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Driving Next Generation Digital Humanities

Spotlight On:

Geoffrey Rockwell
University of Alberta

An online text tool portal developed using WestGrid and Compute Canada - Calcul Canada resources is changing the way digital humanities researchers manipulate, analyze, and visualize electronic text.

Geoffrey Rockwell, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, is the project leader for TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research), a research infrastructure project that supports digital humanities researchers working with electronic texts. Originally funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and now supported by SSHRC and the University of Alberta, the portal is designed so that textual scholars can discover and review analytical and visualization tools. Accompanying the portal are a set of reference text tools, TAPoRware, that are widely used.

"For TAPoR 2.0, we redesigned the portal to improve users’ engagement with the text analysis tools, focus on the discovery and social use of text analysis tools, and better communicate information about the tools," says Rockwell.

TAPoR 2.0 is hosted by WestGrid’s "portal" service that allows research web tools to be run on a well-maintained system. The WestGrid service allows Rockwell to customize the account and run a stable web service of use to researchers internationally. Combined with the reference TAPoRware tools, this provides a useful entry into text analysis, mining and visualization. Now Rockwell and his colleagues are experimenting with the adaptation of more compute-intensive data-mining techniques to the study of literary, historical and philosophical texts.

"Support from WestGrid and Compute Canada - Calcul Canada has greatly expanded our horizons for what we can try. WestGrid staff have helped us with training and the infrastructure allows us to run an innovative portal for text analysis."

Ultimately, Rockwell and his team hope TAPoR encourages humanities researchers to ask new questions and experiment with new interpretations of electronic texts.