Humanities Computing Research Colloquium

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This Colloquium series is organized by the Canadian Institute for Research Computing in the Arts.

Colloquium Series for Winter 2012

Brent Nelson and Robert Imes: The Scholarly Edition as Knowledge Environment: Where Do We Go From Here?

April 11th, 4pm, Location: Arts 112

In this uncunable period of transition from print to electronic publication we face many of the challenges faced in the transition from manuscript to print. Above all, we need to contend with, and respect, the mature technology of our legacy medium and what it has achieved if we are to be informed implementers and users of new reading technology. In this paper the presenters from the Textual Studies team of INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) will examine the case of the scholarly edition, briefly outlining its development into a powerful reading environment. With this history in hand, we will then examine some of the challenges in achieving the same functionality in the Web environment before posing some principles to guide our development of reading interfaces that provide the same functionality in ways that leverage the particular opportunities afforded by the new medium.

George Tzanetakis: Virtual bowing, religious chants and robotic musicianship: unconventional music information retrieval

March 30th, 4pm, Arts 112

Music today is to a large extent produced, distributed and consumed digitally. Music Information Retrieval (MIR) is the interdisciplinary reserch field that deals with all aspects of extracting information from and about music using computers. Applications of MIR such as automatic music recommendation, query by singing and predicting music mood that used to be research curiosities are now part of commercially available systems. In this talk I will describe three fringe case studies of MIR research that my group has been working on.
Physical modelling synthesis refers to methods that synthetically generate musical instrument sounds by using a set of equations and algorithms that simulate the physics of sound production. They provide realistic sounds with controls that are physically meaningful. However the control of physical modelling algorithms is challenging. Using machine learning techniques we show how a virtual violinist can "learn" to bow in a similar way to a beginning violin student. Computational musicology has largely focused on the analysis of western classical music for which there are rich structured symbolic representations i.e music scores. I will talk about how we assisted a musicologist explore the transition from orally trasmitted to written music notation in the context of religious chant. Finally I will discuss how we can imbue robotic percussion instruments with the ability to listen to themselves and music in the context of live music improvisation between computers and humans.

George Tzanetakis is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Computer Analysis of Audio and Music at the Department of Computer Science with cross-listed appointments in ECE and Music at the University of Victoria, Canada. In 2011 he was visiting scientist at Google Research. He received his PhD in Computer Science at Princeton University in 2002 and was a Post-Doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in 2002-2003. His research spans all stages of audio content analysis such as feature extraction, segmentation, classification with specific emphasis on music information retrieval. He is also the primary designer and developer of Marsyas an open source framework for audio processing with specific emphasis on music information retrieval applications. His pioneering work on musical genre classification received a IEEE signal processing society young author award and is frequently cited. More recently he has been exploring new interfaces for musical expression, music robotics, computational ethnomusicology, and computer-assisted music instrument tutoring. These interdisciplinary activities combine ideas from signal processing, perception, machine learning, sensors, actuators and human-computer interaction with the connecting theme of making computers better understand music to create more effective interactions with musicians and listeners.

Sean Luyk and Deb Feisst: Harvesting the Western Canadian Web: Using Web Archiving to Create the Collections of the Future

