Archive for the ‘Session Proposals’ Category

  • Knowing the Audience


    In line with a couple of other posts, I’d love to have a discussion about the audience for digital humanities projects. Do we have any obligations in terms of who we create these for? What are the expectations of them? How can we widen the scope of who is being reached? It’s exciting to think that tools are being created that can be used for instruction in the classroom, to advance scholarly work, and to create communities; I wonder how to balance all these different roles within one project. Or should they be created with one goal in mind? It’d be great to hear first-hand from those who develop projects to see how these considerations are evaluated and used to shape projects. I’d also love to hear what others think about the different environments generating this work. As a student newly entranced by the excitement of digital humanities, I’m still a little unsure of the lay of the land. Perhaps we could talk about the different ways and places from which this work can be happened upon.

  • Mine your own business


    Yesterday afternoon, Brad Pasanek and I decided to play at text-mining. We started working with MALLET and this GUI tool but were soon lost in the mine, buried in code, with nary a respirating canary, shafted.

    Our proposal includes two potential approaches:

    (1) a session could look at how a scholar might begin to use topic modeling in the humanities. What do those of us with limited technical nous need to know in order to begin this type of work? We imagine a walk-through, cooking-show-like presentation that goes from A (here are some texts) to B (here is a visualization). Between A and B there are many difficult and perilous interactions with shell scripts, MALLET extrusions, statistics, spread sheets, and graphing tools. While we two are probably not capable of getting from A to B with elegance, flailing about in a group, roughing out a work flow, getting advice from sundry THATCampers, and making time for questions would be generally instructive—or so we submit.

    (2) An alternative approach assumes some basic success with topic-modeling, and focuses instead on working with the cooked results. How can my-mine-mein data (we would bring something to the session and invite others to do the same) be interpreted, processed, and visualised? This secondary concern may even be included in the visualization session that has already been proposed.

    Both bits assume a willingness to wield the MALLET and do some topic modeling. We aim primarily at a how-to and hack-and-help, and not a discussion of the pros and cons of topic modeling or text-mining in general.

  • Public humanities and the digital humanities


    Hailing as I originally do from the museum and library world, I have a particular interest in the more outward-facing aspects of the humanities–and in the digital humanities, the aspects of the field that might particularly be considered “public” or “open.”  I’d love to get into a conversation about this stuff.  Maybe we can take a look at how audiences are examined in digital projects, or talk about the degree to which digital humanities projects are (or aren’t) by their very nature forms of public scholarship.  What makes a scholarly effort “public” in the first place, and is there anything particular to digital work that supports or undermines that idea?  Maybe we can talk about crowdsourcing and its role in digital research and scholarship.  In short, if the phrase “public humanities” catches your attention, I’d love to chat.

  • Tools for Curation and Exhibition of Digital Archives and Scholarly Editions


    I’m interested in learning about various resources for the curation and exhibition of digital archives and scholarly editions with extensive critical apparatus. While I have my own project I’m looking to start this summer, which I describe below, I’m interested in general discussion of what’s available, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they play with other online resources.

    In particular, I’m looking to create an electronic edition of the 100-page travel journal and accompanying 200 photographs Walter J. Ong kept during the three years he spent traveling throughout Europe doing research his dissertation, which he published as Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue and The Ramus and Talon Inventory. As these three years were formative for Ong’s academic career (the people he met, a series of lectures he gave in France on behalf of the US State Department, insights he had, and the connections he maintained via correspondence) I’d like to use this route book as a framework for presenting and contextualizing the thousands of pages of material in the Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection dating to this period.

    Saint Louis University’s Archives currently use Content dm to host digital materials and early on when I was helping process the Collection, we created a web site to make some select items available. I’m finally starting to think of this project seriously and I’m assuming I want something more flexible and elegant than Content dm. Based upon my preliminary searching, I’m assuming Omeka may be the best resource for my needs.

  • Distributed Scholarly Collaboration


    Now that I’m out of the application woods, I’d love to have a conversation about the more difficult DH task I’ve been working on: how to form, organize, and motivate distributed scholarly platforms, like the one I’m contemplating under the “Modernist Letters Project.”  I think building the infrastructure for quicker, more transparent, open-source scholarly knowledge creation  and review will be one of the major projects for the next decade, as it has already been in the case of NINES.  And I tend to think that the new platforms that are successful will be both field and object-specific (thus, in my field, the Modernist Journals Project, now Modernist Versions Project, etc.).

    I’ll work through today referencing and organizing this problem, but it seems to me that first of all this should be approached by examining the following questions: I’d appreciate others’ thoughts about this, or sources to look at.

    A. What has worked (NINES, Whitman Archive) and why?

    B.  What hasn’t been successful?

    C.  What sorts of contracts for collaboration are most succesful? What organizational structures, forms? (I know Lynn Siemens has written a good deal on this.)

    D. How does the work get incentivized?  How credited?  What are good models for developing pedagogical units, etc (an interest of one of my collaborators)?

    E. How do we include the non-digital (native) scholars in the field?  What sorts of  ongoing mechanisms for peer-review could be included?

    I’ll come back and reference this a bit later, as well, once I’ve gone through some of the available material.  Folks interested in participating in the Modernist Letters Project are particularly welcome to get involved here, of course.

  • Would you like fries with that?


