PROJECT: The Book Biography Machine

In “The Book Biography Machine at the Medieval Academy of America,” the authors of the metaLAB (at) Harvard blog discuss the development of The Book Biography Machine, an “interface that permits humanities scholars to map the diffusion of written works across geographic space and time in order to ask new questions about the history of literature”:

Written works are organized into collections of bibliographic information that are differentiated by color. Time is represented on the vertical axis, while space is represented across the horizontal plane. Information may either be initially downloaded via the WorldCat API over the Machine’s interface and iteratively edited for accuracy and scholarly intent, or it may be independently collected, curated and organized into a spreadsheet by the scholar. The latter was the case with the work presented at the MAA, since both Matthew and Marco rigorously constructed and verified their own very large data sets.

The interface was used by Dante scholars Matthew Collins (Harvard University) and Francesco Marco Aresu (Wesleyan University) to visualize printed publications and written manuscripts of Divine Comedy, work which was presented at the 2016 conference for the Medieval Academy of America. A short video is available to demonstrate the project.


dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Camille Cooper, Joseph Grobelny, Chelsea Gunn, Liz Lorang, Sara Parme, Hillary A. H. Richardson, Chelcie Rowell, and Ayla Stein (Editors-at-large for the week), Roxanne Shirazi (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Caro Pinto and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).