Thursday, December 22, 2011

T-PEN Takes a Holiday

From 23 December 2011 to 2 January 2012, the T-PEN staff will be on a much deserved holiday.  Registered beta users are welcome to use T-PEN but please note that  bug reports will not be addressed until the new year.

Requests for new T-PEN accounts may not be answered until 2 January 2012 as well.

The entire T-PEN staff wish all of their colleagues and friends a very Merry Christmas.  See you on the other side of the New Year.

Jim Ginther
Abigail Firey
Jon Deering
Patrick Cuba
Alison Walker
Tomas O'Sullivan

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Release Notes for T-PEN v1.1

Release date: 28 November 2011

Bug Fixes Implemented in T-PEN v1.1

Image Parsing:
  • Fixed a blank screen when the line parser fails to find any lines. Now a single full page line is generated so the user can build good column bounds and detect or manually add the lines.
  • Modified the parsing methods to better handle the images from the e-codices and CEEC repositories.
  • Fixed an issue where the internal image fetch was not using the standard method when re-parsing columns, which caused Assisi images to not be fetched correctly.
Exporting Transcriptions:
  • Fixed an issue with export by page range where if there was no text on the first page specified in the range, no text would be exported.

Project Management:
  • Fixed a potential error if a project was deleted, then the identity of the first page is requested.
  • T-PEN now checks to see if user is a member of requested project to prevent blue page response.
  • Fixed an issue where a temporary storage location was not always deleting correctly, which caused button copying between projects to fail intermittently.
  • Corrected reference to Special Characters that used user-defined characters instead of those within the project.

Transcription User Interface
  • Corrected an issue with image ordering in dropdowns for certain image name formats.
  • Fixed an issue which resulted in duplicates of some XML buttons being displayed in the transcription UI.

Landing Page:
  • Corrected sizing of popover to impose scrollbars when there too many manuscripts to fit on the screen (Firefox issue).

T-PEN Administration
  • Corrected error in JavaScript escaping that prevented multi-line archive messages from appearing.

New Features Implemented in T-PEN v1.1

Zoom Tool in Transcription User Interace: Holding CTRL+SHIFT will result in a magnified image of the current line being transcribed.

Magnifying Tool in Full Page View: Click on "Magnify" button at the top right of the browser window and a magnifying glass tool will appear as the mouse pointer. Click on the same button to dismiss the tool. The magnifying tool is also available in the Compare Page feature.

Create a Project “Pipeline” to the outer world: In partnership with The Carolingian Canon Law Project (CCL), T-PEN developed a model for enabling users working on transcription projects in T-PEN to export their work to a larger, external project. In this instance, the CCL prepared for T-PEN an XML-markup template (XML button set) that may be used for all transcriptions destined for the CCL database. Users identify their T-PEN projects as destined for the CCL, and when the transcription is complete, they can submit it from T-PEN to the CCL project. The CCL receives notification of the stable URL in T-PEN that the CCL can (either manually or by automation) use to extract the designated transcription from T-PEN’s data store. Other projects interested in creating their own pipeline should contact T-PEN via

T-PEN Administration: T-PEN administrator can now clear registration requests that have not been approved (ones that were mostly generated through internal testing).

Features In Development for T-PEN v1.2

Search: Ability to search across the T-PEN data-store. A query returns images of lines and not any transcription (although it is the transcription itself that is searched). Returns will also identify the transcriber.

Transcription history (versioning): T-PEN will store each version of a transcription line, and users can display the history of any line and replace the current version with an older one. Versions of lines include changes in any character data (including changes to encoding tags and whitespace changes) as well as adjustments to the parsing. Replacement options will also include replacing a selected line, all transcription on a given page, or even the entire project based on a given date/time stamp.

Language Tools for Medieval Vernacular Languages: Online-dictionaries for Old English, Middle English, medieval French and medieval German will be available as i-frame tools in the Transcription UI. Users will also be able to select which language tools they would like to have for a project.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Greetings! I’m Michael Elliot, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, where I study Anglo-Saxon canon law. I am currently involved in a number of editorial projects related to this subject, foremost among these being a new edition of the Excerptiones Pseudo-Ecgberhti, a mercurial and textually anarchic canon law collection compiled (in at least five versions) by Archbishop Wulfstan of York in the early decades of the eleventh century.

