collaborative work: links & kinks

This winter, I’ll join an MLA conference panel sponsored by the discussion group on Computer Studies in Language and Literature.  I’m among friends! and am looking forward to talking with Laura Mandell, Jason B. Jones, Timothy Powell, Jason Rhody, and our moderator, Tanya Clement.  Our panel is called “Links and Kinks in the Chain: Collaboration in the Digital Humanities.”  Here’s what I’ve offered for my bit:

New modes of interdisciplinary, tech-enabled research and production drive us to collaborate across an array of boundaries in the digital humanities.  It is no longer unusual for a scholar to lead a tight-knit, interdepartmental research group or function as part of an ad-hoc team that may include faculty colleagues, graduate students, designers, programmers, systems administrators, and librarians or other instructional technology and information specialists.  This is a good thing, and (in my experience) the most productive and interesting collaborations are grounded in a kind of professional and intellectual egalitarianism, or openness to the contributions of all team members.  But not all of the social boundaries inherent in digital humanities project-work can or should be ignored.  Continue reading “collaborative work: links & kinks”

open call: NEH/Scholars’ Lab GIS institute

This is a follow-up to my previous post, to say that the Scholars’ Lab has now issued an open call for applicants to its NEH-funded Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship. We’ll run three tracks of the Institute, with the first two (Stewardship and Software) happening concurrently this year, from November 15th to 18th (which happens to be GIS Day). The third track (Scholarship) will be held May 25th-28th, 2010. NEH will generously cover travel, lodging, and working meals for ten attendees in each of the first two tracks and twenty attendees in the third track. We’ve even built in a special funding for graduate student participants in track 3.

Because one goal of the Institute is to build the capacity of participating institutions (from the policy-and-collections-building side to the infrastructure-and-interfaces side to some serious scholars-bootstrapping-each-other goodness!), we encourage you to collaborate with your colleagues in IT, the library, your local (digital?) humanities center, and interested academic departments. We’ll be giving careful attention to applications from institutional “teams” who can be represented in each track — but individual applicants are encouraged, too.

The deadline for consideration for tracks 1 and 2 is September 1st. Track 3’s deadline is the 1st of December. Read all about the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship, check out our amazing faculty, and apply at our website.

graceful degradation

Graceful Degradation: Managing Digital Humanities Projects in Times of Transition and Decline

First announced at the Digital Humanities 2009 conference, the “Graceful Degradation” survey is now open at:

http://graceful-degradation.questionpro.com/

This is a survey of the digital humanities community — broadly conceived — on project management in times of transition and decline, and what we see as the causes and outcomes of those times. We invite participation by anyone who has worked on a digital project in or related to the humanities.

Continue reading “graceful degradation”

institute for enabling geospatial scholarship

Last year, the UVA Scholars’ Lab hosted a local, semester-long faculty and grad student seminar on geospatial technologies in the humanities.  We used, as a jumping-off point, Martyn Jessop’s assessment of factors contributing to a surprising “inhibition” of the use of digitized maps and GIS among humanists. That GIS, an important tool for scholarly engagement with space and place across the disciplines, has been slow to penetrate the digital humanities — a population generally receptive to new practices and technologies — begs a discussion of issues at once historical and methodological, institutional and pragmatic. The seventh annual Scholarly Communication Institute, to be held at UVA Library in a couple of weeks, will take this issue up in a concentrated way, as we focus on spatial technologies and tools: the institutional, methodological, and interpretive aspects of GIS in the context of scholarly communication.

The “inhibition” question demands serious engagement by scholars, programmers, librarians, and advocates for shared data and transparent, flexible, open services. To be effective, this engagement must come at many levels simultaneously: we must work to build core infrastructure to support GIS and leverage the strengths of (primarily government and academic) data providers; we must carefully analyze past successes as well as failures in the digital humanities in order to move forward with more robustly-imagined scholarly projects; and we must interrogate both a toolset that has evolved to suit scientific inquiry (that is, positivist models of physical behavior and dense, detailed, precisely-defined data sets, generally synchronic) and our own inherited systems for interpreting the human record within a spatial field. Above all – because place and space, whether specifically geo-referenced or wholly conceptual, are common denominators in humanistic disciplines – we must make a concerted effort at supporting and understanding what it is that we do, when we “do GIS.”

Today, I’m proud to announce that the Scholars’ Lab has been funded by the NEH to host three tracks of an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities, on the theme of “Enabling Geospatial Scholarship.”

Continue reading “institute for enabling geospatial scholarship”

sketching ivanhoe

The publication of Johanna Drucker’s new book, SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing, has sent me back to my notebook of drawings from our SpecLab and ARP days, the period from roughly 2000 – 2006 when, first as a grad student and then as a post-doc, I worked closely with Johanna and Jerry McGann on the lunatic fringe of digital humanities. (Jerry and I had gone down the rabbit hole some years earlier with the Rossetti Archive as well.)

These are a few of my sketches for the last iteration of the Ivanhoe Game, the one that’s still available for play. I must confess — as much as I loved the design process in all its stages — that I haven’t played a really good game of Ivanhoe since we moved away from the more prosy and simple interfaces of the Turn of the Screw game (undertaken when Geoffrey Rockwell was a visiting scholar at UVA and I wrote moves like this) and the Haruki Murakami / D. G. Rossetti games I played in the wee hours of the night with my first baby sleeping in my arms. (The Rossetti one, on Jenny, in which I imagined a company specializing in flesh-bot reproductions of Victoriana, was re-printed by Laura Mandell at Romantic Circles and in Jerome McGann’s Like Leaving the Nile.)

Continue reading “sketching ivanhoe”