Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Humanities Data Curation

Last Thursday, I attended the excellent Humanities Data Curation Summit, organized by Allen Renear, Trevor Muñoz, Katherine L. Walter, and Julia Flanders. I'm still processing the day, which included a breakout session with Allen, Elli Mylonas, and Michael Sperberg-McQueen, who are some of my favorite people in DH.

What I started thinking about today was that we'd skipped definitions at the beginning—there was a joke that Allen, as a philosopher, could have spent all day on that task. But in doing so, we elided the question of what is data in the humanities, and what is different about it from science or social science data.

Humanities data are not usually static, collected data like instrument readings or survey results. They are things like marked up texts, uncorrected OCR, images in need of annotation, etc. Humanities datasets can almost always be improved upon. "Curation" for them is not simply preservation, access, and forward migration. It means enabling interested communities to work with the data and make it better. Community interaction needs to be factored into the data's curation lifecycle.

I feel a blog post coming on about how the Integrating Digital Papyrology / papyri.info project does this...