Nov 11

What researchers want

This is a rather amorphous session proposal but it gets at a discussion that I would love to have at THATCamp this weekend.

At the University of Massachusetts, we’ve started large-scale digitization projects that in the next two years will put more than a hundred thousand digital objects online, with thousands more in the near future.  As we weave together descriptions of individual documents in MODS, TEI transcriptions, RDF encoded relationships for collection structure, and EAD encoded finding aids, it’s become clear that there is a lot of potential in this rich and varied metadata to deliver researchers customized access to our digitized primary source material.

I would love to hear from humanities researchers how you envision using these resources.  At first, ignoring the specific technologies involved, fantasize about ideal research environments for digitized primary sources.  What kinds of data mining/manipulation, visualization, or integration would help your research?  Do you want APIs directly into XML-encoded metadata; do you want linked data that allows you to use the tools of the Semantic Web to interrogate data from primary sources; or do you want shiny, end-user applications that make use of these magical tools to bring you polished presentations of primary source data and information.

As a digital archivist, I see huge potential in the digital content that archives are publishing.  It would be exciting to meet minds about how this potential might shape humanities research and what we can do make access to our digital content better.


1 ping

  1. Caro Pinto

    Great proposal, Aaron.

  2. David Dwiggins

    I’ll second this — I was thinking of proposing something similar. Historic New England is just getting started on the mass-digitization front, and we’re pondering where to focus our efforts. So far there has been a lot of focus on materials with strong visual elements. But I’d love to hear thoughts on how people would like to be able to use our collections, and what we could do to facilitate new types of use based on the availability of online cataloging and digitized materials.

  1. THATCamp New England » Blog Archive

    […] the great session proposals by Lincoln, Aaron (in both what researchers want and is it really you?), and Colin, I would also be interested in exploring the uses of networks and […]

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