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Conference: Electronic Literature Organization 2020 – Virtual

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 13:00

From the announcement:

Given the public health concerns and travel restrictions imposed by many universities, we are moving to a fully virtual event for this year. There are various models for this type of conference, but given our highly international community, our approach will combine synchronous and asynchronous events, with an emphasis on openness and access.

Read the full announcement here.

Resource: Poetry Mobile Apps

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:30

From the resource:

Since the introduction of smartphones and tablet computers in the early 2010s, a huge range of digital books, e-literature, and literary games have been developed to explore the possibilities of this technology for literature. Projects like Ambient Literature and the work of Editions at Play have explored how mobile technology can transform story-telling and narrative, and similarly my project looks at how this technology can create new experiences of poetic texts.

Below are a few examples of poetry apps released over the past decade. For accessibility reasons, this selection has been limited to apps that can be used anywhere and are free to download. Some of them present work written with the mobile device in mind, while others take existing print work and re-mediate it for the mobile touchscreen.

Read the full resource here.

Editors’ Choice: Intentional Technology for Remote Teaching and Learning

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:00

Last month, I gave a talk about my new book, Intentional Tech, at the University of Waterloo. The night before my talk, I dreamed about the talk, as I often do. Usually in these dreams, I go over every bit of the planned talk and worry whether or not I should include it. It’s not quite a nightmare, but it’s also not restful sleep. I’ve accepted it as part of who I am.

This time, however, there was an extra layer of stress. In my dream, I found out that Waterloo had decided to move all of their courses online in response to the coronavirus pandemic  and so my dreamself went over my planned talk, deciding what teaching principles and examples of practice from the talk would be relevant to fully online courses. This is what my brain was doing to me in early March 2020.

Now, of course, pretty much all of higher education in Canada and the US has “pivoted” online, allowing faculty, staff, and students to practice social distancing while continuing the educational enterprise. My institution made the pivot the week after spring break, first cancelling classes for four days, then restarting classes using alternative, online instruction. As I write this, we have finished our third week of remote teaching and learning.

My teaching center’s initial efforts to support our instructors in this pivot focused on tools that would help faculty to continue doing online what they had been doing in person, including screencasting and video conferencing tools. We knew that faculty wouldn’t have time to rethink their entire course design for online learning, so we provided resources around teaching continuity. You can see that in some of the resources we generated in short order to share with faculty and other instructors.

Three weeks in, however, we’re starting to see more faculty interested in other models for online teaching. Many faculty are learning into their Zoom sessions with students, but they’re aware that synchronous video options can be challenging for some students, given computer and internet access issues, time zone differences, displacement, and family care responsibilities. This is motivating them to take different approaches to online teaching, leveraging more asynchronous learning activities and low-bandwidth technologies.


Read the full post here.

Editors’ Choice: What Versus How – Teaching Digital Humanities After COVID-19

Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:00

It will take a very long time for us to fully understand the long-term impact of the current COVID-19 crisis, and all the horrors it has bought to the world. By “us” I mean Higher Education, but of course this applies globally. Last month, in the space of a week many universities (including of course my own)  underwent the kinds of changes that would normally take five years or more to effect; and it is unclear when any kind of “normality”, as visible in the familiar processes of face to face Higher Education, will return. Given the great dependence of the global HE sector on academic and student mobility, and (some argue), the generally disorganized nature of many Western governments’ initial responses to suppressing the outbreak, some predictions estimate that it may be March 2021, or even later in Western Europe, before such normality can resume.

As the next academic year approaches – and its potential timing is discussed – we need to consider online teaching as a matter of resilience. After all proto-Internet itself emerged in the 1960s and 1970s partly as a response to the shadow of Cold War, providing a means of channelling executive command decisions through “distributed networks” which could survive nuclear attack. Given that COVID-19 and/or other pandemics may well recur, we have responsibility to our students, and each other, to consider how we might weather such storms in the future.

