Tag Archives: Arts

Tech Spotlight: Ben Johnston on Digital Humanities

February 21, 2012: Technology Spotlight – Ben Johnston on Digital Humanities

In this session on the digital humanities, Ben goes over the definition, examples, and best practices in digital humanities, or the digital study of the human condition. Highlights include an overview of the Whitman Archive, image collection analysis, and encoding of text and semantic metadata, such as the implementation of  Text Encoding Initiative, or TEI markup. Watch the video below to see the entire presentation.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Lunch & Learn: Databases to Play and Watch: Exploring the Princeton University Library’s Streaming Audio and Visual E-Resources presented by Darwin Scott

Darwin’s Powerpoint: 201111_scott_streaming

Following up on a brief Lunch ‘n Learn presentation last December, Darwin Scott will devote a full session to the ins and outs of key proprietary streaming audio and visual electronic resources provided to the Princeton community by the University Library.  Learn some tips ‘n tricks on how to search these resources, make play lists and send streaming files to mobile devices, explore added text features, and much more. As in all things electronic these days, a lot has changed in a year!

Speaker bio:

Darwin Scott is the Music Librarian at Princeton’s Arthur Mendel Music Library and is the subject liaison for the Music Department and the programs in dance and theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology (specializing in medieval music) and an MLS from UCLA, where he worked in the music library for 16 years. He headed east in 1995 as the Creative Arts Librarian at Brandeis University (west of Boston) and grew into a thoroughly transplanted Yankee, fully functional with snow, New England driving, and dropped r’s by the time he came to Princeton in April 2009. Darwin is an active member of the American Musicological Society (with wide interests in music), and back in the days when he had time to practice, was a competent oboe and recorder player.

Lunch & Learn: Dennis Hood on Blackboard 9.1

Image representing Blackboard as depicted in C...Wednesday, September 21,
12:00 noon
Frist Multipurpose Room B
Blackboard 2011: New Features and Feature Enhancements
Dennis Hood

Users will be relieved to learn the Blackboard upgrade in June does not require relearning the interface, as it did in summer 2010. Instead, old features have been enhanced and new ones added.  Among the changes:

  • New capabilities for bulk uploading, managing, and using content in a Course are available with the Course Files feature.  Course Files can also be used for creating a shared dropbox, which has the advantages over the WebSpace Dropbox of 1) keeping everything right in the Blackboard course site, as opposed to sending users to another application; and 2) allowing users without Princeton IDs to participate.
  • New content types include Mashups, which allow you to pull data from YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and Flickr photos, and Lesson Plans.
  • Paste From Word allows you to paste MS Word files into text boxes without losing formatting.
  • The Lesson Plan feature enables Instructors and Course designers to create a structured unit plan with distinct and customizable sections that provide a means of documenting information such as description, learning level, delivery instructions, and so on.
  • Now you can keep Priority Announcements at the top of the page by putting them above a repositionable bar.
  • Back to the future: Announcement e-mail notifications once again contain the text of the announcement and are sent to course staff, as well as to students.

Grade Center Improvements:

  • Smart Views : Grade Center Smart Views allow for more customization and types. Selecting a favorite view links to it directly from the Control Panel.
  • Needs Grading Page : For Courses with many enrolled Students and gradable items, the Needs Grading page can help determine which Assignments and Tests need grading first.
  • Color Coding : Grades can now be color-coded. Grading Color Codes apply background and text color to items in the Grade Center that meet specified criteria. Colors can be defined for items based on Grade status or based on the score.
  • Rubrics : Instructors can create a Rubric to provide guidelines for grading an Assignment, Blog, Wiki, Journal, or Discussion Board. Instructors can associate the Rubric to a grading column and view the Rubric while assigning a grade.
  • Anonymous Grading : Instructors can grade assignment and test attempts while information identifying the Student remains concealed.

About the speaker:
Dennis Hood is in his 11th year of managing Blackboard for Princeton. He also uses Blackboard in teaching his speech communications course at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

Lunch & Learn: New tools for writing with Professor Emeritus Will Howarth and Jon Edwards



Photo: morguefile, courtesy kumarnm.

Scrivener, an innovative software package for writers, was the topic of last week’s Lunch ‘n Learn, led jointly by Professor Will Howarth, Professor Emeritus of English at Princeton, and Jon Edwards, who has recently retired from Princeton’s Office of Information Technology. Howarth and Edwards spoke of their enthusiasm for this fairly recent tool, with Howarth demonstrating the latest version for Macintosh computers (Scrivener 2.0), and Edwards using the new beta version for Windows (Scrivener Beta 1.4).