I come to T-PEN via the Carolingian Canon Law Project. I have been involved with CCL since 2009 preparing transcriptions of early medieval canon law collections and working with Dr. Abigail Firey and her team to develop a system of XML mark-up to describe these collections. As a participant in the CCL I was involved early on in experiments with producing CCL-conformant transcriptions using T-PEN. It has been exciting to witness how T-PEN has developed and improved over just this last year, becoming an ever easier and more enjoyable tool to use. Over the next six months I will be helping to further test T-PEN as the project moves into beta release. In addition to preparing transcriptions of a variety of canonical manuscripts within T-PEN, I will be experimenting with introducing structural mark-up into a T-PEN transcription “in real time”, as well as testing the functionality of importing transcriptions into, and exporting transcriptions out of T-PEN for incorporation into the CCL’s database.

The advantages of transcribing texts within the T-PEN environment are becoming clearer and more numerous the more I work with the project. I am especially enthusiastic about the partnership between T-PEN and the CCL because these projects are developing new and exciting ways of approaching the previously intractable problem of editing texts whose textual tradition defies a recensionist methodology. My own pet project, Wulfstan’s Excerptiones, is such a text, and I hope one day to take advantage of the tools developed by T-PEN and the CCL to prepare an edition of this difficult and misunderstood work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Hi there! My name is Alison Tara Walker and I am the Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the T-PEN project.

I'll be working on the project remotely from my home in Seattle, where I moved after completing a Ph.D. in English at UCLA. My doctoral dissertation, Politics, Patronage, and Orthodoxy in Late Medieval England argues that patronizing orthodox spirituality became an effective political gambit for the Lancastrian family, helping to stabilize an incipient dynasty by establishing its own spiritual legitimacy, in a time when the English church was also under siege. In addition to studying the literary culture of medieval England, my research also pays particular attention to the digital humanities, manuscript studies, and paleography.

I've also worked on a number of other digital humanities projects with a medieval bent, including the Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library and UCLA's Digital Canon Law Project.

During my tenure with the T-PEN project, I will be testing its functionality while I prepare an edition of a lovely Middle English miscellany (Cambridge, Harvard University, Houghton MS Eng 530), once thought to have been written by John Shirley. This project is sure to test my paleographical chops, as the manuscript has no less than 6 scribes and is around 200 folios in length!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Countdown to the Launch of T-PEN Beta (1.0)

For the last few weeks, we have been focusing on some pretty heavy debugging and some basic housekeeping as we prepare for the beta release of T-PEN.  The launch date is now set for Monday, 24 October 2011.  So now you can set your watches and calendars.

Preparation for the beta release has included:
  1. We have migrated T-PEN to a virtual server in the Network Services of Saint Louis University.  T-PEN had always run in a virtual environment--in a linux box sitting on our Windows server.  This started producing dropped connections, so much so that many of the javascript calls on the JSP pages were never completed.  Now we are running on virtual linux server and the quality of service has increased significantly. 
  2. We have automated our build procedure, and so regular builds will be pushed automatically (still allowing for manual builds to fix critical bugs) on a daily basis to the test-bed and then weekly to the live version. 
  3. We've developed a user reporting system that will be accessible on each page of T-PEN. Users will be able to report a problem (bug), suggest a new feature, ask a question and/or suggest a new repository for T-PEN users.  All these user-reported issues will be fed automatically into our bug-reporting and software management system.
  4. We have restructured our data store in a way that tightens the relationship between the image coordinates of a line and any transcription a user enters.  This new data structure will provide greater flexibility in line parsing adjustments and will further ensure data is never lost when a user modifies how a manuscript page is parsed. 
  5. We have reduced the number of individual pages that enabled T-PEN's functionality.  We are nearly at the point that the Transcription UI is becoming an "application window."  Manual line parsing and the line breaking of existing transcription text are now integrated into the Transcription UI.  The also means the codebase executes faster, and there is a more streamlined way to update the data store.
This is all in addition to the continual acts of bug-discovery and bug-fixing!  

