Congress 2016 (CSDH and CGSA)

As I get ready to fly back to Germany I’m finishing my conference notes on Congress 2016 (CSDH and CGSA). Calgary was nice and not to hot for Congress and we were welcomed by a malware attack on Congress that meant that many employees couldn’t use their machines. Nevertheless the conference seemed very well organized and the campus lovely.

My conference notes cover mostly the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities, but also DHSI at Congress, where I presented CWRC for Susan Brown, and the last day of the Canadian Game Studies Association. Here are some general reflections.

  • I am impressed by how the CGSA is growing and how vital it is. It has as many attendees as CSDH, but younger and enthusiastic attendees rather than tired. Much of the credit goes to the long term leadership of people like Jen Jensen.
  • CSDH has some terrific keynotes this year starting with Ian Milligan, then Tara McPherson, and finally Diane Jakacki.
  • It was great to see people coming up from the USA as CSDH/SCHN gets a reputation for being a welcoming conference in North America.
  • Stéfan Sinclair and I had a book launch for Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities at which Chad Gaffield said a few words. It was gratifying that so many friends came out for this.

At the CSDH AGM we passed a motion to adopt Guidelines on Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (Google Doc). The Guidelines discuss the value of digital work and provide guidelines for evaluation:

Programs of research, which are by nature exploratory, may require faculty members to take up modes of research that depart from methods they have previously used, therefore the form the resulting scholarship takes should not prejudice its evaluation. Original works in new media forms, whether digital or other, should be evaluated as scholarship following best practices if so presented. Likewise, researchers should be encouraged to experiment with new forms when disseminating knowledge, confident that their experiments will be fairly evaluated.

The Guidelines have a final section on Documented Deposit:

Digital media have not only expanded the forms that research can take, but research practices are also changing in the face of digital distribution and open access publishing. In particular we are being called on to preserve research data and to share new knowledge openly. Universities that have the infrastructure should encourage faculty to deposit not only digital works, but also curated datasets and preprint versions of papers/monographs with documentation in an open access form. These can be deposited with an embargo in digital archives as part of good practice around research dissemination and preservation. The deposit of work, including online published work, even if it is available elsewhere, ensures the long-term preservation by ensuring that there are copies in more than one place. Further, libraries can then ensure that the work is not only preserved, but is discoverable in the long term as publications come and go.


ReFig 2015

I’ve just left the ReFig 2015 workshop. I kept my workshop notes at Re-Figuring Innovation in Games (ReFig) 2015. Important research with an awesome team that I hope to follow. Last night we were treated to a conversation with Anita Sarkeesian that was fascinating. She has had more of an effect and probably done more good research in preparing the videos than most of the rest of us. There are lessons to be learned about how to address a broader audience, how to have an impact, and how to stay focused on social justice. : Digital Humanities Concepts 2015

TU Darmstadt MA LLC Structure

Just left a most delightful conference on Key ideas and concepts of Digital Humanities in Darmstadt, Germany. My conference notes are on : Digital Humanities Concepts 2015. The conference brought together an extraordinary set of speakers who were influential in the field when I entered it. Susan Hockey, Michael Sperberg-McQueen, Nancy Ide, George Landow, Wilhelm Ott and the list goes on. I would be hard pressed to imagine a conference I have been at better able to reflect on the history and ideas of humanities computing. The organizers Andrea Rapp, Michael Sperberg-McQueen, Sabine Bartsch and Michael Bender deserve much more praise than I was able to lavish on them.

Among all the great papers I will mention:

  • Michael Sperberg-McQueen gave a very smart and well argued paper on descriptive markup arguing against its dismissal as enforcing hierarchies.
  • Marco Passarotti talked about the Index Thomisticus (which he directs) and the Busa Archive. He brought some documents including some Gantt charts and early letters. I am definitely going to visit him and the archive in Milan.
  • Fotis Jannidis gave a great paper on topic modelling and its temptations. He has very interesting stuff to say about how the method has been adopted by humanists.
  • Julia Flanders gave a paper on “Looking for Gender in the History of DH” that when published will, I predict, become mandatory reading. She gives us a way forward after what happened at DH 2015. It was a truly wise and humble talk that could go a long way to providing an inclusive way forward.
  • Nancy Ide gave a great overview of the separate trajectories taken by DH and Corpus Linguistics.
  • Peter Robinson gave a call for open editions and walked us through what that might mean.

