DM The Book Ex

Paul Jones posted at Facebook a link to this notice from Bull City Rising: "The Book Exchange to shutter in February after 75 years."

The Book Ex (in Durham, North Carolina) wasn't just for Law School students. I was a clueless freshman in the fall of 1985, sent there by Bill Willis (cf. APA Newsletter, 23.4, August 2000, p. 11 sub "Obituaries" [pdf]) to collect a copy of the then already out-of-print Allen's First Year of Greek.

Cluelessness on my part of course is proved by the fact I'd elected to take Greek. As a freshman. At 9:00 a.m. With no prior Latin. From a papyrologist. Some will of course already have guessed that that experience, harrowing as it was, is no small part of why I do what I do professionally today.

So long, Book Ex. And thanks.

Semantic Web, Scholarly Resources for Antiquity and the Museum

Our on-going work on geographically functional, cross-resource, machine-actionable citation(!) with the Web continues to get more interesting.

The kickoff was, of course, the joint NEH/JISC grant that is (under the rubric of the Concordia project) funding our look at this in collaboration with the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College, London. Our two workshops (and lots of discussion with other parties in between) have led us through KML, Atom+GeoRSS, citation vocabularies and OAI/ORE on to Cool URIs, Linked Data, CIDOC CRM and more.

Traffic is now building on the Graph of Ancient World Data discussion group (e.g., Sebastian Heath's post on coin hoard data at Yesterday, Sean Gillies rolled out some changes to the Pleiades interface that provide #this endpoints for Pleiades places, so that Sebastian and others can make explicit reference either to the historical places themselves (non-information resources cited like or our descriptions of them on the web (information resources, cited like

And then this afternoon I came across the latest Talis Semantic Web podcast, featuring Koven Smith on Semantic Web initiatives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 38 minutes well-spent. They're thinking about and exploring a number of the approaches and technologies we're interested in, but from a museum perspective. It would be interesting to discuss how these methods could be used to better bridge gaps between museums, field archaeologists, epigraphers, numismatists, papyrologists, prosopographers, historical geographers, librarians, archivists and the rest!

From "Web Watch" to "Planet Atlantides"

In rummaging around the web for a prior citation, I stumbled across Michael Shank's kind comment about a now-defunct, labor-intensive service I cobbled together in 2004 for the Ancient World Mapping Center: Web Watch. It was an attempt to "provide links to interesting articles and discussions elsewhere on the web" that related to ancient geography.

I realize now that, in setting up the Planet Atlantides feed aggregators, I've exploited the now more-mature ancient blogosphere (and webfeed way of doing things and other people's software) to gin up a true replacement.

I just hadn't realized I should probably say so, until now.

Spatial Technologies and Methods (Charlottesville, 28-30 June 2009)

I learned, by way of Bethany Nowviske, that the topic of the next Mellon-funded Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia has just been announced:

The upcoming session, SCI 7, will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, June 28-30. It will focus on spatial technologies and methodologies—the specific modes of working they favor, the scholarly practices they enhance, and the infrastructure they demand to achieve scale and significance. Technologies that analyze and represent space and spatial relations—notably geospatial and mapping technologies—have gained widespread use both through sophisticated Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software (commercial, like ESRI Arc Globe, and open source, like GeoServer/GeoNetwork) and through vernacular applications such as 2-dimensional mapping (Yahoo Maps), 3-dimensional globes (Google Earth), and virtual worlds (Second Life). We will also consider visualizations such as virtual modeling and concept mapping, as appropriate. SCI 7 will bring together accomplished scholars from the humanities and social sciences, as well as leaders in information technology and data stewardship, to explore the range of these technologies and their promise to advance humanities scholarship.

SCI is designed to frame a set of meaningful questions that lead to a plan for further action. Participants will convene for two full days in plenary and small group discussions, with ample occasion for informal discussions and to include time in the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab to explore key methodical questions in the context of ongoing research projects. The meeting will result in an action agenda, and SCI leadership will follow up over the following 12 months to advance activities identified by the participants.

Participants will include scholars who are working in imaginative and innovative ways with geospatial, mapping, and visualization technologies, including leading figures from historically-grounded disciplines such as geography, archaeology, and history that engage methodological questions posed by spatial relationships in their work. We will also involve leaders from research centers that could support possible follow-up activities. Individuals with expertise in libraries, advanced technologies, and publishing will join us to help us think through the implications of scholarly practices we discuss for the full cycle of scholarly communication, from
research and discovery to analysis, presentation, dissemination, and persistent access.

In the months preceding the Institute, SCI will consult with leaders in a variety of disciplines to identify the key challenges and opportunities to use of spatial technologies in the humanities, with special attention to the critical methodical questions that these new ways of representing spatial and temporal relations pose to researchers. What are the implications for such scholarly practices as comparison and contextualization, temporal analysis and causality, study of global phenomena, and the possibility of new fields emerging from these?
Participation seems to be by invitation only; participants have not yet been publicly announced on the SCI website.

Coffee in Huntsville: Sam and Greg's

I finally made good on my long-standing intention to drop in at Sam and Greg's Pizzeria/Gelateria on the north side of the square in downtown Huntsville today (map). The veggie pizza for lunch was great and so was a properly made cappuccino (using beans locally roasted around the corner at the Kaffeeklatsch, a Huntsville standby since 1977; map).

Both staff and fellow customers at Sam and Greg's were friendly, and the place is very comfortable. I anticipate spending alot more time there.

When a free-on-HBO inaugural concert isn't (and then is)

Update 2:

I came home from the gym at 4:00 this afternoon and noticed the message indicator on my DVR was lit. The message: a notice that the inaugural concert would be live broadcast free on the local access channel 13 (so I missed it) and rebroadcast on the same channel at 6 this evening.