Stay tuned for more updates as we head towards T-PEN 1.0.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We're Looking for a new Use Case Tester

T-PEN is looking to expand its development team to include a new post-doc position in the final year of development. See the ad below:

Saint Louis University, a Jesuit Catholic institution dedicated to education, research, healthcare and service, seeks applications for a full-time, limited contract, Research Fellow (Senior Research Assistant) in the Center for Digital Theology. The successful candidate will join a research team which is developing a web-based application in digital humanities: T-PEN (Transcription for Paleographical and Editorial Notation) is a web-based tool that assist scholars who wish to transcribe from digitized, unpublished manuscripts. T-PEN has been in development for a year, and the new Research Fellow will contribute to its completion over the next year. Details of the project may be found at

Reporting to the Principal Investigator, the Research Fellow works alongside a Java Developer and GUI Developer as well as the project's other Co-PI, Professor Abigail Firey (University of Kentucky). The Research Fellow contributes to T-PEN's general development (which features to create or modify, how to make the application more usable, etc.), participates in bug reporting and usability testing, attends weekly staff meetings, and executes a transcription project that will act as a major use case for T-PEN. That project will be based on one or more the 2,600 manuscripts that T-PEN currently has permission to use, which are drawn from five partnering digital repositories (Parker on the Web, e-codices, CEEC, Hougthon Library [Harvard] and Assisi). The Research Fellow will publish a working digital edition of the text based on the transcription work using T-PEN throughout the academic year. The Research Fellow also contributes posts to T-PEN’s blog and must be willing to "tweet" about the project on a regular basis on Twitter.
The successful candidate will possess a doctorate in medieval studies (or a single humanities discipline with a medieval research focus) and will have strong, demonstrated skills in paleography and Latin and/or a medieval vernacular language. Some experience in text editing would also be an asset. The successful candidate must have demonstrable experience in the digital humanities (such as digital text editing, software development, digital image analysis, database development, etc.). Experience with XML encoding would also be an asset. (S)he must also possess strong interpersonal skills, be able to work in a team environment, and be able to work to set deadlines. The position will begin immediately upon hire and will terminate on 30 April 2012. The annual salary will be $40,000, paid on a monthly basis. The position includes medical and other minor benefits.
Summary of Qualifications
- PhD in Medieval Studies (or a single humanities discipline with a medieval research focus)
- Demonstrated skill in Paleography and Latin (and/or a medieval vernacular language)
- Demonstrable experience in digital humanities
- Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team environment
- Able to work to set deadlines
- Experience in text editing
- Experience with XML encoding

Applications are to be submitted on line at Please include a letter of application, a CV, a list of URLs of previous projects or a sample written piece that engages the methods of digital humanities, and a list of three referees. Potential applicants are welcome to contact Professor James Ginther, Director, Center for Digital Theology, for any additional information at
Saint Louis University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and strongly encourages applications from women and minority candidates.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

T-PEN User Testing at Dartmouth College (August 18-19, 2011)

T-PEN's PI (Jim Ginther) and Senior Developer (Jon Deering) spent two full days participating in a digital tools workshop at Dartmouth College, sponsored by Stanford's DMSTech project.  As Stanford develops a new framework for digital repositories, they are also supporting three major research clusters of scholars.  These scholars focus on the manuscripts of the Parker Library (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge).  Naturally, these research clusters were in need of digital tools as they worked with Parker's digital collection.  The two tools selected were the new annotation tool, Digital Mappaemundi (DM) and, yes, T-PEN.

Over the two days, Ginther and Deering (along with DM's team, Martin Foys and Shannon Bradshaw) introduced fourteen users from North America and Europe to the functionality of the two tools.  These scholars received individual instruction and got to play with the tools for their own work.

For T-PEN, this was the first real-world "test drive" of our work and it yielded some excellent feedback.  We were able to observe some new user expectations when it came to work flow on a project, as well how users expected the tool to function for each main feature.  Since T-PEN is still at a pre-beta release, these testers broke T-PEN a number of times (which is what you hope for when testing); but more importantly they provided clear and helpful feedback on what they wanted T-PEN to do for them. They were all a very gracious and patient group of scholars.

The workshop was organized by Stephen Nichols,The James M Beall Professor of Medieval French at John Hopkins University.  As a former faculty member of Dartmouth, he ensured we were treated very well and had all the necessary resources at hand.  The workshop ended with an outstanding dinner at Steve's summer home in Vermont, where we dined on exquisite food with the mountains in the backdrop.

These new users will continue to use T-PEN over the next year and will become a significant source for usability testing and feature development. The T-PEN team is honored to be working with such careful scholars, and we know the partnership will only make T-PEN better.

(A few more photos are available on Picasaweb)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jonathan Deering's Presentation at CERN's OAI7 Workshop

From June 22-24, 2011, the University of Geneva, Switzerland, hosted the CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI7).  Jonathan Deering, T-PEN's Lead Developer, gave a presentation on how T-PEN will use the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC) Framework to record transcriptions as annotations of digitized manuscripts.  OAC is a form of RDF serialization that will permit data interchange between T-PEN and other RDF-aware applications. Jon presented the rationale for why T-PEN should adopt OAC conventions.  Not only will it permit data interchange OAC will be one way in which transcriptions can be preserved even if (God forbid!) T-PEN withers away. You can catch the audio and the slide presentation of Jon's talk, along with the equally interesting Q&A that followed on the CERN site.

