• Making a contribution: Modularity, integration and collaboration between tools in Pliny

    John Bradley (see profile)
    Digital humanities, Research, Methodology
    Item Type:
    Conference poster
    Conf. Title:
    Digital Humanities 2007
    Conf. Org.:
    University of Illinois
    Conf. Loc.:
    Urgana-Champaign, Illinois
    Conf. Date:
    4-8 June 2007
    Pliny Project, digital tools, annotation, Digital humanities research and methodology
    Permanent URL:
    Tools have been an issue since the foundation of Humanities Computing, and building modular tools that work together has been recognised as important since at least the CETH meetings in 1995. Geoffrey Rockwell and I first raised issues of modularity in our paper given at the Canadian Learned Societies Conference in June 1992 entitled “Towards new Research Tools in Computer-Assisted Text Analysis”. Our proposed tool framework mixed scholarly writing with interactive elements like in a Mathematica “Notebook”. In our community “modularity” often comes down to the sharing of file formats. However, there is a broader sense of collaboration between tools, and I will use the word "integration" for tool collaboration that focuses on GUI issues. This presents challenges. First, the development of tools allowing for direct manipulation of objects n the screen is complex and costly. Furthermore, if independent tools are to interact on the screen – where different tools share screen space – then they must operate in a computing framework that makes this kind of thing practical. Pliny (Pliny 2006) has been developed precisely to encourage some thinking about cooperating tools beyond file-oriented “modularity”. First, it supports annotation and note taking – functions central to humanities scholarship and which have been largely neglected by the DH community – and, second, it is built using a framework called Eclipse which is deliberatively created to support GUI-level interaction between tools of the kind I mentioned above. In this presentation I have an impossible task. First, I am promoting a framework quite different from the WWW. Second, for those who might accept this, I suggest we use the unfamiliar Eclipse platform. Perhaps I won’t convince anyone here. However, I believe that unless we start to think more seriously of tool building in the context of GUI integration in addition to data sharing, we will never get the attention of most scholars in the humanities.
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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