Seminar leader blog post

Ian Kerr

Hello Everyone! This is my first week ever leading a seminar so I am more than a little nervous. Luckily for me, I have someone as experienced as Veronica as a co leader who has been well organized and well prepared since the beginning of the week, so she has been helping me get prepared to lead as well, which has been most helpful. She is also being super awesome and posting this blog on her account (for now) because I am currently having difficulties with Hcomms and am unable to post blogs to my account for whatever reason (oh technology, haha.)

With my introduction and subsequent explanation out of the way, lets move on to this week’s topic IFF aka International image interoperability framework. As I am not a very tech savvy individual (which probably explains my issues with Hcomms!) I was initially fairly overwhelmed with the idea of leading seminar conversation on a topic so digitally focused, however after doing the readings assigned for this week, I can safely say it is not so complex and confusing as it might initially seem.

So in short IFF is (to my admittedly limited technical knowledge) a digitation programing interface that allows uniformity and ease of access between many different digitation programs. This is done in order to unite the field of image digitization as well as providing a universal digitation framework that helps academics intuitions better able to access, share, upload, and annotate primary and secondary digital images.

I found learning about IFF this week to be quite fascinating, as it seemingly a huge step forward in the field of image digitization and technological advancements in general. As by having many different digitization programs and tools available in one easy to use framework, it undoubtedly increases productivity in the digitizing academic field. What I mean by this, is instead of academics each using a different image digitization program, IFF instead provides a seemingly universal interface that allows academics form all over the world to communicate, upload and share images across academic institutions with less confusion and more uniformity.

That all being said, which readings assigned for this week are most helpful in learning what IFF and Mirador are? Although I found all of the readings assigned for this week useful in explaining what these two projects are, the three works I found the most useful were: firstly the training manual explaining what the difference was between an image Api and a presentation Api. Secondly: one by Sarah Ann Long “Review: International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF); Gallica; e-Codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland,”, and thirdly, was the video introduction to project matador available via YouTube. I found all of these sources did a tremendous job in expaing what these projects are in a simplistic and easy to understand manner that really helped explain what IFF and Mirdor actually are.

Finally onto the questions to consider before tomorrows class:

  1. How could/ or how do programs such as IFF and Miridor advance the field of digitation technology?
  2. What are some possible problems (technological/ digital that could arise while using IFF and Miridor? Are they both easy to use?
  3. How about older academics who are used to using certain programs, is it easy to transition to using IFF?
  4. Although IFF and Miridor are large steps forward in the field of digitization technology, what could be some possible drawbacks to using such a large interconnected framework? Technical limitations (needing to upgrade technology to be able to run IFF, bugs, limitations etc.
  5. What could be done to better clarify misconceptions about IFF? And how could they be clarified? As although the readings were very informative I found that they all presented IFF as this already complete framework or system instead of a work on progress as it clearly is right now.
  6. As IFF is already advancing the filed on digital imagery and connectivity, what could possibly be the benefits of having it universally adopted across all academic institutions? What could possibly be the future for IFF and Miridor?

Whew, this post is much longer than I intended, my apologies. I hope I have provided a simple explanation of IFF and Miridor and am looking forward to discussing these questions (and others tomorrow) with all of you in class.






7 Replies to “Seminar leader blog post”

  1. Seminar leader blog post.


    Ian Kerr

    Hey classmates! For this week’s seminar we will be discussing TEI, known as the “text encoding Initiative” and how it used in the encoding of medieval manuscripts. While I am personally not a vary tech savvy individual I found this week’s readings did a fairly good job at introducing what TEI is in rudimentary simplistic language that made it fairly easy to understand. I ended up actually starting with the third reading assigned “Getting started with editing TEI XML using Atom by Andrew Dunning as I found it was a short simple reading that really explains what TEI is in easy to understand terms. For example Andrew states: “The Text Encoding Initiative is a ‘markup language’, a set of standard tags that tell a computer how to interpret a file. TEI is based on XML, which works exactly like the HTML tags that underlie every website.” To me this first passage from the third reading really helped me wrap my head around what TEI is without getting bogged down in to many technical details. From there, I read the first assigned reading (What is the Text Encoding Initiative: How to add intelligent markup to digital resources as I found although it did explain what TEI is, I found it did so in complex manner and was better used as a complimentary reading to expand my knowledge on what it is after I had read the third one. I also really like Andrew Dunning second reading “Software for producing a critical edition: Classical Text Editor, LaTeX, and TEI” as I found it really gave me an example of the myriad of different online tools and programs one can use to help digital encode a mediaeval manuscript.

