there are other issues to overcome. For example, we discovered that some elements of the field mapping were faulty. Sometimes this was a problem with the translation script, but more often it was a problem with the original data being inconsistent. In complex bibliographic citations, (e.g., items with multiple authors in an edited volume that is part of a series books) students were often excusably confused while working on the data, and some citations they parsed incorrectly. There are also the differences in Italian publishing standards and Garcia y Garcia’s own (understandable on such a large project) personal idiosyncracies that meant information did not always go in the right places.  One strange issue, however, is that the RIS field for “Place”, that is, the location where an item was published, just won’t read into Zotero’s related field. BibTeX seems to have a greater range of fields so we will try that format on our second attempt. Another item to overcome is the absence of an unique handle for each citation that our GIS system can use. That’s just a global application of a serial identifier, in this case, (e.g.) “PBMP_BIB_000001”.

To help overcome these issues, we are enlisting the help of one of my senior undergraduate students, Juliana van Roggen whose Guardstones blog you should also check out for some rugged data analysis and visualization of street stones in Pompeii, a topic dear to my heart. Dedicated to fixing the bibliography, Juliana is working to resolve many of the inconsistencies in the data as well as preparing those data for remapping, multiple imports, and for life online. Her current tasks include:

  1. Using conditional formatting to assign the language of the work and to define its object type (i.e., book, journal, diss, etc.).
  2. Sorting out the journal number issues and preparing to map journal abbreviations to their full names.
  3. Joining the struggle to figure out how to keep the character encoding as citations move from Excel to online.
  4. Connecting to full-text objects online, including those 2953 itmes the PBMP has recently received from Hathi Trust and others previously received from Internet Archive.

Once these corrections are made we will be in good stead to run a second import into Zotero and Omeka. It is my hope that at this point the first part of this process – moving from Excel to Zotero – of this process will be finished and not repeated. We should then be able to make changes online directly into Zotero as needed. This means that a second import into Zotero will not likely also be a final import into Omeka. It should be noted that Zotero is not merely a stepping stone in our process, but rather is envisioned as an integral tool in our larger bibliographic resource.  Although we run the risk of redundancy and asynchronous parallel systems, the different functionalities of Zotero and Omeka make keeping them both a preferred option. For Omeka, this means a much more customizable experience of the data. Individual items can be more fully manipulated and groups can be cultivated not only as collections, but also curated as exhibits, turning the bibliography from mere catalog to platform to illustrate and even to make arguments from its contents. On the other hand, with the robustness and rigidity of Zotero’s design comes a greater ability to create and share individual citations and collections. Most importantly, however, it is a more collaborative space where the PBMP can find, collect, and incorporate new or previously unknown references to Pompeii.

The Elegance (and Importance) of Ugly: the “Errorscape”

The Elegance (and Importance) of Ugly: the “Errorscape”

Some pretty things are actually rather ugly. Take this map (below), for example:

Gaps&Overlaps

While it is pleasing in its shifting colors (ordered here by the area of the polygon) and even, to me, a bit mesmerizing  as the eye tries also to accommodate transparent, color-coded detail along the streets, this map is replete with error.* Indeed, its job is to reveal those errors. The blue and red shapes represent all the places where one polygon improperly meets another. This can mean that a street for a short stretch overlaps a sidewalk or that a small gap exists between that sidewalk and the house or shop beside it. The image links to a very large version (5312×2938) so you can see some these problems for yourself. They’ll still be hard to see because, despite the three meter buffers that surround them, each overlap or gap is less than three square meters in area, and the vast majority are less one square meter. The problems all come, sadly, from me… well, from me being a human being living in a world of finite resources and time. Each problem is a drawing error produced when I digitized the landscape of Pompeii – approaching 5,000 individual features – between 2005 and 2008. Now, in order to have a more precisely rendered landscape of Pompeii, one that both looks good as a map free of drafting errors and works well as a table with as accurate information as possible, these errors must be fixed. There are 3023 areas of interest to examine, so this won’t be fixed overnight.

