DH, 1999

The fabled library of the past was the Library of Alexandria, founded at the behest of Alexander the Great. It was a museum, a school, and the center of scholarly research where the largest collection of Greek books were gathered and classified. To that library is owed not only the preservation of ancient texts but much of the learning required for their understanding. The library continued to exist under Roman rule until the third century of the Christian era. Will a modern Library of Alexandria now be assembled and available on any individual’s desktop? Enthusiasts already hail that possibility. Yet it is not entirely clear that such a “universal library” is possible in the near future. There are enormous problems to solve before we can efficiently search all the available text documents, let alone non-text information such as mathematical formulas and music and art, where there are large problems of creating indexes (how does one index a painting or a movie?). Developing abstracting programs that can summarize results in a manageable form is another awesome task. Yet various efforts are under way, the most important being the U.S. Digital Libraries Initiative, which has been trying to meld all the specialized libraries (from astronomy to zoology) into digitized form and make these available to users.

From “Foreword 1999” in Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting (New York: Basic Books, 1973, foreword 1999), p. lix-lx.




A work-in-progress compilation of digital humanities projects happening in Detroit.

Data Driven Detroit


Ethnic Layers of Detroit –

Ghana on the Go

Mapping Slavery in Detroit

Wayne State Press Humanities Open Book digitization project

Wayne State Library Digital Collections

Weekly Roundup: March 7

scaled in miles

  • Miles Davis’ entire discography, visualized. Read about the project on Open Culture,or check out the project, Scaled in Miles, for yourself.
  • The American Council of Learned Societies has announced seven Digital Innovation Fellowships. Read more here
  • The Office of the Historian in the US Department of State has released a number of digital sources on the early Cold War.
  • And for those interested in coding, I recently learned about codecademy.com, which offers free, interactive, tutorials on Python, HTML/CSS, Javascript, Ruby, PHP, and using APIs.

Weekly Roundup: December 20

  • “History and astronomy are a lot alike. When people claim history couldn’t possibly be scientific, because how can you do science without direct experimentation, astronomy should be used as an immediate counterexample.”

From Digital History, Saturn’s Rings, and the Battle of Trafalgar, from scottbot.net

  • “Over the years, the digital revolution has changed how oral historians conceptualize projects, how they deal with ethical issues, how they process their materials, how they think about sound and video, and how materials are made accessible. All of this has placed oral history squarely in the middle of the conversation about digital humanities.”

Last, but not least (because I’m excited to get my hands on a copy) is Oral History and Digital Humanites: Voice, Access, and Engagement, edited by Douglas A. Boyd and Mary A. Larson, from Palgrave Macmillan,

 oral history and digital humanities

Weekly roundup: December 13

  • The University of Lincoln Repository has made Martin Paul Eve’s 2014 book, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) available as a PDF: “If you work in a university, it is likely that you have heard the term “open access” in the past couple of years. You may also have heard either that it is the utopian answer to all the problems of research dissemination or perhaps that it marks the beginning of an apocalyptic new era of pay-to-say publishing. In this book, Dr. Martin Paul Eve sets out the histories, contexts and controversies for open access, specifically in the humanities. Broaching practical elements alongside economic histories, open licensing, monographs and funder policies, this book is a must-read for both those new to open access or scholarly communications and those with an already keen interest in the latest developments for the humanities.”

Weekly roundup: December 6

  • It’s not by any means new, having been online since 2008, but I spent a bit of time exploring the collection from the Civil Rights Digital Library the other day.