Given the speakers, there was a lot of reflection on the history of humanities computing and disciplinarity, though enframed by a German context. TU Darmstadt has an MA in Linguistic and Literary Computing (see image of the structure of the degree above) and is now developing an undergrad degree.

Digital Pedagogy Institute


Robert Jay Glickman and Geoffrey Rockwell

Last week I participated in the Digital Pedagogy Institute that was organized by the University of Toronto Scarborough, Brock University and Ryerson University. I kept my Conference Report here.

This Institute focused not only technology in learning but also on important issues around the ethics of different learning models that involve technology. Ways of using technology to get active participation rather than just broadcasting video came up. Ways of thinking about students in collaborative projects came up – we need to get beyond the apprentice model and think of them as “citizen scholars.”

Continue reading Digital Pedagogy Institute

DH 2015 in Sydney, Australia

Digital Humanities 2015 (DH2015) is now finishing up. I have been keeping my conference notes here.

The conference was held on the lovely campus of the University of Western Sydney. I was part of a couple of events and papers at this conference including:

  • News Scholars Symposium: With Rachel Hendry, I helped organize a pre-conference event for new scholars. This was supported by CHCI, centerNet, the Kule Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Western Sydney.
  • I participated in a public panel on Building Communities and Networks in the Humanities where I talked about some of the forms of public engagement that we are trying at the Kule Institute including the Around the World Conference.
  • I helped Stéfan Sinclair with a workshop on Voyant 2.0 (link goes to current version which will soon be 2.0).
  • I gave a paper with Stéfan Sinclair on “Talking about Programming the Digital Humanities” that traced a history of the discussion about programming and tools in the digital humanities.
  • Finally, John Montague gave a paper on “Exploring Large Datasets with Topic Model Visualizations” that I was involved in. This paper discussed a visualization for exploring the results of topic modelling that you can try in prototype here.

It is hard to summarize a whole conference, but I would note some of the questions that the new scholars posed in the unconference are worth thinking about:

  • How does one learn about the field of digital humanities?
  • How does one learn skills in the digital humanities?
  • How does one teach the digital humanities?
  • What are the ethical issues in digital work in the humanities?

KIAS shrinks carbon footprints “Around The World”

The Office of Sustainibility at the University of Alberta has recognized our work at the Kule Institute for Advanced Study to develop models for sustainable research. They have published a nice story about the Around the World conference that we run with the title, KIAS shrinks carbon footprints “Around The World”. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether our academic reward system isn’t encouraging flying to conferences where other means of meeting would work. What would it mean to do sustainable research?

CSDH/SCHN & ACH 2015 conference

This week I’m at the CSDH/SCHN & ACH 2015 conference in Ottawa. I’m keeping my conference notes here. Some of the papers being presented that I’m involved in:

“Visualizing Philosopher and Topic Frequency Data Gathered from Named Entity Recognition Tools”
Schenk, Kevin; Simpson, John; Rockwell, Geoffrey; Chartier, Ryan; and Montague, John

“Data Stewardship in the Digital Humanities”
Sapach, Sonja Christina; Rockwell, Geoffrey; and Catherine Middleton

“Characteristic Curve: Reinterpreting Early Analytics”
Rockwell, Geoffrey and Stéfan Sinclair

“#GamerGate: Distant Reading Games Discourse”
Andrea Budac, Geoffrey Rockwell, Ryan Chartier, Todd Suomela and Sean Gouglas

“Wicking Ideas”
Budac, Andrea; Rockwell, Geoffrey; Palmer, Zachary; Budac, Robert; and Stan Ruecker

Digital Demonstration: “Voyant Tools 2.0: The New, The Neat and the Gnarly”
Sinclair, Stéfan; Rockwell, Geoffrey; Sinatra, Michael; and Marcello Vitali Rosati

Digital Demonstration: “TAPoR 3.0”
Rodriguez-Arenas, Omar Isidro; Schenk, Kevin; Radzikowska, Milena; Ranaweera, Kamal; Sinclair, Stéfan; McKellar, Mark; and Geoffrey Rockwell

Digital Demonstration: “Game of Writing (GWrit)”
McKellar, Mark Pearse; Rockwell, Geoffrey; Ranaweera, Kamal; In, Aiden; Ru’Aini, Melania; Graves, Roger; Graves, Heather; and Omar Rodriguez-Arenas,