From the announcement:
It’s comin’ back around again! The Helsinki Digital Humanities Hackathon #DHH20 dates have been confirmed: 27.5.–5.6.2020. As a CLARIN and DARIAH summer school, the event will be truly international welcoming applications from all over Europe. This year we are prepared to sponsor around 20 participants from outside Finland with flights and accommodation (more information to follow). We are also a SSHOC training event and NewsEye project will have a strong presence at the hackathon.
The Helsinki Digital Humanities Hackathon is a chance to experience an interdisciplinary research project from start to finish within the span of 10 days. For researchers and students from computer science and data science, the hackathon gives the opportunity to test their abstract knowledge against complex real-life problems. For people from the humanities and social sciences, it shows what is possible to achieve with such collaboration.
[Provisional draft notes shared as a prompt for future research group discussion]
My interest in the sociology of texts, transmedia storytelling and the role of materiality in the reading/collecting/reception/user experience, particularly in the case of comic book cultures, originally found a welcoming conceptual framework within the digital humanities. Recently, my interest has been evolving towards exploring the role of media archaeology within human-computer interaction design.
Media archaeology, as discussed by Jussi Parikka (2011), is a branch of media history that studies contemporary media culture by looking into past (also called “residual”) media technologies and practices. Media archaeology takes a special interest in practices, devices and inventions that may be now otherwise forgotten. It addresses the rapid obsolescence of software and hardware, and poses that their collection, preservation, conservation and study can provide important context for multidisciplinary analysis and innovation.
In particular, I have been recently drafting arguments and potential methodological and domain approaches to critical narrative design and speculative design (sometimes also called “design fiction”, though both terms are not always used to mean the same thing). Needless to say, all these terms have specific meanings and require further clarification and discussion, even for the initiated, let alone those new to them. For an intro into the relationships between the terms “critical design” and “speculative design”, I recommend Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s books, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects (2001) and Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming (2013).
From the ad:
Reporting to the Director of the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship, the Digital Scholarship Librarian will collaborate with and support campus research partners in the use of innovative digital scholarship technologies and tools, and the production and dissemination of digital projects. To this end, the position will:
Utilize digital scholarship tools, technologies, and methodologies in support of research and instructional applications.
Offer workshops and training on digital scholarship tools, technologies, and methodologies.
Develop, document, and maintain partnerships with faculty and academic units on campus.
Deploy technical, scholarly, and project management skills to plan and execute innovative, sustainable digital projects.
From the ad:
Molloy College invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities and New Media. The program is housed in the Department of English at Molloy College and is home to interdisciplinary teaching and research that foregrounds civic and social good… Candidates should have a defined research agenda, the ability to teach a variety of foundational courses in the field of new media and digital rhetoric, and experience teaching courses in these areas. Applicants should also show interest or experience in pursuing grant-funded research and teaching opportunities. Preference will be given to candidates who have media production skills (in web, video, or interactive media) and a scholarly and/or pedagogical interest in digital civic engagement, particularly how digital technology interfaces with and disrupts structural inequalities along axes of identity and subject formation (race, gender, sexuality, etc.).
About the report:
It’s rare to have the opportunity to work with a stable team of extraordinary scholars over the course of a decade. It’s even rarer for this group of scholars to span a wide range of disciplines and approaches, while sharing common concerns in research, educational practice, and social change. A long time in the making, we are at last releasing our final collaborative report, The Connected Learning Research Network: Reflections on a Decade of Engaged Scholarship, from the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network, that grew out of a decade of the network’s work together.
This is the first part of a series of posts by the Digital Orientalist’s Syriac Studies Editor, Ephrem Ishac. This post acts as an introduction to Ishac’s interview with George A. Kiraz which will be serialized in later posts.
In 1993, Sebastian Brock, the most prominent scholar of Syriac studies, wrote the following words in the foreword of George Kiraz’s Computer-Generated Concordance to the Syriac New Testament:
‘it marks a very successful marriage of Syriac scholarship with the ‘Electronic Age’, especially in the field of Literary and Linguistic Computing.’
In fact, Brock was right in his expectation about such a successful marriage between Syriac as an ancient world heritage and digital culture!