The idea for the software, Professor Howarth explained, was conceived in 2006 by Keith Blount, a primary school teacher from England turned self-taught programmer, because he was frustrated by the capabilities of existing commercial word processors. Blount wanted to design a different set of writing tools to support his ambitions for writing fiction. His vision for a new type of writing tool became a reality when the first version of Scrivener for the Mac was released in January of 2007. A beta version of Scrivener for Windows was released in November 2010 to coincide with National Novel Writing month. Blount’s software firm, which now employs 4.5 full time staff members, is called Literature and Latte; Scrivener is its sole product. Although entire documents can be written and formatted in Scrivener, the program is really designed to help with more creative aspects of writing than just typing words and making them look good on a printed page.

Scrivener was described by Howarth as being part “content-generation tool” and part “idea-and-structure processor.” Scrivener deals with all aspects of a writing project from first ideas, to research links and notes, to outlining, structuring, and eventually, composing and editing a document. Scrivener-created works can later be exported to a traditional word processor for final polishing and formatting. Apart from supporting common word processor formats such as .DOC, .DOCX, .RTF and HTML, text can also be translated to e-book formats such as ePub, a standard platform, .MOBI, a non-proprietary format that can be read on the Amazon Kindle, and PDF. It isn’t only this multi-platform flexibility in file types that sets Scrivener apart from other writing tools. By design, the software attempts to follow the creative process that takes place before writing begins, starting with half-formed ideas and sketchy notations; the writer then proceeds with research, composing and organizing, adding to and editing these beginnings into a more complete work.  Although the production version of the Mac edition of Scrivener has only been around for a few years, it has already become the top choice of many professional fiction writers, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Howarth demonstrated the software interface, showing its three-part workspace: there is a binder pane (a collection of all written parts and research material for a particular work), a central editing pane (where writing and edits occur), and an inspector pane on the far right of the screen, where metadata and other information about items in the binder can be entered and viewed. Pre-existing templates for several specific types of writing are included in the software: screenplays, novels, short stories and non-fiction, are several examples of templates that contain formatting commonly required by publishers and producers of such works, particularly those in the UK. The scriptwriting template, for example, has many of the standards required to submit such works to the BBC, as well as being a general guideline for standard script formatting.

Howarth demonstrated many ways to view an existing work in progress in Scrivener, showing both a traditional outline format, as well as one that represented the outline as if each part was an index card pinned to a corkboard. In either view, highlighting and dragging one part of the work to a new position in the outline structure, or on the pin board, caused the document to immediately reflect that change in organization.



Screen shot showing the Scrivener “corkboard” view. (Note: this image shows the interface for Scrivener for Windows Beta 1.4).

Using an e-text version of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, taken from the Project Gutenberg online repository, Howarth showed how easy it was to break an existing long work into component parts. In the case of Walden, Howarth quickly divided the book into its published chapter structure, by using search terms and keyboard shortcuts. He also demonstrated how search results of certain terms (searches that look both in the work’s text and all of the research materials in the binder) resulted in saved collections or smart folders that can be used for later reference. Expanding upon the visual strengths of organizational tools in Scrivener, Howarth even color coded each chapter of the Walden document to reflect the seasons of the year described in the narrative. This resulted in a handy way to group chapters by Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall, and back to Spring, in the same way that Thoreau organized his account of a year’s life in the woods. Using the same Project Gutenberg file as research material for a new Scrivener project, Howarth showed how he was able to adapt Thoreau’s work into a correctly formatted screenplay, using the templates already built into Scrivener as his guide.

The e-text of Walden and other supplemental files that Scrivener can save in the course of working on a project serves to illustrate how external documents and files can be organized for easy reference and later citation. Research materials saved in Scrivener can include web sites, images, notes and bibliographic references. EndNote field codes (also known as “Cite While You Write”) are placeholders for including properly formatted bibliographic citations in a written work. These codes are supported by Scrivener.

Howarth described his Scrivener workflow– from using storyboarding and notation software on the iPad to capture ideas (the Index Card and Simple Note apps), synchronizing those notes with Scrivener, working on the document in Scrivener, and later exporting to Apple’s Pages software, or Nisus Writer Pro for the Mac (an RTF text editor; Scrivener supports RTF) for final formatting. The end result is a finished file that can be shared with publishers via Microsoft Word. Howarth described how this process helped him to collaborate with co-author Anne Matthews on their latest work Deep Creek, published under the pseudonym Dana Hand. Howarth and Matthews were both able to seamlessly share files and resources using Scrivener in the planning and writing phase
s of their work, and later delivered the finished novel in the .DOC format accepted by their publishers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Coincidentally, Deep Creek, which has met with great critical acclaim, has recently been named one of The Washington Post’s Best Novels of 2010. What is next for the Dana Hand authors? Howarth showed a glimpse of a screenplay based upon Deep Creek that he was working on in Scrivener. Will this Dana Hand film be coming soon to a theatre near Princeton?

