Thank you!

Thanks to all who participated in THATCamp New England 2014!  It was an excellent weekend.  We’ll look forward to seeing you all again soon.

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Lunch options, tardily

Thanks to Vika for providing the following link:

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Sustainability is a red herring

Yesterday on <a href="">my blog</a>, I noted how, in recent years, a higher and higher premium has been placed on "sustainability" in our discussions about digital humanities and especially in the grant guidelines our funders produce. I believe this emphaisis is misplaced. I believe the effort we require practitioners to spend crafting sustainability plans and implementing them would be better spent on outreach&mdash;on sales. I believe we'd be better off spending our time and resources making sure our projects are <em>used now</em>, rather than planning for some time in the future when they will have to be "sustained." In my experience, the greatest guarantor of sustainiability is <em>use</em>. When things are used they <em>are sustained</em>. When things become so widely implemented that the field can’t do without them, they are sustained. Like the banks, tools and platforms that become too big to fail are sustained. Sustainability is very simply a fuction of use, and we should recognize this in allocating scare energies and resources. 

What I'd like to do in this session is discuss how we might shift our from sustainability to use, perhaps by revising the "sustainability" section of the <a href="">NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Grants</a> guidelines along these new lines.

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Undergraduate DH

As two recent Hampshire College undergrads, we both did digital humanist senior projects, but took very different approaches and routes to digital humanist work. L. Kelly FitzPatrick’s Poppies Pressed is a digital WWI centennial project, and Fiona Stewart-Taylor’s Facing Autobiography is a thesis on small press and webcomics published under creative commons. Using our experiences and inviting yours, we are interested in facilitating a discussion and raising questions about how digital humanities can be promoted, taught, and introduced to undergraduate students. We are particularly interested in how the interdisciplinary nature of digital humanities can potentially inspire new kinds of undergraduate work.  Digital humanities can stimulate innovative approaches to areas of study from undergraduates themselves. Students doing DH can see the connections between and engage in communication across different disciplines, truly being “more than a major.” How do we get students set in their fields to branch out and take risks?

Digital humanities is often grounded in a philosophy of “doing.” Without sacrificing theory or critical discourse, digital humanities’ orientation towards projects allows students to see applications of humanities fields and possibilities for scholarly work, particularly interdisciplinary work.  How can students’ own experiences with technology be critically examined in a digital humanist fashion? Similarly, how can classes be a catalyst to advance students’ understanding of DH and specific skills, like coding or close reading, in digital humanist projects? The productive possibilities of digital humanities are not limited to projects, nor to any one framework or approach. A DH class is necessarily limited in what can be taught in the time available. With the unfixed definition of digital humanities, how can students be taught DH without being taught a monolithic DH?  Is it useful to students to engage with DH as a field while doing digitally inflected humanities work?  How do we get students doing DH, and how do classrooms become digital humanist classrooms?

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Multi-campus teaching projects

For this session I’d like to talk about or brainstorm other sorts of assignments that can take place across campuses.

The last two times I’ve taught my Intro to Digital Humanities course, in 2011 and in 2014, I included an assignment that responded to Mark Sample’s 2011 blog post, “The digital humanities is not about building, it’s about sharing.” The purpose of the assignments was to get students in my class working on something with students in other classes, at other universities. With digital technologies, there’s no longer a reason to pretend that the only class in the world reading this book. We can reach out to others and work with them on interpreting it or making a response to it.

The digital humanities, in other words, transforms not only our research but our learning.

In 2011, the resulting assignment was a collaboration with Mark, Zach Whalen, Erin Templeton, and Paul Benzon. We asked our students to re-network House of Leaves. That’s a fancy way of saying, we asked them to re-create the forums that accompanied the launch of the book.

In 2014, Zach and I decided we’d like to ask our students to create media objects for every page of House of Leaves. The result was A Million Blue Pages, a collaboration with Chuck Rybak, Mary Holland, Jeremy Douglass, Paul Hurh, and others.

Another good example of a cross-campus teaching project is Matt Gold and co.’s Looking for Whitman.

Again, for this session I’d like to talk about or brainstorm other sorts of assignments that can take place across campuses. How can we get our students talking to/working with one another? I imagine breaking into small groups and batting around ideas during the session and then presenting to the other groups.

Categories: Collaboration, Session: Talk, Social Media, Teaching | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Serendip-o-matic (almost) one year later

This is a discussion session about One Week One Tool and Serendip-o-matic ( Specific discussion topics can be driven by the participants, but possible options:

– leveraging the DPLA and Europeana APIs
– challenges maintaining product development with remote collaborators (who all have other primary job functions)
– advantages and disadvantages to an interdisciplinary team
– lessons learned from building a product in a week that can be extrapolated to the real world

We will have representatives from project management, outreach, design and development.

Categories: Coding, Collaboration, General, Project Management, Session Proposals, Session: Talk | 2 Comments

Opening Comments — The Links

I’ll be mentioning some digital humanities projects and tools during my opening comments tomorrow.  Here are the links for all:

Voyant Tools:

Bomb Sight:

Visualizing Emancipation:

Digital Dos Passos:

Murder on Beacon Hill:



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Dipping a Toe Into D3.js

If anyone else is interested in playing around with D3.js, I’d love to sit down for a while and try to figure things out. It all looks super-cool, but I haven’t had any time to devote to picking up another new thing for a while. If the session gets enough upvotes and an experienced person wants to lead the session rather than me (did I mention that I’m straight green with D3?), that’s great, too.

Categories: Session: Play, Visualization | 4 Comments

What Do People See When They Look at Visualizations?

Visualizations, visualizations everywhere, but what do people see when they look at them?

Pie I have eaten

It’s hard to know what people think they see when they look at visualizations. So I propose a session where we look at a bunch of visualizations, especially but not necessarily from history or the humanities, and talk about what we see. This discussion could include at least three elements. First, perhaps some people in the room will be versed in the science of perception. Second (and more interesting to me, at least) I’d like to see the different scholarly interpretations people make of visualizations. To put the question a different way, if you were going to show a particular visualization to a class or write about it in an article, what arguments would you make? Third, should the conventions (the grammar) of historical and humanities visualizations be different than the visualizations that prevail elsewhere? (Cf. Johanna Drucker’s article.)

If people are interested in this session, perhaps we could prepare for the discussion by posting links to visualizations that we can talk about in the comment section below.

Categories: Digital Literacy, Mapping, Session: Make, Session: Talk, Visualization | 1 Comment