In a related problem, the georeferencing of all the data is off. That is, when we overlie it upon satellite imagery, it is shifted considerably – approximately 30m to the southwest. The issue, however, is global and appeared to be one that would require only a reprojection of the data.** We did this using our “Architectural Features” layer, which represents all the architectural ground features (i.e., not the walls). When the two layers overlapped, they looked aesthetically interesting and remarkably like an archaeological phase plan.

Projection error looks like PhasePlan2

The utility of this plan is to show us the scale and direction of our reprojection error. The interesting thing about it is the way it piques the archaeological imagination. I immediately want to push the blue and the brown apart in chronology. I try to imagine how the experience of the space changed between these periods and wonder about the significance of the altar built directly above the stairs of an earlier temple. Then I remind myself, this is not a real landscape, it is a functional “errorscape”. Its a deliberate graphical representation of errors in (ultimately, tabular) data with the purpose of defining and resolving those errors. Still, I can’t help but reflect on its attraction and pull on me, the seduction of space and time distilled to a few lines in different colors, however unreal.

The point of the map, beyond its wonderment to me, is to be a guide between where my data are and where I want them to be. It serves to show me that my spatial data must be pushed through an new projection. This testing, however, shows that not only is there an error in projection, there is an error in location. The reprojected layer is still about 2.20m off from the satellite image, this time to the southeast. This error is undoubtedly again my fault, created in the original georeferencing of the data. Really, it’s only partially my fault as there are inaccuracies both in the underlying CAD data generously shared by the Soprintendenza*** as well as in the GPS survey that gave the real world coordinates. Regardless, the next step will be to adjust our coordinates to match the satellite imagery because, as I said in the last post, “if we have to be “wrong”, let’s be wrong in the right direction.”

-EP

 

Some more technical details:

* To make the map of gaps and overlaps, I did the following:

  1. Create new feature for the outline of the entire city;
  2. Union all polygons together;
  3. Sort the attribute table of the resulting layer by area, descending;
  4. Select all those items with an area less than three square meters;
  5. Make a layer from the selected items and export to geodatabase;
  6. Enlarge this layer’s visibility using the buffer tool (3m).
  7. Symbolize the total area of the Union layer as a color ramp
  8. Symbolize those gaps/overlaps less than 1m in red, more than 1m in blue.
  9. Adjust their displayed transparency to 50%.
  10. Export map.

** To test the error for reprojection, I used an unusual process: I converted the shapefiles to Google Earth KML files because I had noticed in a previous experiment that these files far more precisely overlaid the satellite imagery. Some of that work, as images, is here:

Shift_via_KML_1

Shift_via_KML_2

 We have struggled thus far (ok, after one afternoon) to get our files to reproject appropriately in ArcGIS or in FME. All suggestions are welcome.

***  The SAP CAD file was created by digitizing the RICA Maps of Pompeii, 1984, supported by World Monuments Watch and funded by American Express. The RICA MAPs were drawn in part from aerial images taken at 820m and supplemented by on the ground survey. Inconsistencies among the features of this layer with satellite imagery or other maps of Pompeii may be the result of errors in the rectification of the original aerial images. On the creation of the RICA Maps, see Van der Poel, H. B., Corpus Topographicum Pompeianum, vol. IIIA. Austin, TX, 1986, XI-XIX.

Mapping the Mapping Project’s Design

On Wednesday of last week I had a fantastically productive meeting with my colleague and GIS architect for the PBMP, Alexander Stepanov. In about an hour we defined the current state of our mapping project, reconceived and reified how the GIS would move forward, and established how it will function as the “pivot” for the other elements of the PBMP. Below is an image of the white board we marked up over that hour:

PBMP_MappingMeeting_2.26.2014

Much of this was already in our heads or sketched in broader terms in the notes of other meetings. What was different in this meeting was the previous four months of work to understand the production of the spatial data and to describe it in a specific and unique nomenclature. With this new foundation and confidence it was easier to define the phases of development and know how to realize them. From the image you might see these development phases of the GIS scribbled in my impenetrable handwriting. Here they are with a bit more detail:

