Digital Editions in Practice, A Two-Day Workshop

Call for applications: Digital Editions in Practice, A Two-Day Workshop

The Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University will host a two-day workshop that provides an overview of a sample, practical digital editions creation workflow. This will feature both an open-lecture component led by developers and expert users of advanced technologies and “hands-on” sessions for participants that offer in-depth demonstrations of select tools and technologies as well as discussions tailored to the attendees.

For the full announcement, please see:

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Individual Developments and Systematic Change in Philology

Gregory Crane
May 1, 2018

At the end of March 2018, my collaborators and I finished enjoying five years of support — 5,000,000 EUR(!) — from an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, support which allowed young researchers from many different countries to work both as a team and on their own. Documenting all that work will be a significant task and requires its own publication(s). Work, at Leipzig, Tufts and elsewhere, on Open Greek and Latin (OGL) and on the Canonical Text Services (CTS) protocol upon which OGL builds provides the starting point for much of the work described below. A tremendous amount of support for OGL came from the European Social Fund and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, but collaborators at Perseus at Tufts University, at Mount Allison University in Canada, at the University of Virginia, at the Harvard Library and Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS) have contributed time and significant sums as well. As a group, they have made 37 million words of Greek and Latin available in CTS-compliant epiDoc TEI XML via GitHub.

This paper, however, does not focus primarily upon what happened at Leipzig but takes note of a number of events that have taken place in the opening months of 2018 and that have some connection to, but also depend upon efforts outside of, the Digital Humanities Chair at Leipzig. Each taken separately is important. All of these events taken together reflect a broader, systematic change — and change for the better — in Ancient Greek and Latin philology in particular and, ultimately, for all philology.

For the full article, see

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Its alive! Perseus and the Scaife Digital Library Viewer

On March 15, Eldarion released the initial version of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer. The release is, of course, a first step, but this first step changes the world in at least two fundamental ways: (1) Perseus is alive — it can finally include new materials on an on-going basis; (2) the Scaife Digital Library Viewer provides a foundation for an environment that can publish a growing range of born-digital, openly licensed, and networked (and fully networkable because they are openly licensed) annotations and micro-publications that cannot be represented in the incunabular digital publication systems that still internalize the limitations of print publication.

First, Perseus can now be configured so that it can include new materials almost immediately. We have not yet established a regular workflow — the initial Scaife Digital Library Viewer still runs on a server maintained by Eldarion rather than Tufts — but updates on a weekly and even a daily basis, if not real time, would be quite reasonable. New content does not even have to be in Greek or Latin — we already include a Persian edition of the Divan of Hafez. More importantly, if someone outside of the extended network of Perseus collaborators puts their content in the right format (for now CapiTainS-compliant EpiDoc TEI XML), we can include it. Thus, Neven Jovanovic was able to publish the first of what is expected to be a series of early modern Latin texts in Perseus (Scaliger’s Latin translation of Sophocles’ Ajax). Prof. Hayim Lapin from the University of Maryland converted his CC-licensed version of the Hebrew Old Testament , Talmud, and Mishnah. At present, anything that ends up as visible in the Scaife DL can be (because we require an open license) a permanent part of the Perseus collections. We need to think through a general process of content submission (and however open we wish to be, there are obviously some limits), but there are enough established collaborators with content to add and enough CC-licensed material that we would like to add that we already have enough materials to test a workflow for updates.

Second, the use cases of Perseus and of Digital Classics are not only more varied than those of print but involve so many data types and so many implicit use cases that they represent an emergent system. These include born-digital critical editions (with variants classified and dynamically configurable), diplomatic editions with alignments between transcription and source images, alignments between different versions of the same text in the same language, bilingual alignments between source texts and translations morphological and syntactic analyses, co-reference resolution, and other categories of linguistic annotation, social networks, geospatial data, representations of digital intertextuality (including annotations expressing estimating probabilities that a given word or phrase represents a paraphrase or direct quotation from a lost source text), and an unbounded set of potential new annotation classes. Use cases include not only specialists posing new kinds of questions (e.g., search a corpus for instances of “future less vivid conditionals” or a semantically clustered list of verbs associated with male vs. female agents) but a fundamentally new mode of interaction that we might term language wrangling or language hacking, where readers have such dense networks of explanatory annotations that they can engage immediately, at some level of precision, with any annotated source in any language, whether or not they have any prior of knowledge of that language. Such reading is a new form of engagement that lies between the experience of experts who have spent their 10,000+ hours immersed in a subject and the passivity that a print modern language translation, with no mechanisms to get past its surface and into the source text, imposes upon the reading mind.