More importantly though, it is a matter of pedagogy. One thing to say at the start, which is extremely obvious within the DH community, but which still perhaps needs re-stating, is that moving teaching normally done face to face online at a time of emergency is not the same thing as online pedagogy, never mind good online pedagogy. No one – academics, students, management – should expect it to be. Once this fundamental truth is acknowledged, there opens up a range of important and self-reflective questions that DH as a field needs to ask about what good online pedagogy is. This post attempts to pose – if not answer – some of these questions.

Read the full post here.

Announcement: Happy 404 Day! 

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 13:00

From the announcement:

Saturday is April 4th (4/04), and here at the Internet Archive we’re marking a new holiday: 404 Day! We’re using this date to celebrate the work that’s being done to end the dreaded 404 error, record changing webpages, and preserve the internet for all to enjoy. We spoke with Gary Price—librarian, editor of InfoDocket, and a prolific user of the Wayback Machine—about why web archiving is important and how ordinary people can fight back against “link rot.”

Read the full announcement here.

Resource: Historical Reminiscents Podcast – Organizing Blog Theme Weeks

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:30

About the resource:

In today’s episode I reflect on the work that goes into organizing blog theme weeks or thematic digital series. I talk about my experiences pulling together theme weeks and provide a roadmap for those interested in organizing one.

Find the full resource here.

Report: A Handbook for Designing and Evaluating Grant-Funded Positions

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:00

About the report:

Our handbook, Collective Equity: A Handbook for Designing and Evaluating Grant-Funded Positions (PDF) was produced as the second outcome of the Labor Forum. Building from our white paper and conversations at the second forum, the initial two documents in the handbook are concrete recommendations for changed practice.

The handbook and individual PDF downloads of the recommendations can also be found at We anticipate expanding these recommendations into a broader toolkit which gathers additional resources developed by the community.

Read the full report here.

Report: CS for What?

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:30

From the report:

Why should students learn computer science? For creativity? Jobs? Justice? Innovation? The answers to this question shape what computer science education (CSed) looks like in practice. A new CSforALL publication explores how the rationales, values, and intended impacts people have for CSEd are linked to their choices for design and implementation of learning experiences.

Read the full report here.

Editors’ Choice: The Bluestocking Corpus – Letters by Elizabeth Montagu, 1730s-1780s

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:00

This post for Women’s History Month 2020 explores the Bluestocking Corpus of Elizabeth Montagu’s letters, created by Anni Sairio.*

This first version of the Bluestocking Corpus consists of 243 manuscript letters, written by the ‘Queen of the Blues’ Elizabeth Montagu between the 1730s and the 1780s. Elizabeth Montagu (née Robinson, 1718-1800) was one of the key figures of the learning-oriented Bluestocking Circle in eighteenth-century England. She was a literary hostess, coal mine owner and patron of arts who published a popular essay in defense of Shakespeare against Voltaire’s criticism. In its current form the corpus contains 183,000 words

A warning: I know virtually nothing about Elizabeth or her circle, so everything that follows is likely to be a) obvious or worse b) infuriatingly stupid and wrong to better-informed researchers. But I wanted to take a look at the data Anni has so generously created and made available, and show some of the things that could be done with it.**

* The Bluestocking Corpus: Private Correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu, 1730s-1780s. First version. Edited by Anni Sairio, XML encoding by Ville Marttila. Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki. 2017. 28 March 2020.

** Much of the post is based on examples that can be found in the invaluable Text Mining with R by Julia Silge and David Robinson.


There are 243 letters in the corpus, and 21 different recipients. I’ve extracted metadata from the marked-up letters, as well as a set of plain text versions for textmining.

Most letters were sent during the 1760s but the numbers are very variable from one year to the next. (This excludes 19 undated letters.)

There are some substantial differences between letters sent to women and to men. While there were 10 female and 11 male correspondents, Elizabeth sent 178 letters to women (ave 17.8 per recipient) and only 65 to men (5.9 per recipient). On average, letters to women were also longer (mean 705.5 words per letter cf. 675.3 for men; median 632.5 for women and 572.0 for men).