Phase One: A Basic Map for Navigation. The first step in our plan (and the primary functionality intended for our GIS) is a map that allows one to effortlessly move across the landscape of Pompeii, to shift scales, to add and remove data layers, and to access the basic descriptive data of those layers. As I mentioned previously, we have focused on a subset of our spatial data for the Navigation Map. These layers are largely topographic rather than interpretive in their content:

GIS Name (Prefix_short-Name_Extent_Type_Version) Alias Code
PMBP_Alley_City_Poly_001 Alleys ALS
PMBP_FtWall_City_Poly_001 Fortification Walls FTW
PMBP_Curb_City_Poly_001 Curbstones CBS
PMBP_Elev_City_Pnts_001 Elevation Points ELP
PMBP_Forum_City_Poly_001 Forum FRM
PMBP_Fount_City_Poly_001 Fountains FNT
PMBP_Gates_City_Poly_001 Gates CGT
PMBP_Ins_City_Poly_001 Intersections INT
PMBP_PropWalls_City_Line_001 Property Walls (Muri) PRW
PMBP_NSS_City_Poly_001 Narrowing Stones NSS
PMBP_ProjIns_City_Poly_001 Projected City Blocks (insulae) PJI
PMBP_ProjInt_City_Poly_001 Projected Intersections PJT
PMBP_ProjStr_City_Poly_001 Projected Streets PJS
PMBP_PropEsch_City_Poly_001 Properties by Eschebach PRE
PMBP_RutsTsuji_City_Poly_001 Ruts by Tsujimura RTS
PMBP_Sidwlk_City_Poly_001 Sidewalks SDW
PMBP_SSS_City_Poly_001 Stepping-Stones SSS
PMBP_Str_City_Poly_001 Streets STR
PMBP_UnEx_City_Poly_001 Unexcavated Areas UNA
PMBP_WatTow_City_Poly_001 Water Towers WTS

Embedded in the nomenclature are elements of the data structure itself, including the data’s producer, an abbreviated indication of the content, its scale, the geometry type, and a version number. Thus,  the file name “PBMP_Forum_City_Poly_001” expresses that the file was made by the PBMP, encompasses the area of the forum, operates on the scale of the city, is a polygon, and is version 1. A more human readable alias is also included, as is a unique three letter code that serves as a prefix in the IDs of individual objects within that layer. In this case, there is only one Forum at Pompeii, so the polygon named FRM000001 describing it is the only feature in that layer.

To finish the Navigation Map we have only a few simple tasks to complete, including finalizing the metadata description of each layer, defining which parts of that metadata should be displayed when the user accesses if via the map (“identify tool”), and globally adjusting the position of our files to overlie publicly available satellite imagery. This final task is a kind of compromise between absolute accuracy and usability. That is, because a perfectly precise positioning of our Pompeii data would likely move it closer to the satellite imagery but not exactly overlie it, it is preferable to produce our data in a way that better meets user expectations and better integrates with other applications. If we have to be “wrong”, let’s be wrong in the right direction.

Phase Two: An Information / Interpretation Map. The landscape of Pompeii will become far richer as we begin to add illustrative and academic information about each of the objects in the map. We already link each property to Pompeii in Pictures, but the addition of information on each property from the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianum (CTP) will offer a full listing of all the names given to these properties as well as a basic bibliography for each. Such bibliographic content, together with the spatial index provided by Garcia y Garcia in the Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana, will provide the first connection to our catalog of citations (see below for more on this).  In Phase Two we will also include functional interpretations. City-wide interpretive data come from the CTP and, of course, from the Eschebach plan of Pompeii. The 1993 update of this plan in Lislotte Eschebach’s Gebäudeverzeichnis und Stadtplan der antiken Stadt Pompeji also contains additional information about each property, such as dates of excavation, finds, and decoration as well as additional bibliography. We are in process of adapting this information as well. To provide more up to date functional information, we will also be including the published work of scholars who have focused on specific properties or types of properties, such as bars (Ellis), fullonicae (Flohr), or bakeries (Monteix). Finally, to increase the spatial resolution of the map, we are creating room level data based on the definitions and nomenclature in the Pompei: Pitture e Mosaici volumes. Producing spatial data at this level will offer the potential to attach research data in a more specific and powerful way, such as the finds-by-room data produced by Penelope Allison.

