Week Beginning 23rd March 2015

This week was a pretty busy one, with two major AHRC funded projects that I’m involved with heading towards their conclusions. Much of the week was spent on Mapping Metaphor duties, ahead of the project launch on Wednesday. On Monday we had our final team meeting and in addition to this I completed a number of final website tasks before the launch. This included uploading more data to the online database. All of the connections between metaphors and their strengths (about 16,000 records) had already been added to the online database, but some aspects of the connections, such as their dates of inception, directionality and sample lexemes were mostly still to be added. I had created sample, randomly generated data in order to test the system but I have now stripped all of this out in preparation for the launch. Ellen also passed on a spreadsheet containing more real data for the dates, directionality and sample lexemes and I uploaded this. We now have 651 metaphorical connections that have real data, up from 108. We also now have 1886 real sample lexemes in the system, up from 348. Lots more data will continue to be uploaded over the next few months, either through the batch upload script that I’ve already created or through the content management system that I created for editing individual metaphor connection records.

In addition to sorting out the data I also made some last minute tweaks to the interface. The biggest of these was to add a ‘cite this page’ feature to every data view. This works in the same way as the Historical Thesaurus ‘cite’ facility, presenting users with a pop-up that lists four different citation styles that they can choose from. I also added in the structure for the ancillary pages that are required (e.g. the help pages) and created some empty placeholder pages that I will populate once Ellen sends me on the required content.

The launch of the project on Wednesday went very well. It was great to see the website up on a big screen and Ellen did a great job of talking everyone through the major features of the interface. Everyone in the audience seemed suitably impressed and we all got to enjoy some very nice Prosecco and nibbles. Although this was a launch event we’re not actually going live with the website at this stage. There will be an official media launch of the site in a couple of months and until then I’m afraid I can’t link to the site, which is a bit of a shame. However, there is still quite a lot of work that people will be doing with the data of the project in the interim, plus we hope to have a dedicated Old English section of the site set up before then too. My day to day involvement with the project is now at an end though. It has been a wonderful project to have been a part of.

The other AHRC funded project that I soon to come to an end is the SAMUELS project. My involvement with this project has been mainly linked to the refactoring of the Historical Thesaurus dataset so that the semantic tagger can make full use of it. I will also be developing some data visualisations of the tagged Hansard data, which I managed to get hold of towards the end of last week. I transferred this from Lancaster as a 10Gb tar.gz file, and Steve at Lancaster had created a Ruby gem script that could be run to split the data up into individual files. I ran into a bit of a problem as I only had 30Gb of hard drive space left on my desktop PC and extracting the tar.gz file resulted in a bunch of files that were larger than this. Chris managed to find some server space where I could extract the files to, but unfortunately I am unable to run Ruby gems on the servers so I couldn’t then split these files up using Steve’s script. I spoke to Marc about this and he said that Fraser had an external hard drive that was purchased for the project that I could use temporarily so I managed to get the data onto this. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to run the gem script on the data. Well, I had time to start it off, but after several hours it was still running and Fraser needed the hard drive back so I had to terminate the process. I’ll need to meet with Fraser and possibly Marc next week to see exactly what I need to do with the data.

The main SAMUELS task of the week was to attend the end of project meeting that was taking place on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. It was great to participate in this meeting as it gave me an opportunity to find out what had been happening in the parts of the project that I’ve not been directly involved with (which is most of it). I am amazed at how much work the project has managed to achieve in such a short period of time and there is much potential for future research using the foundations established by the project.

Other than these two projects, I had a chat with Megan Coyer about her Medical Humanities Network project, which I’m delighted to say received funding. We’ll be starting to work on this over the summer. I had a further chat with Jane about the proposal she’s putting together, I also spent a few hours on AHRC reviewer duties and I helped Chris out with a couple of problems with an older website.