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Dear colleagues,

Just over a week ago was the last of our Digital Classicist seminars, 
presented by Pater Heslin of Durham on the subject of "Diogenes at 10 
years: past development and future plans." Among other topics that came 
up in response to this fascinating paper (available online in audio and 
PDF from the DC podcast at 
http://www.digitalclassicist.org/wip/wip2008.html), was some discussion 
of Open Source programming and Classically informed communities. ("There 
are very few classicists who can program," Heslin argued at one point. 
"I know a mailing list where we can find a couple of hundred of them," I 
countered, perhaps exaggerating only slightly[*]. ;-) )

This got me thinking. Diogenes is in essence a search engine geared 
toward the analysis of Greek and Latin texts. Only by accident is it 
designed to query the various Beta Code/Packard-format CD-Roms; it could 
just as easily be adapted for use with XML files. It is an Open Source 
tool, and in fact a couple of scholars have tweaked it for their own 
use, Heslin revealed. (These modifications will hopefully find their way 
back into the code base soon. Ancient Greek spell checker anyone?)

There are other tools that presumably overlap in function with Diogenes, 
and which are also Open Source. Those that spring to my mind are Hugh 
Cayless's _Transcoder_ (see http://sourceforge.net/projects/epidoc); the 
Mellon-funded _Papyrological Navigator_ (see http://papyri.info/ : code 
soon to be released OS as required by Mellon); and I believe Chicago's 
PhiloLogic uses some Diogenes code. No doubt there are others. (Please 
let us know of any on-list.)

I am just wondering how much synergy is possible here. There is 
obviously nothing wrong with there being two different search engines 
serving similar audiences, as experimentation helps to improve things. 
But if all of this code were available via SourceForge (I bet much of it 
is already), how many people would potentially get involved in an active 
community to request enhancements and help code improvements, write 
plugins, etc.?

Apart from the EpiDoc version of the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri 
(and a small number of thousands of inscriptions in EpiDoc XML), and the 
Perseus digital library, what other Greek or Latin texts in XML could we 
train these tools on? What functions beyond search, encoding conversion, 
and display do we want from these tools? What other possibilities am I 
missing?

Cheers,

Gabriel

[*] Note: there are currently 219 of us on this list, but I bet there 
are at least one or two who wouldn't describe themselves as "programmers".

-- 
Dr Gabriel BODARD
(Epigrapher & Digital Classicist)

Centre for Computing in the Humanities
King's College London
26-29 Drury Lane
London WC2B 5RL
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Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1388
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http://www.digitalclassicist.org/
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