Well done, Jon.  You represented the project very well, and you garnered good attention for T-PEN through this presentation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

T-PEN Gains Access to Two Additional Digital Repositories

T-PEN is pleased to announce that it has negotiated access to two additional archives for future users of T-PEN: The Digital Manuscripts of Houghton Library, Havard Univesity and La biblioteca del Sacro Convento di Assisi (Italy).

The Harvard Library describes its collection this way:  "Houghton Library's distinguished collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts represents a significant resource for the study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe. Assembled through gifts and purchase over the past two centuries, this collection includes works in Latin, Greek, and most of the vernacular languages of Europe that are the primary sources for the study of the literature, art, history, music, philosophy, and theology of the periods."  The digitized collection currently consists of 250 manuscripts and continues to grow.  One of the manuscripts was used to demonstrate T-PEN's new transcription UI.

The Assisi collection comprises 712 Latin manuscripts ranging from the twelfth to the fifteenth century.  This collection is of particular interest to scholars of the Franciscan tradition, and it includes such gems as the earliest collected writings of St Francis.  The collection also represents the broader intellectual and religious traditions of the Middle Ages.

With these two collections, T-PEN can now provide over 2,600 manuscripts for scholars to transcribe.  The original contributing repositories are e-codices, CEEC, and the Parker Collection. Our goal is to have over 5,000 manuscripts available for transcription by the Beta release in October 2011.

Since T-PEN's primary aim is to develop a web-based application that enhances the use of digital repositories, we are very happy to add more repositories to our list of manuscripts.  If there are any repositories you would want to see added, drop us a line and we'll start the dialogue with the repository.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Demonstration Video: Creating a Virtual Manuscript

One of the advantages of a digital manuscript is the option to manipulate its contents.  It is not uncommon for medieval manuscripts to be incorrectly bound, that is, gatherings (or groups of pages) are not in their correct order.  This can happen when a manuscript is rebound (most medieval manuscripts have modern bindings), but manuscripts were also incorrectly bound during the Middle Ages.  T-PEN allows users to create a virtual manuscript in a project, that is rearrange the digitized pages or folios that may better suit the flow of text.  The video below demonstrates how easy it is to do this:

An individual user's rearrangement of a manuscript does not affect how other users will view it.

There are two other possible uses for this feature: (1) when a text survives in two separate manuscripts, and so a user can combine those manuscripts in a project; or (2) that user wants to focus only part of a given manuscript and so can discard the unwanted pages/folios for a transcription project.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Demonstration Video of T-PEN's Transcription UI

Over the last few months, the T-PEN team has re-fashioned the core UI of the application. Instead of presenting the user with a number of manuscripts lines split up and each having their own text box, there is now just one text box. It floats over the image of the manuscript page, and as the user moves to the next line, so does the transcription box. We've also added new transcription aids: a Latin Dictionary (since currently the majority of our manuscript repositories house Latin manuscripts), a searchable version of the Latin Vulgate Bible, and an electronic copy of Capelli's Dizionario de Abbreviature latine ed italiane. The video here shows how all these aids (plus the option to do XML markup while transcribing) make T-PEN a robust digital tool for scholarly transcription and editing:

The manuscript featured in this demonstration comes from Houghton Library of Harvard Univeristy, and is one of 2,600+ manuscripts to which  T-PEN users could gain access.  Over the summer we will be striking agreements with other digital repositories and our aim is to have over 5,000 manuscripts on T-PEN's access list when the beta is released in October 2011.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We're goin' to Kalamazoo...

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the annual pilgrimage to the International Medieval Congress, held at Western Michigan University.  This will the be 46th iteration of the "uber-conference" for all things medieval.  It attracts some 3,000 medievalists from all academic walks of life, as well those interested in reviving certain features of medieval culture (such as those devoted to reenactments or making food and beer the medieval way!).  As much as fun as there is, the real focus is just like every other conference: the opportunity to share current research, engage in lively conversation about one's respective fields, and get a bird's eye view of the present shape of medieval studies. Attendees can choose from 580 individual sessions.