    No, I’m not talking about employment and DH or #alt-ac anything like that… I’m picking up a conversation that Tom Scheinfeldt addresses in his blog post “Where’s the Beef? Does Digital Humanities Have to Answer Questions?” The post, republished in Debates in the Digital Humanities, equates DH to the role Robert Hooke played for 40 years until his death in 1703. As someone whose job it was “to prepare public demonstrations of scientific phenomena for the fellows’ meetings,” Hooke demonstrated scientific curiosities that at first had no apparent purpose. Answers did come, eventually, but not until the 18th and 19th centuries.

    I raise this in light of what many of us will be doing in the workshops (and having read about research other THATCampVAers have discussed–GIS, sound, image modeling, etc–as well as my own work with visualizations) and I wonder if at some point we all don’t address a similar question: “What do visualizations in the humanities really do?” Are we at a point where we could argue that visualizations produce “new” knowledge? I am coming at these questions from two perspectives. First, as someone who uses visualizations to explain ways to reconsider the structural underpinnings of a particular genre of poetry. Readers’ expectations of digitally enabled visualizations are often that they should “tell us something new.” And yet, most visualizations don’t–not yet, anyway. Most tell us what we already know, differently.  Secondly, I work in a disciplinary area intimately concerned with the historical tensions between meaning-making in spatial and temporal forms of representation. Western thought creates a binary relationship between images and words, and images are frequently viewed with suspicion. How do we know what they say? For this reason, images on their own aren’t really considered “scholarship.” That’s something that might change, but hasn’t yet. However, as we make spatial arguments to address humanities questions, what role can we see visualizations having in the changing climate of scholarly conversation/publication?

    So, I guess what I’m saying (rather circuitously) is that I’d like to have a session in which we think through what visualizations in humanities do. Considered in conjunction with the workshops and the “show and tell” sesson on Saturday afternoon, I’m interesting in thinking about: What are visual analyses? What can we reasonably assert is their value now and their potential value? What is the value in displaying humanities data if it doesn’t tell us something we don’t already know? Are visualizations the “fries” to the DH burger, or are they a meal of their own? (Ok, I’ve extended that metaphor *way* too far… and now I’m hungry.)

    Looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend!

  • three thoughts


    I have three ideas for sessions this year — and will also be keeping one eye on this guy:

    Pinterest Wunderkammer: For years, I’ve fantasized about creating the perfect interface for a digital humanities cabinet of wonders, but never had time to follow through. Have they beaten me to it? I didn’t pay much attention to Pinterest at first, but then started to see some startling collections. I especially find the temporal dimension fascinating: if you follow this woman’s feed, you can watch her move through varying aesthetic obsessions over time — coherent washes of color, for instance, even across diverse assemblages. So it’s fluid, performative collection-building — or beautifully diachronic fixing. There’s plenty to read about Wunderkammern, but I’d like to have a conversation with some immediate implications for building.

    Quantified Self: At past THATCamps, I’ve co-hosted workshops and conversations on physical computing (especially wearables). I also started a Zotero group for research and inspiration on soft circuits. Now I’m getting interested in the “quantified self” movement (see Wolfram for an extreme example) and am thinking about melding the two. My FitBit has an API. My phone knows where I’ve been. Anybody else interested in the intersection of DH, quantified self, and physical computing?

    Rethinking the Graduate “Methods” Course: I wrote this thing. Now I’m hosting these conversations and running this program. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how well qualified lots of these people are to help train the next generation of humanities faculty and knowledge workers. Wanna talk about it?

  • HTML and CSS Crash Course


    If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to organize a session introducing basic HTML and CSS. All you’d need to participate in this is a laptop with a good ol’ text editor and a browser. We can cover basic HTML markup and CSS syntax, and maybe end with some presentation/discussion of resources for going further.

    If it turns out there isn’t enough time or space to do this, but folks are interested in it, we could always find time to talk in between sessions, or after the event.


  • Proposed session: iBooks author


    I’m proposing a session to work on figuring out / optimizing the use of / discovering an excellent purpose for the iBooks author app.

    With my research assistant Lauren Burr, who has been moving all my teaching materials for the Multimedia course at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute from HTML to iBook e-textbook format, I’ve been trying to explore the potentials and the limitations of this publishing and editing format. There’s been some hiccups and some learning along the way, as well as some bug fixes from Apple.

    So, I have a half-done textbook I can share around for us to play with, a real project that has hit some real obstacles, or we can all work on our own stuff together, or we can argue about proprietary formats and iDevices, too. I think it would be really fun to put this app through its paces in a non-hypothetical situation with lots of media (I’ve got galleries and movies and podcasts and such all through my book).

    You’ll need a Mac with the (free) iBooks Author app installed, and an iPad to preview the e-book on.

  • Design and User Experience for DH Projects


    One of the things I love most about digital humanities projects is the opportunity to make more concerted decisions about the design of the project, and how people use or experience that project. It’s important to consider how the design of a DH project, be it a collection of artifact, and online exhibit, or some work of digital scholarship, impacts the project’s overall argument or contribution to the field. This opportunity is of course also followed by uncertainty about how best to approach the issues of design for DH work.

    I’m curious if others are interested in exploring this topic in discussion, maybe better articulating the issues we face in dealing with design and user experience for whatever digital humanities projects folks are working on.

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