Playing our Part in 'Digitizing the Stage' conference

Playing our Part in 'Digitizing the Stage' conference

Centre staff took part in a three day conference in the Bodleian's Weston Library, called "Digitizing the Stage: Rethinking the Early Modern Theatre Archive” and has been organised by both the Centre for Digital Scholarship in the Bodleian and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

In the session "Reimagining the stage: audiovisual experiments”, Research Associate Iain Emsley gave a paper entitled "A Midsummer’s Night’s sonification: Sonic analysis of a community using A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Centre Director Professor David De Roure and Head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship at the Bodleian Libraries Pip Willcox spoke in the session "Digitizing the Bard: Reimagining the Shakespeare Archive”on some work which arose out of the Fusing Audio and Semantic Technologies (FAST) project ("On Provenance: Adventures with Shakespeare in Cyberspace), with the Centre's Graham Klyne. (See abstracts below.)

Iain Emsley has also collected tweets about the event in a Storify.

A Midsummer’s Night’s Sonification: Sonic analysis of a community using A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream
Iain Emsley, Oxford e-Research Centre

Sound is being explored within Humanities. Where soundscapes, such as the Virtual St Paul’s Cathedral, reconstruct a context, our work focuses on the use of non-speech sounds for sonic analysis and exploration of data sets.

In previous work, we presented differences between editorial structures from variant texts marked up with Text Encoding Initiative XML using instruments in a binaural experience. In this multimedia paper, sound is used to explore the methods of understanding different aspects of a text, such as the communities.

Using the Bodleian Libraries’ First Folio edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the balance of both speaking and non-speaking characters on stage is presented. Where the previous work created structures of speakers within the events of the play, such as exits and entrances, we look at how constructed social networks within a known play alter over time. Two versions of the analyses are presented – one focussing purely on gender and the second on gender and character – to show how sound choice and context direct our attention.

Some of the affordances used in audio as an alternate way of understanding the text and relationships are discussed. Aspects of sustainability, such as the methods used to prepare the text for sonification, the use of co-design and gaining a shared understanding, are increasingly important in research and will be discussed. Though a new method in the Humanities, we show that sonification can be useful in exploring complex, interrelated structures that change over time as a complementary technique to visualisation.

On Provenance: Adventures with Shakespeare in Cyberspace
Pip Willcox and David De Roure, Oxford

On 23 April 2014, we published a TEI-XML encoded edition of the Bodleian’s First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays to accompany the high resolution images released a year previously, on Shakespeare’s 449th birthday. This paper relates why this copy of the First Folio (Bodleian Arch. G c.7) is of interest, particularly to the Bodleian, and the crowd-funded work that led to its publication online.

The W3C provenance standard, the PROV Family of Documents, provides a data model for encoding the interoperable interchange of information about provenance across heterogeneous environments. Its recommendations can be used to describe the provenance of analogue as well as digital pieces of data or things.

This paper describes our use of PROV-N (the Provenance Notation) to test the viability of using PROV to describe the analogue and digital life of the First Folio. This work tests the limits of the PROV standard to model plurality, uncertainty, and disagreement, as well as its ability to assign credit to the research and the researchers that created the knowledge that underpins the provenance assertions.

We suggest that while Arch. G c.7 is a unique instance of the First Folio, the questions that arise from describing its provenance computationally are common to all digitized or edited books. Agreement on and implementation of such standards across the scholarly and library communities will enhance discovery and access through interoperability, and enable a more nuanced machine-readability of the archive.