Tech Talk Tuesday April 15 Free Pizza

The ITS (Information Technology and Services) committee invites students who are interested in digital literacy at Dickinson to a lunchtime discussion with the committee on Tuesday, April 15, 12-1:00, Rabinowitz Reading Room, (second floor, Waidner library). Join us for pizza and conversation about your experiences and interests in the college’s evolving digital environment.  For more information contact Prof. Donaldson (, ex 1228)

Job: Mellon Postodoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Dickinson College

image: flickr user cthoyes

image: flickr user cthoyes

With generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Dickinson College invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in Digital Humanities in the academic year 2014-15, with the potential for an additional year of support. The Fellow will work as a catalyst for faculty innovation by planning, promoting, and implementing strategies to encourage faculty discourse about pedagogy, e-learning tools, and the integration of digital media into teaching and scholarship. The postdoctoral fellowship is an academic appointment reporting to the Dean of the College through the faculty chair of the Digital Humanities Advisory Committee, but the Fellow will be housed alongside the Instructional Technology staff in the Library and Information Services division.

Job Summary/Basic Function:

The Fellow will a) teach one or two courses each year within his or her area of academic research; b) guide arts, humanities, and humanistic social science faculty in the use of digital tools for curricular and research purposes, and help them develop digital humanities projects; and c) work with LIS staff to train students in the January Digital Humanities Boot Camp to use digital tools and technologies in order to prepare them for significant student-faculty research collaborations. The Fellow will be eligible for the internal grants for pedagogical innovation, as well as standard faculty support for travel and professional development. The salary will be $50,000 plus benefits. Dickinson College is a private, highly selective, liberal arts college located within two hours of major research institutions and metropolitan areas.

Minimum Qualifications:

The Fellow must normally have received the PhD by July 1, 2014, and within the last four years, and not have held a tenure-track position. Candidates should be conducting research that requires demonstrated expertise in the use of Digital Humanities in their scholarly field.

Alec Ross to Speak at Dickinson on Digital Currency

Alec Ross drove the ground-breaking social media component of the 2008 Obama campaign, and now serves as senior advisor for innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Source:

Alec Ross drove the ground-breaking social media component of the 2008 Obama campaign, and now serves as senior advisor for innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Source:

The Dickinson Student Senate Public Affairs Committee is pleased to announce that Alec Ross, the first Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is coming to speak at Dickinson College. Ross, who spearheaded President Obama’s technology and innovation plan and developed a digital payment platform for soldiers in the Congo, will explain Bitcoin’s origins, operations, and pitfalls, and describe the impact of the rise of digital currency on financial institutions, international politics, and global poverty. Ross will also and examine the implications of broader digital payment structures like Google Wallet, Square, and Simple on the world financial system, and argue that these changes are indicative of the demand for interdisciplinary approaches to banking and digital finance.

Ross will give his keynote address at 7PM in Allison Hall on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014. I hope you can join us!

Annotating with Poetry Genius and House Divided

David Foster Wallace's annotated copy of Don Delillo's Players, from the Harry Ransom Research Center in Austin, TX.

David Foster Wallace’s annotated copy of Don Delillo’s Players, from the Harry Ransom Research Center in Austin, TX.

From scribbled marginalia  to full-scale scholarly treatises that gobble the works on which they comment, text annotation is one of the most basic and diverse activities of the humanities. Its purposes embrace the intensely personal, the didactic, and the evangelical. It serves all kinds of communities, from the classroom to the law court, from the synagogue to the university research library.

The movement of text annotation to an online environment is still very much a work in progress. There are many platforms attempting to marry original text and a stream of added comments, some attractive and functional, some awkward. Crowd-sourced annotation is being tried in many corners, and sometimes it catches on (check out the remarkable wiki commentaries on the novels of Thomas Pynchon), sometimes they build it and nobody comes.

Rap Genius and its sister sites Poetry Genius and Education Genius are the most exciting recent entrants into this field. What distinguishes these sites is first the astonishing ease and flexibility of the interface. The mere selecting of a chunk of text allows one to add not just a typed comment but audio, video, links to parallel passages, embedded tweets, virtually anything digital. The other good thing about the Genius sites is the way they tap into existing communities of fans, readers, teachers, and students. Education Genius is well-funded by venture capital and has a staff that talks directly to teachers, works to make the site useful to students, and builds bridges with other sites and institutions.