A further gendered difference can also be found in the type of correspondents (as tagged by Anni), notably the different balance of letters sent to family or friends.


Read the full post here.

Resource: British History Online makes all research content free to individual users

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 13:00

About the resource:

From 30 March, all transcribed content on BHO is now freely available to individual users, and will remain so until 31 July 2020. This post describes what’s included in this move.

British History Online (BHO) is a digital collection of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, and the British world, with a special focus on the period 1300 to 1800. The BHO collection includes over 1,280 volumes of primary content and secondary sources.

Most of this content (over 1000 volumes or c.80% of the total) is always available free to use by anyone, anywhere with access to the BHO site. In addition, we offer several subscription packages—for individual users and institutions—that provide access to a further 200 volumes of primary research content.

Read more here.

Report: Digital Humanities Japan – Building Community and Sharing Resources

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 12:30

From the report:

In 2016, “The Impact of the Digital in Japanese Studies” workshop met at the University of Chicago for the first time. This gathering brought together Japan Studies researchers with different projects and needs who engaged (or were looking to engage) with digital methods. We discussed a wide variety of undertakings: creating pattern recognition software for teaching classical poetry, tackling analysis of political speeches, the barriers faced when making data requests of copyrighted Japanese materials, the ethics of data extraction, and more…

As an outgrowth of subsequent events and discussions, several participants from the original workshop are now collaborating on the Digital Humanities Japan initiative, an international and interdisciplinary community for anyone interested in working with digital methods, tools, and resources in connection with Japan Studies. Although DH Japan is just starting out as a platform to foster cooperation, dialogues, and events, we have begun creating a variety of resources to promote digitally-inflected work in the Japan community.

Read the full report here.

Editors’ Choice: Re-entangling Science and Technology

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 12:00

Technoscience is a term I’ve used occasionally on this site, particularly in reference to the kinds of knowledge represented in tech trees, though without delving too deeply into its implications. As noted in the preceding article, the model of science and technology as two complementary and inexorably linked pieces of the military-industrial complex does a poor job of representing actual scientific and technological developments prior to the twentieth century. Technoscience, then, according to Donna Haraway (1997), is a “mutation in historical narrative.” For Haraway, the concept of technoscience underscores the implosion of the supposedly stable categories that structure the modern world. Technoscience rejects modernity’s rigid distinctions between the scientific and the social, the technical and the political.

Other scholars have further developed the concept of technoscience. Karen Barad (2007) notes that human practices are not the only ones that matter in technoscientific networks. In order for new knowledge to be constructed, a vast infrastructure must be created both materially and rhetorically (Latour, 1987). Thus, scientific work isn’t just the actions of scientists in white lab coats. Knowledge production requires that the work of countless other non-scientists be brought into the network. It requires the work of engineers and technicians building equipment, as well as administrators and support staff securing resources. The network also must be able to enroll material elements. This includes not only basic resources and scientific instruments, but also natural phenomena as objects of study. Their inclusion isn’t trivial or guaranteed. Scientists often discover, as Barad would say, “the world kicks back” (Barad, 2007).

Just as videogames often struggle to conceptualize science and technology in nuanced ways, they also struggle to represent the intersections of science and technology which, besides just being complex, have changed drastically over the past 150 years. This is not a shortcoming of the medium. Indeed, with their ability to model complex systems for players to interact with, videogames are perhaps uniquely suited to portraying complex ideas like technoscience in a way that players can understand. Some games, of course, come closer to this aspirational goal than others. Once again, the Civilization series provides some excellent examples of both ends of the spectrum.


Read the full post here.

Editors’ Choice: A Time for Research Distancing

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 11:00

Imagine being suddenly told that you cannot research online when writing history. No electronic journals, no ebooks, no Internet Archive, no Wikipedia, no search engines. You will instead be forced to rely exclusively on available print copies of books and journals, on microfilm, and, most important of all, on archives scattered across the country and around the world. Welcome to 1970.