Since that time, the field of Syriac Studies has started to incorporate, rather than depend on the Digital World, reaching what is today called “Syriac Digital Humanities.” Kiraz and his colleagues successfully produced a Unicode Standard version of the Syriac Alphabet, reserving an independent Unicode block for the Syriac language, which contains characters for various fonts of Syriac scripts including the Estrangela, Serto, Eastern Syriac, and the Christian Palestinian Aramaic variants. Initially, the main goal for this Syriac digital revolution was to focus primarily on Computational Linguistics especially digital lexicography, but later other scholars started to build various projects that broadened the field of Syriac Digital Humanities. Moreover, since the Syriac language is still a living heritage spoken and used liturgically by the followers of this Church tradition, Syriac Digital Culture could easily be introduced inside Churches.
Indeed, it is true that, if they had existed, digital tools could have helped to fulfill the dreams of many scribes and authors who wished to produce texts in a fast and accurate way. I think we can draw a similarity between the invention of printing and the production of digital texts. One of the best examples is possibly the case of Moses of Mardin, a 16th Century scribe who produced many Syriac manuscripts. Having heard about the invention of printing in Europe, Moses travelled to Rome where he could achieve his dream by printing the Syriac gospels in Vienna in 1555. This was the first time in history that a book in Syriac was printed, and since that time, the West has been able to know and learn about Syriac Christian literature.
Introduction: what is DH, and does anyone care?
There is a whole genre of writing out there on the subject of “What is Digital Humanities?”. For some, this is an existential question, fundamental to the basis of research, teaching and the environment of those parts of the academy which exist between computing and the humanities. For others, it is a semantic curiosity, part of an evolution of terminology from “computing in the humanities” to “humanities computing”, finally arriving at “digital humanities” when the instrumentalist implications of the first two no longer encompassed the field of activities described. For others still, it is a relic of 1990s angst over terminology as computing began to permeate the academic environment. Whichever camp one is in, it behoves people, like me, with Digital Humanities in their job title to revisit the question from time to time. This post is an attempt at this, with a particular emphasis on the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s College London. The strap-line of the present-day DDH is “critical research with and about the digital”. In what follows, I hope to unpack what I think this means for the field, and for DDH, which has been my institutional home since 2006. Those fourteen years have seen immense changes, both in the Department and in the field of Digital Humanities (hereafter DH) more broadly. Furthermore, tomorrow (1st February) marks six months since I took over as Head of Department of DDH. Therefore, this seems as good a moment as any for a moment of autobiographically driven reflection. I state, of course, the usual disclaimers. Like any healthy academic environment, (D)DH is marked by a diversity of views, a diversity we pride ourselves on embracing and celebrating; and despite being Head of Department, I speak only for myself, in a very personal capacity. Also, any errors of fact or interpretation in what follows are mine and mine alone.
Before I arrived at King’s, I worked for the AHRC’s ICT in Arts and Humanities Initiative at the University of Reading (to the great credit of Reading’s web support services, the AHRC ICT programme’s web pages, complete with the quintessentially 1990s banner I designed, are still available). At the time, I was no doubt suffering a colossal intellectual hangover from my efforts to apply GIS to Bronze Age Aegean volcanic tephrachronology and its archaeological/cultural contexts, and this may have coloured my view of things; but the purpose of this programme was to scope how computing might change the landscape of the humanities, and to funnel public money accordingly. This is the kind of thing that the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US has done, to great acclaim, with its Office for Digital Humanities.
Digital Humanities Now will be taking a break until the end of January. On behalf of the DHNow staff, thank you for another great semester! To our generous volunteer editors-at-large, thank you for dedicating your time and expertise. Your participation makes DHNow possible. This semester’s editors-at-large included: Dan Howlett, Dana Meyer, Kris Stinson, Teresa Donoso, Sarah Fay, Jajwalya Karajgikar, Morgan Lemmer-Webber, Margherita Berti, R.J. Lambert, Jade Bruno, Emily Esten, Kristin Geiger-Rayca, Henry Ibekwe, Stephanie Grimes, and Monika Sharma. Be on the lookout for details on how to sign up for spring semester starting in January.
