a11y: abbreviation for computer accessibility for all people regardless of disability. See

algorithm: “A rigid, logical argument made in regularized terms.” Lisa Rhody

API (Application Program Interface): provides the link between two systems, allowing them to communicate. On the internet, an API allows you to access a web service with another program or software. For instance, a program you write on your computer might ask a museum database for results that match a certain criteria.

API Key: when using an API, you need a unique key for access. Usually provided by the API creator when you sign up for the service.

Backchannel: a secondary conversation, often taking place on Twitter using a hashtag, where people share relevant links and clarify terms.

Backend: administrative side where you can make technical and content changes that is not public-facing, aka “control panel” or “dashboard”

Borked: broken (for the moment)

CamelCase: Writing a word without spaces but with the first letter of each word capitalized. For example: CamelCase, MarySue, PowerPoint, VistaVision, HyperCard.

CMS (Content Management System): a computer program (e.g., Drupal Gardens) that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. CMSs have been available since the late 1990s. CMSs are often used to run websites containing blogs, news, and shopping. CMSs typically aim to avoid the need for hand coding but may support it for specific elements or entire pages. (from Wikipedia: )

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): a markup language (code) to describe the “look and formatting” of a document or webpage. (from: See also

CSV (Comma Separated Values): aka character separated values. A file with a series of records made up of fields, where each field is separated by a comma or other specific character (; | / ). Easily created via a spreadsheet program like Excel, GoogleDocs, Numbers. A good way to move information between databases/platforms. See:

DAMS (Digital Asset Management Systems): computer software and hardware for “downloading, renaming, backing up, rating, grouping, archiving, optimizing, maintaining, thinning, and exporting files.” (

Distant Reading: from Franco Moretti, looking for trends over large corpora of works

doi (digital object identifier): a managed, persistent, trackable link to an online publication. www.doi.orgDublin Core: an internationally recognized metadata standard for describing any conceivable resource, comprised of 15 elements, including “title,” “description,” “date,” and “format.” (definition adapted from

Field: “Any one of a number of places where a user is expected to enter a single item of a particular type of data; an item of such data; esp. one in a database record.” OED definition 19.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Client: This is a program that lets a user transfer computer files from one host — such as your local computer,  to a web-based server so that it can be available or viewed on the Web.

SFTP: Secure File Transfer Protocol

GIS (Geographic Information Systems): a computer system (or web-based system) designed to “capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present”1 information about geographic data. Although GIS can be used to create maps, they are also capable of creating different forms of representation.

Github: is a place for sharing opensource code, and any other kinds of files that someone else can grab.

GLAM: acronym for Galleries Libraries Archives Museums.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): “the standard markup language used to create webpages” ( Markup in this case means formatting things like links, emphasis (bold, italics), and header. See also

KML (Keyhole Markup Language)/KMZ file: XML based file format used to display geographic data. Google KML documentation:

LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python): linux is the operating system, apache is the webserver, mysql is the database, PHP/Python is the scripting language. Wikipedia

LMS (Learning Management System): is a program that facilitates course management, content and administration. Example: Blackboard

Metadata: data about data, or descriptive information about a thing. Metadata is what you read in library catalog records or museum collections management systems. Wikipedia has a list of available metadata systems. Getty provides a glossary for metadata.

NLP (Natural Language Processing): enables computers to parse information from “human language” (prose). See

OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocal for Metadata Harvesting): “is a low-barrier mechanism for repository interoperability. Data Providers are repositories that expose structured metadata via OAI-PMH. Service Providers then make OAI-PMH service requests to harvest that metadata. OAI-PMH is a set of six verbs or services that are invoked within HTTP.”

OCR (Optical Character Recognition): conversion of images (photographs, scans) to machine/computer readable text.

Omeka: open source content management system (see above) which uses an item (object/image/document) as the primary piece (as opposed to WordPress, which uses the post.

programming languages: used to write the programs, functions, and algorithms that provide the background functionality of websites and software. For example, Python, R, Ruby, C++, and many, many more.

public history: “public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.  In this sense, it is history that is applied to real-world issues. In fact, applied history was a term used synonymously and interchangeably with public history for a number of years.  Although public history has gained ascendance in recent years as the preferred nomenclature especially in the academic world, applied history probably remains the more intuitive and self-defining term.”

RDF (Resource Description Framework): originally built as a metadata model, RDF is machine-readable and often used with web resources

Responsive: “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors)”

slug: (in omeka) the last part of the url for a page (exhibit page, simple page, blog post). So in the slug is operasinger.

smoothing: from Wikipedia, “attempts to capture important patterns in the data, while leaving out noise or other fine-scale structures/rapid phenomena.”

SQL (Structured Query Language): most widely used programming language for relational databases. For instance, when you create a WordPress post, the content is stored in a database, which is created and accessed using SQL. (from Wikipedia:

Structured Data: Data that follows a system of organization that makes it easier for the computer to manipulate it. example: XML files, databases.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic): xml based vector image. These can be edited in some image editing programs, like Adobe Illustrator, and then exported for use on the web.

TMS (The Museum System): a collection management system for creating and managing metadata offered by GallerySystems

Unstructured Data: Free-form files with information that needs to be discovered and organized to be usable. example: PDF, webpages, .doc files.

XML (EXtensible Markup Language): A file format to describe, transport, and store data/information. W3schools on the difference between XML and HTML:

Vaporware: hardware or software which is proposed, announced, and never actually exists.

Web hosting service: there are numerous ways to publish content to the internet. Most of the websites you visit or create will use one the following types:

  1. Free web hosting service: offered by different companies with limited services, sometimes supported by advertisements, and often limited when compared to paid hosting. For example, offers free blogs with limited capabilities.
  2. Managed hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it; however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. For example, bluehost offers server space where users can install their own management systems and publish content.

The difference is important: free WordPress blogs are limited, but easy to use. Access to your own server space is flexible and capable, but requires payment and more skill to manage.

WYSIWYG: “What You See Is What You Get” editors provide a toolbar at the top of the text box that allows you to change the formatting of the content. They provide an alternative to tag- and code-based formatting.