Howarth concluded his portion of the talk by reflecting on how his discovery of Scrivener, coinciding with the extra time afforded by his retirement, has allowed his writing to develop in directions he had never imagined possible in his earlier career. He informed his audience that he could not guarantee using Scrivener would make them all authors of best-selling novels—but that it would certainly help to make their writing projects easier and more enjoyable.

Jon Edwards next spoke of his experiences with the recently released version of Scrivener for Windows, software that is still in beta development. His new book on Gioachino Greco, a chess player active in the early 17th century, is due for publication in February; however, Edwards used parts of the completed manuscript to experiment with the new Scrivener software, and concluded that it might be a valuable research tool for future works.

During a recent trip to London, Edwards extended his experimentation with Scrivener into new research paths. He took the opportunity of his trip to explore the British Library’s extensive holdings on the history of chess, and used the beta version of Scrivener for Windows to begin organizing projects based on several topics in chess-related history.

Edwards described how easy it was to write using Scrivener, noting that for any author with a tendency towards writer’s block, the simple, almost playful, workflow in Scrivener, which captures initial notes, research items, web links, outlines and fleeting ideas, might serve to overcome any hesitation in putting ideas to paper. Edwards used Scrivener to begin outlining and researching a proposed work documenting the chess matches played at the 9th Chess Olympiad of 1950 at Dubrovnik, a tournament in which 480 games took place. Using Scrivener, he was able to save all of his notes, references, and writing about the event, including building a stored collection of photos and biographical information about each team taking part in the competition.

Edwards recalled participating in meetings of the Scholars’ Environment Committee, which took place at Princeton in the late 1980s. The mission of the Committee was to improve research methods for scholars in an environment where computer-based resources were becoming increasingly more important. One tangible result of the Committee’s work that year was an idea for the formation of a project would eventually be called JSTOR, the online resource for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. However, the guiding phrase for the committee’s goals that year was, said Edwards, was the idea of taking the “search” out of “research.“ Scrivener, Edwards noted, in some sense does that, by allowing all the materials needed for the writing of a serious scholarly work to be gathered in one place; with the split-screen format used in Scrivener, it is possible to write in one pane, while viewing citations and other research materials in another. Cutting and pasting from one workspace to the next is quite easy, and Scrivener makes storage of many types of document and file types possible.

Much of the historical literature on chess, Edwards noted, was published between AD 800 and 1890, which means that many of these text have been digitized and are now available for searching and download via the Google Books interface. Having an entire text downloaded as a resource file in Scrivener is a great convenience for a researcher, said Edwards. Writing clearly about the history of chess involves gathering and presenting many types of information. These might include diagrams of chessboards, and lengthy notations that recount the history of a particular game. As an example, Edwards mentioned his interest in the subject of “The Troitzky line,” a classic series of moves that begin an endgame by using two knights against a pawn. The strategy can take up to 50 moves to achieve; documenting it can require extensive illustrations and explanations. One of the main benefits of Scrivener to him, said Edwards, is that all of his notes, documentations and diagrams are finally captured in a single environment, so that he can keep his supporting documents close at hand and organized by specific topic.

Edwards described his particular Scrivener workflow, at least as far as his experiments have taken him to date.  He uses an online content management system, in this case Princeton’s WebSpace, to save the latest versions of his Scrivener files. He can then retrieve the files from anywhere using a web-based interface, and continue working without worrying about where he left the latest version of his project, or any of its supporting files.(Scrivener also has built-in support for syncing files with the popular Dropbox service.)

It is to be noted that the Windows version of Scrivener is still in beta, and is currently free until certain known bugs are fixed. For the moment, PC and Mac versions of the software don’t recognize the other’s files, and compiling documents into a final format using the Windows version has some documented issues. Still, in the short time the program has been available since November of this year, it has gone through several versions. The latest, version 1.4, said Edwards, shows significant improvements over earlier releases. While Scrivener may still lag behind more familiar word processing platforms in terms of document versioning and formatting, it is a particularly agile tool for the first stages of writing. “It’s an excellent brainstorming tool,” Edwards remarked, noting that other tools such as Microsoft Word, were designed for a corporate environments, and reflect the sorts of tasks required by business. Professional writers have very different aims and needs. Scrivener, thanks to the interests of its inventor, was specifically created for such writers and researchers.

Scriptwriter, poet, novelist, short story author or historian? You may want to check out Scrivener as a platform for organizing your next writing project.

A podcast of this presentation can be found here.

The Mac version of Scrivener 2.0 currently retails for US $45. A 15% discount is available to academic users. There is a growing online community of  Scrivener users who share their experiences and tips for greater productivity. The Windows public beta version is currently free to download, and is available here.

