From the report:
In October 2018, I participated in the WMQ-UCI Digital Research in Early America workshop hosted by Sharon Block and Josh Piker at University of California-Irvine. This post aims to give those who weren’t able to attend an idea of the conversations and common themes of the new scholarship presented. Most broadly, the workshop was a productive forum to think about what we as historians are able to know about the past and how we work around those limits, digitally or traditionally.
Many of the projects featured at the two-day event examine well-known archival materials in new ways to interrogate their limits and their potentials, and examine archival silences in historiographically significant ways.
From the report:
The following list was compiled out of the Symposium for Indigenous New Media (#SINM18), which was held as part of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in June, 2018. We welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments below.
- Be a good relation
- building meaningful relationships with community and individuals.
- It requires time and emotional labour that needs to be recognized by department heads and tenure committees
- Reaching out, being in touch, giving people the opportunity to comment on drafts and final reports.
- People over tools: it means letting a project go often times it means rethinking your research schedule—no matter how mind-blowing and useful the tool you have designed might be.
The 19th century saw something of an explosion in periodicals. For example, the number of newspapers in Britain alone leapt from 550 in 1846 to more than 2,400 just 60 years later. For humanities scholars, tracking information in such a huge mass of publications poses a daunting challenge.
Digital humanities efforts have made some headway in creating tools that allow scholars to search across all of that text. But the challenge becomes significantly more complex when trying to make sense of the thousands of images also found in newspapers of the period.
This is where Paul Fyfe and Qian Ge come in. Fyfe is an associate professor of English at NC State, where Qian Ge is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering. Together, they have done some exploratory work on how computer vision might be used in the context of analyzing 19th century newspapers.
A paper describing their findings, “Image Analytics and the Nineteenth-Century Illustrated Newspaper,” was published in October in the Journal of Cultural Analytics.
We recently had the chance to pick Fyfe’s brain to learn more about what this unlikely duo learned while attempting to analyze more than 140,000 images from three period newspapers.
The Abstract: What research questions or challenges were you setting out to address with this project?
Paul Fyfe: Our first question was pretty simple: could you even use computer vision approaches to analyze these historical materials? As we discovered, many image analytics tools are intended for photographs. This makes sense, as digital images have proliferated. But the majority of our materials are not photographs. They are engravings made from carved lines and hatches. Can a computer recognize and sort this stuff? And if so, how?
On its release in 2004, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was called “the greatest book ever” and “a more enthralling read than all the novels ever entered for the Booker Prize put together.”The tabloid The Daily Mail, where these giddy pronouncements appeared, is not known for understatement, but more cautious academic researchers have long held the ODNB in similarly high esteem. Stefan Collini, writing in the London Review of Books, found himself “experiencing a rare, and wholly unironic, feeling that mixes pride and humility with a dash of wonder” when he considered “generations to come making use of this vast consolidation of scholarly accuracy for purposes of their own which may be barely imaginable to us now.” Taking into account both the hardbound version and what most assume is its digital doppelgänger at oxforddnb.com, Noel Malcolm in The Sunday Telegraph called the ODNB “an astonishing piece of work: a colossal, beautiful, fully functional and utterly user-friendly engine of enlightenment.” Reviewers’ initial responses—awe and astonishment—have, until recently, arguably been the responses most appropriate to the ODNB considered in its entirety. The enormous scope of ODNB, which is the work of roughly 10,000 scholars, runs to 60 volumes in print, and is made up of more than 62 million words, quickly defeats the capacities of even those most eager to praise it.
Awe and astonishment have been the most reasonable scholarly responses to the ODNB, that is, until the new possibilities afforded by several key fields that, in combination, form a critical engine suitable for this “engine of enlightenment.” In what follows, I combine insights from information history, digital history, sociology of knowledge, media archeology, history of archives, distant reading, and data visualization to gain further purchase on the ODNB. These fields—which for shorthand I’ll call “digital humanities”—mitigate some of the challenges of studying the ODNB as such. As another early reviewer complained, “If you were to read one life in the new DNB every day you would take 137 years to finish it. So reviewing it is like exploring a continent by rowing boat.” However, the reasons to dedicate critical and computational power to study the ODNB in this way are not limited to the slightly imperialist-sounding work of “exploring a continent.” As former ODNB Senior Research and Publication editor Philip Carter has argued, we now have “the ability to use national biographies both as written collections and as data to make connections and trace patterns that could not be identified without the existence of collective biography in digital form.” Some historical trends and latent ideologies, in other words, only become visible by reading historiography at scale.
