Add tools to DiRT by tweeting

The DiRT directory is pleased to announce the launch of a new feature that lets anyone add a tool stub page by tweeting. Stub pages just contain a tool name, URL, and the Twitter handle of the submitter. They don’t appear as part of the normal tool listings until more metadata has been filled in, either by DiRT editors or community volunteers, but they can be viewed on DiRT’s new “Twitter submissions” page.

To submit a tool to DiRT via Twitter, just tweet the tool name and URL at @dirtdirectory with the hashtag #dhtool. (Example: @dirtdirectory Palladio #dhtool). Within a few minutes, DiRT will create a stub page for the tool.

If you have a few minutes to spare, consider adding some metadata to a tool on the Twitter submissions page so it can be added to the main tool listings! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Log into DiRT
  2. Go to the Twitter submissions page, and click on a submitted tool
  3. Click the “edit” button on the tool’s profile
  4. Copy the Twitter-shortened URL in the description field. Open that URL in a new browser tab, and copy the real URL for the tool.
  5. Put the real URL for the tool in the “website” field.
  6. Delete the Twitter-shortened URL from the description field, and write a short description of the tool. Fill in as many of the fields as you can (cost, license, etc.)
  7. Assign the tool to one or more of the TaDiRAH categories.
  8. Save.

Once the tool profile has its correct URL in the “website” field, a description, and at least one TaDiRAH category, it will appear on the site with the rest of the tool listings.

Next time you hear about a new tool on Twitter, be sure to share it with DiRT!

Note: This is the sixth 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, and export options and API. Check back the rest of this week for more "dirt" on DiRT!

DiRT offers API access, export options

The DiRT directory is pleased to open up its tool listings to analysis, incorporation into other websites, and creative reuse, via a new API and data export options.

An extensive amount of manual work goes into maintaining a tool directory. Previously, if individual digital humanities centers, libraries, or organizations wanted to maintain their own list of information about digital humanities tools, they had to duplicate the work that DiRT directory editors already undertake. Now, others can build on the information contained in DiRT, pulling in basic tool descriptions and metadata and augmenting it with information that’s relevant for their specific university or community (e.g., where to go for help with particular tools.) The Geohumanities Special Interest Group, for instance, uses data from DiRT on their website to populate a list of geospatial tools. The Geohumanities SIG site will allow members to add geospatially relevant information about those tools (which is too specific for DiRT to store), while periodically refreshing the tool listings with the latest updates from DiRT. DiRT is also working with the CLARIN European Research Infrastructure Consortium to set up procedures for two-way sharing, so that CLARIN's large and growing catalogue of tools and services in the domains of text, speech and language processing and analysis can be found in the DiRT repository, and so that DiRT records can appear on CLARIN's help and advice pages and in the Virtual Language Observatory.

There are two ways to access the data stored in DiRT. The simplest is to use the CSV export option that now appears at the bottom of every list of tools. This link provides a CSV file with all the textual information in the profile of each tool in the list. It takes into account any filters you’ve applied to the data. For example, if you go to the Collaboration tool page, and use the drop-down list to only show free tools, the CSV link at the bottom of the page will also be updated to only export free tools. On the “All tools” page, there’s also an option to download a JSON file containing all tool information on DiRT; this export, unlike the CSV export on the same page, does not respond to filters you have applied.

If your project requires direct API access to DiRT, contact us for an API key. The results from the DiRT API are less comprehensive than the CSV file, returning term IDs rather than term names for most of the metadata stored in DiRT. You can make separate API queries to retrieve the term name using the term ID. Full documentation for the DiRT API and export options are available here (as well as under the “About” tab in the main menu on DiRT.)

Note: This is the fifth 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 and tool reviews. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!

Tool reviews on DiRT

The DiRT Directory is giving reviews a more prominent place on the on the site by providing a new tool review feature that allows users to publish extensive reviews or point to reviews published elsewhere. This overhaul will provide valuable perspective for scholars who are trying to decide between multiple options with similar functionality. The DiRT directory has always provided a way for users to comment on tools, but a small comment box appended to a tool profile is not a good fit for publishing thorough, detailed tool reviews.

There are many places where one could publish a tool review, ranging from personal and course blogs to university resource guides for digital humanities. Most of these options have shortcomings that relate to visibility and/or persistence. Learning management systems, where many reviews written in a classroom context are “published”, are generally closed to the public and made inaccessible to the users within a few months or years. Personal blogs and websites may be maintained over a longer time period, but unless the site appears among the top Google results for a query about the tool being reviewed, it may not actually influence anyone.

Reviews published on DiRT will appear in a “Reviews” tab as part of the profile of the tool (or tools) described in the review. The review form can be used in two different ways. Tool reviews that don’t exist elsewhere, or that the author would like republished on DiRT, can be published in their entirety. Alternately, users can put in the URL and author’s name for externally-published reviews.

