3D models: A computational method for spatial analysis. Three-dimensional visualizations are created by specialized software using geometric data. Objects can be created, placed in scenes, and produced in physical form by 3D printers. Within 3D modeling there is variation between models which are static, such as re-creations of architectural spaces, and models which are meant to be experienced, such as those used in simulations which can be explored. Sketchup, which has a free version, is the most widely used 3D software in digital humanities (https://www.sketchup.com/). 3D models are also being created in game development platforms, such as Unity Game Engine.
API (Application Program Interface): Software that allows two web applications to communicate. Commonly used to access data in an online database. Museums, libraries and archives can provide an API as a way to share their databases, providing users with the ability to gather large quantities of data more efficiently than with the search tools and interfaces provided for the database.
Augmented reality, AR: A form of visualization that overlays information on a user’s view of a real world environment and the objects in, to create a composite picture that alters perception of the environment (as distinct from VR which replaces the real world environment with a simulation). AR is commonly displayed on smartphones and tablets, using the device’s camera and GPS to determine what information to display and where to display it. Uses of AR in digital humanities include augmenting locations with historical photographs of the place, augmenting classical statues with the colors in which they were originally painted, and augmenting displays with additional descriptions.
Backend (aka control panel or dashboard): Administrative side of software where you can make technical and content changes that is not visible or accessible to visitors to the site (not public-facing).
Black box: A tool that can be used to input and output data without any knowledge of its inner workings. In some cases how a tool works is unknown because it is not made available for inspection, usually because its creators wish to retain control over the underlying code. See Relevance.
Blog: A web site that contains discrete, short, often informal entries (posts) that appear in reverse chronological order and can combine text, multimedia and links. Originally a form of online diary that allowed readers to leave public comments to which authors could respond, blogs have evolved into venues for commentary on a variety of topics by public figures, institutions and journalists as well as individuals, including scholars. Most blogs are published using free content management systems designed for that purpose such as WordPress and Blogger, and are freely available.
Born digital: Material that originates in digital form; in contrast to material that is digitized, which originated in another form. Common forms of born digital content are photographs taken with digital cameras, web pages, and electronic records like email and spreadsheets.
Coaxial cable, cable: A copper cable built with a metal shield and insulation to block interference, primarily used for TV. Cable has more bandwidth than DSL, but that bandwidth is shared with other users, so speeds can be reduced if there are many other people on the network. TV cable provides the majority of internet access in the US (2019).
CMS (Content Management System): A computer program that allows content to be published edited, and modified from a central interface. A CMS typically provides an interface that removes the need for the user to write in a programming language or markup language, although that option is also often available. CMSs are often used to run websites containing blogs and digital collections.
CSV (Comma Separated Values): A file with a set of information, where each value is separated by a comma or other specific character (; | / ). Can be created with spreadsheet software like Excel, Google Sheets, Numbers; when a spreadsheet is saved as a csv file, the values in the rows and columns are separated by a comma or other specified character. Most databases and many CMS platforms (i.e. Omeka) and digital tools can import csv files, making them a commonly used means of transferring information.
Computational methods/tools: Programming and software that analyzes data; the most commonly used methods in digital humanities are text analysis, spatial analysis, and network analysis. Using computational methods requires transforming historical sources into data by extracting information and features, and creating structured data by normalizing them to fit the chosen categories in service of particular research goals. The results of computational analysis are generally presented in visualizations, such as maps, graphs and charts.
Corpus Linguistics: Builds on text analysis to elucidate meaning by examining syntactic and semantic structures larger than single words. A corpus of texts is annotated with tags for parts of speech, and for the different modifying functions and relations that a word can have in different contexts. The corpus is analyzed by combining search and colocation to use context to establish the meaning of a word.
Data Center: A facility that serves as a central repository for servers, storage systems, network routers and firewalls, and the cabling and physical racks used to connect them. A data center requires infrastructure including uninterruptable power supplies and back-up generators, ventilation and cooling systems, and access to the internet.
Data cleaning: The process of detecting and correcting (or removing) incomplete records or data with inconsistent spelling or formatting from a database.
Database: A form of structured data in which related information is organized into fields (a single item of data), records (a complete set of fields; a row in a spreadsheet) and files (a collection of records). Also software that enables you to enter, organize, store, and retrieve information in a database.
Digitization: The conversion of analog content into a digital format. The creation of digital images by photography or scanning is the common form of digitization, used in the case of documents, photographs, artworks, or objects. Sound and moving images can also be digitised, by re-recording video and audio onto digital media. See also JPEG; TIFF; Pixel; Resolution.
Digital Archive: A collection of digitized sources organized, described with metadata, and made accessible through an online interface. In the context of digital humanities, the term generally refers to a collection brought together online from a variety of different physical collections and locations. Archivists would generally not consider such a collection to be an archive; in that field, the term archive is only used to refer to material created by an originating organization or person or by a third party brought together in a repository.
Distant Reading: From Franco Moretti, a term for using text analysis to look for patterns over large corpora of texts.
DOI (Digital object identifier): A managed, persistent link to an online publication. To obtain a DOI you must register with a DOI Registration Agency, which collects metadata about publications and assigns them DOI names. If the URL of the publication changes, the publisher must update the DOI metadata for the DOI to continue to link to the publication.
DSL (digital subscriber line): Technologies used to transmit digital data over copper telephone lines, taking advantage of capacity in the lines not used by phone by using a modulation scheme to create separate frequencies for phone and internet. Without DSL digital data needs to be converted into analog data by a dial-up modem to be transmitted over telephone lines, and is transmitted much more slowly.
Domain name, domain: A unique identifier for a resource on the internet such as a web server, web site or web app; used to translate the numerical IP addresses employed by internet protocols, as part of a URL. Domain names are used to establish a unique identity for a project. A domain name can include one of a number of top level domains (eg .com). Second level domains, what precedes the top level domain, are a string of text and numbers up to 253 characters. Individuals, organizations and projects often use their name as a second level domain. Anyone can obtain a domain name by registering it with a domain name registrar, who charges an annual fee.
DPI (dots per inch): The resolution or detail of a printed image. The number of dots per inch is based on the number of pixels in an image file but in printing the pixels take the form of droplets of ink. The total number of pixels are distributed across the size of the printed image, so the detail the image depends upon the combination of the total pixels of the image and the size of the print. To print a 4 x 6 inch photo using the professional standard of 300 dpi, the photo needs to be 1200 pixels by 1800 pixels, a total of 2,160,000 pixels. An image with fewer pixels could be printed at the same quality if printed at a smaller size. DPI is also used as a measure of the image quality needed for OCR software to work effectively: a 300 dpi image will allow the software to recognize text in fonts of size 10 pt or larger; a 400-600 dpi image is needed if the text is in fonts 9 pt or smaller.
Dublin Core: An internationally recognized metadata standard for describing any conceivable resource, comprised of 15 elements, including “title,” “description,” “date,” and “format.” Dublin Core is used in Omeka, an open source content management system for publishing resources online widely used in digital humanities.
Emulation: Hardware or software that enables a computer system to behave like another computer system, and run software or use devices created for that system. In digital preservation, emulation is an alternative to updating and migrating digital objects as new systems become available, with the advantage of maintaining much of the original look and feel of the digital object.