BigDIVA– A New Digital Tool by the Scholars of 18thConnect and MESA


Developed under the leadership and inspiration of Laura Mandell (Texas A&M and the scholar who brought us 18thConnect) and with the assistance of Tim Stinson at North Carolina State, BigDIVA is the acronym for Big Data Infrastructure Visualization Application and will be unveiled October 16th. The tool provides a visual interface for “navigating scholarly, peer-reviewed humanities content” and enables users to traverse results quickly through its visualization of the returns. The tool filters out “noise” such as advertisements by booksellers or Twitter mentions, and it color codes the results according to material readily available to users and material for which users need permission to access.

BigDIVA is the newest project to emerge from the extended collaborative network of digital resource hubs that started with NINES grew to 18thConnect and then expanded to Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA), REKn (Renaissance English Knowledgebase) and ModNets (Modernists) and that we have previously discussed in an EMOB post. As many will well know, Laura Mandel founded 18thConnect and then went on to help spur the formation of other hubs devoted to periods beyond her own period of work, the eighteenth century.  Tim Stinson is a medievalist and one of the founders of MESA.  Thus, much of the work undertaken by BigDIVA to date has focused on these two periods. Yet, like the extended network of historical digital hubs, this tool will serve the needs of Renaissance, twentieth-century, nineteenth-century scholars, too.

Unfortunately, The tool is open-source, but it is also being sold for use by proprietary databases, as Tim Stinson clarifies below (and thus not just available as a subscription-based tool as initial indicated).  You can  read more about BigDIVA here.

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4 Responses to “BigDIVA– A New Digital Tool by the Scholars of 18thConnect and MESA”

  1. Tim Stinson Says:

    I appreciate the coverage that you have provided for BigDIVA, which is an exciting new tool. But I wanted to clarify one important point: Laura Mandell is the driving force behind BigDIVA – she had the vision and most of the work. I am doing what I can to support that work and help with the launch and implementation of BigDIVA. I know that this was not your intent, but there is a history of men getting the credit for the work of women who are their colleagues, so I wanted to clarify this point!

    Also, BigDIVA is an open-source tool; we are selling access to proprietary databases.

    Tim Stinson


  2. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Many thanks for the clarification, Tim. I should have checked in with both of you. I saw an announcement Monday that this tool would be launched; that announcement gave you the developer role and the impression the tool was developed at NC State. It also acknowledged Laura as the impetus for the idea, but not anything else about her involvement after its inspiration.

    As you might imagine, I am also attuned and sensitive to women’s contributions being overshadowed by man, and I am sorry to have unwittingly perhaps contributed to this. Laura has contributed to EMOB and we’ve tried to showcase her pioneering work on several occasions. Laura has that wonderful digital incubator/lab at Texas A &M–and we have discussed in previous post that she was the force not only that sparked the idea for the other digital historical hubs–like MESA–but that also secured funding for the initial meetings, spearheaded the ensuing discussions, and more that resulted in the formation of this expanded network of resources.

    Thank you for the clarification of BigDIVA’s relationship to proprietary databases. That is very important–and also seems wise on several fronts, including providing funds to develop new or hone existing open-source tools.


  3. Tim Stinson Says:

    Thank you for your response, Eleanor, and for providing this forum for me to make sure that the record is clear. We all share the same goals – I just want to make sure that Laura is not overlooked and being mindful of how credit is given in the field.


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