Introduction to Digital Humanities

Constructing Data

'Data' can be a difficult term for humanists. As Miriam Posner of the Department of Information Studies at UCLA explains in "Humanities Data a Necessary Contradiction:"

When you call something data, you imply that it exists in discrete fungible units; that it is computationally tractable; that its meaningful qualities can be enumerated in a finite list; that someone else performing the same operations on the same data will come up with the same results. This is not how humanists think of the material they work with.

Despite discomfort with the term, humanists today engage with data on a regular basis. The data that shapes our professional lives can be defined as "a digital, selectively constructed, machine-actionable abstraction representing some aspects of a given object of humanistic inquiry" (Schöch, 2013).  As this definition suggests, the state of our data - and its utility for research - depends on the construction process. For analogue objects, the process begins with digitization. From there, both digitized and born-digital objects need to be curated, structured and/or annotated to facilitate human and computational analysis.

This week, we will discuss different standards for constructing data and you will add descriptive metadata and interpretive annotations to two "object(s) of humanistic inquiry." 

Annotation  #4

Gilliland, Anne J. “Setting the Stage.” In Introduction to Metadata, edited by Murtha Baca. The Getty, 2016. Hypothesis link

Assignment #4  (Adapted from Jentery Sayers)

In our Scalar workbook import one image and one video or audio file that are related to a topic of your choice. These resources must be created by someone other than you, and they must already exist on the web. Next, assign the following fifteen Dublin Core Metadata Elements to each resource (for directions on how to add additional metadata in Scalar, go here):

Contributor, Coverage, Creator, Date, Description, Format, Identifier, Language, Publisher, Relation, Rights, Source, Subject, Title, Type.

As you add these elements, review the guidelines and examples provided in “Using Dublin Core – The Elements.” (Note: the title, description, and content type for your actual Scalar page may differ from the DC title, description, and type for the resources you import. Also note: not all elements may necessarily apply to your resource. See the guidelines above to determine what elements are relevant.) Once you have imported  both resources and added the appropriate DC metadata, use the Scalar annotation tool to add interpretive information to your resources (for direction on how to annotate images, and audio/video  with Scalar go here). In the workbook, address the following questions alongside your resources, which should be displayed with your metadata captions and annotations (per the example above): When assigning metadata to your resources, what issues did you encounter? For instance, what decisions were difficult? Generally speaking, what have you learned about DC metadata and the practice of assigning it? How (if any) of that learning relates to our discussion of the assigned readings? How is annotating similar to and/or different from assigning DC metadata? Title your entry "Student's Name + Assignment #4," and follow the instructions on the "Assignment" page of our workbook to make sure that it shows up in the contents of your personal page and the "Assignment #4" page.

Here is an example.

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