Looking at the first release of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer, it is easy to see all the work that needs to be done. Indeed, for me, the steady progress towards a Perseus 5.0 only deepens my appreciation for what went into the development of Perseus 4.0 (the Java-based version, initially developed by David Mimno more than fifteen years ago and still in use at and Perseus 3.0 (the Perl-based version that David A. Smith initially developed on the side to give Perseus its first web presence back in 1995). More than a decade ago, we solved another, less immediately obvious problem for having Perseus emerge as a place in which to publish content. In March 2006 (after being badgered by Ross Scaife, as well as Chris Blackwell, Gabby Bodard, Tom Elliott, Neel Smith and others), we began to apply a Creative Commons license to content that had no legal entailments. As soon as we decided that we would create collections that only contained CC-licensed content, we solved the bottleneck problem: so long as we actually made the content available, we could never use exclusive control over that content to restrict the development of services that we could not provide (say hello to Perseus Philologic,

The Scaife Viewer of March 2018 may only be a beginning. It may have a great deal more to do (e.g., integrating treebanks and source text/translation alignments). But the code is open and the possibilities are almost unbounded.

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First Version of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer goes live: building the future while remembering a friend

Gregory Crane
March 15, 2018
Leipzig, Germany

I am pleased to announce the first release of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer, a reading environment for source texts that follow the Canonical Text Services (CTS) data model. Our initial focus is on pre-modern sources, but the underlying approach applies to source texts of all periods. CTS provides a framework within which we can cite particular words in particular versions of particular texts — whether a version is a papyrus, manuscript, or a critical edition, whether versions of that text derive from a single lost original (as is the case for many ancient Greek and Latin texts) or the text itself appears in many versions, each of which has comparable authority (as is the case for many medieval sources). For those interested in more information, James Tauber, lead developer for this release, will present the Scaife Digital Library Viewer online on April 26 at 5 pm CEST as part of Sunoikisis Digital Classics. The presentation will be recorded and available, along with any other course materials, on the SunoikisisDC website after the class itself.

The Scaife Digital Library builds upon the Capitains suite of tools for creating and managing CTS-compliant textual data, developed by Bridget Almas, then one of the two leaders of the Perseids Project, and now at the Alpheios Project (, and by Thibault Clérice, then a member of the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at Leipzig (and now at the École nationale des chartes). James Tauber, leader of Eldarion, a web development company as well as a long-time student of, and developer for, Biblical Greek, oversaw the development of the Scaife Digital Library as an open-source, customizable reading environment. In memory of Ross and what he stood for, the release is intended to empower the community to take charge and carry work forward. And, of course, the code is open and available on Github. Ross would not have had it any other way.

Ross Scaife (1960-2008) was a pioneer in reinventing the study of Greco-Roman culture to exploit the possibilities of a digital age. He was among the first — if not the first — to get tenure for a purely digital publication, Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World, a project that he and Suzanne Bonefas launched in 1995 (the same year that David A. Smith, now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern, established the first web presence for Perseus). Ross was a colleague and he was a friend, whom we mourn still and will always miss. We lost him on March 15, 2008 and it is with fond memory that we announce the first version of the Scaife Digital Library in his honor, on March 15, 2018, ten years later.

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Who is using Clarin or Dariah to work with historical languages?

Gregory Crane
February 24, 2018

Who is using Clarin ( and/or Dariah (, and particularly the German subprojects and, to work with historical languages?

If so, are you doing so as a funded member of Clarin or Dariah?

Who has used the Dariah repository ( to store data? I have found documentation about how to add data but I have not yet found any collections stored within the Dariah repository?

What other services offered by Clariah and/or Dariah have you used? Are you planning to use any?