    In terms of the fourth assigned reading I personally found the tutorial on transcribing mediaeval manuscripts with TEI both very useful and extremely complex to understand. I suppose it’s because I have never really worked with code before but I definitely will need to read it again in order to fully grasp what it is trying to teach me before I do the upcoming transcription practical assignment. I also liked looking at the fifth reading and how TEI can be formatted to specifically work with medieval manuscripts in a cataloging context.

    All in all I really enjoyed this week’s readings as I found they took a really complex technical topic and explained it in a way that was easy to understand. Now on to the questions to consider for class:

    1. Because of TEIs complex nature could it be difficult for people with a non-coding background to learn to work with TEI? Why or why not?

    2. How could we convince older generations of academics the importance of TEI and text encoding?

    3. Why is it important to get online and bridge the gap between historians and text encoders? What could be the benefits of this? References back to previous weeks in how it is important to teach encoding skills to people in humanities and history as these discipline are becoming increasingly online oriented.

    4. Does it surprise any of you how much text encoding is present on our manuscript entries on Omeka? I was personally blow away by how much digital text encoding is needed to simply get our images up and running on the site itself and it opened my eyes to appreciate how much effort it takes to get each and every little image and word displayed exactly how you want it on the site.

    1. Post seminar reflection TEI

      Hello fellow classmates! I really enjoyed co leading my last seminar with Matt. I am really happy with how well both my co seminars went as personally am not very good at presenting and tend to get very nervous, so I am glad that they went relatively well and are behind me. That being said I am thankful for having had the opportunity to have a copartner on both my seminars as it made the process much more manageable and was great practice for presentations in other courses.

      Now on to the actual in class discussion. I found that the discussion went really well and that everyone seemingly had decent understanding of what the text encoding innative was leading to a lively and thorough in class discussion. This honestly surprised me as although I had read all the readings for the week, I found because of the complex nature of the topic I still could not completely wrap my head around what TEI was, so it was nice to have the more tech savvy individuals such as Matt clarify what exactly it is.

      Because I am not a very tech savvy individual my questions for discussion focused on if the TEI inative was too complex for older academics to adopt and use and if so, how could we convince older academics the importance of the TEI? I really enjoyed how our in class conversation turned back to what we have been discussing in previous weeks, in how the subjects of history and humanities are becoming increasingly online oriented leading to the increased demand for computing skills on top of the usual historiographical skills. I just simply found it neat how the topic of TEI relates back to this previous talking point and how online components are becoming increasingly more prevalent in many academic disciplines of today.

      All in all, I really enjoyed co leading my two seminars as it was a great learning experience. Thank you all for the great conversations!

  2. Post seminar reflection blog (1st seminar reflection)

    Hello peoples, last Monday I co led my first ever Seminar with Veronica. I was admittedly very nervous going into co leading this class, mainly because I did not get a chance to lead a seminar last semester (on account of my lack of organization) and secondly because I tend to really struggle with any sort of presentation in front of a class or a large group of people. That being said, I think my first ever seminar went extremely well, mostly in thanks to Veronica who was extremely helpful in helping to get myself organized and prepared during the week leading up to co leading our seminar together. As although, I thought myself organized and well prepared by reading the assigned readings a week ahead in order to get ready for this class, Veronica crushed me in organization by having her entire blog post done the weekend before it was even due! So in short I am very thankful that Veronica was super well organized and ahead of the game, as it really helped me know exactly what I had to do to co-lead a successful seminar together.
    As for the in class seminar itself, I was very happy with how it turned out. I found that we had a very lively discussion about IFF images and Miridaor, including what the positives and negatives are of using these two newly developed projects are, as well as discussing some possible barriers of use that people could have towards these using these newly created programs. I was very thankful that I had decided to prepare more than six questions to ask ouir fellow classmates, as we ripped through the questions a lot faster than I thought we would, so I am happy I did not run out, haha. I would recommend anyone leading a future seminar to prepare as many questions as possible, as you never know how long the questions you have prepared will take to answer, as some of the more complex questions that I thought would take up a great deal of time were answered very quickly in the discussion and I had to move on to my backup questions much faster than I had anticipated, so it pays to be prepared.
    Finally, I am very happy with how our final project is progressing. I love how we have decided on such a fun, creative, as well as practical final project that uses the knowledge we have collected during this year long course in order to show and display what we have learned to fellow students and faculty members across Carleton. I really like how the project itself as all managed by our fellow students and how it is set up for us to each choose a personal task and work on it weekly in order to progress the project as a whole. I personally really really like this idea of organizing practical assignments in this manner, as opposed to this system (or lack of system) that we had last semester. As overall one of the things I really struggled with last semester in the course was the fact that I found that there was not really one coherent course outline of readings and assignments, but that it was all spread out loosely over our Github page in various small chunks and pieces, which I found made it very difficult to keep up with every little assignment, as there was always some little assignment that I had missed in some forsaken corner of our GitHub page. Thankfully, my prayers have been answered and we now have a single complete (up to date) homework checklist page that has made it extremely easy to check the few things I have missed. In conclusion, I am very pleased with how the second semester is going as I feel I am much more on top of things and in the loop than I was last semester!
    See you all in class!

