O rocks! Tell it to us in plain images (A THATCamp/Bloomsday Visualization)

Some results from the Bloomsday hack session, where we discussed small digital Joycean projects we might take on that day and continue working on over the following weeks:

We decided to create a dataset that could be used in Gephi to make something both informative and pretty: a log of the social interactions among characters that could be turned into a social network visualization. Chad Rutkowski read through the Wandering Rocks episode and logged a list of character interactions, which I then turned into a dataset and manipulated in Gephi to produce (click image for larger version):

Wandering Rocks visualization

Character nodes are weighted by the number of edges touching them (i.e. by how many interactions with other people a given character has), so unsurprisingly for anyone who’s read Ulysses, Father Conmee appears as one of the most connected characters in the episode.

Our next step will be to answer some questions about types of character interactions and include these answers in our dataset:

  • Do we want to log the direction of an interaction to cover cases where, for example, and conversation is one-sided? (Yes, but this means creating two edges for every dialogue: Bloom > Molly as well as Molly > Bloom).
  • What counts as an interaction? (Telegrams, letters, overheard shouts in the street?)
  • How do we handle time? (Is Bloom > Molly recorded only one time in our Ulysses datatset, or every time they interact? If the latter, how do we decide when an interaction counts as ended?) If we can find a satisfactory and non-insanity causing way of coding this, we could create a time-lapse visualization of interactions in the novel, perhaps with some sort of cumulative or heatmapping feature.
  • How to handle different types of interactions? We discussed assigning different numbered weights to interaction edges so that its easy to see the degree of interaction taking place (was a character imagining a conversation with Bloom, or actually talking to him?), but there’s some difficulty in deciding what types of interaction are deeper than others in order to place these on a spectrum and make visual apprehension easier.

Ben Schmidt also did some neat and quick work with the Circe episode, running a script to gather character names by grabbing the all-caps words in that section and mapping interactions stepwise by linking the names that appears next after a given character in the text.

We’ll continue working on this project as we have time, so if you’re interested in helping out, send us a tweet! The work involved is pretty easy: identifying a section of the novel you wish to attack, then making a list of the characters who interact and ID’ing the type of interaction according to a scheme we’re using.

Cross-posted from LiteratureGeek.com.

Building a DH Culture from the Ground

So my proposal is late-breaking, but here ’tis: I’m currently moving to a new institution where I will help start a new DH center. I’d like to think collaboratively—well, about how that happens. I want to get at this question, however, not by talking about getting grants or picking a pithy acronym for the center’s name. Instead, I’d like to jump off Stephen Ramsay’s recent post, Centers are People, and think about how one begins building the kinds of communities where “a bunch of people…[are] committed to the bold and revolutionary project of talking to one another about their common interests.” I’d especially like to think about how to draw in those people on campus who are interested in DH but don’t yet know it: that history professor with a personal archive she’d love to make public, that librarian crafting the library’s ebook strategy, or that computer science undergrad with an odd side interest in Renaissance poetry. Topics might include:

1.) organizing and effectively promoting DH events to the wider college or university
2.) creating and fostering hacker-friendly spaces on campus
3.) building on-campus partnerships between departments, libraries, &c. &c.
4.) seeding DH incursions into the curriculum

This topic may well tie into hmprescott’s “More Disruptive Pedagogy: Thoughts on Teaching an Un-course” proposal or Kimon Keramidas’s “Of courses, curriculum, networks, and unconferences”.

Desiderata for Digital Scholarly Publications/Digital University Presses and Imprints

Following up on the proposal by William Deal and perhaps combinable with it. Stockton is considering setting up its own digital press/imprint.  I’m interested in brainstorming/hacking a set of features/services that scholars producing digital materials not directly connected to their home institutions ought to expect from the publishers of their digital work. In traditional print publications, scholars were rarely expected to have input on the production side, but born digital projects often must specify the form that the final project will take as part of the development process. If production/coding/design expertise must be built into the project team from the outset, does that imply that the publishing site must also be agreed upon before the work is started? Or is the role of digital publisher merely editing/peer review/quality control? Or even further, are we reaching a point where the coding/design of sites is becoming sufficiently standardized that a form of “production handoff” similar to print is coming soon? (Unlikely, I think) As part of this session, I would propose generating a census of effective digital scholarly publications with information on the “publishers” and when and how they became involved in the project. My suspicion is that they are overwhelming published at digital centers by people directly associated with those centers. If that is the case, will the expansion of digital publications come from an increase in the number of digital centers, an increase in the affiliation of outside scholars with current digital centers, or some other institutions assuming the role that digital centers currently handle?