Ideally, this would generate a public discussion in forums such as Twitter, Humanist and the Digital Classicist mailing list but feel free to email me directly on gmail (gcrane2008).

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2018 NEH Institute for Advanced Technology in the Digital Humanities – Apply Now

The Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University invites applications to “Digital Editions, Digital Corpora, and new Possibilities for the Humanities in the Academy and Beyond” a two-week NEH Institute for Advanced Technology in the Digital Humanities (July 16-27, 2018).  This institute will provide participants the opportunity to spend two intensive weeks learning about a range of advanced new methods for annotating textual sources including but not limited to Canonical Text Service Protocols, linguistic and other forms of textual annotation and named entity analysis.  By the end of the institute, participants will have concrete experience applying all of these techniques not just to provided texts and corpora but to their own source material as well.

Faculty, graduate students, and library professionals are all encouraged to apply and international participants are welcome. Applications are due by February 1, 2018.  In order to apply for the institute, applicants need to 1) complete the online registration form; 2) concurrently send a CV and statement of purpose  by email to

Full application information regarding the statement of purpose and other important details may be found here:

For more information please visit the institute website:

This Institute builds upon experiences from, and work subsequent to, “Working with Text in a Digital Age,” a 2012-2014 NEH IATDH project and the on-line seminar, Sunoikisis Digital Classics.

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Unleash Open Greek and Latin! January 3, 2018

“Deconstructing the Open Greek and Latin Project: The First Thousand Years of Greek”

An AIA-SCS Pre-Meeting Workshop, presented in coordination with the SCS 

January 3, 2018, 9:00 to 5:00, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Interested in open access, the digital humanities, or conducting digital scholarship in your research and/or teaching?  Aren’t sure what these topics have to do with classics or archaeology, or even how to get started?  Then, please consider joining us next January 3 at the AIA-SCS pre-meeting workshop “Deconstructing the Open Greek and Latin Project”!

In this workshop, partners from the Perseus Digital Library, the Harvard Library and Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, the University of Leipzig, Mount Allison University, and the University of Virginia Library will come together to demonstrate research tools, explain how to involve students in digital scholarship, provide open data for hands-on exploration from the Open Greek and Latin Project, as well as create a growing and supportive open access community.

Tools and technologies we’ll work with include GitHub, Oxygen, TEI-XML and EpiDoc

Registration is offered on a “first-come first-served” basis and the workshop is offered free-of-charge with a registration deadline of Friday, November, 3, 2017.

To register, please complete our registration form!

For more information please visit the workshop website at or contact us at

Presented by the Forum for Classics, Libraries and Scholarly Communication of the Society for Classical Studies. Sponsored by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University. Co-sponsored by the The Center for Hellenic StudiesHarvard Library; and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in collaboration with the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of LeipzigMount Allison University; and the University of Virginia Library.

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Why we need user profiles and a new Perseus

Alison Babeu called my attention to a recent blog by a Princeton Classics undergrad that really captured a major challenge and opportunity for a new Perseus. Solveig Lucia Gold described her own reaction to the ups and downs of using the reading support that Perseus has offered for Greek and Latin for decades (and, indeed, since before many of our undergraduates were born, if we consider the CD ROM versions of Perseus). The situation will be even better — or worse — when we finally integrate treebanks and alignments between the source texts and the translations. At that point, you can puzzle out almost any text in any language. We have treebanks (morphological and syntactic analyses) for every single word in the Homeric Epics, for example — you have interpretations for any sentence in these epics.

But you can’t read Plato’s Rebublic or the Iliad or the Diwan of Hafez (to shift to Persian) by looking up every single word — true reading and true appreciation requires that we internalize as much of a language as possible.

The goal is not to replace learning but to provide a scaffolding whereby we can go from no knowledge to as much internalized understanding as we have the time and determination to acquire. If I were to pick one challenge for the coming ten years, it would be to create the framework to foster such learning. (And here I look forward to the next generation of work from Alpheios.)

There is no greater topic for research in historical languages than enhancing the ways in which we human beings are able to learn those languages — a question that is technical, social, and profoundly intellectual, for it challenges us to understand why we care about the past as much as we do — and why we should care even more.

