Bethany Nowviskie

what do girls dig?

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Has data-mining in the humanities emerged as a gentleman’s sport? Two and a half conversations about gender, language, and the “Digging into Data Challenge.”

(Make sure to click “load more” at the bottom of the Storify narrative to find my real commentary.)

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eternal september of the digital humanities

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Here’s where I am. It’s nearly Hallowe’en, and kids have settled into school routines. I have little ones in my own house and big ones in the Scholars’ Lab — the youngest of whom are newly, this year, exactly half my age. Other kids are dead, and it’s still bothering me a good deal. Mornings in Virginia feel cold now, and acorns are everywhere underfoot. We’re tracking leaves inside.

It’s a melancholy way to begin a post, but it situates us.

It’s October 2010 in the social scene of the digital humanities, and (yes, I’m feeling wry) our gathering swallows Twitter in the skies.

I tweet a lot. It’s a mixture — the writing and the reading — of shallow, smart, and sweet. I answer lots of email, too, lots of messages from strangers asking questions. We’re doing a good job, my team, and people are asking how. I stuck my neck out on a thing or two, and people are asking why, or for more. This fall, I worked with friends to launch a website that I’m proud of — which is for strangers, asking questions. I’ve stopped answering to the phone.

There’s a bit of a joke around the SLab, about the degree to which the boss-lady is not service-oriented. It’s funny (as they say), because it’s true. But it’s only true insofar as I let it be — and most local colleagues realize that I put on this persona consciously, as a useful corrective or (at least) a countering provocation to that strong and puzzling tendency I have noted as a scholar come to work in libraries: the degree to which the most beautiful quality of librarianship — that it is a service vocation — becomes the thing that makes the faculty, on the whole, value us so little. Service as servile. The staffer, the alternate academic, the librarian, the non-tenure-track digital humanist, as intellectual partner? Not so long as we indulge our innate helpfulness too much. And not so long as we are hesitant to assert our own, personal research agendas — the very things that, to some of us once expected to join the professoriate, felt too self-indulgent to be borne.

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uninvited guests: regarding twitter at invitation-only academic events

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[Subsequently published in Hacking the Academy.]

Over the past several years, I have been privileged both to attend and to help plan a number of invitation-only conferences, institutes, and symposia related to my field, the digital humanities. I use the word “privileged” not because of the exclusivity of these events, but because I know from personal experience how very hard their organizers work to set conditions leading to meaningful experiences and outcomes.

In recent weeks, I’ve attended two private events — UVa’s Shape of Things to Come conference, on scholarly editing and matters of sustainability (#uvashape), and the Re:Enlightenment Exchange (#reenx), a set of dialogues hosted by NYU and the New York Public Library. On Wednesday, I’m heading to another invitation-only gathering, Playing with Technology in History (hashtag TBD: #pastplay?), and we’re gearing up at my shop, the Scholars’ Lab, to host a second round of our NEH-funded training program, the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship (#geoinst) — by application only; deadline long passed. I’m also helping to organize the 8th annual meeting of the Mellon-supported Scholarly Communication Institute this summer (#sci8-to-be).

Most likely, you’re not on our guest list. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Commons License This site uses a heavily modified version of Bryan Helmig's Magatheme. Work at http://nowviskie.org by Bethany Nowviskie is always CC-BY. Want to know why? The falling letters are by Wayne Graham. He kindly made them to replace a set I designed in Flash in the late 1990s and had in place for more than 17 years. Not a bad run! Ave atque vale.