Make that 581: thanks to the Digital Medievalist Society, there will be an additional poster session Friday evening where scholars can display their digital wares.  Part of the T-PEN team will be there with one large poster and a few laptops on which participants can take T-PEN out for a spin.  We spent the last week building a Linux VM version of T-PEN that we will run as a local application (just in case our network connection fails to materialize) on the laptops.  Users will be able to transcribe a few select manuscripts, make use of the built-in tools, and even import an XML schema to validate an encoded transcription.  Our hope is to get some feedback from the users (including their wishlists for which digital repositories they would to see on T-PEN's access list).

If you are anywhere near Kalamazoo, MI on Friday 13 May 2011 at 7pm, stop by and say hello.  Here's the teaser poster we will be plastering about the conference grounds (artfully designed by Patrick Cuba)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

T-PEN's Project Management

T-PEN is being designed to support both on-the-fly transcription and project-based work. The first occurs when a scholar simply wants to transcribe a few pages from a manuscript for another project, export the transcription and move on. Project-based transcription assumes more sustained work on a given manuscript, so much so that it may be a shared project. With that in mind, the T-PEN team has been developing a project management component. That page looks like this:

The Projects tab indicates which current project is active and what other projects you may have on the go. The central box lists some basic metadata (this will be superceded by a Dublin Core set, as well as the option for the user to upload their own DC set or a TEI-header). The last box has three functions: transcribe, the ability to remove images from MS set (for that user's purposes only) or to modify the image sequence. This last option can be very important for medieval manuscripts since some have been bound incorrectly and so the gatherings are out of order.

The Manuscript tab provides two additional project functions. It is not uncommon for scholars to have started an in situ transcription but did not have the time to finish it. Now that a digital copy of that manuscript is available, there's no reason why one has to start from scratch. Hence, users can upload a text-only file for line breaking. This means a user can align an existing transcription with the lines of the manuscript page, and then continue where they left off. We will demonstrate this function in a future post. Finally, individual users can modify the way the T-PEN application has identified the location of the lines on the manuscript page. While we have worked very hard to make this as accurate as possible, we have regularly only attained a 85% success rate. And, sometimes the lines on a manuscript page are not straight enough to permit good automated line parsing. Users can traverse the pages and make manual corrections. If they deem the automated parsing to be too deficient, they can elect to make their manual line identifications available to other users.

On the last tab, Collaboration, a project manager can administer his/her research group. They can add or remove users who are registered on T-PEN. Or, they can invite a colleague to join the project. Finally, any changes made to the project are noted in the activity log. This includes when a manuscript is added to the project, when a new collaborator joins the team (or leaves the team), when any changes are made to any transcription page and if any resequencing or manual line parsing has been completed.

We look forward to any comments on how to improve this component of our digital tool.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

T-PEN part of a Proposal for an Experimental Session at AHA 2012

A few months back, Shane Landrum, a doctoral student in American History at Brandeis University, tweeted about proposing a session on  "crowdsourced archives and transcription projects" for the 2012 AHA Annual Conference. He suggested a brainstorming session via Google Docs. I was more than happy to jump in. The brainstorming demonstrated there was enough critical mass to make the proposal, and this week Shane made good on his word and submitted it to the AHA as an "experimental session."

T-PEN is one of the representative projects. We're not sure if this session will eventually be accepted, but the process itself demonstrated the general value of crowdsourcing as a way to generate ideas, build momentum and to make individual projects aware of the larger landscape in digital humanities. Hopefully, I will be presenting at the AHA in Chicago next January. In the meantime, Shane has posted an account of developing the session and what the proposal looks like. I'm honored that T-PEN is sharing space in a proposal with such stellar projects and such creative scholars!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fear and XML

I still have strong memories about my first academic position. For the first time, I would have my own office and desktop computer. It was still the days of Win3 and for the first time I was going to use the cutting edge word processor, MS Word 2.0! Having been a previous WordPerfect user, this was a strange moment for me and it was even more jarring because the prior user of the desktop had turned on the "reveal codes" option in Word: there are no white spaces in the document, spaces are represented by black bullet points and carriage returns with the ¶ symbol. It was incredibly annoying and it made it difficult to read my texts. So why did Microsoft even have this option?  It was their imperfect attempt to help authors with typesetting, especially if they followed the rule that there has to be two spaces after a period (which I recently discovered is a typographical sin!). As useful as it was, this type of "markup" was intrusive and I was very relieved when I finally figured it out how to turn it off. I did from time to time turn it back on, but for the most part I was happy enough to have this type of markup sitting under the hood. 