  3. Ian Kerr
    medieval manuscript blog post:

    Lessons learned from the first semester

    Hello everyone, in this blog post I will discuss some of the things I very much enjoyed in our first semester of class, as well as some things I struggled with and need to improve on going into the second semester of our course.

    Firstly, I loved learning about the history of the medieval manuscripts, and the rich culture and history surrounding them. For example, I very much enjoyed learning about the different types of medieval manuscripts that exist, from prayer books to religious calendars marking important feast days, and so on. I found the lectures and readings discussing the amount of work that went into creating the manuscripts most eye opening, as I knew there was a ton of work going into the creation of these manuscripts but learning about all the various stages and techniques that were involved in the creation of the manuscript was very interesting.

    One of the areas I struggled with in the course was the final project. I found the final project to be both very enjoyable, as well as simultaneously very frustrating. As admittedly I am a bit of a perfectionist, so when I approached my manuscript I wanted to know everything about it from top to bottom. This however, proved to be very challenging as my knowledge of Latin is basically non-existent, I found transcribing and finding accurate results very difficult. I believe the primary issue I struggled with was that I went about deciphering my manuscript in the wrong way, or at least not the most effective way, as I attempted to transcribe a whole passage and then Google my transcription to no avail. Whereas I believe if I had simply picked one line out of various sections and worked on getting the transcription perfect, I probably could have found that line in one of the numerous religious texts, and then read the translation in order to figure out what the rest of the passage was. As such, I was only really able to decipher one passage in my manuscript with the professor’s help. Another part of the project I really struggled with was that my manuscript seemingly had about 500 different medieval abbreviations, and I had to slowly look each one up in the massive medieval abbreviations book, which was very overwhelming and super difficult. This unfortunately proved to be a pointless waste of time, as the abbreviations obviously were not standardized during this historical period, so each abbreviation appeared to have been written in three different ways, in three different spots of the manuscript, it was maddening. Overall, I’m not sure how well I did on the final project, but it was definitely a very interesting learning experience.

    The other area of the course I struggled with was keeping up to date with all of the small assignments given throughout the first semester. I honestly found it very confusing as we had the basic assessment sheet with our week to week assignments, including a tab with the blog posts which was very straight forward and simple to follow. However, the rest of the course outline was split in about six different pieces, with course readings in one section, assignments in another, and then a general course outline that does not match up with the week to week section also present on the GitHub page. I honestly think that If everything was present on the weekly assessment sheet from day one, (like It is now) assignments, homework, tasks to complete in class (as it was set up) everyone including me would be a lot less confused and frustrated and actually know what we are supposed to be doing on a week to week basis.

    That being said, our professor has given us ample time over the break to organize and complete the outstanding assignments, as well giving us plenty of one on one time to help us complete any assignments we are struggling with. So I don’t mean to complain, I am simply pointing out some ideas that may make the course run smoother for both us and the professor next semester.

  4. Medieval manuscripts

    Project update blog (first blog post of second semester)

    Hello Everyone! In this blog post I will discuss my progress with the final project as well as how much I have enjoyed working on it so far, and discuss some skills I have acquired through learning how to set up our mini display/ exhibit for class. Firstly, I just want to say how absolutely awesome this final project is, in that we actually get the opportunity to set up and design our own little glass display exhibit as a class. As someone who has always loved going to museums since I was a little kid, I can now say that I have a newfound appreciation and understanding of how much work, time and effort goes into the planning, coordination and execution of a completed exhibit, and am grateful to have the opportunity to experience this process and learn what it is actually like. I also think it is really neat that we get to take and display our practical knowledge that we have acquired over both Semesters in order to show the rest of Carleton what we have been working on, and give them an opportunity to see these incredible pieces of history.

    Now that I have discussed how much I absolutely love our final project. I will now discuss some new practical skills that I have acquired through working on this project. It may be super obvious at first, but I have learned through the last couple weeks through communication with my project team that keeping everyone, updated and communicating frequently and efficiently is key to a teams overall success. For example, I have been making sure I update my team on what exact task I am responsible for completing each week as well as having an eye on what tasks my fellow team members have to complete in order to ensure that we are each working on separate tasks and not wasting time by accidentally working on the same thing (which has happened to me working on past group projects, not fun, haha.)

