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24 December 2006


I saw an old friend yesterday.
And he gave me a very special present.

He had looked at my wishlist.

(Here's a copy of what on the page of the link)

Ductus, from the Latin ducere (to lead), is a digital program designed for the teaching of Latin paleography either locally or via the internet. The program is based on 60 extremely high resolution facsimiles of manuscripts from the period 150-1500 A.D. It includes videos depicting a (modern) scribe at work, a 14-session course, and extensive glossaries and support documentation. It is already used by teachers and independent scholars around the world. In 2000 it received The Australian Award for Excellence in Tertiary Educational Multimedia. Ductus is available either for use by individuals or by institutions with a site licensing arrangement.

Ductus features:

  • Individual analyses of over 60 sample manuscript facsimiles, including folios from The Book of Kells.
  • Extensive interactive glossaries of terms and bibliographies.
  • Online library of seminal articles.
  • Extremely high-resolution manuscript images.
  • Videos demonstrating the craft of the medieval scribe.
  • A structured 14-session course in paleography and codicology.
  • Cross-browser - runs in Netscape and Internet Explorer.
  • Cross-platform - runs on Windows, Mac and Unix.

Ductus includes an introduction to the history of western European handwriting and detailed interactive analyses of 60 sample scripts chosen from manuscripts in European, North American and Australian collections.

The manuscript images are of very high resolution and a movable magnifying glass makes it easy to study the scripts in minute detail. The transcript for each line can be viewed by passing the mouse over the line number. This feature can be disabled for teaching purposes.

The screen shot above shows the list of manuscripts down the left, with the analysis of the first manuscript to the right.

The program also includes video clips showing how the scripts were most likely written by medieval scribes. The second release will include more such videos as well as an interview with the calligrapher who features in them, Terry Pepperell, of Melbourne, Australia. Terry will describe the art of the scribe and the materials that they used. There will also be a section devoted to recent developments in the digital analysis of scripts as created by our development group, 'Medieval Multimedia' (medieval manuscripts in the Multi-medium Aevum.

Interactive supporting documentation includes comprehensive glossaries of over 300 terms with illustrations, manuscript types, full transcriptions, a bibliography and an electronic portfolio of associated art work. Below is an example of a Ductus glossary term. (Note: Because this is only an example, the hyperlinks are not active.)

calamus: The reed pen used by scribes in antiquity; it was gradually replaced by the quill made from a feather.

A calamus in the middle with a quill on either side.
Ductus is in CD-ROM format and runs in a web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer), making it suitable for either local or remote use (via the web). Remote users can access high resolution images mounted locally from the CD-ROM while connected directly to the home site during a session. Regular upgrades will be down-loadable via the net.

This year the introductory paleography course is offered via the net using Ductus. The course is available to anyone anywhere in the world, regardless of the size of the class. Please contact Bernard Muir to arrange to participate in this digital experience of paleography.

What's extra special is that it's from the University of Melbourne, where I live.

Thankyou so much, Nick! :-) :-) :-)



Blogger MEtoo said...

Yah for Nick and his generosity. The course looks fantastic

Monday, December 25, 2006  
Blogger NM said...

No problems. Now I need to get back into the Chinese calligraphy I started to enjoy, earlier this year. Ah, there's not enough hours in the day :S

Wednesday, December 27, 2006  

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