We hope you’ll join us again in the spring for more digital humanities news and scholarship. Until then, if you have an account, please feel free to keep yourself up to date by logging in and browsing All Content.
New year, fresh feeds. Please keep submitting feeds over the break, especially if you have your own digital humanities blog!
Best wishes for a warm and happy new year. We’ll see you in 2020!
From the ad:
CLIR is now accepting applications for 2020-2022 CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowships. The deadline for prospective fellows is January 10, 2020. Fellowship opportunities will be posted on this page and to CLIR+DLF Jobs. To be considered for the positions below, candidates must apply using CLIR’s online application system.
New hosts and position descriptions will be added to this list as they become available. Candidates’ applications will be forwarded to all host institutions looking to hire fellows with similar qualifications. Some host institutions may create fellowship positions after the application deadline has passed, but candidates will still be considered for those positions when their qualifications match hosts’ requirements.
From the report:
During my day job, I handle copyright at an academic library, so I was supremely lucky this year that my manager was able and willing to send me to the annual Ontario Library Association (OLA) Copyright Symposium in Toronto on November 22nd. This year’s one day conference was looking at copyright and social responsibility through the lens of reconciliation as they explored the intersection of Canada’s Copyright Law (with some US discussion making a brief appearance) and traditional Indigenous Knowledge. Canada is currently engaged in a heavy reconciliation process with our Indigenous population, and many areas of the library industry are working on figuring out what that means and how we can support these members of our communities. My Foundations of Library and Information Studies class has a week long discussion about the Truth and Reconciliation Report and ethics actually back at the tail end of October in which I talked about this exact issue because I’ve been interested in it since I learned about it at the University of Waterloo’s 2018 Open Access Day conference.
Bill Caraher has recently been considering the nature of ‘legacy data’ in archaeology (Caraher 2019) (with a commentary by Andrew Reinhard). Amongst other things, he suggests there has been a shift from paper-based archives designed with an emphasis on the future to digital archives which often seem more concerned with present utility. Coincidentally, Bill’s post landed just as I was pondering the nature of the relationship between digital archives and our use of data.
So do digital archives represent a paradigm shift from traditional archives and archival practice, or are they simply a technological development of them? Digital archives are commonly understood to be a means of storing, organising, maintaining, and making data accessible in digital format. Relative to traditional archives they are therefore not limited by physical space or its associated costs and so can make much more information available more easily, cheaply, and widely. But a consequence of this can be a kind of ‘storage mania’, in which data become easier to accumulate than to delete because of digitalisation, and where data are released from the limitations of time and space through their dematerialisation (Sluis 2017, 28). This is akin to David Berry’s “infinite archives” (2017, 107), who suggests that “One way of thinking about computational archives and new forms of abstraction they produce is the specific ways in which they manage the ‘derangement’ of knowledge through distance.” (Berry 2017, 119). At the same time, digital archives represent new technological material structures built on the performativity of the software which delivers large-scale processing of these apparently dematerialised data (Sluis 2017, 28).
There are perhaps three key areas where archives and digital data interact: the digital infrastructure itself, preservation practices within that infrastructure, and the effects of these on the digital data we subsequently use.
The Shakespeare and Company Project is based on the Sylvia Beach papers at Princeton University Library. Logbooks and lending library cards trace members’ engagement with Beach’s famous lending library in Paris. Members included literary luminaries Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as students, businessmen, and French girls with English governesses. A significant part of the project data consists of events: memberships, renewals, reimbursements, borrowed books, purchased books, etc. Yet, due to the fragmentary and handwritten nature of these sources, the dates aren’t always easy to manage with code. Working on the project required managing imprecise data with precise code.
Let’s walk through how we tackled one aspect of this problem. The event_date_ranges method shown above aggregates all events for a library member into a timeline of known activity. The resulting list of date ranges is the basis for visualizing a member’s engagement with the library. This method loops through all the events for a member, sorted by date, and collects them into groups of date ranges. If an event starts within or up to one day after the current date range, it is included and the range is extended, if needed; if not, that range is closed and a new range is started. For Simone de Beauvoir, who was active in 1937 and 1940, the results look roughly like this:
[[1937-04-07), 1937-05-03)], [1940-07-25, 1940-12-31]]
You would probably expect a member’s borrowing activity to occur within the dates they were a member—but, due to missing logbooks and the oddities of human behavior, that’s not always the case.