From the CFP:
We seek manuscripts that include a novel analysis of data and meaningfully engage with theory on marginalization. We follow Linabary and Corple’s (2018) call to “study up” – start research from the lived experience of such groups for understanding. “Meaningful engagement” includes (but is not limited to): emphasizing the links between marginalization theory and communication research; testing the validity of communication theory not typically applied to marginalized populations; proposing new theoretical constructs that are relevant to marginalization in digital communication; and/or recognizing the need for theoretically interdisciplinary approaches to marginalization in communication. We also welcome manuscripts that engage with methodological approaches to marginality and social media (e.g., Brock, 2016; Linabary and Corple, 2018), as these are important building blocks for successful and ethical research.
From the resource:
In the mapping workshops that we offer, a recurrent question refers to where to get the data. Every time students attend one of these workshops, all the datasets are given to them, so it is understandable that many might wonder where the instructors get this information from. This is what inspired us to develop a new workshop this semester, Finding Data for Mapping: Tips and Tricks. But since not everyone could be present for the workshop on October 3, I’m taking the opportunity now to share a few of the tips and tricks we discussed to find data to make maps for your academic or pedagogic work. In a way, this will be a “prequel” (since they’re so popular nowadays) and a complement to the Intro to Mapping using QGIS post of a few years back.
From the ad:
The Data Science Institute (DSI) at Vanderbilt University invites applications for its first cohort of DSI postdoctoral fellows. Fellows will be expected to carry out an independent research program in collaboration with one or more faculty mentors who are affiliated with the DSI. Fellows will come from a diverse range of backgrounds and domains, but their work will generally fall into one of three categories: (1) foundational data science – i.e., the development of data science methods, (2) the application of data science to one or more fields in the physical, life and social sciences, engineering, or humanities (3) the study of the impact of data on society and its institutions. Fellows will be expected to interact with each other and with students, faculty and researchers affiliated with the DSI, and to contribute to the vibrant culture of the DSI.
“Learn from the Past, Organize the Future, Make Democracy Work.” This is the mission statement that greets visitors at the SNCC Digital Gateway—a wide-ranging, collaborative website that documents and animates the history of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Founded in April 1960 under the guidance of veteran activist Ella Baker, SNCC became a leading civil rights organization due to countless young organizers who engaged in voter registration, political education, and direct action. The SNCC Digital Gateway chronicles the rise of the organization, as well as its major protests, local leaders, and evolving ideological framework. The site offers an unparalleled look into SNCC’s ideological and organizational history and is a brilliant model of democratic, digital engagement.Learning from the Past
At its founding, SNCC organizers looked to previous leaders, organizers, and organizations to formulate their activist strategies. The Digital Gateway offers the opportunity for visitors to do the same by familiarizing guests with the people, places, and events that comprised SNCC. When guests visit the “People” section, they will learn more about the mentors, organizers, and administrators that helped create and sustain SNCC. The site creators foreground the work of well-known organizers such as Bernice Johnson Reagon, but they also detail the work of lesser-known activists like Annette Jones. Perhaps most impressive is the list of Freedom Summer Volunteers who took part in the historic 10-week program in 1964. Freedom Summer brought student volunteers to Mississippi to engage in widespread Black voter registration, develop freedom schools, and support political and civic literacy. The sheer number of names and organizations compiled attest to the enormity of the project and how young people fundamentally changed the definition and scope of democratic engagement in the late twentieth century.