February 27th, 4pm, Arts 112

Traditional collection development is reactive in nature: libraries develop their collections by responding to client requests, using approval plans, and making selections from the review literature. Librarians also identify gaps in their collections through collection analysis, examination of peer rankings, and using subject bibliographies to obtain materials they may have missed using other methods. These approaches work well for current and retrospective collection development, but are ill equipped at developing the collections of the future. This session discusses the use of web archiving at the University of Alberta Libraries to collect content of interest to Western Canada, and frames it as a proactive approach to collection development in a digital age.
In the summer of 2010, the University of Alberta Libraries (UAL) began using web archiving to harvest and preserve collections of digitally published content. Web sites are harvested using ArchiveIT and collections are hosted on the Internet Archive. Collections are accessible to the public through the Internet Archive, and the UAL website. This session will discuss two contrasting collections, both preserving content significant to Western Canada.
The Alberta Education Curriculum Collection was one of the first collections at UAL to be archived. This collection aims to collect and preserve curriculum documents available on the Alberta Education website including Programs of Study and other learning & teaching resources including Guides to Implementation. Alberta Education is not currently preserving digital copies of these historically significant documents, which are essential for exploration of changes and trends in our provincial school curriculum.
The second collection, the Western Canadian Industry Collection examines a project to archive the publications of two contrasting industry organizations of significance to the economy of the Province of Alberta. Following discussions of the process of obtaining permissions from these organizations, the technical and practical challenges are discussed, with emphasis given to the work processes required to support a web archiving program for long term digital preservation.
Other UAL collections have been established to preserve web content of interest to Western Canada. These collections will preserve content for future generations, and help document the current and changing nature of these culturally and socially significant times.

Colloquium Series for Fall 2011

Patrick Juola: The Tyranny of Assumptions

September 12th, 4pm, Arts 112

The statistical analysis of text is one of the key tools in digital humanities; for example, we cluster documents by topic based on how the distribution of the words in the documents differs from a baseline. A word that appears “significantly” more frequently probably has something to do with the main topic. But hidden in this is an assumption, first, that we know what the baseline is, and second, that we know something about how documents vary around that baseline (and therefore whether any difference is “significant.”) The assumptions, in turn, rest on formal mathematical assumptions that are often not met – and often ludicrous.
For example, a common technique in authorship attribution assumes that words are distributed according to a “normal” distribution. This, in turn, implies that – more accurately, normal distributions arise in situations where—the appearance of any given word is independent of the words around it. Do we really want to be using a technology that assumes not merely an absence of context, but also of topical cohesion?
In this talk, I will show, first, that some of the assumptions are, in fact, silly when applied to language. I will detail a series of experiments showing that these assumptions lead to errors on the part of the computer. I will suggest some approaches that can be used in the short-term to avoid these errors, and suggest some research topics that may mitigate them in the long run.
Patrick Juola is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at Duquesne University, but he also has degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Cognitive Science, and worked as a postdoc in Psychology. He has been an active participant in Digital Humanities since it was called "humanities computing," and looks forward to the next shift in nomenclature.

Stan Ruecker, Carlos Fiorentino, Michael Burden, Omar Rodriquez, and Susan Brown: The Visualization of Uncertainty in Time

September 22nd, 4pm, Arts 112

In this presentation, Stan Ruecker will address recent work on the second phase of Johanna Drucker's Temporal Modeling Project, where we have set out to produce a set of design ideas around the visualization of time. Building on a number of case studies from our research team, and in particular some data from the Orlando history of women's writing in the British Isles, we have produced a 3D display of time that accommodates the concept of uncertainty. The visual display of uncertainty is one aspect of the phenomenological approach to both time and space that Drucker and Nowviskie have advocated both severally and together, and serves as an example of the larger concern with supporting the humanities through innovative design and prototyping in humanities computing.

Maria Whiteman: Hiking the Suburbsa

November 25th, 3pm, Arts 112

Maria Whiteman, assistant professor of Drawing and Intermedia, presents her photographic series Hiking the Suburbs. These have been published as part of the current issue of Public which explores the suburbs as dwelling in transition, as utopian vision, a way of life, a built form and as a significant economic and political dimension of the global phenomenon of urbanization.
About Maria Whiteman: My work addresses animals and animal bodies and our personal interactions and understanding of our companion species. In addition to the Taxonomia I also make bring forth and ask questions about our encounter and relationship to domestic animals. The animals we live with and come to develop meaningful relationships with. How can be bridge the connection to our own being and animals as one? I want the work to show the relationship we share with other species and mostly to show the inter-species connections we tend to overlook until we have close contact with these special beings. I focus on very close frames and shots of animal bodies between zoological species and domestic species and to make connections. The videos with the photographs open up new vantage points on the question of the animal display or how close we are to our animals. The Eyes video is watching you; it is of viewing and being viewed.

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