On Making in the Digital Humanities fills a gap in our understanding of digital humanities projects and craft by exploring the processes of making as much as the products that arise from it. The volume draws focus to the interwoven layers of human and technological textures that constitute digital humanities scholarship.
On Making in the Digital Humanities is finally out from UCL Press. The book honours the work of John Bradley and those in the digital humanities who share their scholarship through projects. Stéfan Sinclair and I first started work on it years ago and were soon joined by Juliane Nyhan and later Alexandra Ortolja-Baird. It is a pleasure to see it finished.
I co-wrote the Introduction with Nyhan and wrote a final chapter on “If Voyant then Spyral: Remembering Stéfan Sinclair: A discourse on practice in the digital humanities.” Stéfan passed during the editing of this.
Yesterday I was part of a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Agreement between Ritsumeikan University and the University of Alberta. I and the President of the University of Alberta (Bill Flanagan) signed on behalf of U of A. The MOU described our desire to build on our collaborations around Replaying Japan. We hope to build collaborations around artificial intelligence, games, learning, and digital humanities. KIAS and the AI4Society signature area have been supporting this research collaboration.
Today (March 2nd, 2023) we are having a short conference at Ritsumeikan that included a panel about our collaboration, at which I talked, and a showcase of research in game studies at Ritsumeikan.
For the first time, A.I.-generated personas, often used for corporate trainings, were detected in a state-aligned information campaign — opening a new chapter in online manipulation.
The New York Times has a story about how How Deepfake Videos Are Used to Spread Disinformation. The videos are actually from a service Synthesia which allows you to generate videos of talking heads from transcripts that you prepare. They have different professionally acted avatars and their technology will then generate the video of your text being presented. This is supposed to be used for quickly generating training videos (without paying actors), but someone used it for disinformation.
With the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT the other big AI companies are teasing us with their AIs. For example, Verge tells us that Google’s new AI turns text into music. Alas Google doesn’t seem to want to let us play with the AI, just admire the results.
D&D is a game for people who like rules: in order to play even the basic game, you had to make sense of roughly twenty pages of instructions, which cover everything from “Adjusting Ability Scores” (“Magic-users and clerics can reduce their strength scores by 3 points and add 1 to their prime requisite”) to “Who Gets the First Blow?” (“The character with the highest dexterity strikes first”). In fact, as I wandered farther into the cave, and acquired the rulebooks for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I found that there were rules for everything: … It would be a mistake to think of these rules as an impediment to enjoying the game. Rather, the rules are a necessary condition for enjoying the game, and this is true whether you play by them or not. The rules induct you into the world of D&D; they are the long, difficult scramble from the mouth of the cave to the first point where you can stand up and look around.
It seems to me that this is related to the various activities that were staged in Second Life and other environments. It also has connections to the Machinima phenomenon where people use 3D environments like games to stage acts that are filmed.
Of course the problem with Fallout 76 is the performers can get attacked during a performance.
The editors-in-chief of Nature and Science told Nature’s news team that ChatGPT doesn’t meet the standard for authorship. “An attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs,” says Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature in London. Authors using LLMs in any way while developing a paper should document their use in the methods or acknowledgements sections, if appropriate, she says.
It makes sense to document use, but why would we document use of ChatGPT and not, for example, use of a library or of a research tool like Google Scholar? What about the use of ChatGPT demands that it be acknowledged?
Sinykin talks about this as an “act as groundbreaking as the research itself” which seems a bit of an exaggeration. It is important that data is being reviewed and published, but it has been happening for a while in other fields. Nonetheless, this is a welcome initiative, especially if it gets attention like the LARB article. In 2013 the Tri-Council (of research agencies in Canada) called for a culture of research data stewardship. In 2015 I worked with Sonja Sapach and Catherine Middleton on a report on a Data Management Plan Recommendation for Social Science and Humanities Funding Agencies. This looks more at the front end of requiring plans from people submitting grant proposals that are asking for funding for data-driven projects, but this was so that data could be made available for future research.
Sinykin’s essay looks at the poetry publishing culture in the US and how white it is. He shows how data can be used to study inequalities. We also need to ask about the privilege of English poetry and that of culture from the Global North. Not to mention research and research infrastructure.