Exemplar Projects in Humanities Grid Computing Paul S. Ell Centre for Data Digitisation & Analysis Queen’s Belfast ISGC 2007 Summary n e-Science and the arts and humanities n Vision of Britain exemplar n Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative n Virtual Vellum n Irish Studies n The way forward Grid technologies In the UK the Arts and Humanities Research Council has argued “Grid technologies fall into three main strands, with different degrees of significance for the A&H:” The three aspects of e-Science are likely to have varying impacts in the humanities and arts n Access Gird: Is this really distance learning with a better internet connection? Are humanities scholars going to change the fundamental way they do research? n Computation Grid: Do humanities and arts scholars need high- powered computing power? n Data Grid: The key technology that will fundamentally change scholarship in the humanities and arts. Also the key challenges Unique challenges in the humanities and arts: The Data Grid n In the humanities the data grid is less concerned with moving large amounts of data around… n Heterogeneous, fragmented, partial, disparate e- resources n Information overload - the digital deluge n Resource discovery problems n Interface and data harvesting problems n Integratory difficulties n Data in ever more complex multimedia formats - not just text but numbers, images, objects, video, sound files n How to organise data - by subject, by chronology, by location - or all three… n But there are exemplars… The proof: early exemplars The Vision of Britain through time n Based on a ‘traditional’ HGIS of quantitative data and polygons n Supplemented with additional e-resources – historical gazetteers describing places in time, travellers tales, historical maps n Materials organised by place, time and subject Historical maps Census reports Historical Gazetteers Travellers’ Tales An integrated resource The proof: early exemplars The Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative n UC Berkeley-based project with almost 1,000 humanities and arts academic affiliates from around the world holding spatially referenced e- resources n Metadata that allows registered distributed datasets to be retrieved on the fly at object level n Software – TimeMap – which allows retrieved data to be selected and visualised and exported The Proof: Virtual Vellum n Provides distributed access to research- quality digitisations of folios n Involves around 20 organisations around the world n Easy access and preservation The Proof: Irish Studies n Poorly defined subject area n No cohesive e-resources currently exist n But quite a lot of e-resources data our there - Database of Irish Historical Statistics, Act of Union Virtual Library, Historical Hansard, JSTOR journals n Challenge to bring these together e-Science infrastructural needs n Examples ‘fixed’ to a degree n Need for e-infrastructure – place name gazetteers (JISC EPNS Project); chronological gazetteers (‘Going Places in the Catalog: Time Periods’ from US National Leadership Grant for Libraries); subject indexes (ECAI ‘Support for the Learner: What, Where, When, and Who’ – second NLGL grant) n Need for a subject based geo-temporal data browser?? How is the ‘stuff’ that’s retrieved going to be managed? n Enhanced metadata or context sensitive intelligent searching Conclusions n The Data Grid will be the key area of e-Science activity in the humanities and arts n Data Grid based e-Science in the humanities and arts is far more challenging than in the sciences n Key infrastructure is required together with enhanced search capabilities n Opportunity for fundamental change in humanities and arts research n Chance to fully exploit the vast array of e-resources already available n Humanities scholars will not need to change the way they work Integrating e-resources by place and chronology: GIS e-Science: statistics, maps, photographs, text, manuscripts, existing e-resources, websites, museum objects . . .
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