A case in point is the emerging collaboration of Education Genius with Dickinson’s House Divided Project. An annotated version of Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 autobiographical sketch is now available at Poetry Genius, and represents the beginning of partnership between the House Divided Project and the Genius platform spearheaded by Dickinson College student Will Nelligan (’14). There is a general annotated guide to the sketch, which was originally written for a Pennsylvania newspaper when Lincoln was a presidential candidate, and also a version especially designed as an open Common Core platform. This is in keeping with the  strong educational outreach of House Divided and its director, Associate Professor of History and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History Matthew Pinsker.

There is an audio recording of the sketch in the voice of Lincoln as recreated by Todd Wronski, part of a larger multimedia edition of Lincoln’s writings being undertaken by House Divided. In the Genius platform clicking on different colored text brings up an annotation. Here is one with an embedded video player. Note that annotations are fully “social,” in that one can give them a thumbs up or down, share in various ways, and leave a comment on the comment.

Clicking on different colored text brings up the annotation, in this case one with an embedded video player.

Clicking on different colored text brings up the annotation, in this case one with an embedded video player.

Some annotations simply add contextual information. Others, like the one above, hint at an interpretation, as a teacher might, in an attempt to get the reader thinking beyond the surface of the text. Others amount to polite essay prompts:

Lincoln Genius Screenshot 2

One can easily create an account and start annotating.

Lincoln Genius Screenshot  3

House Divided’s annotations often take the form of questions.

The idea of annotating with questions, in addition to statements, is a fine one, helpful to teachers and students alike. Note also the ability to brand annotations with the House Divided logo, which marks them as more authoritative and “verified.” The folks at Poetry Genius understand the power of reputation, and unobtrusively include it in the platform in a variety of ways.

The ease of annotation—one can sign up for an account in a moment and fire away—makes this platform well-suited to “class-sourcing,” the adding of content by students under academic supervision, and in fact that is how these particular annotations were created. High quality content created collaboratively for a well-defined audience in an attractive, open, and flexible format: digital humanities doesn’t get much better than that.

I am delighted to say that Jeremy Dean of Education Genius will be visiting Dickinson on April 17, 2014 to speak with a group of faculty and students about text annotation and to further develop this collaboration between the Genius sites and Dickinson College. If you would like further information about this event please contact me ( francese at

–Chris Francese


Digital Bootcamp Prepares Students for a Future that’s Already Swirling around Us

student and professor chat in front of a laptop computer in an open meeting room

Ashieda McKoy ’14 (left) and Assistant Professor of History Emily Pawley discuss McKoy’s project: a timeline of the African-American student experience at Dickinson. Photo by Carl Socolow ’77.

by Tony Moore 

The digital age is thoroughly upon us, and students eager to tackle it recently took part in Dickinson’s Digital Bootcamp, where they got their hands on some shiny new tools.


The first of its kind geared toward undergraduate students, the boot camp offered students a full-speed-ahead regimen of ArchGIS mapping, Drupal and WordPress site management and media development focused on Audacity, podcasts and iMovie work. All over the course of three months. Wait, check that.

“It usually takes 15 to 16 weeks just to get a taste of what it’s about,” said Matt Kochis, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities, who mapped the project’s curriculum and ran the boot camp’s day-to-day operations. “The online and on-campus portion of it was about two weeks. The actual work—they did it in five days’ time.”

Funded by a Mellon Foundation grant and part of Dickinson’s ongoing efforts in the digital humanities, the Digital Bootcamp enrolled 17 students (of 26 applicants), among them Frank Vitale ’16.

“When I applied for the Digital Bootcamp, I was hoping to expand upon skills I’d learned during my time as an intern for the college archive’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School project,” said the history major. “It did that and more, and I walked away with greater technical know-how for using a lot of powerful digital tools.”


After two weeks of instruction focused on building a sample digital project (an approach Professor of Classical Languages Christopher Francese, who helped spearhead the boot camp, described as “less yak, more hack”), students were set loose to create. And create they did, with multimedia projects emerging on topics ranging from Dickinson’s Kade House to Three Mile Island to a timeline of the history of African-American students at the college.

Vitale created a deeply personal project—a multimedia Drupal site called Invasion From the Front Lines, which detailed his grandfather’s World War II experience.

