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(1 January 2015)
The jury for the HEMA Scholar Awards 2014 has finally reached a decision on what nominees will be awarded for their work and dedication in 2013. Here are their choices and motivations.
First of all however, as the guy behind the scenes in this, I would like to thank the jury, the amazingly generous sponsors and the whole historical fencing community and their nominations. I would also especially like to mention the blacksmith and cutler behind the new prize we are introducing this year for the HEMA Scholar Awards; Dr. Fabrice Cognot. He has both designed and by hand created this beautiful iron and laurel twig.
Laurel wreaths of course were associated with the Greek god Apollo, the Sun, and were given to the winners of the Pythian Games that were dedicated to him. It was also given to fencers, the Children of the Sun, in the Renaissance for great display of skill and knowledge and this prize is given in recognition of the same. Last year’s winners will also receive these prizes retroactively. With that said, we finally move on to the jury’s decisions! Congratulations all!
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Mr. Tom Leoni, The Order of the Seven Hearts, USA
- Best Researcher: Mr. Reinier van Noort, School voor Historische Schermkunsten / Oslo KDF, Netherlands / Norway
- Best Researcher: Mr. Jherek Swanger, The Tattershall School of Defence, USA
- Best Instructor: Mr. Keith Farrell & Mr. Alex Bourdas, Academy of Historical Arts, Scotland
- Best Rookie Researcher: Ms. Daria Izdebska, Academy of Historical Arts, Scotland
The jury and the HROARR administration wish to congratulate all awardees and all nominees and thank them for their amazing work! Without researchers there would be no HEMA! Thank you also to all of the sponsors who have made all this possible! Your generosity is incredible and we love you for it! Wishing a happy New Year and a fantastic HEMA 2015 to everyone!
15 September 2014
From our sister site HROARR:
As we all know HEMA has many different aspects that are all equally important in our shared effort in recreating these forgotten martial arts.
However, all of our success rests on the hard work of researchers, transcribers, translators and interpreters, hard work, a work that often receives little recognition or actual reward in the way that tournament fighting does, not least since much work is done silently and generously published online for free.
With this in mind, and acting as a neutral party within the HEMA community, in 2013 HROARR introduced annual awards for Best efforts in HEMA research, with all aspects it includes. The idea was to create a highly prestigious award, our very own Oscar or Nobel Prize, if you will.
Each year 5 winners are awarded. Nominations are up to the community to send in, and decisions are based on actual achievements during the preceding year, not through community voting. At this time, all published work has to have been written in English, except for transcriptions, of course.
Decisions will be made by a quite small panel consisting of last year’s awardees and if needed new elected jury members. As the awards become more and more established, these awards will also be more and more independently managed by the new juries and the growing list of awardees and less so by HROARR.
All winners will be presented on a special awards page, where the winners for each year are listed with their achievements.
I sincerely hope this will serve as both an inspiration and an encouragement for all the hard working people in our community!
Thank you and have a great day, everyone!
3 February 2014
Our fundraising drive ended on Friday, and I've clean run out of synonyms for "incredible" to use in these posts. After PayPal fees, we took in $3,611.93, over seven times our initial goal. This generous outpouring from our users has vastly exceeded any plans we've made for projects, so at the moment the bulk of it will sit in an account while we investigate new digital scan acquisitions over the next several months. (I've already put in a few inquiries and settled one agreement that was pending before the fundraiser, but until this point I've been reaching out to institutions one at a time as I get ready to work on the associated index page.)
All told, we received 85 separate donations, including nineteen at the sponsor level. In particular I'd like to highlight our top five sponsors: MARS Swordfighting, Purpleheart Armoury, Esfinges, the Bramble Schoole of Defence, and Iron Gate Exhibition. Together, these five organizations--schools from Europe and the US, a leading HEMA supplier, an international network for female fencers, and a major HEMA event, illustrate in some small way the breadth of our community. I'll be getting in touch with them and all of the other donors to find out if you'd like your name listed in the donor list or would prefer to remain anonymous. If you know that you donated $100 or more, please decide if you'd like your organization represented in the sponsor list, and if so, prepare some sort of logo for me to potentially use.
To return to my initial refrain, the outcome of this year's fundraiser was beyond anything we ever expected. I thank all of you, and I'm sure the HEMA Alliance general council does as well (since this removes a big item from their annual budget ;)). Here's to another year of exciting manual research!
P.S. If you missed the window for the fundraiser, fear not! The donate button at the bottom of the sidebar will remain where it's always been, and donations are welcome at any time. If you donate over $100 in the next week or so while I'm still figuring out the while sponsor thing, I'll even include you in the list.
