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 https://github.com/Capitains but a new implementation, optimized to run easily on local servers, has also emerged: https://github.com/ThomasK81/LightWeightCTSServer. 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 Intrepid.io 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 http://nlp.perseus.tufts.edu/lexicon/, http://ugarit.ialigner.com/, and http://divan-hafez.com/ 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 (https://www.bmbf.de) has funded.

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