Bridging the Gap between the CS DL community and the LIS DL community.

I’ve notice a disparaging trend at both the ACM/IEEE-CS JCDL conference and at THATCamps. Digital Libraries researchers from Computer Science have never heard of THATCamp and don’t really interact with the people who attend. Conversely people at THATCamp don’t tend to think of the ACM/IEEE-CS community when they think about what is going on in digital libraries, digital archives, and digital humanities.

In fact the 2012 JCDL conference just ended at GWU the day before THATCamp V started at GMU. Here were two groups of people with similar concerns, interests, and goals across town and unaware of each other.

This session is to discuss why there is fragmentation between the more LIS DL people at THATCamp/ALA/etc and the more CS DL at JCDL/TPDL/etc and try and discuss ways to bridge the gap and bring both groups closer together.

Little Data, Big Learning: Fostering Experiential Pedagogy

What is the experience of reading? How can we leverage DH-inflected pedagogy to help students situate their own processes of reading, writing, and learning? In such a tendrillate approach to textual analysis, what tools can help students navigate through a cycle of experience and reflection that underscores the materiality of reading experience?

In this session, my hope is that we can explore the intersection of learning, experience, and DH to begin to sketch what a digital environmental humanities pedagogy might look like.

I began building an assignment during DHSI that asks students to use close reading of a passage as an entry to larger analytical and written projects (zipped Prezi available here through the course’s webpage), but it’s just a first stab at a much larger issue–how can DH pedagogical approaches help us to ground student scholarship in first-hand experience with primary materials? Encoding text, annotating sentences, parsing paragraphs for word frequency–all of these are valuable approaches, which, if used carefully, can bring our students to textual analysis as a fundamental building block of humanities scholarship.

Attention to the labour of reading and the experience of the text can only enrich the connections scholars can make by looking at these narrower street views in the context of an ever-evolving map of the world.

Digital Journalism and Digital Humanities, United

As I blogged a few months ago, it has become increasingly clear that digital humanities has a kindred spirit in digital journalism—perhaps a stronger potential relationship than humanities computing and computer science. We have discovered the same needs in terms of tools and infrastructure, and find ourselves engaging the public with similar genres of online writing and communication.

Just some of the products of digital journalism we could discuss or adopt at THATCamp: the 20 open source Knight Apps, which include DocumentCloud; what’s coming out of Mozilla OpenNews; and the developer challenges and tool reviews from Duke’s Reporters’ Lab.

The One About THATCamp

Frankly I could propose many separate sessions on THATCamp, to wit:

  • A session where we sit around and work on editing the Proceedings of THATCamp (due out August 1; most of the editing currently booked for July)
  • A session where we write a guide for those new to THATCamp
  • A session where we write a guide for people coming to THATCamp who consider themselves tech beginners (though this Profhacker post is a good start, as is this one)
  • A session for those who’ve organized or who might want to organize a THATCamp (see Kimon’s suggestion that we get together and share experiences
  • A session where we talk about our upcoming revamping of the THATCamp website, to be spearheaded by Boone — we’ve thought of lots of stuff already, but we take requests. Under advisement. :)

But let’s do only one or at most two of the above. Stick your stickers next to the one you most want …

O rocks! Celebrating Bloomsday DH-Style

Saturday is Bloomsday! It strikes me that we might put our DH nerdiness to more direct Joycean use than simply deciding which Ulysses t-shirts to wear. I propose using this post space to discuss possible small-scale, collaborative Joyce-celebratory projects we might undertake during free time throughout the weekend (not a session necessarily, but a backchannel collaboration). These could be performative (e.g. recording readings of favorite passages? maybe a choral reading? making a small game?) or investigative…

One possibility: I’ve been playing around with the free visualization tool Gephi recently; we might create a simple dataset representing one-to-one character interactions in Ulysses or part of Ulysses–who interacts with whom? How many degrees of separation does the most removed character have from Bloom?–and drop it into Gephi to create a pretty and useful visualization. This would require

1) People signing up to list all the character interactions for a given section in Ulysses (if we only have a few people, we could just divvy up pages in a single rich episode like Circe or Wandering Rocks). For ease of collaboration, it probably makes sense to use the Project Gutenberg e-text (unless the rumored new digital edition drops in time for us to use!).