This summer offers historians the very opposite predicament. We lack our accustomed access to most material sources, and physical archives are utterly unavailable. Beyond what we already had on hand, what we hurriedly pulled from the library before the lockdown, or what we’re able to buy on Amazon, all that we have to make sense of the past are the digital sources on the screens in front of us. Welcome to 2020.

And that’s fine, that’s enough. The historical material produced from 2020 research will not require an asterisk any more than the material of 1970 did. Historical research is never strictly about accessing everything we need, but about accessing what we can, and stopping when time, resources, and the availability of sources tells us to.

Faculty members may feel the shock if they are in the habit of summer trips to far-flung archives. Archival work is an important rite of passage in our discipline, and doctoral students may also need to adjust their research schedules, pushing off archival visits to 2021. But more than anyone it will be Master’s students who will have to adjust their research plans the most and the fastest. Fortunately, they might also benefit from having the fewest expectations of what historical research is and must be.

Research done this summer will be different, to be sure, in three key ways. First, sources will likely be different than what was expected. Those archives exist for a reason, and they contain historical information that in many cases don’t exist anywhere else. But the same is true of online sources: they also offer information that is otherwise inaccessible, and, of course, the vast majority of newer information is born digital and only exists as such.


Read the full post here.

Resource: #Training Tuesday – Manage, Improve and Open Up Your Research Data

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 12:30

About the resource:

This week’s #TrainingTuesday highlights a module produced in the context of the H2020 PARTHENOS project on “Manage, Improve and Open Up Your Research Data”, authored by Jennifer Edmond, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities and Director of Strategic Projects in Trinity College Dublin and President of the Board of Directors for DARIAH-EU.

This module looks at emerging trends and best practice in data management, quality assessment and IPR issues. It looks at policies regarding data management and their implementation, particularly in the framework of a Research Infrastructure.

Read the full resource here.

Editors’ Choice: The Idea of a Digital-First University

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 12:00

Shifting forces in the UK Higher Education sector call for a new distinctive role for a university to enhance its prestige and intellectual endeavours – a new idea of a university. But at the present moment there is also a need to manage what appears to be a new landscape opened up by huge exogenous forces, such as the coronavirus, together with the disruption caused by digital technology. I argue that a new idea of a university should help the university to sustain and augment the existing institutional character of the university but also provide new orientations and give an impetus to a set of new long-range commitments for the university. This short post argues for the need to create a special role for a university in relation to its environment, cultural milieu and to provide a distinctive university in relation to others in the sector. Rather than retrench under the difficult conditions required in what might appear to be both an economic contraction and an education crisis the university should seize this opportunity to reassert its commitment to research and teaching and accelerate this capacity. This notion of an idea of a university drawn from a “digital-first” orientation would naturally have institutional implications in terms of the shape or pattern of the university. This proposal therefore advocates the development of the idea of a digital-intensive mission for any university that wishes to become a digital-first university.


The last major change for the universities could be said to be the shift to the modern research university in the 1800s. This grew out of the notion that research, as an experimental procedure conducted in a spirit of discovery, could form the basis of a mission for the university. This emerged in German universities in the nineteenth century and became known as the Humboldtian university. The German universities developed the notion that integrating teaching and research within the same institution could be intensified to improve both teaching and the research process. Professors increasingly began to teach methodological skills, greater analytical and theoretical knowledge and tools as part of their courses. This included a growing reliance on field-work, maps and graphs, catalogues, and lists of specialised data to explain to students’ recent scientific advances and ongoing research work. However, it was the American universities that would take these ideas and develop them by creating an ideal of combining and integrating teaching and research which resulted in the modern research university.

Read the full post here.

Editors’ Choice: a thousand little fires

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 11:00

Don’t despair, create! (Or despair, and create!)

Many of us are turning to creative outlets to keep the stresses of a global pandemic at bay. a thousand little fires is a space to share and see what we create while reconciling with self-isolation. One new creation each day.

If you’ve been knitting, making music, baking bread, writing poetry, building an elaborate aquarium, or otherwise creating anything that has brought you joy, send it over. Anonymous contributions welcome. Amateur contributions welcome. Unfinished contributions welcome. You are welcome.

