Whither Academic Publishing?

It seems to me that most DH-ers are suspicious of — if not completely hostile to — traditional academic publishing structures and requirements. So am I. Unlike some of you, I no longer have to worry about postponing the real projects I want to do in favor of the monograph that will get me through the tenure and promotion process. But even this bastion of what counts for credible, peer-reviewed, and in other ways vetted scholarship is showing significant signs of decay. Given my position and interests, I think I have a responsibility to hasten the fall of the academic monograph — or at least promote alternatives that count for as much as a book in the T&P system. But how to do this? How can I convince my doubting colleagues that peer-review can be something other than two or three senior manuscript reviewers? Or that a well-written, well-argued, often read and cited blog posting has real impact outside of the closed world of peer-reviewed journals, and that reflection on such a post by others in one’s field has significant scholarly impact? Or that collaborative work is a good thing?

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, you know the drill. I am proposing a session — a workshop really — in which we brainstorm the many possible ways of publishing and peer-reviewing academic work that accounts for the digital, the blogged, the tweeted, the whatever-many-forms-that-scholarship-might-take. This has many resonances with the sessions already proposed that seek a common ground between journalism and academic writing. I assume, too, that there are many multiple viable models for writing and publishing and peer-review. The session I am proposing would consider as many of these as possible, and discuss what works, what doesn’t, and maybe stuff we haven’t even tried.

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.

Visually-Oriented Social Tools: Pinterest, Tumblr, and…?

So much emphasis in the Digital Humanities is on the written and the computational– it’s easy to forget that one of the major revolutions of the internet, especially once we got past dial-up, is the ease with which users are able to produce, manipulate, and share images.

For those of us who are deeply visual thinkers, however, this is a very important development.

I would like to propose a session discussing technologies of social image sharing like Tumblr and Pinterest. I think that tools like these have a lot of potential to draw in visual thinkers, encouraging them to learn, aggregate, and create in ways that our more textual social tools– blogs and Twitter, for example– might not.

I’d love to see people’s examples of Tumblr, Pinterest, and other similar tools in the classroom as part of a social pedagogical approach, as well as good examples of these tools being used for outreach and sharing by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations.

There are, of course, deep and fundamental issues with these sites– they are not specifically designed for this context. There are issues with metadata, deepness of data, and attribution, among other things. I’d like to see a discussion of what a perfect image sharing site for these types of use-cases might look like: more sorting? More thought given to citation? Greater opportunities for discussion and description?

Is this a tool that digital humanists should be working on? Should we be building a better social image sharing tool? Can something like this be built off of any existing open frameworks? Is this something that educators and cultural institutions would embrace, or would they tend to stay with the less-than-perfect commercial vendors because that’s where the people are?

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.

Of courses, curriculum, networks, and unconferences

Had a couple of thoughts for session ideas that will hopefully line up well with people’s interests:

First, I would like to talk to folks about how they are building digital work into pedagogy at a course level (I guess this kind of goes along with Mark’s post on blogging but encompasses more than just blogging) and also at a curricular level. I think we can all benefit from learning how to create assignments that fit the concepts, tools, and strategies of digital humanities into courses in a way that does not overwhelm students and professors but are also challenging and provoking.  I would also like to expand those ideas out of the classroom and talk about the development of digital methodologies within broader curriucula, which involves consensus and where real change occurs only after advocacy, collaboration, and sometimes compromise. I’d love to share our experiences at the BGC in both courses and curricula, where we have made big steps relatively quickly due to a number of factors including size, administrative, support, and resources, but am eager to hear from others at other institutions who are influencing curricular shifts and establishing stability for digital programs (seems like what Ethan is talking about as well). I think it is particularly important to talk about strategies at both the course and curricular level because accessible and enticing projects along with collected and pointed advocacy together can convince digital stragglers or technologically resistant people at institutions to consider  digital practice in their work,

A second thing I would like to talk about is establishing regional coalitions to organize and focus digital work in geographic areas. At DH 2011 I got together with people from Columbia, Fordham, and the NYPL and we decided that it would be beneficial for our institutions to share information and knowledge and work collaboratively on projects rather than all recreate the wheel over and over again on different digital projects. Our group has expanded out to over forty members from more than a dozen institutions and met a number of times, but we are looking to organize more concretely and takes some steps forward to really get organized. These kind of regional organization have the potential to provide valuable hubs for knowledge, practice, and even funds, but there are obstacles and questions about organizing in this manner. I’d like to have a conversation with people who have either created such explicit connections (have things like this happend in DC? NC? Cal? etc.) and discuss ways in which we can make those initiatives more fruitful and collaboration more easily achievable. Also, if you are from the NY area let me know as we are always looking for willing collaborators.

Lastly, I’d like to propose a session for people interested in running their own THATCamps attended by both past and future organizers. We had a successful THATCamp Museums NYC last month and I am eager to share our experiences with interested parties. Amanda, would of course love to have you at this.

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…