    Another important skill I have recently learned (or improved upon I should say) is that of efficiently communicating back and forth through email. Because of my project reponpibilites I have had to have several back and forth conversations with several important Carleton library administrative persons who are understandably very busy throughout their day, this has therefore taught to me to write very concise, short simple emails in order to get my point across without being to long winded. This I have found is avety important and practical skill that will no doubt help me as I continue my academic career at Carleton and eventually move on to bigger rand better career opportunities

    Finally, I just want to discuss a bit about how much I prefer how this final project is set up vs how the other final project was set up last term. I really like how this project functions on a week to week practical assignment basis, in that you have to complete a chunk of the assignment week by week in order for the exhibit to actually be set up and function by the end of the semester. Whereas last semester, although the course is supposedly set up to help us complete the final project in chunks, I personally found that the almost the entire fosuc of the first semester was put on the digital aspects of the course and only briefly covered the important lessons on analyzing and examine a manuscript. For example I found the first semester solely focused on inconsequential mini assignments and exercises that had almost no bearing or relation to learning about how to analyze and examine our manuscript so when it came time to work on the final project, I was wholly unprepared, even though I had kept almost completing update with the mini digital assignments.
    I personally find the course could be majorly reorganized to focus on the important manuscripts lessons that we should have learned in class (although we did learn a few). For example, I feel like we very much wasted the first couple weeks of class signing up for all the myriad of sites, whereas we should have been choosing our manuscript first thing, have a complete and total outline of what exact task of we were supposed to/ or going to learn about it week by week and finally have a complete one page outline of what our final project should look like. The other digital aspects should have all been given as homework or outside the class assignments, as I find that not a single one of the digital sign up sites helped me analyze my manuscript in anyway. I was admittedly disappointed with how little we actually focused on our manuscripts in the first semester, and I found the course felt more like a digital computer science course than a course organized around the digital analyzation of medieval manuscripts.

    That all being said I must say that the organization of the course in the second semester has vastly improved over the first. I love how we have one single assignment sheet and checklist and the final project is much better explained and handled than it was during the first semester. My apologies for going on such a rant. See you all in class!

  5. Ian Kerr

    Final blog post

    Final course reflection and project update

    Hello everyone! In this final blog post of the year I am going to discuss how much I loved this course, some struggles I had to overcome as well as how much I enjoyed working and completing our final project of the second semester. I found this full year course incredibly interesting as I learned so much about medieval culture and life through working with my folio in the first Semester. I think it is so incredibly cool that Carleton even has so many interesting medieval artifacts and that we actually had permission to touch and work with these incredible historical pieces. I am sure I have already mentioned this before but as a lover of history it blew my mind (and still honestly does) that we as Carleton students were allowed and trusted to handle and work these artifacts, I never imagined that I would receive such a awesome opportunity. I also really enjoyed this course because of how it made history feel more real, what I mean is, in another history class we would work on a typical research paper finding and reading secondary sources working with history in a more traditional manner, whereas this course allowed us to actually hold a piece of history in our hands and analyze at our leisure. I just think this is a really neat course that could help reignite students love of history, as being able to actually interact with pieces of history is a really incredible experience that I am sure more students would love to participate in.

    Although I really enjoyed this course as a whole there were several aspects I definitely struggled with. Firstly I found the way the course was displayed on Github to be rather confusing as there was the “general overview of the course” section of the GitHub page but then there was also weekly assignments listed under each individual week which I found difficult to follow, as I was unsure which list was the correct one which made it difficult to keep up with the weekly assignments. Although I found this very frustrating at first (which my previous blog posts will demonstrate, haha), I must commend and thank the professor for making the “assignment checklist sheet” as this sheet made it very easy to keep up with the assignments due and ensure that everyone is on the same page and no one is confused or frustrated. I also just wanted to take a moment and apologize if my previous blog posts were to mean-spirited as it was not my intention, I guess I just got too carried away airing my grievances and frustration with the course and I apologize if it was too dramatic. (sorry sir :)) On another note I would perhaps recommend starting with a rough assignment checklist at the beginning of the term as it may make it easier for students to keep up with all the various little assignments and not fall behind.

    Finally, I really really enjoyed working on the final project of the second semester. This is funny because I found I really struggled through the first project of the course (although it was very interesting) and I was honestly not looking forward to struggling through the second one. However once we as a class decided that we were going to use our manuscripts to create our own mini historical exhibit it completely changed my perspective and made me really want to participate and do well on this assignment, not only for the grade but for the incredible opportunity to experience what its like to put together a museum exhibit. I also found it changed my perspective on group projects as I am sure we have all had the experience in highs cool when you are assigned to a group only to have you and your friend completer all the work while the rest of the group does nothing. Luckily, this experience was the exact opposite of that, everyone participated fully and were great at communicating with one another leading to the overall success of the project as whole.

    All in All, I really enjoyed this class and had a great year with you all.

    Thanks everyone!

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