The code has to handle one-day events, like buying a book or closing out an account, as well as longer-duration activities, like a membership or borrowing a book. In addition, because these are historical records that were kept by hand, and not all preserved, we have to handle a variety of unusual dates. There are date ranges with a start but no end, and in some cases, end dates with no start; the code here treats those as a single date.
From the ad:
The Research Software Developer works in the domains of the Digital Humanities and Research Data. As a shared position between the Center for Digital Humanities (CDH) and Princeton University Library (PUL), the developer will work with faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows across the disciplines to enhance Princeton’s research community and support data-driven research.
In both CDH and PUL, the developer will create, maintain, configure, adapt, and document source code to support data-driven research, establish best practices, and help develop innovative digital humanities projects in a collaborative environment that includes fellow CDH and PUL staff, academic researchers, and other relevant campus partners.
About the funding:
Greenhouse Studios, in partnership with the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts, is pleased to announce two funded M.F.A. studentships in Digital Media & Design. The studentships will provide full tuition, health benefits, and a half-time graduate research assistantship with Greenhouse Studios | Scholarly Communications Design at UConn. Greenhouse Studios Graduate Assistants provide artistic, design, creative expression, and technical implementation assistance to Greenhouse Studios projects. Working in a dynamic, team environment alongside faculty, library, editor, and student colleagues, graduate assistants contribute to the production of collaborative multimedia research objects. Other responsibilities include supporting day-to-day operations of the Greenhouse Studios, its directors, and its collaborative workspace. This is an exciting opportunity for an aspiring artist or scholar to work in close collaboration with experts from a range of fields and to experiment with new modes of expression and communication. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Graduate Studentship”.
From the resource:
Jupyter notebooks have seen enthusiastic adoption in the data science community, to an extent where they are increasingly replacing Microsoft Word as the default authoring environment for research. Within digital humanities literature, one can find references to Jupyter notebooks (split off from iPython, or interactive Python, notebooks in 2014) dating to 2015.
Jupyter Notebooks have also gained traction within digital humanities as a pedagogical tool. Multiple Programming Historian tutorials such as Text Mining in Python through the HTRC Feature Reader, and Extracting Illustrated Pages from Digital Libraries with Python, as well as other pedagogical materials for workshops, make reference to putting code in a Jupyter notebook or using Jupyter notebooks to guide learners while allowing them to freely remix and edit code. The notebook format is ideally suited for teaching, especially when students have different levels of technical proficiency and comfort with writing and editing code.
At Play the Past, we’ve had a long-standing interest in the intersection of history, games and education.
Many of our current and legacy contributor hail from the world of education, and you can read them on as varied topics as video games and educational theory, gamification vs. game-based learning, educational design and class-room pedagogy.
In the last decade, we’ve seen a slow but steady rise in classroom experiments with game-based learning – Play the Past contributors who are teachers have often reported on their own game-based learning trials and tribulations. Concurrently, a new field of academic research began to emerge, around the time of this blog’s founding in 2010, to reckon with the rich production of historical discourse that video and table-top games now offer. This field now goes under the name of “Historical Game Studies”.
Beyond isolated applications of game-based learning, we are now reaching a moment in time in which the fruits of this experimentation and research are beginning to show in official educational programs at our post-secondary institutions.
As editor of Play the Past, I participate in a number of communities dedicated to theoretical and applied research around historical game studies. This September, a member of the Facebook Group Historical Game Studies Network, PhD researcher Julien Bazile announced a new undergraduate history course being offered at the University of Sherbrooke, in Quebec, Canada, teaching both the history of video games and representations of history in video games. I messaged Julien to see if he and his course lead, Thierry Robert, would be interested in doing an interview.
Both Thierry and Julien generously accepted my offer. And so we are happy to report that the next three posts will present to you, dear Play the Past readers, the content of these interviews.