Interested in reviewing a tool? Log into DiRT, go to the “Contribute” menu item, and click on “Add a review” in the dropdown menu. The DiRT tool review form includes a number of questions to consider when writing a review, based on guidelines used by the TAPoR directory of text analysis tools. For a good example, check out DiRT editorial board member Michelle Schwartz’s review of TimeMapper.

Note: This is the fourth in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, coming daily through March 27th. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons and Spanish translation work. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!

Spanish translation of DiRT in development

As a new initiative of centerNet, the DiRT directory is paving the way for better multilingual support among other sites under the centerNet umbrella.

DiRT recently underwent a series of structural changes to enable the translation of its content by international teams of volunteers. Elena Gonzalez-Blanco, a member of DiRT’s editorial board member and the director of the Digital Humanities Innovation Laboratory (LINHD) at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in Madrid, initiated DiRT’s translation project. Gimena del Rio Riande, from the Argentine Center of Scientific and Technological Information of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CAICYT-CONICET), currently leads the team of translators and researchers of the Project Methodologies on digital tools applied to research/Metodologías en Herramientas Digitales para la Investigación (MHeDI), who will be working on the Spanish translation of DiRT, in collaboration with LINHD.

Since DiRT relies heavily on controlled vocabularies (including the TaDiRAH taxonomy), much of the data can be translated once, then applied to every tool listing where it appears. The translation of tool descriptions represents a considerable amount of additional work, but users can benefit from sorting and filtering the tools using terms in their native language even before the descriptions are all translated.

Once the DiRT team has established an effective translation workflow, DHCommons will adopt the same tools and processes for providing multilingual access to its content.

The Center of Scientific and Technological Information (CAICYT) is a Service Center and a Research Institute of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CONICET) of Argentina. Its main goal is the understanding of the development, evolution and transfer of scientific knowledge and technological aspects in information and editing. CAICYT aims also to contribute to the organization, accessibility and evaluation of scientific and technological information.

LINHD, Laboratory of Innovation in Digital Humanities/Laboratorio de Innovación en Humanidades Digitales, is a Digital Humanities Center based in UNED, Spain, that aims at bridging the gap between Humanities and Technology in a collaborative and multidisciplinary way, by applying linked data and semantic web technologies as the philosophy, approach and new foundation for the disciplines within the cultural field. It offers training courses, services and works on research on Digital Humanities.

If your organization is interested in leading a team of translators to make DiRT or DHCommons available in another language, please contact us.

Note: This is the third in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, coming daily over the next two weeks. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet and integration with DHCommons. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!

DiRT integration with DHCommons

DiRT data on DHCommons, and DHCommons projects on DiRT

The DiRT directory now shows uptake information -- which projects are using each listed tool -- to help digital humanists decide which of the many available choices best fits their specific research project. Ever since the DiRT wiki was rebuilt using a more robust, flexible content management system, we envisioned that the site would be able to pull in information about how tools are actually being used. This kind of information is essential to help users decide among the tens or hundreds of tools that could potentially be used to accomplish a particular task. Thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the skill and expertise of the Agile Humanities Agency, DiRT tool profiles now include links to projects that use that tool, drawn from the DHCommons project directory.

As part of this integration with DiRT, DHCommons, a sister project to DiRT under the umbrella of centerNet, now provides easy access to more information about the tools that make up the projects in its directory. A sidebar on each project profile provides a brief description of the tools that were used to build the project, along with a link to DiRT for more information. Similarly, the lists of all DHCommons projects that use a particular tool include a description of that tool and a link to DiRT.

The integration with DHCommons is another way to keep DiRT up to date with new tools that see rapid uptake within the digital humanities community. By monitoring new projects on DHCommons for tools that do not have DiRT entries, the DiRT editorial board can easily stay abreast of new developments within the digital humanities tool ecosystem and update DiRT accordingly.

The launch of the DiRT / DHCommons integration coincides with the significant expansion of the DHCommons project directory, thanks to the incorporation of all the project listings from the now-defunct site. aimed to be a comprehensive hub of information on all aspects of digital humanities, from events and jobs to tools and projects. The tool listings from have been part of DiRT since it was rebuilt in 2011. The inclusion of the project information in DHCommons, combined with the integration between DiRT and DHCommons, brings that data full circle. Having tool and project information in a single place on made it easy to refer from one to another, but the scope of the site made it difficult to maintain. Keeping DiRT and DHCommons as individual sites, each with its own focus, while developing connections between them, is a natural evolution of the model with better prospects for sustainability.

Note: This is the second in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, coming daily over the next two weeks. Yesterday, we announced our affiliation with centerNet. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!


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