To do all of this work will require an investment of time to ensure the spatial and descriptive integrity of every  building the ancient city. On the descriptive side, this work will start by getting the building’s address correct and associating that with all previous addresses. Luckily, the CTP has published concordances from which to work. For the spatial side, there is no such index. Each building in our map will need to be examined and compared with previous maps to ensure that when we attach functional or interpretive data to a property, that property is the expected shape. For minor differences, especially in the interior of a single building, those differences will be described in the metadata and illustrated in georeferenced plans (when possible). For major differences, a new polygon will be drawn to reflect the different interpretations of a building’s shape. While a faithful representation of multiple interpretations is appropriate, it will also necessitate further attention to how different elements of the map interact with one another. This is called topology.

Phase Three: A Query Map.

Topological rules are the basis for one of the most powerful aspects of geographical information systems: the ability to search spatially. A spatial search can be on strictly spatially descriptive attributes, such as the elevation of a point, the length of a line, or the area of a polygon. It can also be used to find non-spatial attributes attached to the same geometries: the source of the point’s elevation data, the name of the street the line defines, or kinds of floor treatments of a room’s polygon. Most importantly, the spatial relationships among geometries can also be searched. That is, one could ask if a kind of room were found within houses of a particular size or if that house was within a certain distance of another kind of property, such as an inn or bakery. To generate this valuable kind of search depends upon three components:

  1. How well defined the physical shape of Pompeii is;
  2. How much academic information we can attach to those shapes;
  3. How carefully and precisely we define the topological rules.

Part one is well underway as our Navigation Map. Part two is growing, but always needs more information. Help from the community is ALWAYS desired. Part three, the Queryable Map, is in the very near future.

Phase Four: Pompeii’s Bibliocartography.

For the PBMP, the essential and defining query – whatever its structure – is to access accurate bibliographic information through the map. Realizing this functionality is fortunately not a terribly complex technological problem. Because of its robust native query functions, GIS  will be the primary platform for combining the different types of data. Specifically, the unique ID of any map element will be “king”, the atomic bond between tables of attribute data, catalogs of bibliographic citations, and indexes of full-text publications. An example will make this clearer. As our drawing (failingly) attempts to illustrate, an individual map element, in this case the polygon of a house in Pompeii, will have descriptive information attached to it. The most important of these will be the name of the house, or rather the many names given a house over the centuries since its excavation. These names and their addresses will provide the handle for our processing of full text documents, allowing us to not only make the documents discoverable via the map, but also make the map serve to illustrate bibliographic searches.

Connecting citations to to places will require a number of approaches to be employed. As a proof of concept, in 2011 the PBMP first used the spatial index created by Garcia y Garcia in for his first two volumes of the Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana. An updated version is available online. This index specifically lists each citation number associated with a particular address in the city. As the effort of one dedicated scholar, this index is truly remarkable. As a bridge between Pompeii’s physical and publication landscapes, however, it reaches less than one quarter of the way across the gulf that divides them. That is, only about 25% of all the citations are given an address and only about the same percentage of the places in Pompeii are listed. To associate more works, and to parse their contents more precisely, the PBMP is applying natural language processing techniques to all the full-text documents we can capture. Let me echo our call for help again here to grow our repository. Our authority list of Pompeii’s toponymy has been generated from its complete enumeration (more than 5000 entries) in volume II of the Corpus Topogrpahicum Pompeiana while the collocation (and implicit disambiguation) comes from the “Numerical Index” of the same volume. Because gathering the entire corpus of Pompeian scholarship in full-text will take some time, we plan to move forward with intermediate steps including parsing title keywords, processing book indexes, and seeking community help in tagging works they have read (or written!).

The Future. 

