UVA MDST 3703 The Stack of Scholarship 2012-09-24


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UVA MDST 3703 The Stack of Scholarship 2012-09-24

  1. 1. The Stack of Scholarship: Ayers’ Experiment Prof. Alvarado MDST 3703/7703 25 September 2012
  2. 2. Business• Quizzes graded – Questions, see me• Comments – By Monday evening – Please write comments, not posts, for the responses to the readings
  3. 3. Review• Thematic Research Collections – Remain bound to the metaphor of the library and the book – Partly due to remediation• Other examples – Blake Project – World of Dante – House Divided – Princeton Dante Project
  4. 4. BLAKE ARCHIVE WORLD OF DANTE• Figure types • Maps• Comparison viewer • Annotations PRINCETON DANTE PROJECT • Commentaries • Voice HOUSE DIVIDED • Contextual mass
  5. 5. These sites seek to evoke worldthrough contextual mass What do theymean by “world”?
  6. 6. World models likethese are “embedded”in textsSites like World ofDante useimages, maps, andglossaries in relationto texts to evoke theseworlds
  7. 7. When we tell stories, we also create worlds Our worlds expressworldviews, theories of the world, that are culturallyconstructed and historically specific
  8. 8. Historians tells stories too Histories are written fromvarious theoretical perspectives and motiviations
  9. 9. The Great Man theory of history
  10. 10. Historical Materialism
  11. 11. Things do get complicated, though
  12. 12. The Promise of the New South Ed Ayers, 1993
  13. 13. What is “open narrative”?
  14. 14. Open vs. Fixed Narrative• What is open narrative?• Why does Ayers propose it?• What did critics say of Promise?• How does Ayers defend himself?• Does the book have a thesis?• Is Ayers’ task similar to that of the historian of the web?• Are the periods connected?
  15. 15. Open Narrative• Open narrative is not about being unsure of the facts• On the contrary, it results from the control an excess of facts—“hyperempiricism”• It’s purpose is to expose the complexity and irony of history, not the absence of historical truth• It’s goal is to evoke the world of its subject, not impose that of the author
  16. 16. Open narrative is “postmodern” Against “metanarratives” For complexity Related to intertextuality
  17. 17. Picasso’s Guernica (1937)
  18. 18. Open narrative allows the historian to create …
  19. 19. To move away from this
  20. 20. Did Valley of the Shadow achieve these goals?
  21. 21. No, Ayers put too much faith in the database to produce the desired effects
  22. 22. The Differences Slavery MadeCreated in response to criticisms of VOTS But also an experiment in the academic essay
  23. 23. “an applied experiment in digital scholarship”
  24. 24. What is the specific problem that TDSM tries to solve?What was the experiment about?
  25. 25. To give full access to the scholarly argumentBut also to compensate for the lack of argument in VOTS
  26. 26. The task is to relate theARGUMENT with the DATA Why is this so hard?
  27. 27. Rationalization Effect: What is an (historical) argument? Why do databases andhypertext complicate matters?
  28. 28. Arguments and narratives are linear and non-random Readers expect to follow a logical or causal sequence of ideas
  29. 29. Databases are random Databases are “random access”It does not matter which order you read themThey are meant to be searched and “queried”
  30. 30. How does TDSM handle therelationship between narrative and data?How does it handle the relationship between the fixed linearity of the narrative and the non-linearity of the data?
  31. 31. Darnton’s Pyramid Concise account Expanded versions of aspects Documentation with interpretive essays Theoretical and historiographical materialPedagogic material (Commentaries, etc.)
  32. 32. TDSM’s “Prismatic” Structure Historiography Summary of Points of Argument Analysis Evidence VOS
  33. 33. Technology• XML is used to organize content – The is is made from one big XML file, 24,000 lines long – XML used to markup sources and argument• XSL is used to transform content – We are not learning XSL, but it is similar to CSS but more powerful• GIS is used for map data – Geographic Information Systems – Allows maps to display statistical data
  34. 34. More “rationalization”• Historians use three kinds of information – Narrative (T) – Historiography, or secondary sources (E) – Evidence, or primary sources (D)• Historiography and Evidence organized in databases – Documents, tables, maps, etc. – Libraries, Bibliographies, Digital Collections
  35. 35. Categories are used to organize• Geography source content• Politics – Election of 1860 – Political activtivists• Economics – Commerce Missed – Crops opportunity? – Labor – Property• Social structure• Race• Culture – Religion – Education (“school”) – Urbanization (“Town Development”)• Information and communications
  36. 36. Categories are a large part of what worlds are made of Ontologies
  37. 37. Figure Types in Blake
  38. 38. Does the site fulfill the goals of open narrative?Does the form match or help the content?
  39. 39. Criticism• Worst of both worlds? – Neither random access nor rich narrative – Exploits neither the potentials of a real library or a digital library• Still document-centric – Subject matter remains buried in the documents• Not well connected – Terminal nodes not cross-linked – No cross-site searching• It’s strength is in the integrity of the materials – But criticized for being difficult to use
  40. 40. More Criticisms• Nothing inherently hypertextual about the site – Readers are shunted into paths• Thesis is not that complicated – Modernity and slavery not opposites• Why not put exhibits inline?• Why not show points of comparison in context? – Need for transclusion• Why explain relationship in historiography? Why not create links or use tags?
  41. 41. The Stack of Scholarship ARGUMENTS MAGIC MIDDLE COLLECTIONS
  45. 45. The goal is to excavate and exposethe connections between the levels