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Design Sprint for Perseus 5.0/Open Greek and Latin

Monday, September 11, 2017 (update): has received the lead contract to develop the new Scaife DL Viewer. In this we build upon work already underway for a dynamic reading environment for Greek and other languages: We expect, however, to award several smaller contracts to supplement this work. More (hopefully) soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017: Leipzig has published the official RFP: If you compare the English below, with the final version in German, you will see that they did quite a bit of work to streamline our draft. The key point is that the deadline for submissions is August 24, 2017. The RFP is in German but our purchasing office worked hard to facilitate the process of applying. For questions, the contact at Leipzig is Herr Christoph.Sedlaczek.

Scheduling. We are done with the English version of the RFP and will begin producing a German version (which is apparently a requirement). The German translation will be done quickly. Nothing, of course, is official, final or binding until the Leipzig administration publishes the RFP.

A DRAFT German version is now available at

[DRAFT] Request for Proposals for work on the Scaife Digital Library Viewer.

The following document presents a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Scaife Digital Library Viewer. The initial version of the Scaife Digital Library Viewer must support searching and reading of the Open Greek and Latin collection within a new version of Perseus (Perseus 5.0). The RFP solicits proposals for a three month sprint (October – December 2017), subsequent testing (January – March 2018) and a formal roll out tentatively scheduled for March 15, 2018, ten years after Ross, passed away at an all too early age.

We announced in June that Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies had signed a contract with to conduct a design sprint that would support Perseus 5.0 and the Open Greek and Latin collection that it will include. Our goal was to provide a sample model for a new interface that would support searching and reading of Greek, Latin, and other historical languages. The report from that sprint was handed over to CHS on Friday, July 21, 2017, and on July 22 we, in turn, made these materials available, including both the summary presentation and associated materials. The goal was to solicit comment and to provide potential applicants to the planned RFP with access to this work as soon as possible.

The sprint took just over two weeks and was an intensive effort. An evolving Google Doc with commentary on the Intrepid Wrap-up slides for the Center for Hellenic studies has been visible since July 24. Readers of the report will see that questions remain to be answered. How will we represent Perseus, Open Greek and Latin, Open Philology, and other efforts? One thing that we have added and that will not change will be the name of the system that this planned implementation phase will begin: whether it is Perseus, Open Philology or some other name, it will be powered by the Scaife Digital Library Viewer, a name that commemorates Ross Scaife, pioneer of Digital Classics and a friend whom many of us will always miss.

The Intrepid report also includes elements that we will wish to develop further — students of Greco-Roman culture may not find “relevance” a helpful way to sort search reports. The Intrepid Sprint greatly advanced our own thinking and provided us with a new starting point. Anyone may build upon the work presented here — but they can also suggest alternate approaches.

In developing our plans we work closely with the Alpheios Project. Alpheios developed the best reading reading environment for Greek with which we at the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities are familiar and did so almost a decade ago. Alpheios is now preparing to update its tools and Perseus 5.0 will work as closely as possible with Alpheios to minimize duplication of effort. Those submitting a proposal for the Leipzig RFP should familiar themselves with Alpheios and especially with the reading environment that Alpheios has provided for the first book of the Odyssey. This environment only runs under Firefox and it depends upon Firefox features that are supposed to disappear. The upcoming rewrite will address this problem, but the environment still runs on my Macbook as of July 22, 2017. Source code for this reading environment is available at

In general, the goal is to create a new version of Perseus that integrates the additional features long offered by Alpheios and that provides users with an opportunity to establish basic profiles. Contractors can assume access to a CTS-compliant API. An initial browsing environment based upon the API is visible at and, but contractors are free to develop their own frontends on top of the CTS API.

The deliverables below distinguish between results that are required (“must“) and that are desirable if possible (“should“). If proposals can guarantee more than the required features, they should indicate so. If proposals do not feel that they can guarantee all the requirements, they should indicate which they can and cannot guarantee.

