I know that I know nothing

Commuting in Ottawa is an interesting experience. It seems the entire city disappears in the summer, beguiling one into thinking that a commute that takes 30 – 40 minutes in August will continue to be 30 – 40 minutes in September.

This morning, I was pushing 1 hr and 40 minutes. On the plus side, this gives me the opportunity to listen to the podcasts from Scholars’ Lab, from the University of Virginia (available via iTunes U).  As I listen to this excellent series of talks (one talk per commute…) I realize just how profoundly shallow my knowledge is of the latest happenings in Digital Humanities – and that’s a good thing! For instance, I learned about Intrasis, a system from Sweden for recording archaeological sites (or indeed, any kind of knowledge) that focuses on generating relationships from the data, rather than specifying beforehand a relationships table (and it melds very well with GIS). This is cool. I learned also about Heurist, a tool for managing research.  Also ‘Heml’ – the Historical Event Markup and Linking Project, lead by Bruce Robertson. As I listened to this last talk, as Bruce described the problems of marking up events/places/persons using non-Gregorian calendars and so on, it struck me that this problem was rather similar to the one of defining sites in a GIS – what do you do when the boundaries are fuzzy? How do you avoid the in-built precision of dots-on-a-map, or URLS that lead to one specific location? Time is Space, as Einstein taught us….

The upshot is, I feel very humbled when I listen to these in-depth and fascinating talks – I feel rather out of my depth. At the same time, I am excited to be able to participate in such a fast moving field.  Hopefully, my small contributions to agent modeling for history generate the same kind of excitement for others!

One thought on “I know that I know nothing

  1. How interesting hear that somebody finally understands was Intrasis is about. It would be kind of you if you could tell me the name of the podcast that had information about Intrasis. I am eager to here more…

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