“From the time my father was young, my grandfather told the family that he was a typist during the war and had never left Paris,” Vitale said. “We’ve discovered he was on the front lines for the majority of the European theater and received five Bronze Stars for his bravery during the conflict. Needless to say, this came as a shock to all of us, even my grandmother, and uncovering this history was an incredibly moving process.”

The Digital Bootcamp ended with a digital poster session, which Francese had hoped would function as a job fair, facilitating future collaboration between students and faculty members. And it looks like it worked.

“Bootcamp students will be helping me research and design exhibits for a new online museum of Dickinson’s history, currently called the Dickinsonia Project,” said Emily Pawley, assistant professor of history, who notes that some of the student projects from the Bootcamp might themselves be incorporated into the Dickinsonia Project.

Already looking ahead to next year, Francese said that faculty members have a queue of projects ready for future Bootcampers to tackle, and he sees this need propelling both faculty and student interest. If this year’s success is any indication, though, he might have more campers than he knows what to do with. Which is a good thing.

After the Digital Humanities Advisory Committee breathed life into the Digital Bootcamp, and Francese and Kochis got it off the ground, the program was additionally facilitated by Daniel Plekhov ’14 and Michael D’Aprix ’14—both of whom took on ArcGIS and online mapping duties. Also on board was the Waidner-Spahr Library’s Don Sailer ’09, digital projects consultant, who worked with students on Photoshop, iMovie and Audacity and assisted Kochis with teaching Drupal and WordPress.


See a selection of this year’s Digital Bootcamp projects (all students are from the class of 2016, unless otherwise noted):

Frank Vitale’s Invasion From the Front Lines

Barrett Ziegler’s Place and Identity: Stories of Russian Citizens in the United States

Ashieda McKoy ’14’s Digital Timeline: Dickinson’s African-American Student History

Santiago Princ and Rachel Schilling’s Department of German Kade House site

Jaime Phillips’s maps and timeline of the Joseph Priestley Award at Dickinson

Published on the Dickinson website Feb. 14, 2014

Review: Logeion app

The Logeion app. The University of Chicago, 2013. iTunes. Free.

Reviewed by Daniel Plekhov, Dickinson College ( plekhovd at

iTunes previewLogeion

The Logeion mobile application aims to provide a one-stop look up for Greek and Latin dictionary entries. Like its parent website, also developed at the University of Chicago, it collects and presents a wide range of valuable reference materials.

The Perseus Digital Library provided several lexica:

  • Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon
  • Liddell and Scott’s Intermediate Greek Lexicon
  • Autenrieth’s Homeric Dictionary
  • Slater’s Lexicon to Pindar
  • Lewis and Short’s Latin-English Lexicon
  • Lewis’ Elementary Latin Dictionary

Logeion gives entries from each of these on a single page under the relevant headwords, streamlining the process of looking up definitions. But it also adds to the corpus of digitized lexica. As of the latest update, new material accessible from the mobile application includes:

  • The Diccionario Griego-Español Project (DGE), a brand new Greek dictionary
  • DuCange’s massive dictionary of Medieval Latin
  • Basiswoordenlijst Latijn (BWL), a Latin dictionary that include examples of Latin words in context, illustrating their most common uses.

LaNe, the Latin-Dutch  dictionary accessible from the Logeion website, is not currently available from the mobile application. DuCange, the reference work for medieval and late Latin, while available on the mobile application, is not provided in its full-text version as on the Logeion website. Even so the Logeion app is an unparalleled resource for students of Greek and Latin, and serves a wide range of specializations within Classics. The ease and simplicity of its interface ensures that despite the daunting amount of material even beginning students of Classics will benefit. And crucially the mobile platform allows users to access all these fantastic resources without an internet connection.

The search field is at the top left in landscape view on an iPad

The search field is at the top left in landscape view on an iPad

I tested this application on both an iPhone 4 (running iOS 7.0.4) and an iPad. The most important distinction between the two is that the iPhone application  allows only for portrait view, while the iPad allows for both portrait and landscape. The landscape view is more attractive and efficient than the portrait view, as it allows the menu to be visible alongside the content. The iPhone also does not allow for the word wheel. In what follows I will discuss the application as experienced from the landscape view on an iPad.

The Greek keyboard is easily enabled.