Visitors can ideologically, visually, and audibly contextualize individual activists via the “Timeline” section of the site. In this section, site collaborators divided SNCC’s history into five periods in order to highlight the different organizational and ideological phases of the group. The timeline begins with “SNCC Origins and Founding,” which spans from 1943 to 1960. It then progresses through “Direct Action to Voter Registration” (1960-1962) to detail SNCC’s turn to Freedom Parties (1962-1965), and eventually, Black Power (1965-1969). The creators conclude the timeline with the “1968-Present” section. Here, the authors show how former SNCC workers still collaborate with the movement—most notably by endorsing the Movement for Black Lives platform in 2016.
In a previous post, we explored how using language models and the idea of “perplexity” can allow us to study stereotypes in movie character roles using their dialogue as a basis. We examined a corpus of 750 Hollywood films, released between 1970 and 2014, and tried to model assumptions from the research that people of colour are more often criminalized or depicted in criminal roles than white actors.
In this post, we want to discuss how entropy, and information theory, can also be a useful approach to this kind of research. It is a measure of how “surprising” an event is (i.e., how much “information” it carries), based on the probability of that event occurring – the less probable, the more surprising. In the previous post, we used a crime language model, built from crime TV shows, to approximate film character dialogue (not limited to any genre). A perplexity score, measuring how surprising the new dialogue was, told us how different the dialogue was from the model.
In coming up with potential models to explore the feature of the “criminality” of a role, we discovered a huge flaw in this kind of research: creating a model for stereotyping presupposes an existing stereotype that you, the researcher, have to define. In an effort to call attention to pigeonholing and tokenism, your own biases, however subconscious, will undoubtedly come forward.
One method to circumvent this is to get rid of a particular (and potentially subjective) language model and search for more general linguistic variability between groups. Forget any model or any expectation of how these groups would sound, and ask, how similar do the groups sound to each other?
So, we tried a new approach. Sticking with information theory and the idea of surprisal, we turned to Kullback-Leibler divergence (KLD), or relative entropy. Instead of building a model to which the dialogue will be compared, the dialogue of one group will serve as the the model to approximate the dialogue of another. KLD, then, is valuable because of the asymmetry it offers. Corpus A serves as the model for Corpus B, and we get a surprisal score, telling us how well Corpus B predicts the words that we find in Corpus A. Then we go the other way, seeing how well Corpus A predicts the words we find in Corpus B. These two directions will not necessarily yield the same result, because one corpus could be far more varied than the other, but include all of the same words that the other has.
From the report:
The CLiC web app has revolutionised the way I am able to analyse Dickens’s novels. I have only discussed a basic function of the CLiC web app, but my aim was to show how even the basic functions have allowed me to be more specific with my analysis of the text. Phrases such as “Dickens repeatedly uses…” have been replaced with a reference to the exact number of times a word or phrase appears and where it is most prevalent. As a result, I am confident that when I claim a particular phrase is important, I have the tools necessary to fully support my claim.
From the report:
Algorithms are all around us, utilizing massive stores of data and complex analytics to make decisions with often significant impacts on humans. They recommend books and movies for us to read and watch, surface news stories they think we might find relevant, estimate the likelihood that a tumor is cancerous and predict whether someone might be a criminal or a worthwhile credit risk. But despite the growing presence of algorithms in many aspects of daily life, a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the public is frequently skeptical of these tools when used in various real-life situations.
Source: Read the full report here.
From the ad:
The Department of Communication Studies at Kutztown University invites applications for a tenure track Assistant Professor to join our new and expanding Social Media Theory and Strategy (SMS) program beginning August 2019. The SMS houses both an undergraduate major and a minor. Courses taught may include: Introduction to Social Media Theory and Strategy; Social Media Ethics; and Social Media Analytics. We are particularly interested in applicants who have experience working with diverse populations and who can teach and create new courses, as well as publish, in areas such as, but not limited to: data analytics, digital humanities, platform studies, critical code studies, social media marketing, and user experience research.
Source: Read the full ad here.
From the CFP:
Proposals are now being accepted for presentations and exhibition pieces at the annual Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Media Arts Festival, to be held July 15-17, 2019 at University College Cork, Ireland. Electronic literature, or e-lit, refers to literary works wherein computation forms some essential part of the aesthetic. #ELO19 offers an opportunity to share research and creative contributions within an engaging, collegial atmosphere comprising e-lit scholars and practitioners from across the globe.