So I called my cable provider (Mediacom) this morning -- the monopoly cable TV provider in much of Madison County Alabama outside the Huntsville city limits -- to ask if they would be allowing their customers access to the "free" HBO coverage of tomorrow's inaugural concert.

After 10 minutes on hold, the representative returned to apologetically inform me that only current HBO subscribers would be able to see the concert. In other words: no soup for you.

Both DirectTV and Dish (the two satellite providers that compete with Mediacom here) are trumpeting on their websites the fact that they are providing free HBO for the event (and more). If I want to make Mediacom pay, I'll have to switch to satellite and get AT&T to install DSL at my house (and then live with the thinner data pipe). Right now I'm tempted, despite the costs, hassles and lower-value internet connection. Not that it would get me access to the concert in time.

Aside: Yes, I know I can watch it streaming from I applaud HBO for providing that workaround for dealing with their less civic-minded local outlets. Of course, we might blame the inaugural committee for making this an exclusive deal with HBO (but then somebody's got to pay for all this celebratory activity).

But to return to my main line of rant: what's Mediacom's excuse? Lameness? A callous decision to try to make money by requiring an upgrade to subscription to get HBO access for the event?

I call it FAIL.


According to media reports, Mediacom will air the special free for folks in Des Moines Iowa and Valdosta, Georgia. What makes them more special than Madison County Alabama?

Digital Projects (ISAW Newsletter January 2008)

Since the ISAW Newsletter is only available online as a monolithic PDF, I thought I'd make the text of my contribution (about our "digital programs") available here in HTML form:

ISAW’s digital programs are fundamental to the Institute’s mission. Convinced that the transformation of the media and information landscape now underway offers scholars unparalleled opportunities to make new discoveries, collaborate with distant colleagues, engage public interests, and tackle previously intractable problems, we have committed ourselves to an ambitious slate of digital initiatives that extend far beyond the walls of the Institute. As the examples below illustrate, we emphasize the creation and delivery of core resources such as primary and secondary texts and images, as well as geographic and archaeological reference information. We seek to serve the entire field of ancient studies by working for the durability of digital publications–and the sustainability of the projects that create and maintain them–through promotion of standards, creation of reusable free software, use of open-access licenses, and decentralization of authorial, editorial, and peer-review activities.

In early 2008, ISAW became a partner in the Pleiades Project. Together with the Ancient World Mapping Center (AWMC), we are digitizing the most comprehensive register of geographical data for the ancient Greek and Roman world, collected by the American Philological Association’s Classical Atlas Project to support the preparation of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (R. Talbert, ed., Princeton 2000). All of the coordinates, historical names, and other information in this rich collection are being placed online so scholars, students, and enthusiasts worldwide can browse, search, and map it, as well as offer suggestions for updates and additions. The Pleiades effort has recently expanded with funding from a Transatlantic Digitization Grant, awarded to ISAW and King’s College London, by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the U.K. Joint Information Systems Committee. It supports the prototyping of mechanisms to tie Pleiades into important digital collections of epigraphic and papyrological texts from Egypt and coastal North Africa (see further: the Concordia Project and the Graph of Ancient World Data group). This effort will lay the foundation for extensive, automated cross-linking between Pleiades and other web-based scholarly resources for the entire Greek and Roman world. We are currently seeking funding for a second, two-year development period for Pleiades/Concordia that will accelerate the digitization of content and bring users together for a series of workshops to identify needed improvements to the system and to facilitate more effective collaboration.

Over the past year ISAW has also assumed a leadership role in a group of interrelated digital papyrology projects (see One of these, funded by a grant to Duke University from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has successfully upgraded and effectively integrated two of the key digital resources for study of ancient documents on papyrus: the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP) and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV). Both resources will soon be provided to users via a search and display environment prototyped by the digital libraries team at Columbia University. This system, dubbed the Papyrological Navigator, combines DDbDP and HGV content with images and database records drawn from the 22 museum and university papyrus collections that constitute the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS). It also links them to the extensive Trismegistos databases in Leuven. Under new funding provided to APIS by the NEH, work on this interface will move to the Digital Libraries team at NYU where, with collaboration from ISAW and APIS team members at Columbia, it will see extensive improvements. ISAW is currently working with partners to secure funding for a second major upgrade to the DDbDP and HGV: a collaborative, online editing environment that will speed the addition and revision of content by granting papyrologists worldwide direct authorial capabilities under a distributed system of editorial oversight.

A number of other exciting projects are in work for 2009 and beyond. We hope to expand the utility of Pleiades by linking it to a number of other systems and digital gazetteers under development at a variety of institutions around the world. Plans are being formulated for a collaborative digital encyclopedia of Coptic archaeology, an extensive database of digital images, an online calendar of museum exhibitions, a major book and journal digitization program, and a multi-institutional publication series comprising open-access primary texts and research data.

ISAW Newsletter (January 2008)

The January 2008 ISAW Newsletter has just been posted to the web (it's a 4.1MB PDF file incorporating the page formatting of the original print version).

Given that it's a monolithic PDF, I thought I'd provide a listing of contents here:

From the Director (Roger Bagnall)

  • Introduction
  • Faculty
  • Physical Facilities
  • Graduate Program
  • Events
  • Excavation
Academic Programs: Visiting Research Scholars, 2007-2008 (Anna Boozer)
  • Anne Porter
  • Giovanni Ruffini
  • Kevin van Bladel
Exhibitions and Public Programs (Jennifer Y. Chi)

Library (Charles E. Jones)

Digital Programs (Tom Elliott)