The Greek keyboard is easily enabled.On opening, the program defaults to an entry for the Latin word lux. At the top left is the search field. From here the user may type in words in Latin or Greek, using the Modern Greek keyboard, which must be enabled. Transliteration is not supported (as it is on the website), but enabling the Greek keyboard is easy, and the application has a help section with detailed instructions for doing so. Greek words may be typed in without accents, which would be difficult and tedious to type, especially on a mobile device. The word ἄνθρωπος had to be typed in fully, but other words are more quickly recognized by the application, which begins to provide results from the third letter.

Something that was at first confusing was that ἄνθρωπος was given twice, the first capitalized and the second not. Reading the help section explained this: proper nouns are included alongside nouns and verbs in the search results. Even so, it would be helpful if from these search results one could view some information about each result. As it is, clicking on any result immediately takes one to the full entry entry, and to get back to the previous results it is necessary to fully retype the search .

Once on the noun ἄνθρωπος, the menu on the left gives a scrollable word wheel of words alphabetically before and after ἄνθρωπος. The word wheel is not continuous and infinite, however, and to navigate to more than twenty words away you can scroll up the twentieth word and select that as the new entry, thus generating a new word wheel range. It would have been nice I think to have a full word wheel from which I could have scrolled as far as I needed. This may be more pertinent in cases where the search is for a very commonly used stem or verb from which derive many entries, such as νομίζω. Being able to continuously scroll through all the entries would be helpful in these cases.

The word wheel

The word wheel

Alongside the word wheel is further information about the entry. At the top is the frequency, ranked along a scale that groups words by their frequency across all texts, in increments of 150 words. A number is given as well as a red line, making it instantly and very clear how often the word is used.

Frequency informaiton

Frequency informaiton

Below that is a list of authors in whose works this word appears. This is given in addition to the examples from the corpus which are included at the bottom of word entries, when available.

List of the authors in which the word appears most frequently

List of the authors in which the word appears most frequently

Below the list of authors is a list of collocations. This is a valuable piece of information to have apart from the dictionary entries. Collocations are often given within the dense block of text for each word entry, and having them separate allows for quick reference.

Common collocations

Common collocations

Below the word wheel and the additional information comes a list of introductory Greek or Latin textbooks in which the headword appears, if it happens to. At the time of this review, the textbooks referenced were:

  • H & Q (Greek: An Intesive Course, by Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn)
  • JACT (Reading Greek: Grammar and Exercises, by Joint Association of Classical Teachers)
  • LTRG (Learn to Read Greek, by Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russel)
  • LTRL (Learn to Read Latin, by Andrew Keller and Stephanie Russel)
  • Mastro (Introduction to Attic Greek, by Donald Mastronarde)
  • Wheelock (Wheelock’s Latin, by Frederic M. Wheelock and Richard A. Lafleur)

The user can easily navigate between textbooks simply by clicking on them, which will provide the entry in the textbook, as well as where it can be found.

Textbooks in which the word occurs

Textbooks in which the word occurs

In the bottom left corner is an information link that provides tips on how to use the application and explanation of its various functions.

Within the actual word entry, the first information given is always the “ShortDef,” which provides the most basic definition(s) of the headword. Following that is the entry for that word in all the available reference materials. At the end of the dictionary entries, examples from the corpus in which this word is used is also provided.

For anyone who has ever had to work with multiple dictionaries and texts open at the same time, being able to simply scroll and access so much information with the simple swipe of a finger from a single device is truly appreciated. I have no doubt that the application will continue to be added to, both in regards to content as well as usability.

Elements of the application that I would wish to be added is a way to bookmark certain entries, or perhaps create a favorites section for choice words. As it stands now, however, the Logeion mobile application represents a crowning achievement for the digital classics, and a tool that I envision having great use for students and educators alike.

–Daniel Plekhov

Carlisle Indian Industrial School project update

College Archivist James Gerencser passes on this note on the progress and reception of Carlisle Indian Industrial School digital humanities project.

black and white photo of hundreds of school students sitting in rows in front a school building

Carlisle Indian Industrial School, date unknown

The CIIS project received some attention recently, and comments and questions from new visitors to the project’s website have been rolling in ever since. The interest was sparked by a short article in the online publication “Indian Country Today.” Rick Kearns, author of the piece, spoke with the project’s three co-directors back in December 2013, and he felt that a wide audience would be excited to learn about this new online resource. The article was posted on January 10, alerting an interested user community to our activities just as a team of interns arrived in Washington, DC to scan more documents (roughly 16,700 of them) at the U.S. National Archives.