  1. The contractor must provide a new reading environment that captures the basic functionality of the Perseus 4.0 reading environment but that is more customizable and that can be localized efficiently into multiple modern languages, with Arabic, Persian, German and English as the initial target languages. The overall Open Greek and Latin team is, of course, responsible for providing the non-English content. The Scaife DL Viewer should make it possible for us to localize into multiple languages as efficiently as possible.
  2. The reading environment should be designed to support any CTS-compliant collection and should be easily configured with a look and feel for different collections.
  3. The reading environment should contain a lightweight treebank viewer — we don’t need to support editing of treebanks in the reading environment. The functionality that the Alpheios Project provided for the first book of the Odyssey would be more than adequate. Treebanks are available under the label “diagram” when you double-click on a Greek word.
  4. The reading environment should support dynamic word/phrase level alignments between source text and translation(s). Here again, the The functionality that the Alpheios Project provided for the first book of the Odyssey would be adequate. More recent work implementing this functionality is visible at Tariq Yousef’s work at and
  5. The system must be able to search for both specific inflected forms and for all forms of a particular word (as in Perseus 4.0) in CTS-compliant epiDoc TEI XML. The search will build upon the linguistically analyzed texts available in This will enable searching by dictionary entry, by part of speech, and by inflected form. For Greek, the base collection is visible at the First Thousand Years of Greek website (which now has begun to accumulate a substantial amount of later Greek). CTS-compliant epiDoc Latin texts can be found at and
  6. The system should be able to search Greek and Latin that is available only as uncorrected OCR-generated text in hOCR format. Here the results may follow the image-front strategy familiar to academics from sources such as Jstor. If it is not feasible to integrate this search within the three months of core work, then we need a plan for subsequent integration that Leipzig and OGL members can implement later.
  7. The new system must be scalable. While these collections may not be large by modern standards, they are substantial. Open Greek and Latin currently has c. 67 million words of Greek and Latin at various stages of post-processing and c. 90 million words of addition translations from Greek and Latin into English,French, German and Italian, while the Lace Greek OCR Project has OCR-generated text for 1100 volumes. Use of Elasticsearch appears desirable but proposals may suggest other directions.
  8. The system must integrate translations and translation alignments into the searching system, so that users can search either in the original or in modern language translations where we provide this data. This goes back to work by David Bamman in the NEH-funded Dynamic Lexicon Project (when he was a researcher at Perseus at Tufts). For more recent examples of this, see and Ugarit. Note that one reason to adopt CTS URNs is to simplify the task of display translations of source texts — the system is only responsible for displaying translations insofar as they are available via the CTS API.
  9. The system must provide initial support for a user profile. One benefit of the profile is that users will be able to define their own reading lists — and the Scaife DL Viewer will then be able to provide personalized reading support, e.g., word X already showed up in your reading at places A, B, and C, while word Y, which is new to you, will appear 12 times in the rest of your planned readings (i.e., you should think about learning that word). By adopting the CTS data model, we can make very precise reading lists, defining precise selections from particular editions of particular works. We also want to be able to support an initial set of user contributions that are (1) easy to implement technically and (2) easy for users to understand and perform. Thus we would support fixing residual data entry errors, creating alignments between source texts and translations, improving automated part of speech tagging and lemmatization but users would go to external resources to perform more complex tasks such as syntactic markup (treebanking).
  10. Bids should include a specific component for design work to plan next steps after the current phase of work. We were very pleased with the Design Sprint that took place in July 2017 and would like to include a follow-up Design Sprint in early 2018 that will consider (1) next steps for Greek and Latin and (2) generalizing our work to other historical languages. This Design Sprint might well go to a separate contractor (thus providing us also with a separate point of view on the work done so far).
  11. Work must be built upon the Canonical Text Services Protocol. Bids should be prepared to build upon, but should also be able to build upon other CTS servers (e.g., and
  12. All source code must be available on Github under an appropriate open license so that third parties can freely reuse and build upon it.
  13. Source code must be designed and documented to facilitate actual (not just theoretically possible) reuse.
  14. The contractor will have the flexibility to get the job done but will be expected to work as closely as possible with, and to draw wherever possible upon the on-going work done by, the collaborators who are contributing to Open Greek and Latin. The contractor must have the right to decide how much collaboration makes sense.
  15. We would welcome a bids that bring to bear expertise in the EPUB format and that could help develop a model for representing for representing CTS-compliant Greek and Latin sources in EPUB as a mechanism to make these materials available on smartphones. We can already convert our TEI XML into EPUB. The goal here is to exploit the easiest ways to optimize the experience. We can, for example, convert one or more of our Greek and Latin lexica into the EPUB Dictionary format and use our morphological analyses to generate links from particular forms in a text to the right dictionary entry or entries. Can we represent syntactically analyzed sentences with SVG? Can we include dynamic translation alignments?

