More Digital Humanities

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Today the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network gathered to hear a presentation on ‘The Evolution of e-Research’ from Dave De┬áRoure, Professor of e-Research in the Oxford e-Research Centre. Truth to tell, I still feel very much an interloper in the e-Research universe. Or perhaps not so much an interloper as someone lowering himself with trepidation into a freezing cold swimming pool. I’ve not quite adjusted to the idea that the humanities academic is going to be useful in future principally as a miner of data rather than as a reader of books. Nor do I hold out much hope that I’ll be able to learn all the acronyms before they become obsolete, in about three weeks’ time.

Today’s most provocative acronym came courtesy of a project called Structural Analysis of Large Amounts of Music Information, or (yes) SALAMI. The aim of SALAMI was to analyse 23,000 hours of digitized music, breaking it down (or slicing it up) into its constituent elements–intros, verses, choruses, bridge passages and outros (sic) for pop music, more complex categories for classical (‘outros’ become ‘codas’). Quite what the ultimate purpose of the exercise was, or what new research has been made possible by it, was a little unclear, although one can certainly imagine that interesting patterns might emerge over time. There are, though, some important senses in which music is not like salami…

A second musical project to which De Roure drew attention has just been launched by the Bodleian library. What’s the Score? invites any musically-literate person to mark up pages from the library’s collections of mid-Victorian piano sheet music, which have hitherto been uncatalogued. First investigations suggest that it’s quite a fiddly operation. It will be interesting to see whether this latest effort at crowd-sourcing reaps results.

In other news, the website of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network has just gone live–click here to take a look!

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