Glossary of Digital Humanities

One of the challenges for digital humanities newbies is all the jargon. Help the DH community figure out what its jargon is. When you hear a term you don’t recognize, add   it to this glossary. If you know the definition, add it below the term.

Mark the entry name as a Heading 2. Then, refresh the table of contents.

Other glossaries or sources for definitions.

Table of Contents

Glossary of Digital Humanities

ARIS

Augmented reality

Codecs (coder-decoders)

Coding

Creative Commons

Crowdsourcing

DH = Digital Humanities

DP=Digital Pedagogy

Digital Teaching

Flattening Learning Curve

Flipped Classroom

Gamification

GIS

Hack

Hashtag

Infovis

Mashup

Metadata

New Aesthetic (NA)

Open Access (OA)

Open Source

QR Codes

R1

Regex (Regular Expressions)

MediaSocial

SoMoLo

TEI= Text Encoding Initiative

Unconference

Other glossaries or sources of definitions.

ARIS

Aris is a user-friendly, open-source platform for creating and playing mobile games,

tours and interactive stories. Using GPS and QR Codes, ARIS players experience

a hybrid world of virtual interactive characters, items, and media placed in physical space.”

Augmented reality

The physical world combined with the digital. It is a term that has grown popular with mobile internet devices. Augmented reality often refers to using the internet to make “normal” life more effective or more efficient. If you use Google Maps to help you navigate as you walk through a town, you are working in an augmented reality.

Augmented reality is currently moving to overlay Internet-accessible information onto physical “tours.” Wikitude allows you to point your phone’s camera at a building or landmark and get background information on it. The app uses your phone’s GPS   location and camera to determine where you are and what you are looking at. Museums and historical groups are using this to create tours for visitors.

Codecs (coder-decoders)

“perform encoding and decoding on a data stream or signal, usually in the interest of compressing video, speech, or music. They scale, render, decompose, and reconstitute perceptible images and sounds so that they can get through information networks and electronic media.”--Adrian Mackenzie, in Software Studies, a Lexicon

Coding

A broad term that ranges from all the way from writing high-end software development to editing the html of a blog post. All coding involves writing computer code, special terms and symbols that computers use to create content.

Some languages can be very challenging to learn, but the bulk are quite easy to get started in. You can start writing decent pages in HTML in a couple hours. Ruby on Rails, a very powerful language, is common among Humanists because it is intuitive and simple.

Common coding languages for DH include

Creative Commons

Although Creative Commons (CC) is often thought of as an alternative to copyright, the Creative Commons license works in conjunction with formal, traditional copyright. CC enables individuals to share and use documents, objects, images, and ideas, retaining their rights of ownership but allowing for collaborative use. Creative Commons copyright licenses are free (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/) and give the public permission to share and use your work, giving you acknowledgement for what you’ve created.

Crowdsourcing 

soliciting the help of a (sometimes very large) group of people to collectively research a topic or solve a problem.

DH = Digital Humanities

a learning community focused on reflexive engagements w/ digital tools and methods to investigate the humanities, i.e., studies of human culture. DH values collaboration, plurality, investigation of human culture, and the disruption of and reflection on traditional practices and is concerned with not just the use of digital technology for humanities projects but how the use of digital technology for humanities projects changes the user’s experience. The term “digital humanities” is very broad, and contains multitudes, but examples of “digital humanities” practices might include the use of existing digital tools for research, to display data in new and revelatory ways, or to bring research to new audiences. “DH” practices also involve the creation of new tools to accomplish the above goals.

DP=Digital Pedagogy

Engaged and reflexive practice and scholarship, often collaborative, about how digital technologies disrupt and reshape teaching and learning.

Digital Teaching

Using digital technology to teach. DH and Digital Teaching are not successful unless they're also digital pedagogy, i.e. reflexive about learning.

Flattening Learning Curve

Nothing more or less than a takeoff on the spatial metaphor of a learning curve. The “steeper the curve,” the more time and effort it takes to master something. Flattening the learning curve expresses the idea that mastery can’t be achieved in one conference (duh), but perhaps you can take the best, most useful first step toward mastery and “flatten” what would have otherwise been a steeper learning curve for you. In other words, what step can I actually do now that will have the greatest payoff?

