27311 - Humanistic IT (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student understands the concept of information and knows the methods of digital representation and the systems of automatic data processing in the field of humanities; he/she possesses theoretical knowledge, methodological skills and techniques to represent and process humanistic data.

Course contents

The course will guide the students in learning the principles at the basis of digital objects production in the humanistic domain, expecially in a Web-oriented dimension. In particular the students will acquire skills related to the complex process of conception, design and implementation of digital resources, choosing the most appropriate tools and languages, respect to the ideal model to achieve. In particular the topics of the course will be:

  •    Phases of the project management plan (brief, benchmark, project document, production, development, testing, promotion);
  •    Production principles. Character encoding and format, writing, usability of content, the architecture of the page, text and multimedia;
  •    Markup Languages. XHTML, XML, HTML5, CSS. The role of TEI (TeibyExample; a tool: EditTEI);
  •    Tools and models for the texts analysis. Indexes, frequencies, concordances (examples tools: Concordance, Tlab, Tapor);
  •    Principles and environments for description, storage and preservation. The fundamentals of the process, the metadata (Dublin Core and Premis) and environments / infrastructure (examples tools: Fedora Commons, Archive-It, Dspace);
  •    Fundamentals of interface design. Produce a mockup (example: Balsamiq). Filters, facets, positioning, responsive layout;
  •    Systems of dissemination. The frameworks for Web distribution (examples: Boilerplate and Bootstrap); Content Management Systems - CMS (examples: Wordpress and Drupal). Complete sets (examples: Omeka, Heurist);
  •    Problems of sharing and collaboration. Tools and models. The annotation in participated environment (examples: Catma and Pundit);
  •    Toward Enrichment. Some tools: social media, SEO, tagcrowd, imagemaps, analytics.


The reference manual is: F. Tomasi, Metodologie informatiche e discipline umanistiche, Carocci, Roma 2008, capp. 1, 2, 3, 4 e 5. The reading of the book is suggested BEFORE the starting of the classes.

Other materials will be made available on Virtuale. Students are also asked to search Web resources that will be discussed during the lessons.

Students are also required to read chapters 1 and 6 of the book: Francesca Tomasi, Organizzare la conoscenza: Digital Humanities e Web semantico. Un percorso tra archivi, biblioteche e musei, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2022.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be theoretical and practical, with presentation of examples online and laboratory.
The practical activity of the laboratory should equip students with the skills needed to manage the production of digital resources in the humanities.

Assessment methods

The student is asked to design a Web resource in one of the following fields: cultural heritage (archive, library or museum) as the domain; journal, edition of a text, digital library as a type of resource.
Once chosen both domain and type the student is asked to design a possible resource (e.g. an archival magazine, a digital library of museum objects, the edition of a text by volume kept at a library), considering what already exists (and which will be presented during the course); designing the resource through a comprehensive project management plan; create at least two Web pages: the homepage of the project and the page that will contain the descriptive documentation.
The project will need to be uploaded on a hosting system and it will be presented during the exam day.

Job evaluation will be based on the following parameters:

CONCEPTION of the project plan. Adequacy of the ideation through appropriate conceptualization; quality of the tree of dependencies; effectiveness of architectural choices; quality of the solutions adopted for the effective communication at the user interface level and for the dissemination; adequacy of the solutions for conservation and enhancement.
DESIGN of the resource. The project management plan quality is based on: completeness of the plan; completeness of the individual project items; technical correctness of the proposed plan; use of a specialized lexicon.
CONSTRUCTION of the Web project. Adequacy of the proposed solutions; usability of the resource; quality of the preservation plan; effectiveness of enrichment strategies proposed and implemented.

These three parameters will be taken to determine whether the proposal made is insufficient (does not meet any of the three parameters), sufficient (meets only one/two parameters), good (respects all the three parameters) or excellent (adds to the three parameters a personal elaboration capacity).

Not attending students will be evaluated also on the knowledge related to the two reference book.

Teaching tools

Classes are held in classrooms equipped with computer lab with PCs connected to the intranet and Internet.
Theory lessons will always be accompanied by a practical part: critical analysis and use of the tools available (Web sites, softwares, formal languages).
Will be subject to critical analysis the following categories of digital resources and related tools and languages used for the implementation of these resources:

  • publishing and ebooks (Pandora Campus Mulino Casalini books; interactive eBook Chialab);
  • aggregation platforms for cultural heritage (Europeana, Cultural Internet);
  • role of libraries (OPAC digital libraries [es texts. bibliotecaitaliana.it, but also images [cf. galleries and museums] video [es. Light Institute]]. A case of excellence: DP.LA);
  • historical archives (general projects of the SAN. Regesta.exe activities. A case of excellence: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/);
  • galleries and museums (eg. getty, british museum);
  • a special case: the editions of texts (projects Net7);
  • electronic journals (OJS - resources on AlmaJournal).

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Tomasi