I was reminded of this experience as I was reading some recent exchanges on Twitter about how some users want XML elements to be in the background in an editor. Hugh Cayless, on his blog, recently mused that this demand was grounded in fear. I think he is right: some scholars look at the predominant way in which digital humanists manage and process texts and become fearful that they would have to do the same. This is not fear about XML per se as it is fear about change. For all our boasting of being trend-setting and critical thinkers, we academics are conservative at heart. Cayless has gone even farther to argue that any XML editor that permits hidden tags will ultimately be a losing proposition. This is because any schema (but Cayless has TEI and its minions in mind here) is ultimately a text model and to hide it from the author/reader is to misunderstand its functionality. 

So far I completely agree, but I would want to make a distinction here. As a text editor, sometimes I want to simply read the text, especially when I am transcribing an unpublished manuscript in Latin. I want to examine the flow of the words, the sentences and even paragraphs, without tripping over an XML element that is describing part of the text's content or structure. Now I am the first to admit that the semantic units of words, sentences and paragraphs are already marked up, or encoded, by using white spaces and/or punctuation. And yet, that kind of markup is so ingrained in my reading skill that they do not diminish the usability of the text displayed on screen. Add a few angle brackets, however, and my reading strategy has to change. 

For the T-PEN project, exposing and hiding XML tags is an important part of its development. We have two central goals in our mission: (1) to create a digital tool that paleographers and text editors will use when working with digital images of manuscripts; and (2) to integrate transcription and XML encoding; in other words, to bring to together the acts of composition and encoding. The second goal is particularly important since it means that decisions about representing structure are made as you create the text with the manuscript page before you. But this integration can present a challenge to those scholars who may not yet feel fully comfortable with XML encoding. And, for those scholars who are non-plussed about XML, they may still want to read the text qua text. We thus want to permit the user to have the choice about how their transcriptions are displayed. Users can certainly draw upon a palette of tags (which can be drawn from any schema including TEI) to insert as they transcribe, but they can also banish those tags to leave a naked text. We are even considering allowing users to select a color code for each element, so that they could have a third option; but that would depend greatly upon how many tags are in operation, and whether that might lead to rather unsightly text decoration. 

This strategy also reflects our concern for usability. Usability is not just about ease of use, since ease is directly related to comfort. Cayless is quite correct: there is a good deal of irrational fear about XML amongst humanist scholars. However, if we want to see the number of practitioners of digital humanities grow, then there has to be ways to overcome that fear. Allowing T-PEN users to hide and expose XML tags may increase the comfort level, and this can lead to better use. Ultimately, it will provide for a good experience for the fearful who may finally see that XML tags are the essential components of a usable text model. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Patrick joins the team

Greetings! My name is Patrick Cuba, the GUI Web Developer on the T-PEN project. As a member of the team, I am responsible for the graphical design and interface. This project is an exciting challenge to enhance the experience of transcription with deference to the analog nature of the manuscripts and the established conventions and habits of the scholars who will be using it. T-PEN should be a tool that feels obvious, not become something else to learn. My task is to create a flexible and simple interface that optimizes usability, intuitiveness, and comfort. Your feedback and input about the process of transcription (such as comments on entries like "How Do You Transcribe?") are invaluable to my work.

I have been employed by Saint Louis University for nearly a decade. My work in Student Development had been instructive, engaging, and fulfilling. When the position for GUI Web Developer posted, however, I saw an incredible opportunity to couple my undergraduate degrees of English and Philosophy & Religion (Truman State University) with my passion for the application of technology to the sincere advancement of knowledge and culture. As I learned about T-PEN and previous projects of the Center for Digital Theology at Saint Louis University, I found a door cracked open for myself in digital humanities, which had been previously unknown to me. To have entered into such a project with a competent and welcoming team already hard at work is intimidating and inspiring.

The first week is often too full of orientations about retirement planning, wrestling with the IT Department to get appropriate permissions, and finding the best lunch spots. Nevertheless, I will be working diligently to offer quality updates and adjustments to T-PEN that increase usability, expand compatability, and demonstrate the possibilities of technology intelligently applied.

Friday, January 14, 2011

T-PEN Presentation at the NEH PI Meeting in September 2010

In September 2010, Jim Ginther and Abigail Firey attended a meeting for all PIs of projects funded by the NEH's Office of Digital Humanities.  One of our tasks was to present the T-PEN project in two minutes.  These "lightening rounds" were taped and are now on YouTube.  Abigail insisted on being the "silent partner" so viewers have to put up with Ginther's blather!