RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Author: Ash

A Grimm Exploration

Hello! Though there is an abundance left to explore, A Grimm Exploration has finally reached an end.

A Grimm Exploration is a blog powered by Omeka in order to explore who the Grimm Brothers’ were and how their household stories resonated throughout time and until today. To do so, we used Omeka to upload items, create collections, build exhibits, and write pages of our analysis of their personal lives and their stories. We hope our project can transport you to the Grimm world and teach you new things!

Grimmly yours,

Giulianne Pate, Iyana Sherman, Amaris Woo, Ashley Pham


Data about data

Metadata literally means “data about data.” That can be quite confusing and vague, so what is metadata really?

In “Introduction to Metadata,” Anne Gilliland sets the stage by providing the audience with multiple definitions and views of metadata. The 1990’s was quite accurate, defining it as the internal and external documentation of data contained in an information system. More specifically, metadata is about an information object. An information object embodies content, context, and structure. Thus, metadata does not have to be digital; it can be recorded in card catalogs, vertical files, and more. Though metadata is a broad term, there are specific types. For example, library metadata includes indexes, abstracts, and bibliographic records. As technology advances, it has expanded the market of metadata in creating automated means such as “metadata mining, metadata harvesting, and Web crawling.” Evidently, computer capabilities are becoming increasingly powerful and sophisticated. Paul Conway, though, takes a positive spin on metadata and says that the digital world maintains objects’ intellectual integrity.

However, does metadata cross the (privacy) line? An article by the Wall Street Journal titled “Metadata Can Expose Person’s Identity Even Without Name” speaks for itself. MIT’s research proves that, despite anonymity, this analytic formula can readily identify a person’s unique purchasing pattern almost 100% of the time; and with a little bit more research into public profiles (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, “check-in” applications), they could place names to the numbers. It is not so alarming though, because this new technique is purposed for firms, advertisers, and retailers for better advertising.

Bottom line, I believe the digital world relies on metadata. It functions to create, recontextualize, validate, organize, and preserve and there are clear benefits. Out of those, I find its role in effective researching most significant. I think Wall Street Journal says it best, “metabase is not as important as content but remarkably revelatory.”

Breaking the Barricades of Digital Humanities (Sept 9)

In my household, we have five computers – one for each person. Each person also owns a mobile device for themselves, and my mom, being extra special, gets an iPad as well. My personal relationship with technology can be basically summarized in one word – dependent. I also think that technology is beginning to govern our learning, being that there are online courses and the increasing use of advanced technology in the classroom, such as SmartBoards. There is no denying that we are in an Internet era. So clearly, our experiences today with computers and technology dramatically differ than those in Patricia Ordóñez’s time from the podcast. An issue posed in the podcast was what I believe should be considered a marketing problem with unforeseen effects – home computers were advertised as toys and targeted at boys. This almost directly led to the decrease in women computer science majors in 1984. Computers became an advantage and without women consumers and exposure, computers and technology became male-dominated. Today, we can clearly see that as an issue. Coding can be considered a universal language, so both men and women should participate equally.

On the other hand, Williams addresses the use of universal design in the field of Digital Humanities. The first error that many people make is describing universal design as a focus on those with special needs but it is directed toward all people. In pursuing universal design, digital humanities scholars will not being creating “barriers of access” and will ensure that those with disabilities will have the opportunity to participate in the digital humanities. In the long run, there are reciprocal benefits: the digital humanities community will benefit by working with disabled people and expand on how digital devices could and should work for the vast majority.

It is important that we recognize that although we are breaking ground with technology, there are still divisions, specifically the reduction of women pursuing computer science and the barriers of technology for the disabled. Ultimately, these issues are important in order to establish a fair and open virtual environment as our lives advance electronically.

What is Digital Humanities? (Sept 7)

Articles World Bubble

The cirrus generated above is based on the four most recently assigned readings; clearly, they all discuss the digital humanities and sharing (disregard pingback as it is just an automatic notification). It also includes interesting words that describe the digital humanities such as scholarship, imagine, share, new, ideas, debates, and communication.

Being a newly emerging field of the humanities, digital humanities has not fully established an identity. I believe the main reason to this is that there is, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick describes it, a “theory-practice divide.” There are scholars who use digital technologies to study traditional humanities objects and there are those who use methods of contemporary humanities to study digital objects. With that being said, Mark Sample, author of the article “The Digital Humanities is Not About Building, It’s About Sharing,” describes the “heart of digital humanities” as the reproduction of knowledge. Furthermore, Andrew Smith’s “The Promise of Digital Humanities” proposes that the most promising aspect of the Digital Humanities is the machine analysis of texts, also known as data mining.  But now that we know that digital humanities has its prospects, practices, and problems, what is it exactly?

The digital humanities, to my knowledge and in the simplest form, is a cross between computing and the humanities, purposed to share ideas and create a new, public channel for scholarship. In my experience (four two-hour classes of an introductory class), there has been a huge emphasis on our relationship with technology. It is no secret that we are on the horizon of an internet age, or what some may call an algorithmic culture, or even a computational theocracy. Therefore, we as modern creatures have created many digitized habits.Although the digital humanities clashes with the norm, it promotes openness, collaboration, and experimentation. Nonetheless, I believe the digital humanities is purposed to “pursue a public role for scholarship,” as Lisa Spiro (“Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities”) words it. The digital humanities should not be debated about, rather embraced by both types of scholars (whether that be more humanities or digital-oriented) and used as a community to share. In this new technology-governed society, traditional humanities is being repurposed, beginning with digital humanities.


Data Mining: Martyrs (Sept 1)

After “revealing” the contents behind the Test Corpus dataset on Voyant, my eyes are immediately drawn to the cirrus.


Clearly, the most frequent word used in the corpus is said (312 times). Following, God (180), Christ (115), Time (105), Death (98), and Governor (95) are also prevalent, while words such as word (7), sacrifice(9), and endure(9) are small and not frequently included in the texts. Solely judging from the word bubble, one can determine that the texts are religious.



Word Trend_Said

Clicking said causes a Word Trend graph to appear. Specifically, the word said is most frequently used in “Scillitan.” Being Catholic, I recognize this as a reference to the Scillitan Martyrs. Simultaneously, this sheds light as to why said is the most used word throughout the dataset; martyrs translates to witnesses, and witnesses are always speaking.

Life vs. Death Word Trend


Playing with word trends, I plotted life and death against each other. Almost always, death is written more than life– with the exception of texts “Lyons-Vienne” and “Polycarp.” Looking further, In “Lyons-Vienne,” life is once used in this context:

“‘…being well pleased even to lay down his life in defense of the brethren. For he was and is a true disciple of Christ…’ Relevation 14:4″

Although life is used more frequently than death in this text, it is used to emphasize martyrdom.


Martyr Word Trend


I also found it interesting that despite the theme of the texts was Martyrs, the word martyr itself was not found in five out of the eleven texts. The Word Trend to the left displays the use of the word in “Ignatius,” where martyr was used the most, at a count of six times.


That being said, what I did not learn, or rather understand, was what exactly vocabulary density is and why words with notable peaks in frequency was important. On a separate note, I do not think that Voyant is a tool to closely interpret texts, rather it is most useful to compare texts, find prevalent topics, and filter through quotes for support on a large scale. All in all, using Voyant for the first time helped me understand how it is considered a breakthrough in Digital Humanities.