23 August 2013
We've begun a major overhaul of the way the wiki stores information which should make article updates easier and possibly allow us to do some interesting stuff programmatically in the future. All transcriptions will be moved off of the master pages (or manual pages, in a few places) and shunted into their own dedicated pages from which they will be transcluded back into their previous locations. Which is a complicated way of saying that we'll be creating a single page for each transcription and then displaying pieces of that page wherever we need them. This is what we should have done in the first place, but I didn't this was possible back then (for all I know, it might not have been—that was four versions of Mediawiki ago) and we didn't have the right extensions installed even if I did.
The ultimate goal is to arrive at a point where the only content on a page is the English-language material (we'll visit the idea of moving translations onto their own pages at a later date), which will not only serve to make the code easier to read and edit, but will also make the translation engine more useful since it won't have to grapple with the transcription text when marking up a page. (Hopefully my long-suffering Spanish translators haven't lost interest after all this time that I've spent trying to get the wiki to a state where it can work for them.)
For a detailed explanation of how this system works, see the Wiktenauer:Tutorial. Since Goliath and Fiore dei Liberi are our exemplar pages for their respective categories, they get the treatment first and I've been using them to test out and tweak the model. After them, we'll be rolling through on a treatise-by-treatise basis, creating transcription pages and then updating master pages when all the content is in place.
Here's where you come in. This is a huge undertaking and will essentially usher Wiktenauer into its third major incarnation. Doing it by myself (yes, I've been using the royal plural throughout this note since it's just me working on it), this will take several months and won't be completed on any deadline. Gone are the days when I could put in 50, 60, 70 hours a week working on this. If it's going to happen soon, I'll need volunteers. This isn't difficult or technical work for the most part—I can walk someone through the process in just a few minutes—but it will consist of a lot of copypasta and repetition. (I usually watch movies while doing it to stay focused.)
(Alternatively, if you're good at that sort of thing and can develop an automated scenario for extracting and reformatting this content, I'd be very interested to hear about it. At the moment, the only automation I'm planning on is converting HTML to Wiki Markup Language for the transcriptions where I can get the source code.)
People often ask me how I learned so much about treatises, but there's no mysterious answer; this is how, looking at manuscripts for hours and hours (in my case, I'd guess I've spent somewhere above 6,000 hours) and seeing all the ways they fit together. Here's your chance to do a little of the same. Contact me here or elsewhere if you can help, and we'll talk about setting you up with a master or treatise that interests you (it's all got to get done, so why not start with something you like?).
10 May 2013
We've begun a major overhaul of the way the wiki stores information which should make article updates easier and possibly allow us to do some interesting stuff programmatically in the future. All transcriptions will be moved off of the master pages (or manual pages, in a few places) and shunted into their own dedicated pages from which they will be transcluded back into their previous locations.
Which is a complicated way of saying that we'll be creating a single page for each transcription and then displaying pieces of that page wherever we need them. This is what we should have done in the first place, but I didn't this was possible back then (for all I know, it might not have been) and we didn't have the right extensions installed even if I did.
The transcription pages will come in two sorts. The simple version, used when we don't have scans hosted locally (which is often the case with manuscripts since they occupy a different niche in the copyright ecosystem than printed material does), is a straight-forward listing of the transcription with each segment marked up like this:
Sample full transcription: http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Florius_de_Arte_Luctandi_%28MS_Latin_11269%29/Transcription
The more complex version, used when we have scans hosted locally or in the Wikimedia Commons (either in image galleries or PDFs), is an index page where the transcriptions can be associated with individual page scans. This uses technology developed for the Wikisource project and is an enormously more robust system. These samples are for Goliath:
Sample index: http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Index:Goliath_%28MS_Germ.Quart.2020%29 Sample page transcription: http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Page:MS_Germ.Quart.2020_007v.jpg
Since Goliath and Fiore dei Liberi are our exemplar pages for their respective categories, they get the treatment first and I've been using them to test out and tweak the model. After them, we'll be rolling through on a treatise-by-treatise basis, creating transcription pages and then updating master pages when all the content is in place. The "Index/Page model" will be used primarily for texts that have incomplete transcriptions or are untranscribed--since it's designed to assist in the transcription process--while the "List" model will be used for texts with completed transcriptions in the initial pass. We can go back and create indexes where possible for these transcriptions after the primary work is done (since the only purpose it will serve at that point is to facilitate deeper research for the minority of our users working in that area).