Flipped Classroom

using video lectures/tutorials for out-of-classroom instruction, saving classroom time for more interactive learning. For example, the Khan Academy. On Edutopia, Andrew Miller discusses five “best practices” for this type of classroom, noting that teachers must be aware of technological barriers, considerate of the type of workload they ask their students to take on, and invested in creating accountability.

Gamification

The use of techniques derived from gaming environments (ie, levels, badges) to enhance non-game environments. For example, Jane McGonigal gave a TED Talk in 2010 about the possibility of leveraging gaming techniques to solve real-world problems. There is an ongoing debate about the meaning and efficacy of gamification: see, for example, Ian Bogost’s famous screed Gamification is Bullshit, in which he argues that “gamification” is “marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.” HASTAC’s Cathy Davidson defended the use of badges in informal and online education here.

GIS

“Geographic Information Systems” Basically - using digital maps in powerful ways. GIS usually involves taking a large database of information and displaying it on a map to show relationships in the data. Ryan Cordell has a good example of this with his work on Hawthorne. There are a number of free databases available with basic information like cities, populations, geographic and political borders.

Software options

Google Maps is a form of GIS that allows for some basic manipulation. ArcGIS is the “big name” in terms of software. There are multiple open source options as well.

Hack

To create a new computing tool or repurpose an existing one for a new purpose.

Hashtag

The # sign, used in Twitter to mark a keyword or topic. Hashtags can be used to categorize Tweets around a common topic and are searchable. If you click on the word used in a hashtag. that will also function as a search, showing you all of the Tweets using that hashtag. In addition to functional use, hashtags are often used rhetorically in Twitter and in other venues, to comment on the message: #sosickoftraffic, #wearesooutofhere.

Infovis

Information visualization is the interdisciplinary study of "the visual representation of large-scale collections of non-numerical information, such as files and lines of code in software systems, library and bibliographic databases, networks of relations on the internet, and so forth"--Wikipedia

Essentially, info vis (lingo for information visualization) is concerned with accurately and accessibly representing big, unwieldy collections of information. One of the gurus/critics of information visualization is Edward Tufte. Other scholars working to represent large sets of data include Lev Manovich and his colleagues at UC San Diego’s Software Studies program. See http://lab.softwarestudies.com/. A useful tool for doing your own information visualizations is IBM Many Eyes.

A related idea is the infographic, which takes (usually) less data but represents it visually. Infographics are often used gratuitously and ineffectively in popular sources (resulting in the inevitable parodies), but tools for making and possibly teaching them well include those on this list and this list.

Mashup

Combining two different media types or artifacts to create hybrid product or application; usually, the result evidences meaningful and intentional commentary, and sometimes irony is involved.

Metadata

Background or contextual information about something. Metadata is not the content itself - rather it is the content and facts that surround the “thing.” It is a term that started in computer databases and has become a more common one, talking about all kinds of information.

As an example, the metadata for a conference can be facts like the location it is held, the year, the hosting institution, and the organizing institution. It is not the panels held or the papers presented.

Another example, a book. The author, the publisher, publishing date, and related books are all metadata. The content, the chapter titles, and characters are not metadata.

New Aesthetic (NA)

The very new and still-evolving idea that it’s important to examine and theorize “our collaboration with technology, whether that’s bots, digital cameras or satellites (and whether that collaboration is conscious or unconscious).” NA is purportedly “a useful visual shorthand for that collaboration has been glitchy and pixelated imagery, a way of seeing that seems to reveal a blurring between “the real” and “the digital”, the physical and the virtual, the human and the machine.” booktwo

NA has generated a fair bit of buzz, analysis, and controversy. See, for example:

Open Access (OA)

Open access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

OA is the opposite of traditional scholarly publishing and access, e.g., article databases that require a university subscription or that charge non-subscribers $25 to download an article. Among the arguments in favor of open access is the argument that taxpayers fund much university research, but then are made to “double pay” by having access to such research only through subsidizing an expensive database subscription to the very research they have already subsidized. See, for example, David Perry’s presentation Ending Knowledge Cartels and The Cost of Knowledge.

