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DiRT plugin available for Commons In A Box (CBOX) Scholarly Network

CBOX site with DiRT plugin enabled

As the concluding post of our two-week series of announcements, the DiRT directory is delighted to announce a new plugin for the Commons In A Box (CBOX) scholarly networking platform that brings DiRT’s tool listings directly to people in an environment where they can discuss digital tools  and share their expertise and suggestions within trusted communities.

The DiRT plugin is already available for individual group owners to enable on the CUNY Academic Commons, NYC Digital Humanities, and the Texas Digital Humanities Consortium. Anyone who runs the Commons In A Box platform can download the “DiRT directory client” plugin from wordpress.org.

Members of a group in which this plugin has been enabled can search the DiRT database within the CBOX interface and indicate that they use particular tools; doing so will add those tools to their profile. Groups that enable the plugin can display what tools are used by their members. Users can also easily look for others who use a particular tool. The sitewide activity feed shows recent users who have added tools to their profiles, helping raise awareness of what tools are commonly adopted by projects.

In its previous incarnation as Bamboo DiRT, the DiRT directory included an “I use this” button on each tool profile that authenticated users could click to add a tool to their profile. However, this feature was very rarely used, not least because many active users of DiRT had never felt a need to create an account on the site. While early plans for CBOX integration involved taking advantage of DiRT’s own “I use this” button, the DiRT team realized that for most of its users, DiRT is a source of information, not a social space where people are interested in creating and maintaining a profile, or aggregating and broadcasting information about the tools they use. In contrast, an instance of CBOX, such as the CUNY Academic Commons, is precisely the kind of space where people develop and maintain profiles, and are more likely to develop communities of practice around tools. For that reason, the DiRT team removed the “I use this” feature from DiRT, and the integration with CBOX sites provides that functionality in a place where it is more likely to be used and fostered by a community.

The DiRT directory client was developed by a team at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York led by Professor Matthew K. Gold, with Boone Gorges as the lead developer. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation generously supported the development of this plugin, as well as all the other new features highlighted over the last two weeks: our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons, Spanish translation work, tool reviews, export options and API, adding tools using Twitter, the new tool lists feature, TaDiRAH terms and RDF, the “assignment-in-a-box”, and our “recipes” partnership with TAPoR.

As we conclude this series of announcements, as well as this phase of actively developing new infrastructure for DiRT, we would like to thank the Mellon Foundation, our development partners at The Graduate Center, CUNY, the Drupal developers at Agile Humanities Agency, DiRT’s volunteer steering committee, editorial board, and translators, new parent organization centerNet, and partner projects including TAPoR and Geohumanities SIG. DiRT would not be where it is today without your support.

DiRT partners with TAPoR to provide "recipes"

The DiRT directory is happy to announce a partnership with TAPoR that will involve, among other collaborations, a joint effort to further develop the Methods Commons (methodi.ca). The Methods Commons is a collection of “recipes”, or step-by-step guides to how to apply digital tools to scholarly problems. Many of these recipes illustrate how to use multiple tools together, which provides additional, helpful context for DiRT users exploring how they might incorporate particular tools into their project.

Like reviews and projects, recipes (if available for a given tool) are presented in a tab on the tool’s DiRT profile. For example, DiRT editorial board member Doug Duhaime has contributed an example recipe on how to index text files with Python.

As part of DiRT’s partnership with TAPoR, textual tools that are also listed in TAPoR now include a link to the tool’s TAPoR profile in the “other directories” tab. TAPoR profiles feature slightly different metadata than DiRT (such as information on background processing and ease of use), and are worth consulting while investigating a tool.

The new Methods Commons site, like DiRT, uses TaDiRAH goals and methods as one way of organizing its recipes. In the coming months, it will play an important role in disseminating code snippets and nascent tools developed as part of the Text Mining the Novel initiative. If you are interested in contributing a recipe to Methods Commons, please contact us for an account on the site.

The integration between the Methods Commons site and DiRT was accomplished using a modified version of the DiRT/DHCommons integration modules developed by Agile Humanities Agency (as discussed here). If you have a Drupal site with information that would enrich DiRT’s tool profiles, please contact us to discuss the possibility of a similar arrangement.

Note: This is the tenth in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons, Spanish translation work, tool reviews, export options and API, adding tools using Twitter, the new tool lists feature, TaDiRAH terms and RDF, and the “assignment-in-a-box”. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!

Bring DiRT into your classroom with our "assignment-in-a-box"

Exploring and assessing tools for digital research is a common aspect of digital humanities courses. The DiRT directory’s new tool review feature can play a role in digital humanities curriculum development by offering a public space where students can share their evaluations in a way that will help others decide which tools to adopt.

