Letters from Descartes in Digital Format; Circulation of Knowledge Collaboratory at Huygens Institute - New Trends in eHumanities

Dirk Roorda, DANS and Erik-Jan Bos, University of Utrecht


January 26, 2012

Letters from Descartes in Digital Format; Circulation of Knowledge Collaboratory at Huygens Institute
The Circulation of Knowledge project at the Huygens Institute is creating a super-digital edition of many letters of scholars that were active in the Dutch Republic of the 17th century. The letters are brought together in one environment with a unified metadata format.

There they are subjected collectively to analytical tools, and the result is a set of texts that can be searched by concept, time, place and person. Erik-Jan Bos will give an introduction into the Descartes corpus of letters. Which editions exists, what are their merits, and on what data is the CKCC representation based? Furthermore he will sketch expected benefits of the CKCC project for historians. Dirk Roorda will show what was needed to obtain a workable digital representation of this corpus. He is going to demonstrate the conversion from a basic Japanese digitisation into XML (Text Encoding Initiative), and Descartes’ mathematical formulas in TeX. He will reflect on what was easy and what was hard and why it is useful to codify the conversion in a repeatable script.

Biographical information

Erik-Jan Bos is research fellow at the Department of Philosophy at Utrecht University (Descartes Centre/Zeno). He is currently working on a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He graduated PhD in 2002 on a critical edition of Descartes’ correspondence with Regius. Since 2002 he has been working on a new complete edition of Descartes’ letters, which will be published by OUP. He is a member of the steering committee of CKCC, collaborating with developers to design CKCC research tools.
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Dirk Roorda is doing research at Data Archiving and Networked Services at The Hague. His work is geared towards the processes of ingesting, storing and disseminating digital resources in ways that makes them optimally available for re-use by researchers. He is involved in the CKCC project as a member of its steering committee and as a designer of an archiving solution for its materials. He studied mathematics and computing science in Groningen in the eighties and got a PhD in mathematical logic at the University of Amsterdam in 1991. He has studied field linguistics and classical Hebrew at the Summer Institute of Linguistics and has worked for 10 years as a software engineer for Kluwer and related companies.

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