Apps in vellum Information technologies in ancient Greek scholarship

Pre-digital apps: introduction

Ancient Greek scholars used apps for many of the same things we do: to look up stored data, to perform tedious computations, even to test a general model against a specific set of data. They could not, of course program these digitally. Instead, using ink on papyrus, they created interactive data structures in the form of tables. In “Two Thousand Years of Scholarly Apps” (CHS Research Bulletin, 4.2), I look at examples in the manuscript tradition to show how scholars in fields as diverse as astronomy and grammar used tabular structures to implement what we might call “apps.”

The challenge for us is not only to understand these medieval manucripts. How should we represent this kind of “text” in a digital edition today? On this site, I’m presenting some of my work on editions that implement the functionality of tabular scholarly texts as digital apps.

A video introduction

If you prefer a video, here’s a 20-minute talk I gave in 2016 at the U.C. Berkeley symposium, “40 Years of Patterson:”