Types of Contributions
  • Images. Artistic photographs, pictures of something you’ve created, artwork, etc. [png, jpg, or gif]
  • Text. Short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction, recipes, etc. [plaintext, markdown, or shared google doc]
  • Videos. Performances, animations, etc. [link to video on YouTube or other embeddable video service]
  • Audio. Music, spoken word, etc. [link to audio on SoundCloud or other embeddable audio service]
  • Interactives. Javascript visualizations, etc. [GitHub pull request]
  • Anything else we can put on a webpage. Be creative.

Read more here.

Announcement: Announcing a National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:30

From the announcement:

To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later.

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.

Read the full announcement here.

Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:00

From the resource:

In the blink of an eye, once-crowded museums sit empty. We’re preparing ourselves for social distancing and potential quarantine. This is the time for museum technology to step up and fill the void. The potential of online collections, virtual tours, and social media campaigns have always been there, but now the opportunity for impact is incalculable.

Access to endless open content. Educational resources for e-learning. Virtual retreats to art, culture, and history around the globe. This is the museum technology community’s time to shine!

Read the full resource here.

Conference: “DH in the time of Virus” Twitter Conference

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:30

About the conference:

As we are all going through some unprecedented and peculiar times, with COVID-19 spreading globally and disrupting the ways in which we work, collaborate, interact, conduct research and are being productive,  Research and Innovation Center “Athena”, as co-ordinator of APOLLONIS, the Greek Infrastructure for Digital Arts, Humanities and Language Research and Innovation, is organizing a Twitter Conference under the title “DH in the Time of Virus”.

This event is envisaged as part of a series of digital initiatives across the world to battle academic isolation and to facilitate and support community building and osmosis in DH research and education.

Read more here.

Editors’ Choice: COVID-19 Roundup 2

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:00

This week, we’ve gathered another selection of posts on digital humanities during a pandemic, covering topics from museums to transcription to prison education. You can find last week’s roundup here.

Working Together to Transcribe Ancient Documents During COVID-19

Sarah Emily Bond

As the pandemic known as COVID-19 grips the globe, thousands of instructors in the United States and elsewhere have been asked to transition their courses online for the remainder of the semester. To some instructors, such as the superb Classics professors at the Open University, distance learning has become a normalized pedagogy. To many others facing teaching online: this is uncharted territory. Although the SCS has compiled helpful lists of open access (i.e. freely available) resources for classicists migrating their courses into the digital realm, we might also consider the value in allowing our students to contribute to a number of online digital humanities projects that outsource the work of manuscript or documentary transcription to members of the public. In the process, students can acquire paleographical and linguistic skills; work directly with archival documents; and ultimately engage in a collaborative online space centered on enriching the public data available across the world.

We’ve Gotten This Far

Seema Rao

We were all faced with some of the realest decisions of our careers, and we decided it’s better to do this one together. The shared google doc of closures blew up around Thursday afternoon, and in looking at it, I thought, maybe for the first time in my career, we are saving lives. The choice to close wasn’t easy. I read directors note after director’s note on websites about tough choices and challenging decisions. Our sector might employ large numbers but our budgets aren’t like the Microsoft and Google’s of the world. But, even in the face of challenge, museums made this choice.

Cultural Organizations & COVID-19: Documenting Virtual Engagement Strategies

Liam Sweeney

Efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 have fundamentally, and in many cases permanently, transformed the landscape of cultural consumption. As of Monday, March 16th, over 400 major US museums have closed their doors and ceased their traditional programming. While this is an essential part of collectively weathering a public health crisis that is likely to overwhelm the US healthcare system in a matter of days, these closures invariably introduce a deep degree of precarity for hundreds of beloved cultural organizations, and many are at risk of suffering grave financial harm as a result. Moreover, their mission is at risk of pausing, since they will for some time be unable to serve as spaces of respite, of learning, and of interpersonal exchange. But while buildings may be closed, museums and other cultural organizations should consider the real opportunities to serve their communities. Indeed, some have already begun to do so.

