Undergraduate Research at the Vis Center

Catching the Vision–Week 1

This week began the summer program at the Vis Center. As a student who has been already working on aspects of this project since the end of February, it has been very exciting to have new students come on board and to further understand the vision of this project.

This week has already been full of collaboration with my new teammates. I think my favorite part has been watching everyone brainstorm and problem solve as we are all beginning to work through the Info Forrest and  3D Projection projects. I can literally see the wheels turning in their minds as they are talking with me about challenges that we will have to address as we move ahead on the project.

As I said earlier, I have been working on the Info Forrest project since the end of February. I have primarily been working on assembling the data that will go into the final app that my other teammates are building. Specifically, I have been going through the images we have of the Chad Gospels that were taken at the Lichfield Cathedral and converting the Latin text into XML. My vision and purpose with this has been to create data that is easy to search. For example, incorrect Latin is often used in the manuscript, so I wrote the XML in such a way that a person using the app would be able to search a word spelled correctly even if it is spelled wrong in the manuscript.

Recently, I have switched over to matching up the Latin Vulgate with the English translation of the Bible (NIV). Eventually, I want to create an XML file that not only matches the Latin Vulgate to the English, but also attempts to preserve some of the word order on the page. My goal in this is not to do it exactly, as Latin and English have different sentence structures, but to do it in a way that would allow those wishing to study the Latin, who may not be Latin experts, to be able to piece together the translations from an English translation that makes a little more visual sense than the straight up NIV XML version of the translation.

While getting to examine the images of the manuscript has been fascinating to me (I am a History and Classics major, afterall), I am so excited to be able to visualize our final goal for the Info Forrest project. It has given me new life and energy in writing the XML data for the project. It has been fascinating to hear from everyone what their contribution to the project will be and to see how it will all fit together. The fact that we are dreaming big with this project is so much fun for me (maybe because I am not directly responsible for coming up with the technology for these dreams!). I love when the phrase “I don’t know how we will do this, but it would be cool!” is said at our team meetings–it gives me the feeling that I am apart of something bigger than what I could ever accomplish on my own (and certainly bigger than my personal store of knowledge).

As the resident History/Classics Major, I have been learning so much about the technological side of this project. The knowledge of my peers never ceases to amaze me–and it is only the beginning I am sure! I am looking forward to the weeks to come and the new knowledge I will gain from being around my teammates.