This session is the final Lunch and Learn of 2010. Check out the Lunch ‘n Learn schedule in early February for next semester’s program.

Lunch & Learn: Step out of the plane: The 3rd dimension is next for consumers with Doug Dixon

Doug Dixon, an independent technology consultant, author, and speaker specializing in digital media, presented an overview of the burgeoning market for consumer 3D devices– as well as explaining the technology behind those devices– this past Wednesday at OIT’s Lunch n’ Learn session.

Armed with an array of 3D viewers, from a stereoscope (invented in the late 19th century), to a ViewMaster (invented in the late 1930s), to the Magic Eye books (popularized in the last two decades)–to the latest in 3D cameras (a Fuji FinePix 3D)–Dixon proved to his audience that 3D technologies have already experienced a long history in home entertainment, particularly in the area of vicarious travel and special events.

The success of recent films such as Avatar, and the 3D-capable and 3D-ready TVs now available in the consumer market, introduce the latest chapter in the 3D experience. These displays promise viewers a new, more immersive way to enjoy movies and broadcast TV at home.

3D technology for movies and television is not actually as great a technological leap as was the recent transition from low- to high-definition in broadcast TV, Dixon explained. Many current blu-ray players will only require firmware upgrades to be able to display 3D images; some 3D-ready TVs on the market now only require a moderately-priced upgrade kit to be able to display images in three dimensions. Existing 2D media will also be able to be ‘dimensionalized,’ and transformed retrospectively into 3D video for those films that warrant this enhancement. For most consumers, transitioning to 3D technology should be relatively painless, should they wish to upgrade their current home equipment when purchasing their next TV.

The glasses currently required to view 3D TV content, however, are a shift from the sort of home viewing practice to which we have grown accustomed. “Glasses are a commitment to focus on the entertainment,” Dixon explained, a dedication to the screen that is at odds with many kinds of TV content. At the same time, the glasses “are an impediment to the social aspect [of watching a movie or broadcast TV at home].”

“HD works for everything, including Jay Leno;” said Dixon, . . “3D works for special events and movies and things like that, so I think there’s a little less demand, a little less leverage you get by going to 3D, but in niches like games, for example, [3D is] going to be very successful.” Dixon remarked by way of example that watching a basketball game at court level was nothing short of “spectacular.”

Dixon outlined the technologies that underlie 3D displays to his rapt audience (all of whom were given 3D glasses in order to view several images of 3D technology done right — and wrong. “You don’t turn a 3D camera sideways,” Dixon pointed out, after showing one particularly disorienting 3D image that elicited groans from the audience.

Inexpensive 3D glasses with magenta and cyan lenses–such as the ones Dixon gave to his listeners–use colored lenses to achieve an anaglyptic effect that simulates three dimensions. Movies such as Avatar used more expensive polarized lenses to achieve a more natural effect. Home 3D systems come equipped with shutter lenses that coordinate with images presented separately to each eye in rapid succession. These glasses, which currently retail for about $150– provide an additional social impediment to the 3D experience at home — “are you going to buy 40 pairs of these glasses when your friends come over to watch the big game?,” Dixon asked.

While the consumer market has so far settled on either anaglyptic technology for viewing 3D content on 2D screens or shutter-glasses and transmitter technology for dedicated 3D TVs, Dixon explained that creating 3D images was something that anyone with fairly basic imaging tools could achieve. Dixon demonstrated the new 3D YouTube channel, and showed various ways of making 3D images with a 3D camera. He also showed some inexpensive computer software for creating 3D images. In all cases, images of the same scene, taken approximately 2.5 inches apart, were used to replicate the stereo quality of human vision.

3D, Dixon explained, is not only for blockbuster films; it can be enjoyed by anyone who owns a decent computer and basic photographic equipment, and it can be enjoyed at very little cost.

“3D is coming,” Dixon concluded, “and it’s lots of fun to play around with. I hope you enjoy it!”

More information about the many technologies described by Doug Dixon can be found at this link to his website, Manifest Technologies.

Links to a podcast from this session have been posted; the podcast will also be available on the Princeton’s iTunesU channel dedicated to the Lunch n’ Learn series. (For more information about Lunch n’ Learn podcasts at iTunesU, click here.)

The next Lunch n Learn talk take place on Wednesday, December 1st. Matthew Salganik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Princeton will speak on Bottom-up Social Data Collection with www.AllOurIdeas.org, a research project to develop a new form of social data collection.

For more information about this, and other upcoming talks, visit the Lunch n’ Learn homepage.

[Photo courtesy rialee on Flicker.com (Rebecca Cottrell). CC license, 2009.]