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About the Scholarly Technology Group
The Brown University Scholarly Technology Group (STG) supports the development and use of advanced information technology in academic research, teaching, and scholarly communication. STG pursues this mission by exploring new technologies and practices, developing specialized tools and techniques, and providing consulting and project management services to academic projects.
STG focuses on four related areas:
While the technologies of electronic communication and publication provide its material focus, STG also has a particular approach to the development of these technologies. All STG consulting and projects reflect this principle:
The effective creation and deployment of academic information technology requires a thorough-going critical engagement with the theory and practice of the disciplines that the technology is serving.
Only with this sort of substantive involvement in disciplinary practice can technology and methodology evolve in concert and genuine methodological innovation be achieved. This approach to the development of new technology we call scholarly systems analysis.
STG provides a wide range of consulting services, including general short-term consulting, long-term consulting, project design and management, and assistance with grant proposal development. STG operates the Project Room, a development laboratory with a variety of high-end computers, multimedia peripherals, and specialized software tools. STG also operates the Multimedia Lab, a classroom and lab facility for faculty and students who are producing multimedia and performance materials. Although general short-term consulting is available without charge to Brown faculty, STG is financed on a cost recovery basis.
STG is located on the ground floor of Tower E of the Graduate Center, 92 Thayer St. (directions).
Brown University has long been a leader in core areas of the recent revolution in intellectual technology. Brown's accomplishments range from pioneering research on corpus linguistics by Henry Kucera in the early 1960s, to the creation of the first hypertext system on commercial equipment by Andries van Dam in the late sixties and seventies, to the earliest educational uses of hypertext by Robert Scholes in the mid-1970s, to the various research tools developed by the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (including the influential hypermedia system Intermedia) in the early 1980s.
This research tradition is paralleled by a commitment to broad-based campus computing that also extends back to the 1960s. In the late 1980s, under the direction of Brian Hawkins, then Vice President of Computing and Information Services, these two traditions were combined to create what is now one of the most advanced campus computing environments of any liberal arts university in the country. This combination of pathfinding research and broad-based deployment has resulted in an extraordinarily rich environment in which a profusion of diverse, innovative projects has flourished.
This rich history has uniquely positioned Brown as a leader in the development of intellectual foundations for academic information technology, exploring what President Gregorian has called "the intimate interaction of content and technology". This interaction is at the heart of all of STG activities.
STG's focus on the technologies of electronic communication and publication not only build on Brown's historical strengths, but leverage the activities of many University groups now working in these areas, providing them with a source of expert consulting and project management and with a common location for interaction and collaboration. The result is an environment where projects as diverse as George Landow's work on the rhetoric and critical theory of hypertext, Robert Coover's projects on hyperfiction, the Women Writers Project (WWP) textbase, the numerous activities of the Brown Multimedia Arts Consortium, the Computers in the Humanities Users' Group (CHUG), and many others can benefit from each other's skills, resources and experience.
In addition STG maintains close relationships with a number of related University projects, such as Andries van Dam's Graphics Group, which is developing tools for creating interactive illustrations for electronic books.
The hallmark of most STG projects is their exploration of the technologies of electronic publication, dissemination and collaborative work, particularly with respect to interactivity, flexible use of highly structured data, and broad dissemination through networked electronic media. In every aspect of these technologies, STG has both broad theoretical expertise and technical experience derived from a variety of consulting projects.
Hypertext/Hypermedia in Education: STG has many research and instructional hypermedia projects underway. In the past, these have originated in a variety of disciplines, including literature, history, social science, natural science, education, and medicine. As well as providing expertise on tools, project design, and functionality, STG brings to its consulting activities in hypertext and multimedia all of its experience and research in the theoretical and foundational issues in this area.
SGML Textbase Development: STG is committed to open, high-function standards for data representation. Most important among these are SGML (the Standard Generalized Markup Language, a meta-grammar for developing encoding systems for textual data), and two SGML-based encoding systems: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language, used in World Wide Web) and TEI (Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines). Among STG's consultants are internationally active experts in SGML and TEI, and one of its affiliated projects, the Women Writers Project, is among the world's leading SGML/TEI databases.
Scholarly Communication: Almost all STG projects involve, at some point, online collaboration and coordination, and publishing on the World Wide Web (WWW). STG has developed specialized tools for managing and accessing data and text on the Web and is applying its expertise in data representation to networked collaborative work applications.