By Derek Devine
First-year student Atalay Kutlay and digital humanities librarian Cal Murgu represented New College when they ventured to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville to present at the inaugural Florida Digital Humanities Conference.
The digital project they presented is called ThesisLink, a web application that visualizes approximately 50 years of metadata from undergraduate theses by New College of Florida students. It presents users with an alternative view of undergraduate theses as interrelated objects associated via what they call intellectual links.
“Our main objective with this project was to use new methods to visualize the connections between theses, areas of concentration and divisions,” says Murgu. “We use intellectual links that reveal multidisciplinarity among AOCs to present a more intuitive way to explore theses.”
Kutlay, a computer science student, knew that New College would offer quality opportunities for him to advance his career because of its small class sizes and the personalized experience that campus provides. When he started a job at the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, he hoped to form new relationships that could propel his future in computer science.
“I was originally working as a library assistant and was shelving books the majority of the time,” says Kutlay. “I mentioned my interest and skill set in computer science to see how I could be utilized by the library staff with hopes to build my on my personal experiences in the field.”
The result? An opportunity to develop the software for ThesisLink. The financial support from the Council of Academic Affairs made Kutlay’s trip to the Florida Digital Humanities Conference possible so he could present his work alongside Murgu. He learned about what working in digital humanities looks like at the conference, and he is open to pursuing it in the future.
“When you take someone from computer science who can code and partner them with someone with humanities expertise and collaborate, awesome things happen,” says Kutlay. “This project really opened my eyes to what digital humanities is all about.”
ThesisLink is the flagship project of the Digital Scholarship Studio (DSS), a Cook Library initiative that cultivates a culture of experimentation using digital technology in teaching and research.
Murgu and Kutlay spearhead the project, alongside a team of advisors including faculty and staff, the library, Office of Educational Technology, and Information Technology. Kutlay works as a student assistant with a focus in digital scholarship, and the studio serves as an umbrella group for affiliated faculty and students who work with digital methodologies.
“The library has desire to develop a cluster of people who are interested in digital scholarship,” says Murgu. “Whether you have developing experience or you are a humanist that is interested in bringing your research to a digital medium, we are looking to collaborate and discover what is viable.”
As the Digital Scholarship Studio (DSS) grows, the library plans on including more students with different skill sets to work on future digital projects.
“We recognize that students have their own abilities and skills they bring to the table,” says Murgu. “Atalay Kutlay has been instrumental in developing this project and being able to work in digital scholarship will help boost his career moving forward.”
Visit ThesisLink to learning more about the project.
— Derek Devine is the social media manager at New College of Florida