When Online Isn’t an Option: Higher Education in Prisons During a Pandemic

Kurtis Tanaka

As the announcements of campus closures continue unabated, colleges and universities across the country are struggling to figure out how to adjust their teaching and learning practices, with many moving their courses online. But what does this mean for students who are incarcerated? Building on Ithaka S+R’s ongoing research on how technology can be leveraged towards increasing access to higher education in prisons and more equitable learning experiences, today we are taking a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting prison education programs and the potential impact on incarcerated learners.

In The Moment

Lee Skallerup Bessette

I started teaching in an online program for people in prison. I’m teaching a writing course to incarcerated men and women scattered across the country. If you thought the LMS was bad, wait until you experience the prison LMS, let me tell you. The students have to download all materials on to a proprietary tablet during certain times, find time and space to write their essays and assignments, and then re-upload them at the appropriate time from a kiosk.  The tablets are notoriously unreliable. Some students didn’t have access to a word processing program. Others were on lockdown. One prison was without water.

Working conditions

Quinn Dombrowski

The previous week, even though the kids were in school, I couldn’t focus. The tension and uncertainty of when the schools (and daycares) would close was leaving me a total wreck. I muddled through, teaching the last two sessions of “Project Management and Ethical Collaboration for Humanists” via Zoom, with a carefully-placed phone camera showing the dice for our DH RPG. But it was hard to get much else done. How can you decide what to prioritize when you don’t know how much time you’ll have — next week, or into the indefinite future? Should I be tackling large projects with fervor, since I might not have an extended period of focused time free for a long while? Or should I just set those aside, and deal with all the immediate crises and emails? The result was a lot of angst, and not much accomplished on any front.

Pedagogy in the Time of Pandemic: Week 1

Ann Gagné

So the first week of pedagogy in the time of pandemic has come and gone and I am sure we all have feelings and thoughts. My first observation is just how willing faculty have been to think about different ways to help support their students at this time. If you have a teacher in your life, whether they teach K-12 or Higher Ed please thank them right now. They have done so much in such a short amount of time, sometimes with poor access to technology and it truly is to be commended. I have a few things I want to focus on in what will probably be many weeks of pedagogy in the time of pandemic.

Some Reflections on COVID-19 and the Digitization of Research and Teaching

James Harry Morris

Whilst I needn’t go into minute detail, the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has necessitated the use and indeed highlighted the importance of the digital for both educational and research purposes. Libraries, archives, and museums are temporarily closing and therefore those of us with inadequate collections of physical texts must, in the coming months, increasingly turn to e-books and other digitized materials. A large number of universities will take their teaching completely online during the next semester, and some seminars and other events will also enter the digital realm – for instance, the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at the University of St Andrews of which I am an Associate Researcher has announced that its seminars will continue online. Conferences and other events are also moving online.

Emergency Remote Teaching: A Post Secondary Reality Check

Ian Milligan

The warning bells are chiming. Some faculty are wary. The Canadian Association of Universities Teachers, for example, warns against workload pressures that would now require “additional support for staff, such as assigning teaching assistants,” and cautions that academic bodies “involved in monitoring the pedagogical effectiveness of temporary online instruction and to decide on adjustments or discontinuance.” Dipping one’s toes into Twitter and you’ll see rhetoric as varied as how this devalues the hard work of online education, that it is an impossible task being given to instructors, and – in conspiratorial tones – how this might just be the first herald of a “neoliberal” move towards online education. Naturally, nobody would argue that any of this was ideal. Framing this as a move to “online education,” however, is deeply misleading.

In Praise of the Diagonal Reference Line

Robert Kosara

Annotations are what set visual communication and journalism apart from just visualization. They often consist of text, but some of the most useful annotations are graphical elements, and many of them are very simple. One type I have a particular fondness for is the diagonal reference line, which has been used to provide powerful context in past news pieces, and is making a comeback in the COVID-19 charts.


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