Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (OpenITI)

“The written heritage of the “Islamicate” cultures that stretch from modern Bengal to Spain is as vast as it is understudied and underrepresented in the digital humanities. The sheer volume and diversity of the surviving works produced in Persian and Arabic by denizens of these lands in the premodern period makes this body of texts ideal for computational forms of analysis. Efforts to utilize these new digital forms of analysis, however, have been stymied by poor OCR technology for Arabic-script languages and the lack of a open-access, standards-compliant Islamicate corpus.

The Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (OpenITI) is a multi-institutional effort to construct the first machine-actionable scholarly corpus of premodern Islamicate texts. Led by researchers at the Aga Khan University (AKU), Universität Wien (UW), and the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland (College Park) and an interdisciplinary advisory board of leading digital humanists and Islamic, Persian, and Arabic studies scholars, OpenITI aims to develop the digital infrastructure necessary to achieve this goal, including improved Arabic-script OCR, Arabic-script standards for OCR output and text encoding, and platforms for collaborative corpus creation (e.g., CorpusBuilder). In the process, OpenITI will enable new synergies between Digital Humanities and the inter-related Islamicate fields of Islamic, Persian, and Arabic Studies….”

What the Chemical Industry Didn’t Want You to Know

Tucked away in an Oregon barn for decades was a collection of internal documents, correspondence, and chemical safety studies detailing the lengths the chemical industry took to conceal the dangers of their products.  

The documents in this collection—dubbed the “Poison Papers”—allege fraudulent chemical safety testing, corporate concealment of chemical dangers, and collusion between the industry and the regulators who were supposed to be protecting the public and environment. Commonly used herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate), dicamba, atrazine, and 2,4-D feature prominently among the papers, as do nearly every large chemical corporation. 

Now, thanks to the combined efforts of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Bioscience Resource Project (BRP), this collection is available online for the first time….

The Poison Papers are the digitization of about three tons of files from litigation against Monsanto, litigation involving some of the Dow Chemicals products, open records requests, and Freedom of Information Act requests to the federal government as well as state agencies. It represents documents that were discovered over the past 40 years but some of the documents, including scientific studies, are older than that because they are from litigation….”

700 Years of Persian Manuscripts Now Digitized and Available Online | Open Culture

For Nowruz, the Persian New Year, the Library of Congress has released a digital collection of its rare Persian-language manuscripts, an archive spanning 700 years. This free resource opens windows on diverse religious, national, linguistic, and cultural traditions, most, but not all, Islamic, yet all different from each other in complex and striking ways….”

Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education

“Our national heritage of approximately one billion biodiversity specimens, once digitized, can be linked to emerging digital data sources to form an information-rich network for exploring earth’s biota across taxonomic, temporal and spatial scales. A workshop held 30 October – 1 November 2018 at Oak Spring Garden in Upperville, VA under the leadership of the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) developed a strategy for the next decade to maximize the value of our collections resource for research and education. In their deliberations, participants drew heavily on recent literature as well as surveys, and meetings and workshops held over the past year with the primary stakeholder community of collections professionals, researchers, and educators.

Arising from these deliberations is a vision to focus future biodiversity infrastructure and digital resources on building a network of extended specimen data that encompasses the depth and breadth of biodiversity specimens and data held in U.S. collections institutions. The extended specimen network (ESN) includes the physical voucher specimen curated and housed in a collection and its associated genetic, phenotypic and environmental data (both physical and digital). These core data types, selected because they are key to answering driving research questions, include physical preparations such as tissue samples and their derivative products such as gene sequences or metagenomes, digitized media and annotations, and taxon- or locality-specific data such as occurrence observations, phylogenies and species distributions. Existing voucher specimens will be extended both manually and through new automated methods, and data will be linked through unique identifiers, taxon name and location across collections, across disciplines and to outside sources of data. As we continue our documentation of earth’s biota, new collections will be enhanced from the outset, i.e., accessioned with a full suite of data. We envision the ESN proposed here will be the gold standard for the structured cloud of integrated data associated with all vouchered specimens. These permanent specimen vouchers, in which genotypes and phenotypes link to a particular environment in time and space, comprise an irreplaceable resource for the millennia….”

BCoN Report: Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education

The Biodiversity Collections Network has released its new report, Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education.  You are invited to download and share the summary brochure and to review the longer report that provides additional detail about this vision for the future. …”

Report urges massive digitization of museum collections | Science | AAAS

“The United States should launch an effort to create an all-encompassing database of the millions of stuffed, dried, and otherwise preserved plants, animals, and fossils in museums and other collections, a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)–sponsored white paper released today urges. The report, titled Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education, also calls for new approaches to cataloging digitized specimens and linking them to a range of other data about each organism and where it was collected. If the plan is carried out, “There will be [a] huge potential impact for the research community to do new types of research,” says NSF biology Program Director Reed Beaman in Alexandria, Virginia.

The effort could take decades and cost as much as half a billion dollars, however, and some researchers are worried the white paper will not win over policymakers. “I just wish that the report focused more on the potential benefits for noncollections communities,” says James Hanken, director of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For the past 8 years, NSF has sponsored the $100 million, 10-year Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program, which has paid for nearly 62 million plant and animal specimens to be digitally photographed from multiple angles for specific research studies. New technology has greatly sped up the process. Already, researchers studying natural history and how species are related are reaping the benefits of easy access to a wealth of information previous locked in museums….”

Announcing the Winner of Junto March Madness 2019 « The Junto

Without further ado, the winner of Junto March Madness 2019 is…

 

Harvard’s Colonial North America project. Initially just a 2-seed, the CNA project busted some brackets on its way to the top. But it’s easy to see why! The project will digitize nearly half a million pages of archival and manuscript materials in Harvard’s collections. This project is bound to provide an incredibly valuable resource for historians of early America for years to come….”

European copyright directive ‘opens door to mass digitalisation’ | Times Higher Education (THE)

Librarians believe that a new copyright directive passed by the European Parliament could open the door to the mass digitalisation of books, films and audio recordings, potentially meaning fewer trips to distant libraries for scholars and students who need access to obscure material….

It should make it easier for libraries to digitalise documents that are still in copyright but are not commercially available. These could include radio broadcasts, out-of-print books and unpublished oral histories, said Ben White, a member of the legal working group at the Association of European Research Libraries.

It could help to make available “huge amounts of unpublished material with a big research value”, he said.

At the moment, libraries must seek permission to digitalise these documents one by one, painstakingly tracking down the copyright owner for each, he explained, meaning that digitalisation is not possible at scale….”

Digital Library of the Caribbean

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. The dLOC partner institutions are the core of dLOC. dLOC partners retain all rights to their materials and provide access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections. (Information on how to become a dLOC partner).

Read the dLOC Fact Sheet (and more about dLOC), register for a free mydLOC user account, or please contact us with any questions.

dLOC also supports collaborative project development and funding initiatives for partners, including the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative and a collaborative funding model with institutional members and personal member to contribute funding. These activities complement the work by the dLOC partners, who contribute content, and time and expertise in shared governance….”

Digital Library of the Caribbean

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. The dLOC partner institutions are the core of dLOC. dLOC partners retain all rights to their materials and provide access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections. (Information on how to become a dLOC partner).

Read the dLOC Fact Sheet (and more about dLOC), register for a free mydLOC user account, or please contact us with any questions.

dLOC also supports collaborative project development and funding initiatives for partners, including the Protecting Haitian Patrimony Initiative and a collaborative funding model with institutional members and personal member to contribute funding. These activities complement the work by the dLOC partners, who contribute content, and time and expertise in shared governance….”