We will draw upon the following criteria in selecting a proposal.

  1. Price. The cost of the contract is important but will be by no means the most important factor.
  2. A credible plan that reflects the available portfolio of work by the contractor.
  3. A demonstrated understanding of the work and its goals. The Intrepid plan with commentary listed above provide a blueprint but we welcome proposals that suggest alternatives or add additional critiques. Even if such alternatives are not adopted, they can illustrate an understanding of the work that we propose.
  4. Demonstrated experience with the issues involved in searching and analyzing Greek and Latin would be highly desirable. Such experience is not by itself sufficient and not absolutely essential — Perseus and Open Greek and Latin collaborators can provide leadership here — but documented expertise in searching and analyzing Greek and Latin in a digital medium would be major advantage to the work proposed here.
  5. A credible commitment to work with the CTS API and to build upon existing code.
  6. The degree to which the proposed work indicates that academic and support staff at Leipzig, Tufts and elsewhere will be able to maintain and enhance the work done under this contract.
  7. The degree to which the proposed work helps us develop a detailed plan for future work that we can use as the basis for proposals to raise additional support.
  8. The degree to which the proposed work appears suited to languages other than Greek and Latin. While the brief period of the proposed work means that we will focus upon Greek and Latin, we want to see other collections served by the Scaife DL Viewer. These include the emerging Open Islamicate Texts Initiative, the CTS-compliant texts from the Croatian Latin Authors project, and Perseus collections besides Greek and Roman Materials.
  9. Ability to communicate, in both written and spoken form, in English. Proposals will be reviewed by international experts and must be in English. Likewise, academic collaborators are international and the working language of the contracted must be English.
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Update on Perseus 5.0/Open Greek and Latin

Late in 2016, we published plans for Leipzig to publish a request for proposals to begin work on what could be viewed as a new version of Perseus — something we have been calling Perseus 5.0 — but that we view as a general framework for browsing, searching, and reading historical texts in a range of languages. In the end, we decided upon two smaller preliminary tasks. The Perseus Project at Tufts signed a contract with the development company Eldarion to assess implementations of the CTS Protocol and particularly on the emerging microservices associated with that. Our initial focus was upon but a new implementation, optimized to run easily on local servers, has also emerged: Our goal has been to assess the degree to which these solutions could scale up to large volumes of traffic and to which they can be sustained. This assessment will conclude in June 2017.

After an RFP of its own, Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies also signed a contract with the development company to conduct a two-week design sprint that will run from Tuesday, July 5 through Tuesday, July 18. The primary goal of the sprint will be to support searching of the texts in Open Greek and Latin as well as other openly licensed corpora, but searching implies reading, and we will looking for ways to leverage digital reading support methods. We focus especially on what I refer to as the Nagy method, a method that I learned from Greg Nagy when I was in my first year of college in 1975: at the time, Nagy had students compare the print concordance of Homer with a translation and in so doing to build up their own understanding of what the Greek words meant. The students needed to learn the Greek alphabet and to figure out which word in the English probably corresponded to the Greek term in the concordance, but they could do both and were able to engage directly with the Greek. This bilingual search can be generalized in a digital environment and we will build on efforts such as,, and in the new search environment.

More generally the goal here will be to help think through both tactical opportunities that are feasible in the short term and more strategic developments that will unfold over a longer period of time. One result of this will be (finally) the RFP from Leipzig, which we hope to release in the week of July 24. Proposals will be due within two weeks. A second result will be a longer term plan, with suggestions, if not a blueprint, for distributed community-based development. This longer term plan will focus broadly upon the themes of the Global Philology planning project that the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research ( has funded.

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