2010 Digital Humanities Start-up Grants Project Directors Meeting

October 13th, 2010

Vika Zafrin and Jack Ammerman attended the 2010 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants Project Directors Meeting on September 28. Below is the presentation that Vika make during the “Lightning Round” of project presentations. We were limited to three slides and two minutes:

MeSH Indexer Web Services

When we were setting up MIT's DSpace at Boston University, to serve as our institutional repository software, our colleagues at the BU medical campus showed us the MeSH Indexer Web Services application developed at Johns Hopkins. When a medical article is uploaded into DSpace, the Indexer parses its text and automatically suggests medical subject headings for it. This process is semantic: epidemiology might be suggested for an article on AIDS even if the word "epidemiology" is found nowhere in it.

It's Complicated

We thought that was brilliant. We thought, we should have something like that for the humanities. It could mean big and positive changes for the usually time-consuming library cataloging process. But doing this in the humanities is harder: word meanings are much more multivariate, more context-dependent. This needs collaboration among people with a wide range of expertise.

Evolutionary Subject Tagging in the Humanities

So: our grant project will bring together computing analysis specialists, librarians and humanities scholars. We'll work together to produce a white paper detailing how we think such software can be built. Then we'll gather a team that will apply for a Phase II grant to build it.

Twitter Hashtag:  #SUG2010

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