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iSGTW Feature - DARIAH: finding love on a grid

Feature - DARIAH: finding love on a grid

Love on the wing: digitized pages from 27 Dutch love emblem books are now accessible via the Web.
Image courtesy of the Emblem Project Utrecht

In the early 17th century, at the beginning of the Golden Age, elaborately illustrated secular and religious books began appearing on the Dutch market. They were a hit.

Was it the quality artwork? Did people read them for the articles? Or did their popularity stem from their subject matter, everyone's favorite topic: love.

With intriguing images and provocative text, the books helped young readers quickly learn about the many aspects of romance: choosing a partner, marital fidelity and the possible pangs of love.

Must modern readers miss out on such wisdom? No!

A digital database powered by grids

The Emblem Project Utrecht, a digital humanities project out of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, is digitizing these books so they can be accessed via the Web.

The resource is a welcome asset to scholars from all over the world: just as particle physicists need access to the source of their science-data-so too do researchers in the arts and humanities need access to the source of their work-documents and images.

Paper copies and reprints still have a part to play, but studies have profited immensely from the flexibility that digital archives provide.

Cupid's arrow may soon penetrate the world of information technology with the aid of grid processing power.
Image courtesy of the Emblem Project Utrecht

Viewers have the choice of full transcriptions, page facsimiles, indexes and search options. Since comparitive studies are a common goal among scholars, the project is also adding links to sources, parallels, translations and annotations, all based on a systematic and thorough analysis of the material using XML, TEI and Iconclass.

Archives, libraries and museums

This project may soon be part of DARIAH-the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities-a project that aims to improve access to documents and images for research in the arts and humanities. Many of these resources are currently locked away in archives, libraries and museums all over Europe.

To form the initial digital infrastructure of DARIAH, data centers in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom joined forces. Since then the consortium has grown to 14 partners from ten countries.

Together the partners will work out in more detail the plans for the actual construction of DARIAH, including which national/European grid infrastructures it should use.

The first step is to trial DARIAH using a small scale pilot, with the official start on 1 September 2008. The collaboration welcomes participation from other data centers in the European community.

- Danielle Venton, iSGTW

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