Some scholarly journals are already open-access. The Directory of Open Access Journals maintains a list.

Beyond the issue of access (can I get this?) to scholarship is the issue of use (what can I do with it?). Copyright law, especially as applied to digital and multimodal works, is a mess. Some scholars and journals now publish work that already has explicit permissions for use and re-use, e.g., Creative Commons licenses. See, e.g., Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society (scroll down to bottom of page to see Creative Commons license).

Open Source

A term used to define what is basically free software. Open source software actually has the source code of the program available to anyone. That allows individual programmers to modify the software to meet their needs and to improve the original product.

Open source software is also free for individuals to download and run - unlike something like MS Office where you must pay to use it, you can use open source software for free.

Common open source software programs are WordPress and Drupal (for websites), Audacity (for sound editing), and Zotero (for bibliographies). Another major line of open source software is the open source operating system Linux and its various user-friendly forms, such as Ubuntu.

Open source programs typically are less “beautiful” than the proprietary counterparts but have all the same features. Documentation can be as good as or better than proprietary software.

QR Codes

QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds ("modes") of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.”

In a nutshell, you can use a QR code generator such as http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ to generate a QR code for URL, text, phone #, or SMS. That code can be put into a website or print document or printed onto, say, a sticker and placed “in the wild,” e.g., a QR code to a student’s essay about X place on a street sign pole in that place. QR code readers and generators are available for free for smartphones.

R1

“Research I university was a category previously used by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to indicate those universities that engaged in extensive research activity.

In the 1994 edition of the Carnegie Classification, Research I universities were defined as those which:

The Carnegie Foundation reported that 59 institutions met these criteria in 1994.

In their interim 2000 edition of the classification, the Carnegie Foundation renamed the category "Doctoral/research universities-extensive" to "avoid the inference that the categories signify quality differences.”. The Foundation replaced their single classification system with a multiple classification system in their 2005 comprehensive overhaul of the classification framework so that the term "Research I university" is no longer valid, although many universities still use the term.”--Wikipedia

Regex (Regular Expressions)

Think Find and Replace on steroids. “Regular expressions” provide a concise and flexible means to "match" (specify and recognize) strings of text, such as particular characters, words, or patterns of characters

They are a short form of computer code that you can use to search a text document for key words and phrases. It takes a special program to search for a regular expression - you can’t do it in MS Word. But regular expressions give you a way to comb long text documents for repeated phrases and word usage.

Regular expressions are intimidating at first glance because of the number of odd symbols used. But the formatting is quite simple with a good set of guidelines.

It is commonly used by linguists to analyze use of idioms, grammar, and sentence structure.

Social Media

“Social media” is a term used to designate online platforms based on sharing content. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr are classic examples. There is some confusion around this term, due to the fact that some modes of producing content on the Internet (blogs, for example) are “social” only insofar as they are used socially (if people comment on a blog, it becomes “social”; if the blog is simply produced and disseminated, and receives no feedback, is it still “social”?) There are also social media-optional platforms, like Zotero, Mendeley, and Del.icio.us; these can be used socially, if you choose to subscribe to other users’ feeds, but can also function simply as collection devices for your own content.

SoMoLo

Social, mobile, local. Here is a presentation in the context of commerce. Some of the same ideas could be put to educational use.

TEI= Text Encoding Initiative

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a consortium which collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form. Its chief deliverable is a set of Guidelines which specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts, chiefly in the humanities, social sciences and linguistics. Since 1994, the TEI Guidelines have been widely used by libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars to present texts for online research, teaching, and preservation. In addition to the Guidelines themselves, the Consortium provides a variety of supporting resources, including resources for learning TEI, information on projects using the TEI, TEI-related publications, and software developed for or adapted to the TEI.”

Unconference

A “conference” that doesn’t follow the general structure of a conference. The idea is to allow for a dynamic schedule where participants decide on the fly what sessions will be held and what topics will be discussed. No papers are presented. No talks are given. Rather, everything is discussion and practice-based.

Other glossaries or sources of definitions.