Online Collaborative Research with REKn and PReE

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Michael Elkink

    University of Victoria

  2. 2. Ray Siemens

    University of Victoria

  3. 3. Karin Armstrong

    University of Victoria

Work text
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The advent of large-scale primary resources in the humanities
such as EEBO and EEBO-TCP, and similarly large-scale
availability of the full-texts secondary materials through
electronic publication services and amalgamators, suggests
new ways in which the scholar and student are able to interact
with the materials that comprise the focus of their professional
engagement. The Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn)
explores one such prospect. REKn attempts to capture and
represent essential materials contributing to an understanding
of those aspects of early modern life which are of interest to the
literary scholar - via a combination of digital representations
of literary and artistic works of the Renaissance plus those of
our own time refl ecting our understanding of earlier works.
REKn contains some 13,000 primary sources at present, plus
secondary materials such as published scholarly articles and
books chapters refl ecting our understanding of these earlier
works (some 100,000). These materials are accessed through
a Professional Reading Environment (PReE), supported by a
database system that facilitates their navigation and dynamic
interaction, also providing access to inquiry-oriented analytical
tools beyond simple search functions. The effect is that of
providing an expert reading environment for those in our fi eld,
one that encourages close, comprehensive reading at the same
time as it provides, conveniently, the building blocks of broadbased
research inquiry. We are currently moving beyond the
stage of proof-of-concept with these projects.
Our current research aim with these projects is to foster
social networking functionality in our professional reading
environment. For DH2008 we propose a poster/demo that
details the current status of both the knowledgebase (REKn)
and the reading environment (PREe) in relation to social
networking, the direction each will take in the future, and a
demonstration of the functional technologies we employ and
our current implementation.
Rather than leveraging the power of an individual computer
to perform complex computation on a personalized data set
- which is the way most academics appear to work (see, for
example, Siemens, et al., 2004), and is an approach exemplified in our community by Bradley (2007) and the TAPoR research
team (TAPoR 2007; Rockwell 2006) - our work complements
that approach by attempting to harness the power of the social
connectivity provided by current Web 2.0 practices to connect
researchers and experts, authors and reviewers, computers
and humans, all with the express goal of bringing a higher
level of discourse, analysis and structure to the documents
brought together in the REKn corpus (for one infl uential
adaptation, slightly outside our domain, see Ellison 2007). We
are considering more than just a simple full-text search as a
starting point for research discovery, even sophisticated forms
of search (as per Schreibman, et al.); rather, we are envisioning
ways existing social technologies can be used in concert with
search processes to facilitate the process of professional
reading (as per Warwick, et al., 2005). A further goal of our
current work is to integrate more readily a generalized subset
of analytical tools, derived from the TAPoR project and others,
so that other large corpora similar to REKn can benefi t from
the computational and user-generated connections among
material facilitated by our system; the beginnings of this system
will be demonstrated as well (as per Elkink, et al., 2007).
Bradley, John. “Making a Contribution: Modularity, Integration
and Collaboration Between Tools in Pliny”. Paper presented
at Digital Humanities 2007 June, 2007.
Ellison, Nicole B., Charles Steinfi eld and Cliff Lampe. “The
Benefi ts of Facebook ‘Friends:’ Social Capital and College
Students’ use of Online Social Network Sites.” Journal of
Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007): 1143-1168.
Elkink, Michael, Ray Siemens, Karin Armstrong. “Building One
To Thrown Away, Toward The One We’ll Keep: Next Steps
for the Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn) and the
Professional Reading Environment (PReE).” Presented at the
Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer
Science. October 2007.
Rockwell, Geoffrey. “TAPoR: Building a Portal for Text
Analysis.” pp. 285-300 in Siemens and Moorman.
Schreibman, S., Sueguen, G., & Roper, J. “Cross-collection
searching: A pandora’s box or the holy grail.” Literary and
Linguistic Computing. In press.
Siemens, Ray, and David Moorman, eds. Mind Technologies:
Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community.
Calgary: U Calgary P, 2006.
Siemens, Ray, Elaine Toms, Stéfan Sinclair, Geoffrey Rockwell,
and Lynne Siemens. “The Humanities Scholar in the Twentyfi
rst Century: How Research is Done and What Support is
Needed.” ALLC/ACH 2004 Conference Abstracts. Göteborg:
Göteborg U, 2004.
TAPoR: Text Analysis Portal for Research. 2007. http://portal.
9. Warwick, C., Blandford, A., Buchanan, G., J. Rimmer, J.
(2005) “User Centred Interactive Search in the Humanities.”
Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. Denver,
Colorado, June 7-11, 2005. ACM Publications. pp. 279-81.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2008

Hosted at University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

June 25, 2008 - June 29, 2008

135 works by 231 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (3)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None