Part one, below, is the interview conducted with Thierry Robert, the main instructor and curriculum designer of HST 287 “History, video games and gamification”. The following two interviews will feature Julien Bazile, who is a PhD student at the University of Sherbrooke, and co-lecturer for the HST 287 course. We hope our readers will find the discussion as eye-opening and stimulating as we found it.
From the ad:
This is an opportunity to join the small team working on the ERC-funded ‘TEXTCOURT’ project. Court theatre was a core part of Chinese court and performance culture for centuries, yet its texts have never been fully studied; this project will build the first digital archive of court drama scripts and related foreign records.
Reporting to Professor Tian Yuan Tan, you will be responsible for helping to establish the project’s digital archive, organising a workshop, and co-editing the resulting book volume. You will also provide guidance to other members of the team. You will manage your own academic research and administrative activities, preparing and refining theories, adapting and developing research methodologies, and analysing data from a variety of sources. As well as contributing ideas for activities linked to the project and for future research projects and future funding applications, you will be a source of information and advice to other team members on theoretical, methodological, and technical aspects of digital humanities.
From the CFP:
Proposals are now being accepted for Keystone DH 2020. The Keystone DH annual conference will be held this year July 8-10, 2020 at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Proposals are welcome on any aspect of digital technologies and their application to the humanities and/or social sciences. We highly encourage projects that focus on the collaborative nature of research and teaching. Senior scholars should foreground the labor of students, librarians, and/or the community that sustained the project. We especially welcome proposals with representative and inclusive speaker involvement.
From the CFP:
How can libraries and archives best contribute to emerging critical discourses around algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence? Recounting Algorithms is a two-day workshop, supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources and hosted by the University of Toronto Mississauga Library, that aims to enrich the intersections of critical algorithm studies and academic librarianship.
Efforts to historicize, culturally situate, and foreground algorithmic systems as manifestations of bias and power have flourished recently. Work in this area has contributed important insights into the often oppressive operational conditions of systems used to automate tasks such as hiring, criminal risk assessment, supply chain management, web page ranking, and surveillance. The robustness of this growing field of inquiry is demonstrated in the varied institutional backgrounds of those who have contributed to it—they include journalists, artists, advocates, and academic researchers from across the disciplinary spectrum.
Digital Tools as Critical Theory: Edu-Factory to Digital Humanities
“What once was the factory, is now the university.” This, among other hypotheses, served as a rallying cry and point of departure for the now defunct international Edu-factory Collective. Born online, networked in its organization, and relentless in its criticism of the university’s thorough neoliberalization, the collective’s work is now but a memory, archived on abandoned blogs and in a single edited volume, published in 2009, taken from the collective’s listserv. Featuring writing from major figures in critical university studies, the collective’s hypothesis was equally reliant upon critical theory as it was digital technologies.
I recall the collective’s work in this proposal for two reasons. First, to liken the university to the factory is to better define the prospective character of neoliberalism’s relationship to knowledge production. The claim is not that the university functions exactly as the factory did. It is rather a rhetorical maneuver meant to make exploitation manifest where knowledge is produced. Further, it is to argue that knowledge production, its commodification, and its technologies of dissemination play a specific role in conceptualizing resistance to neoliberal imperatives for education, namely: “to transform the field of tension” comprising our contemporary institutional state “into specific forms of resistance and the organization of escape routes” (1). Digital technologies were the substrate for more complex modes of relation for the collective, including, but not limited to, open-source unionism, the undercommons, and a concept of the global autonomous university.
The second reason I want to reanimate components of the collective’s central hypothesis is to place it in a new context: the rise and continued prominence of digital humanities. Digital Humanities’ rise and the Edu-factory’s fall are coeval. By 2013, the Edu-factory had all but disbanded; coincidently, DH was expanding and hotly debated. The political ideologies guiding both movements do not often overlap. Yet both movements see productive potential in the use and development of digital tools. Where the Edu-factory combined explicitly Marxist and anti-colonial ideologies in its fusion of digital tools and critical theory, DH’s political contours often favor intersectional approaches to computational methods. How the two interface, and further, why DH approaches are favored contemporarily, are questions that may lead to yet unseen prospects for reclaiming knowledge production writ large.