DiRT steering committee member Shawn Day has developed a tool review assignment that can be incorporated into digital humanities courses, and other digitally inflected curricula (e.g. digital literacy seminars, professional development workshops for librarians, etc.) This “assignment in a box” can be used as is, or can be freely modified to meet the particular needs of the course. It is currently available as a “beta” release; feedback on the assignment, both from instructors and from students, is welcome via our contact form. We will revise the assignment or include variations depending on the ongoing response from users.

Many thanks to Shawn for this important step towards bringing DiRT to the classroom!

Note: This is the eighth in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, which will continue all this week. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons, Spanish translation work, tool reviews, export options and API, adding tools using Twitter, the new tool lists feature, and TaDiRAH terms and RDF. Check back the rest of this week for more "dirt" on DiRT!

DiRT adopts TaDiRAH terms, provides RDF data

The DiRT directory has recently rolled out TaDiRAH terms as the main organizing and browsing framework for the site, and is now making tool profile information available using RDF.

The DiRT directory is widely recognized for providing researchers who are new to using digital tools with an easy way to access those tools using activities (“I want to… analyze data”) rather than an abstract classification system. As part of DiRT’s current development phase, we have worked to align the categories that underlie those activities with a taxonomy shared by other projects and directories within the digital humanities community. DiRT is happy to announce the rollout of the new taxonomy is complete, and the activities on the front page of DiRT now reflect those new categories.

DiRT’s new taxonomy, known as TaDiRAH (Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities), was developed jointly by Jody Perkins and Quinn Dombrowski from the DiRT steering committee, and Luise Borek, Christof Schoch and (originally) Matt Munson from DARIAH-DE, from 2013-2014.

Because we intended that TaDiRAH be flexible enough to accommodate digital humanities projects beyond those belonging to TaDiRAH’s creators, the development process included two rounds of public feedback, where we received over 80 substantive comments (60 in the first round, 20 in the second). For more information about the origins and development of TaDiRAH, see “TaDiRAH: Building Capacity for Integrated Access” in dh+lib, or this DARIAH presentation by Luise Borek (PDF).

The first public release of TaDiRAH was published on Github in May 2014, and a SKOS-compatible version hosted by DARIAH soon followed. Since then, TaDiRAH has been translated into Spanish, and work is currently underway on a Serbian translation.

At the end of 2014, DiRT’s new editorial board undertook the monumental task of updating every tool in the DiRT directory, including assigning TaDiRAH taxonomy terms to each tool. Their work was an essential prerequisite for us to be able to finally replace DiRT’s original ad hoc categories with TaDiRAH.

The front page of DiRT has been updated to display activities connected to the top-level TaDiRAH goals and subsidiary methods. A new option at the bottom of the page allows you to take research objects as the primary search, in order to see all tools applicable to audio, for instance. If you select any activity or research object, you will go to a list of tools that can help with the activity or object you have chosen. The right sidebar on that page displays the full TaDiRAH taxonomy.

TaDiRAH’s increasing adoption by other projects opens up possibilities for connecting the content collected by each of those projects using linked open data. In addition to rolling out TaDiRAH terms for its tools, DiRT is making the information about those tools available through RDFa, as well as providing a SPARQL endpoint for querying DiRT’s data. See DiRT’s RDF documentation for information on the attributes and mappings. 

 

Note: This is the eighth in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, which will continue all this week. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons, Spanish translation work, tool reviews, export options and API, adding tools using Twitter, and the new tool lists feature. Check back the rest of this week for more "dirt" on DiRT!

DiRT adds "Tool list" feature

The DiRT directory’s collection of tools for digital research continues to expand, making it harder to keep track of individual tools you encounter while browsing. To address this growing need, DiRT has developed a new “Tool list” feature.

Once you create an account and log into DiRT, a new icon will appear at the bottom of any tool’s profile. Click it to add the tool to your tool list.

tool_list_tool_profile.png

Your tool list

To access your tool list, hover over the “Users” menu item at the top of the screen.

tool_list_menu.png

Your tool list page displays the logo, name and link, and description of each tool you’ve added to the list, along with an option to remove that tool from your list.

tool_list_list.png
 

Downloading tool information

At the bottom of your tool list, there are links for downloading a CSV or JSON. These export options contain all of the textual information in the tool’s profile. If you want to pull information about tools you use into another website, you can copy the CSV or JSON download links for use outside of DiRT, without having to authenticate.

The Geohumanities SIG, for example, is using the tool list feature to maintain a list of geospatial tools. They use the CSV export to periodically pull the most recent information about those tools onto their website. Geohumanities SIG members will be able to add more specific geospatial information about the tool listings on the Geohumanities website, while contributing to the maintenance of the primary information about those tools on DiRT itself.

If you want to maintain a list of tools relevant for your group or organization and another website, and want advice on how to integrate information from DiRT using the tool list feature, please contact us.

Note: This is the seventh in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, which will continue all next week. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons, Spanish translation work, tool reviews, export options and API, and adding tools using Twitter. Check back the rest of this week for more "dirt" on DiRT!

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