Information Technology

Information Technology

The project’s IT component is not only concerned with providing a combination of virtual research environments and digital tools, but also with their adaptation to the demands of specific research questions in the Humanities.

Our work uses for orientation existing reference models for the digital edition and analysis of texts. Our aim is to combine digital tools and the corresponding hands-on sessions so as to systematically guide through the workshops and to facilitate the participants’ work on Cassiodorus.

The set of tools thus developed will allow users not only to digitally annotate information provided by the text of the Variae, but also to analyse and visualise the data amassed in letters’ digital edition. Furthermore, a web-based version-control system is to help organise collaborative work on the text corpus. The applications put to the test include some well-established in the Digital Humanities and some developed with particular regard to the characteristics of the Variae and the research questions they give rise to.

Source: Rehbein, Malte & Christiane Fritze. „Hands-On Teaching Digital Humanities: A Didactic Analysis of a Summer School Course on Digital Editing“. In: Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, ed. Brett D. Hirsch. OpenBook Publishers, 2012, 47-78 / the sketch is our own.

The virtual research environment TextGrid was developed by a coalition of several research institutions, including TU Darmstadt, and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It allows for the combination of various tools for the digital annotation of texts and provides an interactive platform for collaborative research projects in the Humanities. TextGrid’s two-part structure makes possible not only the digital edition and analysis of texts (TextGrid-Lab), but also the long-term storage and investigation of existing datasets (TextGrid-Repository).

Within the scope of “Humanist Computer Interaction under Scrutiny”, TextGrid will play a central role in developing TEI/XML templates for the edition the Variaeas well as in organizing the metadata and XML schemata required for the validation process. What is more, TextGrid will be utilized for the publication of the data, making sure it can be re-used by other researchers in the future. In order to make the handling of the complex research environment somewhat more user-friendly, we will integrate a few other applications, such as the Oxygen editor.

TU Darmstadt has developed the application QAnnotate, intended to bridge the (perceived) gap between ‘conventional’ and ‘digital’ methods of annotation. Designed according to the requirements for working with Cassiodorus’ Variae, QAnnotate significantly lowers the technical bar for digital text annotations. It allows for tags and properties to be freely assigned to the text without the necessity of working in XML code; categories can be added, deleted or rearranged as need be. All settings may be adapted in accordance to the research area under investigation. As soon as the data thus annotated and organized has been assigned to standardised tags, it can be automatically converted into TEI/XML, thereby making it readable for various digital editors and tools.

The virtual research environment to be developed is also meant to incorporate different tools for the systematic analysis and visualisation of the data provided by the Variae. Users will be able to search and filter a number of considerable datasets, such as prosopographical and geographical databases as well historical and philological commentaries. At the level of corpus linguistic analyses, users will get to know the usage of python scripts as well as applications such as Jupyter Notebook for statistical modelling and visualization of data. They may also use tools such as Nodegoat to visualize various networks (e.g. relations between persons, ethnic groups and thematic strands) and  to display geographical and chronological data on interactive maps.

The IT component of “Humanist Computer Interaction under Scrutiny” is hosted by the TU Darmstadt Department for German Studies – digital philology and Medieval Studies(Prof Dr Andrea Rapp), in cooperation with the Digital Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz (Prof Torsten Schrade).

In addition, the IT Component is supported by the Nodegoat development team with an instance for workshop collaborations.