Playing around in Bamboo Dirt

For a recent course project in Digital Humanities, the professor had us examine various tools available on Bamboo DiRT.  In this post I will be examining three tools available off of BambooDiRT.  I would like to encourage the reader to explore the site for themselves and see what else is available.

“Bamboo DiRT is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. Developed by Project Bamboo, Bamboo DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.” (


Tool 1

The first tool I would like to look at is exploratree.  Exploratree is under the “Brainstorm/generate ideas” category off of Bamboo Dirt. “Exploratree is a free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own. You can share them and work on them in groups too.” (

Exploratree allows users to create projects independently or within the context of a group. Exploratree my groups

There are numerous ready made guides available to use; many of these are also available in Welsh. There is also great versatility in creating purely original content with the amount and types of tools available.

Exploratree ready made templates

When creating content, exploratree offers a zoomable grid so that the user can always bear in mind the part being worked on in relation to the whole. The box, in the center of the picture below, is grabable and can be moved over any section of the larger box.

Exploratree Grid

This tool would be wonderful for preparing supplemental material for lectures, or in class discussions. With it’s ease of usability, accessibility, and functionality this would be a good tool to add to any repertoire.


Tool 2

The second tool I will be examining is Collex.  “Collex allows users to collect, annotate, and tag online objects and to repurpose them in illustrated, interlinked essays or exhibits.” (

Bethany Nowviskie has written a wonderful White Paper on this tool.  I would like to highlight a few passages below:

  • “Collex uses a Dublin Core flavor of RDF, the resource description framework of the semantic web, to define collectible ‘objects’ without limiting them to their expression as web pages.” (Nowviskie  pg. 8)
  • “Where other social bookmarking tools (like or Connotea) are designed to allow collection and annotation of whole web pages, Collex allows contributors of resources to make finer-grained distinctions, and users of the system to build collections and exhibits more attuned to the patterns of attention in humanities scholarship.” (Nowviskie pg. 8)
  • “Because this content  can be expressed as subscription based RSS feeds, a web service, or an API through Collex’s underlying Nutch, Lucene, and Kowari RDF systems, it is possible for the maintainers of scholarly resources to patch into Collex directly from their individual web or listserv interfaces, offering information about user annotations and re-mediations for any given object without reference to Collex at all.” (Nowviskie pg. 9)

Though I found numerous mentions that this tool is open source, I was unable to find out where I could find the source online.  That said, there is a contact page for Collex. Perhaps the software must be requested from Nines (Nineteenth Century Scholarship Online).  There appear to be a few other scholastic endeavors that are utilizing this software as well: 18th Century Connect and MESA: Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance.


Tool 3

The last tool I would like to look at here is Pipes. “Yahoo Pipes allows users to combine, filter, translate, and geocode data from RSS feeds, JSON, KML, or other similar formats, and power widgets/badges using that data.” (

Yahoo Pipes

You will need to have a Yahoo account for this.  Once inside Pipes, there are numerous user input options to choose from.

Yahoo Pipes Sources

Creating a series of pipes can be an exciting endeavor.  All that is required is to drag the input box desired into the workstation and then add the material that is desired.  For every user input box, there are useful descriptions of how the boxes are used.


As a side note:

Bamboo DiRT is currently seeking people to serve on their editorial board.  They anticipate the workload to be only a couple hours a month, so this might be a great opportunity to gain experience in the DH realm.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s