Here's where you come in. This is a huge undertaking and will essentially usher Wiktenauer into its third major incarnation. Doing it by myself (yes, I've been using the royal plural throughout this note, it's just me working on it), this will take several months and won't be completed on any deadline. Gone are the days when I could put in 50, 60, 70 hours a week working on this. :( If it's going to happen soon, I'll need volunteers. This isn't difficult or technical work for the most part--I can walk someone through the process in just a few minutes--but it will consist of a lot of copypasta and repetition. (I usually watch movies while doing it to stay focused.)
Michael Chidester Director of the Wiktenauer Project HEMA Alliance, WMAC
19 February 2013
When we moved to the new server toward the end of last year we upgraded the wiki platform from 1.15 to 1.19, which has opened the door to a lot of new features and got us thinking about other upgrades and enhancements we could implement. I also put in a goodly amount of time upgrading and streamlining sloppy code and css, resulting in a much smoother design overall. Here is a partial list of the improvements we've made:
- Easier navigation in the composite tables. This is one that people have requested for a while, but since it's not a feature normally found on wikis it took quite a bit of hacking to implement. Now when you scroll down in one of the big manual tables, the column headers will stay at the top of the screen so you always know what you're looking at. Additionally, when you mouse-over a cell in the table the whole row will darken to make it easier to keep your place when side-scrolling. (These features work in all browsers, but due to unresolved compatibility issues between Mediawiki and Chrome and to the fact that Internet Explorer is just terrible, this feature looks best in Firefox.)
- Footnotes. We've gone back and imported all of the references contained in the transcriptions and translations that we host, in order to give additional insight into the reasoning behind some of the decisions that our contributors make. Initially we were storing these notes at the bottom of each table, but we're currently in the process of translating them to standard end-notes that will appear in the main list of references at the bottom of each page.
- Credits and license terms. This has actually been around for a year or more now, but apparently a lot of people haven't been aware. If you want to find the precise license terms of a particular bit of translation or transcription, or a link to the original document, that sort of metadata is stored at the top of every Discussion tab. (We're currently looking into adding a new tab to each page called "License", but that isn't the case yet.)
- Open translations. Several people have asked us for a process of contributing snippets of translation or corrections without needing to translate a treatise entire or interfering with the work of others, so we've implemented a few options to handle this. If you identify errors or otherwise think an existing translation is in need of fixing, feel free to annotate it with your own notes using the  template (http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Template:Ref); these notes will be placed in a separate container from the main article footnote list and should be signed by the user who created them, so there shouldn't be any confusion between them and notes created by the original author. (I'll write a tutorial on this eventually, but for now contact me and I'll walk you through it.) If you want to hack out a rough translation of an untranslated treatise, whether whole or just a few lines, then you can add label the translation column open for editing and add your name to the list of translation contributors on the Discussion page. This is also a possibility if a large enough body of notes build up for an existing, deprecated translation. If enough people get involved, we hope to eventually crowd-source high-quality translations in this fashion. I've opened all of my German translation work to free editing, since it's all very rough and imperfect, and we've already got a couple other such contributions as well; see Martin Syber for an example of how this in action (http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Martin_Syber).
- Wiktenauer forum. I've asked Ben Floyd to create a new forum for the Wiktenauer, which can be found here: http://hemaalliance.com/discussion/viewforum.php?f=28. This has primarily been used for announcements until now, but if you have any questions or concerns about, or disagreement regarding, content on the wiki then this would be the place to talk about it. Let me underscore again that a lot of content on the wiki is sourced from websites that don't cite their own sources, so I would be astonished if there are not errors in the content as it currently stands and am very interested to hear about any and all of them.
- Donations. Finally, people have asked us in the past how they can donate to the wiki and help us meet our operating costs. We've now added a donate button at the bottom of the sidebar on the left which is attached to a paypal account managed by the HEMA Alliance (who are also the ones who currently pay our bills). If we ever reach a point where our income from donations exceeds our server costs, we'll look into applying the excess toward getting new treatises digitized and even paying licensing costs to host currently-unavailable scans directly on the wiki directly.
So, that's the current state of things, though we have a lot of exciting developments currently in the works, including:
- A new translation manager that will allow us to finally implement foreign-language articles (starting with Spanish).
- A new interface for transcribing, proofreading, translating, and browsing printed matter, based on that used by WikiSource (we're still trying to iron out the last bugs, but it will be up and running soon).
- Partnering with a large university that I don't think I can talk about yet to get real academic sponsorship as well as support in other exciting new projects.