As the language of DH 2011’s ‘big tent’ suggests, in recent years the profile of digital humanities work has expanded to include many scholars and practitioners who draw on a multitude of digital technologies in research and educational contexts, without assuming all the roles required to implement these technologies. This new generation (though some are ‘new’ only to digital matters) of digital humanists are undertaking intellectually ambitious work with digital methods and tools, but their interest does not necessarily arise from a strong institutional history or infrastructure, or from personal expertise with digital methods. Rather, they are practicing scholars who are increasingly aware of the shifting stakes of technology for the humanities, and who want to explore what may be possible by working in a new way. As a result, their ambitions often outstrip what their own institutions can support: the available infrastructure of digital publishing, archiving, data curation, and repository services may be limited or absent. An individual scholar can gain expertise and achieve interesting results using the TEI Guidelines (http://www.tei-c.org) or GIS, but it is a slower and more challenging process for a university to develop the institutional infrastructure to support that expertise, in the way that traditional libraries (for instance) support traditional forms of humanities scholarship.
The TEI Archiving, Publication, and Access Service (TAPAS, http://www.tapasproject.org) is aimed at addressing this gap, by providing repository and publication services for small TEI projects. TAPAS began with a planning grant from the IMLS (TAPAS 2010), originally proposed by a group of small liberal-arts institutions including Wheaton College, Willamette University, Hamilton College, Vassar College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Puget Sound, and later joined by Brown University and the University of Virginia. This planning group conducted an intensive study of the profile of needs, and developed a specification for the TAPAS service. TAPAS is now operating under a two-year IMLS National Leadership Grant to Wheaton College and Brown University which funds the development of the service. TAPAS has also received an NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant, led by Wheaton College and the University of Virginia, which funds the development of the user interface. Hosted at Brown University, the TAPAS service will provide repository storage, data curation, and simple interfaces for data management and publication. It will also provide an API through which the TEI data can be accessed and remixed. The service thus aims to fill a crucial niche, enabling both a new type of publication and a new model for how scholarly publication is supported. All of these needs are particularly urgent in the liberal-arts community that is the central focus of TAPAS, but they are also strongly evident in the humanities academy more broadly, at a national and international level.
This project takes place within a landscape already well populated with large-scale infrastructural projects (Hedges 2009), such as TextGrid (http://www.textgrid.de/), DARIAH (http://www.dariah.eu/), CLARIN (http://www.clarin.eu/external/), and the Canadian Writers Research Collaboratory (CWRC, http://www.cwrc.ca/). Projects of this kind must all confront a central set of strategic concerns and design challenges, including questions about how much uniformity to impose upon the data, how to accommodate variation, how to create interoperability layers and tools that can operate meaningfully across multiple data sets (DARIAH 2011a, DARIAH 2011b), and how to manage issues of sustainability (of both the data and the service itself). TAPAS is distinctive within this landscape because of its focus on a single form of data (TEI-encoded research materials) and also because of its initial emphasis on serving an underserved constituency (scholars at smaller or under-resourced institutions) rather than on providing an infrastructure that can operate comprehensively. TAPAS is thus able to tackle the questions above in a highly focused way.
The proposed poster will focus on several key areas of the TAPAS project that will be the focus of our attention in the early phases of the project:
The poster will provide a detailed look at the internal architecture and the ways that standards like RDF and METS are used to organize information and enable flexible deployment of repository data.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
DARIAH (2011a). Technical Work: Conceptual Modelling. DARIAH Work Package 8. http://www.dariah.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31&Itemid=35.
DARIAH (2011b). Technical work: Technical reference architecture. DARIAH Work Package 7. http://www.dariah.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=34.
TAPAS (2010). Roadmap. http://www.tapasproject.org/roadmap
TextGrid (2010). Roadmap Integration Grid/Repository. TextGrid, September 2010. http://www.textgrid.de/fileadmin/TextGrid/reports/TextGrid_R121_v1.0.pdf.
Hedges, M. (2009). Grid-enabling Humanities Datasets. Digital Humanities Quarterly 3(2). http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/4/000078/000078.html