Careful viewers will have seen some notations in the image above about the future, especially concerning ways to extend the project and the multiple platforms for potential dissemination. We have always intended to have both download and upload capabilities; the ability for users to pull down our data and for the PBMP to ingest their additions, changes, and improvements. Since the project was conceived, a number of online platforms, resources, and coding practices have risen to prominence including OpenJumpPostGIS, GeoJSON, and GitHub. It is our intension to keep the doors of our data open to these and future developments.

– EP

The Elephant In The Room

The Elephant in the Room

Institution shall defend Google against any third party lawsuit or proceeding that relates to Institution’s use of the Institution Digital Copy or receipt of the Public Domain Digital Copies, including without limitation, any such use by a third party.  Institution shall select counsel reasonably appropriate for such defense and shall pay for all costs incurred by such counsel.  In addition, Institution shall pay any damage awards or settlement costs that may be incurred.  Google may participate in the defense with counsel of its own choice, at its own expense.

This, digital humanities and open access friends, is what is known in the common parlance as a deal-breaker. The preceding language comes from an agreement that all parties must sign in order to use the Google-scanned books in the collections of Hathi Trust. If you don’t know, Hathi Trust (pronounced “Hah-thee”) is an ingenious umbrella organization of research universities that administer a massive repository of digital content. Hathi’s biggest collection, however, comes from Google and using the materials means licensing them under the terms Google sets. Those terms effectively transform every licensee into a firewall for Google, whom Google can choose to aid in defense or not. For public institutions like the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which is an entity of the Commonwealth, signing such an agreement puts every tax payer of the state on the hook should a third party sue. Of course, both Google and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are naturally first responsible for protecting their business and the citizens of the state from liability. Indeed, Google should have some protection from flagrant misuse of intellectual property by their licensees. Similarly, individuals or entities should not be signatories to agreements that drag an entire state into court.

The losers from the inflexibility of this clause, however, is everyone else.

Even if reasonable from the perspective of major institutions, these licensing agreements are myopic and pernicious. If Universities cannot provide digital resources the way they provide physical resources, how can faculty and students be expected to advance scholarship in the 21st century with only the resources of the 20th century? Moreover, if libraries cannot expand their digital repositories except by what they digitize themselves, libraries will devolve into the dreaded data silos, re-imposing the limitations of time and distance that digital resources inherently overcome.

The Pompeii Bibliography Mapping Project is (gladly) becoming the canary in the coal mine for this problem here at UMass. The problem has already passed from the UMass Libraries, to the Office of General Counsel, and back again. The issue has even become the kind of hallway banter and cocktail chatter that characterizes its intractability. For the PBMP, however, the conversation can’t end with a well meaning sigh and shrug of the shoulders. The project is hamstrung without resolution.

There’s plenty of blame to go around here. Google should be more willing to negotiate the terms of its licensing agreement so that anyone can actually use what they have spent so much energy creating and defending. In fact, Google might look at how it just successfully defended itself against the Author’s Guild complaint. Judge Chin wrote, “In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. […] Indeed, all society benefits.” Google’s licensing agreement stands in practical opposition to the theoretical benefits Judge Chin’s ruling describes. Here at UMass, negotiating access to digital resources should be a higher priority. Perhaps it’s an effect of faculty research being (perceived) a small component of the university’s overall mission. What would happen if a licensing agreement were to prevent students from accessing course materials, such as e-reserves? More likely than not, we’ll soon find out the answer.

Copyright Symbol

Photo: MikeBlogs/Flickr

We faculty have plenty to own up to as well. We’ve been donating our intellectual property to commercial enterprises in exchange for a physical binding and the imprimatur of legitimacy. Faculty need to remember when faced with a copyright release form that the production of scholarship – those ideas supported by hundreds of citations – is dependent on the consumption of scholarship. Now the very groups that want you to sign away your rights are trying to prevent you from using other people’s research unless you pay, because they own that too. We’re not just working for free, we’re working at a net loss.