As links to the article were shared by colleagues across the country via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, we were pleased to see the high level of interest and enthusiasm for the project. In just the first week after the article appeared, the site registered 1655 visitors, while it had recorded only 337 visitors over the previous month.

Even more exciting than the general buzz, however, was this blog post by Larry Cebula, Associate Professor of History at Eastern Washington University. Dr. Cebula took some time to explore our website and discovered Lulu O’Hara, a student from Washington who was a member of the Spokane Tribe. In his post, Dr. Cebula used Lulu to demonstrate, in a very simple and straightforward way, how a researcher could examine the contents of a student’s digitized file and piece together a story of her time at the school. He then went a bit further by connecting Lulu to other materials available online, including a photograph on Flickr featuring Lulu’s school class from before she attended Carlisle, and a portion of an oral history included in a National Park Service educator’s guide.

Dr. Cebula’s post provides a great example of the potential for the project, demonstrating to users how a little additional searching can help turn a few interesting items into a larger story. For as much information as we plan to make readily available via the Carlisle Indian School website, we do not want people ever to assume that this is all there is to the story of the school, or to the stories of the 10,000 students who attended the school. Too often students and other researchers fail to take the next important steps to build upon what fragments of documentation they uncover, but Dr. Cebula shows how valuable and rich the stories can become with some additional effort. In the coming years, we look forward to assisting a broad public in bringing these stories to light.

–Jim Gerencser

Digital Poster Session: January 27 @ 12:00 in the HUB

poster advertising digital bootcamp poster session January 27, 2014The Digital Boot Camp @ Dickinson College is an intensive 10-day training course to help students develop skills to produce and manage digital media content. During the program, participants learn about the basics of how to manage and display content in WordPress and Drupal, edit audio and video content, use Geographic Information Systems to create custom maps, and more. The poster session on January 27 will allow students to showcase their digital projects to interested faculty. Please stop by next Monday anytime between 12:00-1:30pm in one of the Social Hall sections in the Holland Union Building to see what the participants have digitally created. Food and beverages will be provided.


2014 Digital Boot Campers

  • Santiago Princ (Computer Science)
  • Barrett Ziegler (Russian Studies)
  • Chloe Miller (Archaeology and Anthropology)
  • Frank Vitale (History)
  • Laura Colleluori (Theatre Arts and Italian Studies)
  • Zha Xueyin (History and Sociology)
  • Colin Tripp (English and Creative Writing)
  • Rachel Schilling (English and German)
  • Allison Charles (English and Creative Writing)
  • Max Rubinstein (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • Rachel Kruchten (Psychology)
  • Ashieda McKoy (Political Science and Creative Writing)
  • Amy Hudock (undeclared)
  • Benjamin West (Archaeology)
  • Xiang Wei (undelcared)
  • Caio Santos Rodrigues (Psychology)
  • Jaime Phillips (Environmental Science)

National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

The Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship is a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant social or environmental topic. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

The wide variety of new digital media tools and platforms has created an unprecedented opportunity for people from all disciplines and backgrounds to share observations and personal narratives with global audiences online. These storytelling tools are powerful resources as we seek to expand our knowledge of pressing transnational issues and build ties across cultures.
Through the Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, Fulbrighters will undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Utilizing a variety of digital storytelling tools, including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media, Fellows will tell their stories, or the stories of those they meet, publishing their work on National Geographic media platforms with the support of National Geographic’s editorial team.

In addition to receiving Fulbright benefits (for travel, stipend, health, etc.), Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques, including effective blog writing, video production, and photography, by National Geographic staff prior to their departure. Fellows will be paired with one or more National Geographic editors for continued training, editorial direction and mentoring throughout their Fulbright grant period. Fellows will provide material for a blog on the National Geographic website on a frequent and ongoing basis throughout their grant term, and will have the opportunity to develop additional content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State.

For the Fellowship’s inaugural year of 2014, applications will be accepted for the following themes: Biodiversity, Cities, Climate Change, Cultures, Energy, Food, Oceans, and Water.…

2014-2015 Competition Deadline: February 28, 2014 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time