Digital Humanities at Berkeley supports the thoughtful application of digital tools and methodologies to humanistic inquiry by offering project consulting, summer workshops, grants…
Computer reading can feel like a Faustian bargain. Sure, we can learn about linguistic patterns in literary texts, but it comes at the expense of their richness. At bottom, the computer simply doesn't know what or how words mean. Instead, it merely recognizes strings of characters and tallies them. Statistical models then try to identify relationships among the tallies. How could this begin to capture anything like irony or affect or subjectivity that we take as our entry point to interpretive study?
One of the hardest questions we can pose to a computer is asking what a human-language text is about. Given an article, what are its keywords or subjects? What are some other texts on the same subjects? For us as human readers, these kinds of tasks may seem inseparable from the very act of reading: we direct our attention over a sequence of words in order to connect them to one another syntactically and interpret their semantic meanings. Reading a text, for us, is a process of unfolding its subject matter.
Rita Lucarelli creates 3D images of ancient Egyptian coffins. Using Agisoft Photoscan, the Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies and her team transform 2D photographs into 3D models before annotating the virtual figures with transliterations, translations, and other relevant data. Since Egyptian hieroglyphics adorning funerary materials were copied and read from different directions, 3D interaction with digitized images provides better access to the texts of such objects than traditional 2D representations.
Adrian Freed and Lisa Wymore are working together with a small team of creative engineers and artists to make a digital platform that has a low threshold of entry. The system would allow people interested in embodied actions, gesture, sensation, bodily expression, etc. to enter the space and build digital instruments that are activated by a variety of sensor and camera based inputs.