2) Defining what an “interaction” in Ulysses entails (dialogue? glimpsing someone? thinking about someone?). Or are there other factors we might want to model with a visualization?

3) Creating a basic spreadsheet with two columns: whenever an interaction happens, create a row with Person A on column 1 and Person B in column 2. Unless we decide on doing a one-way directed sort of interaction–e.g. Bloom thinks about Molly doesn’t mean Molly thinks about Bloom at the same time–it doesn’t matter which person in a pair of interacting characters goes in which column. We might also consider adding a “weight” column that keys different weight numbers to “degree of interaction” (e.g. degree of 1 indicates thinking about someone, 2 indicates glimpsing but not being seen, 3 indicates dialogue). I can post a link to a Google Spreadsheet with example rows if people are interested; you might also check out the Gephi sample datasets looking at character interactions in Les Miserables and the Marvel comic universe.

Interested? Or have any other Joycean ideas?

Small-Scale Digital Archiving Sans Institutional Support (relatedly, Kickstarter)

If you have a discrete set of sources that you think could make an interesting digital archive, but you’re not going to be executing the project with the financial support and institutional imprimatur of a library, archive, or university, how do you get started? How do you get copyright? How do you fund your labor (or maybe just some of it)? How do you find collaborators, and maybe fund their labor as well? How do you choose the kind of CMS that’s right for the project? How do you help your project gain visibility after it goes live? How do you plan for long-term sustainability moving forward?

As a soon-to-be-finished PhD in a humanities field, with several ideas for small-scale archiving projects but no sure source of continuing institutional support, I’m wondering if there are enough people with the same needs to constitute a session.

The session could be of interest to people who find themselves in the same position as myself, people who’ve independently created specialized archives of this kind, people who’ve worked with Kickstarter (successfully or un-!), or people who just know a lot about digital archiving, copyright, or grant-writing.

Issues of copyright are, of course, crucial here (for example, I’d love to do a full-text, searchable archive of Sassy magazine—but without the prestige & cash of an institution backing me up, I’m not sure I could secure that copyright), but I’m also interested in questions of labor and compensation. Is there any way to work on this kind of a project while, if not getting paid a ton, at least receiving some compensation for the time spent scanning and formatting?

I’m very interested in talking about using Kickstarter as a source of funding for this kind of a project. Trevor Owens wrote a blog post last year pointing out that many DH projects have found funding this way, and linking to some examples. What kinds of projects end up getting funded? How have they framed their projects to appeal to the public? What kinds of outcomes do they promise? What do their budgets include? What swag do they offer their funders?

If people know about ways of getting small-scale non-Kickstarter grant funding for this kind of a project, that’d also be great to add to the discussion.

As a product of this session, I suggest we could produce a GoogleDoc outlining best practices for getting small digital humanities projects funded on Kickstarter.

One more–methods, workflows, and general productivity hacking

Having recently retooled my DevonThink setup yet again, I’m finding that I’m still dissatisfied. My regular everyday worktools include:

I’m happy to talk about what I love and hate about each of these, for example, I love Bookends’ integration with Mellel and hate how clunky it is. I love almost everything aout WordPress except actually composing posts. I want DevonThink and Omnifocus to TALK to each other. And more… I’d love for other folks to talk about how they do their workflows.  And to tell me why using Oxygen is such an uphill battle? In addition, I just upgraded my OSX to Lion and am curious if anyone has found awesome things that Lion can do that they want to share.

P.S. Other things I’d love to talk about include Islandora, teaching oneself to code, learning to work with the command-line after being a GUI person forever, and and and… they go on. Okay, calling this post “one more” might have been misleading…