The theme for this year’s ELO gathering is “peripheries”: delegates are invited to explore the edges of literary and digital culture, including emerging traditions, indeterminate structures and processes, fringe communities of praxis, effaced forms and genres, marginalised bodies, and perceptual failings… The deadline for submissions is December 21st, 11pm GMT.
Gilles Deleuze has written that movement is a translation in space. In this talk I use this distinction as a framework for critical reflection on engaging how past agents marginalized in history have influenced the meaning of space and place. My focus will center on enslaved people who liberated themselves from bondage in the Great Dismal Swamp borderlands area of Virginia and North Carolina. Throughout this talk I will discuss how geospatial analysis has broadened the ways I approach enslaved movement in cartographies of struggle by pointing out the literal and figurative connections to space that enslaved people recognized in their journeys toward making freedom. The human costs associated with running away like distance, navigational literacy, and access to shelter and food are all weighed in this conversation. Ultimately the goal of this talk is to expand our understanding of how geospatial processes intervene with investigations into slavery and freedom and inform how enslaved movement translates spaces of the past.
From the ad:
At least an MA or MSc required (Ph.D. or doctoral degree preferred) in professional/technical writing/communication, digital humanities, rhetoric and composition, or a related discipline with one or more of the following areas of teaching/research specialization: professional and practical communication skills within the disciplines of Business Administration, Health Sciences, Computer Science, and other STEM disciplines; integrated reading and writing; professional editing and publishing; social media management; digital storytelling; digital humanities; computer-mediated collaboration; web and interaction design; and/or usability studies, user experience, and/or information design.
About the resource:
Your team has completed a fantastic project and you’re considering submitting it for an award but are unsure of how to do so. In this episode I talk about award nominations, building a project portfolio to support a nomination, and how to build compelling award narratives.
I would love to hear your suggestions for writing successful award nominations. Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.
From the ad:
The Clinical Assistant Professor is expected to teach undergraduate courses with an emphasis on creative and critical web design and development, interactive design, scripting, front-end development, information architecture and user experience; aid in the management and development of lab spaces; be an active part of the Digital Technology and Culture Program (DTC) core faculty; and engage in creative production and/or conduct scholarly research leading to publication in areas of expertise. The successful candidate will teach core courses in DTC along with specific course in the Interactive Technologies and Development option which explore the principles of web design, coding, information architecture, and usability in a global cultural context.
From the report:
The NULab and DSG began the new academic year welcoming Dr. Monica Martinez, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Public Humanities Faculty Fellow at Brown University, as the keynote speaker at Northeastern’s Digital Scholarship Fall Welcome. In her talk, “Lives are Not Metadata: Recovering Histories in Texas,” Martinez explored her work recovering lost histories of racial violence along the Texas-Mexico border in the early twentieth century, working to create digital and physical markers for these omissions in public history and knowledge. In discussing the growth of this project, Martinez framed her work on the significance and ethics of representation in light of our current immigration crisis: how did we get here?
About the funding:
We are now taking applications for tuition grants to the 2019 Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in Victoria, B.C.!
The Digital Humanities Summer Institute has grown by leaps and bounds, and we are excited to connect our DLF-DHSI Tuition Grant recipients with its extensive offerings in the summer of 2019. (June 3-7 and 10-14)
…The award will cover tuition only, and is only available to participants from DLF member institutions. (Check your eligibility.) Applicants or their employers are responsible for the costs of travel and lodging, and winners must register by April 1st in order to use the award.
From the ad:
The University of Michigan’s Department of African and African American Studies and Digital Studies Institute (pending Regents approval) seek qualified applicants for a jointly-appointed tenure-track assistant professor in black digital studies. We seek an interdisciplinary scholar with research interests and teaching experience in black digital cultural studies. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated an ability to implement a multidisciplinary approach rooted in critical digital studies. Areas of specialization such as the black digital humanities, video game studies, Afrofuturism, and black social media are welcome. The search committee will consider candidates who focus on any area within African and African Diaspora Studies as well as comparative and transnational frameworks. The successful candidate will have teaching interests centered on helping students understand the aesthetic practices, social impact, and cultural use of digital technologies on Black social life.