DH Show and Tell: Manuscript Studies (Digital Mappa | History SPOT | T-PEN)

Greetings Readers,

Today I am kicking off the first of what I hope to make an occasional series of Digital Humanities show and tell posts exploring some of the amazing, ingenious and useful projects coming thick and fast into the sweaty and eager hands (or through the screens) of academics. The goal of this series is to promote projects I believe in, to offer a digest of thematically arranged work to pique your interest, and to promote wider use of deserving projects.

How is this a fluid imagining, you may ask? Well, dear reader, I have an appropriately academic circumlocution ready in response. The emerging resources of digital humanities are so rapidly evolving, so fluid, that although we can revel in the dynamism they provoke (or as Zygmunt Bauman might say, the constant novel renewal of trends), and learn to swim through this roiling mass of data more effectively. Fear not, the Digital Humanities are here to demystify, not to confuse! (you may detect a note of flippancy) So without further ado, I present three amazing resources in the area of manuscript studies, each quite different but unified by their potentially game changing possibilities.

1) The DM (Digital Mappa) project

The Digital Mappa project is an amazing toolkit in development for importing, annotating and linking medieval maps and diagrams. In his 2011 Digital Medievalist article, Martin Foys outlines a vision of an interface in which the geospatial bias of current maps, which “[subordinate] all content to current notions of geospatial representation and reality” can be overcome in favour of an understanding of the map and its content on its own terms. Take a look and i’m sure you’ll be excited by the possibilities. And maps are only the beginning…

2) History SPOT Digital Tools

This amazing project created by IHR digital places a comprehensive range of tutorials for students of digital methodology at the fingertips of all without pay wall or restriction. Through a combination of podcasts, videos, demonstrations, and tutorials, the Institute for Historical Research have made the training of newbies such as myself in the rigorous methodologies of Digital Manuscript Studies systematic and simple. The video below comes from SPOT, and demonstrates an available example of the wide range of demonstrations available.

3) T-PEN

T-PEN, a transcription tool for Digital Humanities, allows access to a wide range of manuscript collections (and the possibility of importing more) through a line-by line transcription interface. This system, complete with complex character recognition, abbreviation support and plenty of other helpers, enables speedy, born digital transcription of practically any manuscript. Although the video below is very interesting, skip to 3:57 to see the real magic take place!

That’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed a little glimpse of the marvellous future of Manuscript Studies through its emerging digital tools! There has never been a better time to get engaged, get stuck in and use these tools for your research, so don’t be shy. All you have to lose are your chains!



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