Rick Costa discussed the Bridges project from Carnegie Mellon, which offers supercomputing access to non-traditional users like digital humanists. It offers a bunch of portals and tools for things like analyzing film images, data management, and textual analysis, and can be used in conjunction with coding languages like #R and Python. To use their supercomputing power and support structure, you need to apply for a grant from the National Science Foundation. Our data for END isn't extensive enough to require something like this, but it's interesting to consider in regards to where DH might go in the future. I wonder if we're heading towards this model, where we'll see less development of individual tools at different universities and more investment in larger, comprehensive projects.
Pablo Alvarez spoke about a tool for teaching ancient Greek handwriting. It seems to be a program which helps students identify and transcribe letters on Greek manuscripts. Some of our team saw how poorly OCR works even on printed texts--imagine how necessary it is to have people transcribing ancient Greek manuscripts by hand! Alvarez focused a great deal on the educational possibilities of such a program. I wonder, how much do we learn when we do what's sometimes dismissed as "busy work" of data analysis--transcribing, making decisions about what goes in what data field, etc.
The third talk, from Justin Joque, was on the "Politics of Text Mining." Joque challenged the audience to consider DH work alongside government surveillance, specifically the data-mining of the NSA. Joque framed his argument in terms of the relation of the part to the whole--what connections do we draw between an individual text and the data we get from topic modeling a corpus? Between an individual person and the large-scale demographic information which governments and security agencies use to apply threats? This led to some provocative discussion. This related post by Michael Widner gives an overview of some of the conversation about this issue which I found helpful. #keydh