“RESEARCHERS LOOK TO SAVE DISAPPEARING LANGUAGES ONLINE”
BY SHEILA RILEY
FOR INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
NOVEMBER 9, 2004
Academics are creating repositories of information in cyberspace – and making the ivory tower more democratic in the process.
Preserving endangered languages is one example. Researchers look to catalog languages that are rarely spoken, so that the tongues won’t be lost to the
“People whose languages have ceased to be spoken have come to appreciate them afterward,” said Doug Whalen, a linguistics researcher at Haskins Laboratories, affiliated with Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
A record of the language, particularly a spoken record, is invaluable – especially if a tongue is disappearing.
Whalen says efforts to revive languages can be difficult because the communities that spoke them – mostly indigenous peoples – are often scattered.
Online access to materials is critical for academics studying languages and people who are trying to recover lost languages, he says.
The University of California, Berkeley, is working to get its endangered-language print and audio archives online for that reason.
Preserving languages has a huge societal benefit, according to Leanne Hinton, head of UC Berkeley’s linguistics department. The alternative would lead to losses at many levels, she says. “When we lose a language in the world, we’re losing a lot (more…)
CHNM has been awarded a contract build a custom collections management system for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The new system will allow NMAJH researchers working at museums and historical societies around the nation to upload and organize images and information about collections of American Judaica via a web-based interface. NMAJH will use the system to create comprehensive database of artifacts from American Jewish history in preparation for a planned new permanent exhibition.
CHNM has been awarded nearly $150,000 to build three new software tools for the NEH’s EDSITEment web portal, including a “Text Collection and Annotation Tool,” an “Image Collection and Annotation Tool,” and an “Image Manipulation Tool.” These tools will be integral parts of the Lessons of History project, which will also include student interactive activities and lesson plans. The tools will enable the project’s focus on facilitating the close reading of important documents, visual and textual, of the American political past. Students will use these tools to gather and then closely analyze the online historical documents creating knowledge with the materials of history. The tools will allow for the modeling of good practice by educators as well as the creation of new knowledge by students.
The Lessons of History tool-building project leverages CHNM’s substantial experience in providing guides to how historians analyze evidence such as photographs or maps. For example, on the website History Matters: (more…)
This fall’s Washington DC Area Forum on Technology and the Humanities focuses on “Digital Tools for the Humanities: What’s Being Developed? What is Needed?”
Our panelists are David Greenbaum and Raymond Yee from the University of California Berkeley’s Interactive University Project, Susan Schreibman and Amit Kumar from the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and Dan Cohen from George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (CHNM). All of the panelists have developed interesting new tools for scholars and students in the humanities, which they will demonstrate.
We will meet on Wednesday, October 27th from 4:00-6:00 PM at GMU’s Student Union Building II, rooms 5 & 6. There will be an informal dinner (Thai food) after the forum, at a cost of $10 per person. You must RSVP online for dinner by 22 October at http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/surveys/form/395.
Co-sponsored by the Center for History & New Media (CHNM) at GMU and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown, the DC Area Technology and Humanities Forum explores important issues in humanities computing and provide an opportunity for DC area scholars interested the uses of new technology in the humanities to meet and get acquainted.
In partnership with colleagues at the University of Maryland and the Internet Archive, CHNM has received an award from the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program to build upon work done in connection with its Business Plan Archive, a two-year-old initiative to preserve records from the historic dot-com era of the late 1990s. Currently the Business Plan Archive contains business plans, marketing plans, technical plans, venture presentations, and other business documents from more than 2,000 failed and successful Internet start-ups. As part of the Library’s national digital preservation strategy, the new grant will help CHNM and its partners expand this collection to include a vast collection of legal documents as well as the personal narratives of entrepreneurs, employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and others touched by this historic period.
History Matters: A Student Guide to U.S. History Online
Alan Gevinson, Kelly Schrum, Roy Rosenzweig
Based on the award-winning website History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, which is a joint project of CHNM and the American Social History Project at the CUNY Graduate Center, this unique resource pairs an annotated guide to 250 of the most useful U.S. history websites for student research. An introduction helps students find, evaluate, and use online sources independently. Intended for the experienced Web surfer and the novice alike, the introduction encourages the development of good research habits through discussion of primary and secondary sources, tips on evaluating website content, and advice on electronic source citation and avoiding plagiarism. The rest of the volume provides chronologically arranged starting points for Internet research, directing students to document, audio, video, and image collections for authoritative and reliable investigation. Sites cover a broad range of political, social, and cultural sources from early Native American legal cases, to Civil War photographs, to Jazz Age African American sheet music. A substantive review of each featured website identifies research topics best served by the site, and select illustrations depict what students will find. Indexes by subject and by medium help students (more…)
Echo: Exploring and Collecting History Online – Science, Technology, and Industry (http://echo.gmu.edu/) announces the launch of its redesigned, expanded, and improved website. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Echo provides the most comprehensive portal for the history of science on the Web, including a searchable guide to more than 5,000 websites on the history of science, technology, and industry, as well as website reviews and annotations, and the latest science news. Echo also hosts free workshops, offers free consultation services to assist other historical practitioners in launching their own websites, and provides a free practical guide to doing online history.
From September 11, 2002 to July 6, 2003, more than 1 million people from around the world visited “September 11: Bearing Witness to History,” an exhibit at the National Museum of American History. In addition to displays of photographs, television footage, artifacts from ground zero, and voicemail recordings from the morning of the attacks, the exhibit included a section with pencils and cards inviting visitors to share their reflections and memories of September 11, 2001.
More than 20,000 of those cards – representing the thoughts of people from 50 states and more than 40 countries – are now available online for public browsing as part of the September 11 Digital Archive. Some cards contain several paragraphs of recollections and reactions, others only a few words, and others children’s drawings. The cards can be viewed at http://www.911digitalarchive.org/smithsoniancards.
These handwritten responses offer unique glimpses into the lives and perspectives of people whose stories might not otherwise be told:
A 13-year-old girl living in Georgia began, “As I sit here and write this using the same pencil as I don’t know how many other Americans, I feel a great unity with everyone in this room. For the moment I spend in here, (more…)
Here Is New York, the online gallery of images depicting the September 11 attacks and their aftermath, will not go the way of most website content, vanishing forever into the cyber-ether: Rather, this extensive and unique collection of photographs, taken by both amateurs and professionals, has a secure spot in the historical record.
Here Is New York is the latest acquisition of the September 11 Digital Archive. In addition to the nearly 7,000 professional and amateur images in the Here Is New York online gallery, the Archive contains more than 130,000 written accounts, e-mails, audio recordings, video clips, photographs, Web sites and other materials that document the attacks. These items will provide researchers with a major source of information about the attacks.
Here Is New York, created in response to the World Trade Center tragedy, began as a storefront exhibit in SOHO that, in addition to displaying professional photographs, invited amateurs to submit images. In accordance with the exhibit’s subtitle, “A Democracy of Photographs,” many of the amateur photographs were digitally scanned, printed and displayed on the walls alongside the work of professional photographers. All the displayed prints were sold for $25, regardless of their provenance. The net proceeds from (more…)