It’s a business model that should worry universities more, especially public universities. What does it cost the university for a faculty member to write a book in terms of portions of salary when you consider leave time, research funding, physical infrastructure, and library resources, among other things? Most universities have technology transfer offices that directly transform mainly science scholarship into protected intellectual property. They help discoveries become inventions and eventually products. In the humanities and social sciences the process is the same, but the valuation of what we do is perverse. Of course, a book is unlikely to ever match the monetary rewards of a new heart medication, but the university puts as much skin in the game and then allows its investment to become someone else’s profit. It’s worse still. The university must then buy back its own investment, sometime after having supported the scholar via a publication subvention. Jon Stewart might say it this way: The university is a deli owner who makes sandwiches and lets the cashier keep the money from the sale and when the deli owner needs more ingredients, the cashier is suddenly the nearest supplier. So, why shouldn’t universities impose an “indirect costs” model upon for-profit publishers? If it is necessary for faculty to give up 59.5% of their federal grant money to universities because of the umbrella of services they provide, should not publishers and “copyright squatters” be forced into accepting more of the full process?

None of this is new, of course. But it’s the first time I’ve said it publicly and more and more people need to say it as well. Better yet, vote with your feet. Refuse to sign your copyright away. Publish in open access venues. And when it comes time to evaluate scholarship competitively for grants, fellowships, and for promotion, we must stop using the press name or journal title as shorthand for quality, or, rather as proof that ideas found outside of major venues are of lesser value. University presses at public institutions should be at the vanguard of this change. Faculty should be encouraged to publish in house and force major academic “content corporations” to license the scholarship from the university.

In the end, this specific impasse will likely be resolved. I’ve learned that my alma mater, the University of Virginia, has negotiated mutually acceptable indemnity language with Google. Some academics have even broke with their university counsel and signed the agreement as individuals, taking on the liability themselves. Considering that the Authors Guild had asked for $1500 in damages, per book from Google, this seems like a deadly, if not dangerous risk to take. That is, the likelihood that an individual would lose an infringement case may be very low, but would be catastrophic should it happen. What’s a scholar to do? People fly in planes, don’t they?

-EP

Postcards from Berlin: Reflections on Running a DH Project

I’m writing this post in Berlin’s Tegel airport on my way home from an excellent visit to the Digital Classicist Seminar hosted by the DIA and TOPOI. I had intended for our second post to share some reflections on running a grant-funded digital humanities project. In particular, how we communicate in the PBMP and how much that matters. There was an excellent question from the audience last night, and it is still nagging me, so I’m going to wrestle with it an addendum.

 

Running a grant-funded project is a lot like running a small business. Having co-directed an archaeological field project, Pompeii Quadriporticus Project or PQP for short, for as long as four years, this was not terribly surprising to me.  There is, however, an important difference between the administration of the PQP and the PBMP. That difference is not in the archaeological fieldwork vs. digital information production, but rather in duration. Imagining a graph of the PQP administrative duties forms a nice bell curve of work in my mind. It starts off at a slow pace by finding grants and writing applications for them. If successful, the next step is to begin recruiting students and staff. Then things really get moving as tasks shift to arranging travel, food, and accommodation. Intensity spikes during the field season itself. Afterwards there is the reckoning of what was accomplished. Some expect you to describes these accomplishments in archaeological reports, some in new course material, and some others need you to describe your activities in receipts. By September, there’s a peaceful lull before you yawn and look around again at the CFPs, thinking of next year’s work.

If a fieldwork project is a small business, then it is also a seasonal business. A grant-funded DH project, by contrast is a construction contract. You’ve promised to deliver a product, even it that’s only proof of concept, and you’ve got a year (for example) to do it. Where I’ve noticed this difference most starkly is in the sheer volume of time spent in communication. On average, I spend three hours a day writing emails, making phone calls, attending meetings, and updating comments in our project management environment (more on that below)…and if I’m moving the project forward, this pace of communication needs to continue. The most disappointing aspect of this communication load is that it takes me away from the data itself, from reading the digitized books, browsing the names and places in our authority lists, or perusing the topography as it flows into our GIS. Perhaps this should not have surprised me as directing an archaeological field project also takes one away from the day to day shifting of dirt (the old saw is that there’s an inverse proportional relationship between one’s authority in the field and the size of the tool she uses).  It is sitting in the airport that brings the following metaphor to mind: if you’re good enough at flying planes, one day you’ll get promoted to air traffic control.

Fortunately, intermediaries, both people and technologies, help to ease that communication burden and permit some meaningful contact with data. In the first instance, having student managers who know the work and can communicate it well to their peers are of incalculable help. In passing information and instructions “downstream,” I only have to explain things once, and when confusion arises from those instructions, only the most confounding questions make their way back “upstream” to me.  I also find the web-based project management tool, Trello to be especially helpful communicating aspects of the work. Trello functions like being in a room full of bulletin boards, to which you can affix individual tasks, also known as “cards”, like expandable “post-it” notes in categories of “To Do”, “Doing,” and “Done.” Trello and the PBMP are alike in this respect, each using a physical metaphor as a basic structure to organize information. Within each task, is a flexible work space that permits users to assign a task to individuals or a team, to create checklists, add comments, and to attach files to the card. The free account offers only 10MB of hosting space, but Trello is well integrated with both Dropbox and Google Drive. The later is especially useful for extending the shared environment from task manager to work space.  The checklists offers a great way to track the progress of work in both serial and sequential tasks and even the most bureaucratic duties, like students reporting the hours worked each week.  Finally, because it tracks the progress of tasks and records not only the content of comments, but also their order, Trello functions as a de facto (but incomplete), documentation system. In the context of a fast-paced, communication-rich project like the PBMP, it is especially important to record not only that we accomplished something, but also how we did it. Since the PBMP is committed to serving as a model for other topographically and bibliographically rich subjects, whether archaeological or not, documenting our discursive work process at this micro level will be valuable documentation of successful strategies and common pitfalls.

Trello

Trello “card” assignment

This brings me neatly to one of the insightful questions raised Tuesday night at the Digital Classicist Seminar. Paraphrased, that question was:  “How should one go about doing their own project like the PBMP?” For all my rhetoric about the possibility of extending the lessons of the PBMP to another project, I must admit to having been temporarily stumped. My eventual answer was practical and technical in nature:

  1. Assess the suitability of the physical landscape in your project to scaffold your bibliographic data or other resources. For example, Pompeii is neatly divided into individual regions, city blocks, and properties with addresses and (mostly) unique names. How well divided and labeled is the space of your subject? How well does the content of your bibliographic data map onto that space? That is, do the texts use this spatial system regularly and consistently?
  2. Take an inventory of the available resources in both analog and digital formats. For Pompeii, we are fortunate to have its 250+ years of scholarship and 64 hectares of space already well defined in accessible print publications. The initial challenge was one of digitization. If your subject, however, has not codified its sources or maps into nominally canonical resources,  the first step would be to undertake a comprehensive, “state-of-the-field” project. If starting here, building a carto-bibliographic system like the PBMP would be a far heaver lift.

Having had a night to think about it, I wish that I had added another issue to my response: take a personal census. Put simply, are YOU the best fit for such a project. In many cases, answering the technical questions above would act as a personality sorter, driving away only those most committed to a subject with the volume of work the project represents. Still, running a major digital humanities project is facilitated by certain skill sets and personality traits. Let me express these, as I understand them (and not necessarily because I possess them), as a series of questions:

  • Do you prefer to work in teams?
  • Are you a good judge of talent? Of character?
  • Can you hire and fire people?
  • Can you motivate people with your own enthusiasm about “the big picture” when their daily work might be monotonous and dry?
  • Are you immune to the monotony of repetitive tasks?
  • Is salesmanship a positive word?
  • Do you like it when a new email arrives?
  • Can you share your work publicly before it is perfect?
  • Can you give away the data you’ve worked so hard to produce?
  • Is the recognition for what is essentially altruism a sufficient reward for you?

If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, you may be well suited to accomplish and enjoy running a grant-funded digital humanities project.

 

Next time, the PBMP and the copyright hustle.

-EP