Monthly Archives: April 2013

Day of DH Debrief

It’s been a busy day.  Partly because life happened above and beyond Day of DH.  It was my Dad’s birthday.  My step-grandfather is in the hospital.  But I’m not going to make this post about work-life balance.  Instead, I’m going to finish with work now and get on with life.

The quick recap:

  • I got back yesterday from RSA, which was great.  (More on re-joining life from Andie Silva here.)
  • We got a new lab member, Matt Hiebert.  I’m glad he’s finally here!
  • We got a Skype wall.  (See pictures from Shaun Wong)
  • writing, writing, writing (or trying to)
  • grants
  • image licensing
  • paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
  • dayofdh blogging; following twitter
  • and, finally, Nuts & Bolts of DH!

All in all, a busy day, but I can’t shake the feeling I should have done more.

Nuts & Bolts of DH

To cap off my #DayofDH, I went to talk about “Using Tools to Engage Digital Learners” with Catherine Caws (@katrinrulokoz).

This was a bigger “digital humanities” than I usually considered.  I’m pretty firmly ensconsed in “digital literary studies” or even “digital book history” in my daily practice.  Catherine has experience with Computer-Assisted Language Learning (which combines psychology, linguistics, computers, and more).  UVic has a Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) centre (right next to the ETCL, actually).  Catherine also has experience at the CoCo lab in Sydney.

Catherine recommended a few resources for us, including Peter Goodyear’s book Student Experiences of E-Learning in Higher Education.

Catherine started us off on our discussion by bringing up four tools she uses in the classroom: blogs, wikis, curating sites (including Twitter), and video sites (especially vimeo).  The word that kept coming up again and again was “engaged”: digital tools can help students engage with the material, rather than simply memorizing and repeating things.

Our conversation then turned to the legality of using digital tools with students.  Apparently UVic doesn’t allow instructors to hand back assignments in any way but in paper and in person. Also, apparently instructors at a Canadian institution aren’t allowed to ask their students to join or post on sites hosted on American servers.  We also wondered about Day of DH blogs, potential research, and release forms.

I’m happier talking about the potential of digital technology to help students than laws and invasions of privacy.  But I’m probably just pulling an ostrich and putting my head in the sand.

Ultimately, though, the best part of our discussion was just that, the discussion.  Seeing people and talking, that is, putting the human and humanities into digital humanities, is key.  I’m reminded of Sarah Werner’s recent post on the importance of socializing to scholarship.





The Digital Resources I use all the time

Today, as I reflected on Twitter, the digital resource that has been most pivotal to my work is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  While this was originally a print source, the online iteration makes my research possible.  Today I have been researching a late-seventeenth century woman who does not have her own entry, but she is mentioned in her father’s, huband’s, and sister’s entries.  The full-text search option on the online ODNB makes deeper research possible than with a print version.  (It was instrumental in some of my earlier research for an article forthcoming in HLQ.)

But I use a lot of digital resources for my research.  I was curating a list for my own personal uses, but about a year ago I decided to “go public” and share my simple site.  I add to this list frequently: for instance, last week I added at least four entries based on announcements on the Humanist listserv and hearing about things at the Renaissance Society of America.

For your researching pleasure:

Nuts & Bolts

Well, I’ve taken some solid writing time.  Things feel good.  Of course, I wish I had more time for this, but there are other things to be done.

Instead, I’m going to try to work on a grant application before I go to our Nuts & Bolts of Digital Humanities discussion. It’s a discussion series that we run here at the ETCL.  Last year, Constance Crompton ran the series, and this year I have inherited it from her.  We met last year to discuss what the community wanted, and as a community we decided that we wanted only two meetings a semester.  So our meetings this year (which have been attended by more and more people) have been:

1. Constance Crompton (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities, UBC-Okanagan): “Scaling Up: Developing Metrics and Milestones for Small Digital Humanities Projects”
2. Inba Kehoe (Copyright officer and Scholarly Communications/Publishing Librarian), Ken Cooley (Associate University Librarian, Reference and Collection Management Services), and Paul Stokes (Chief Information Officer, UVic): “Why the Library Won’t Archive your DH Project”
3. Janni Aragon (Dept. of Political Science), “Professor Twitter: Social Media for Academics to Network” #proftwitter
4. (Today) Catherine Caws (Associate Professor and Chair, Dept of French): “Using Digital Tools to Engage Learners”
We’ve had some great discussions so far and today’s will, I hope, be no exception.  Nuts & Bolts is normally pretty informal.  We meet at the grad house and talk about things over a pitcher or two.
One of our positive problems is that our group has been getting bigger, which means we have a harder time finding a place to meet that isn’t too noisy where we can share a discussion!


Busy work

So this morning has felt like a lot of busy work.  I had to do a bunch of paperwork for reimbursements and for permission to publish digital images.  Pending peer review, you might see these images in an article I wrote for Architectures of the Book (Archbook).  Also, the few minutes it takes to write blog posts and emails: so much to catch up on having been away all weekend.  And I haven’t even started with post-conference contacts and thanks.

Also, the new Skype wall is up.  This is a huge distraction, but I might get used to it in a bit.

I also had lunch with an English Department colleague, which was lovely.  I still feel guilty for not eating at my desk and working through lunch (like usual).  Hopefully before the Nuts and Bolts of Digital Humanities session this afternoon I will be able to get more done.

Headphones on now.  I love being in the ETCL and next to the HCMC but it can be hard to concentrate, so sometimes I turn on WQXR.



Lab Life

So I haven’t been in the lab for long this morning, but it’s a busy environment.

First, my new colleague Matthew Hiebert has arrived to take up his postdoc. (Welcome!  We’re so glad you’re here!)  Technical difficulties around getting him on the network ensued.

Had some office chitchat about the ADHO publications liaison position and the New Technologies panels at RSA.

And now there is literally construction going on as two employees install a Skype wall for us.  Drilling sounds make it hard to concentrate.

But seriously, folks, I’m going to write for a bit now.  Back to blog later. Unless this drilling keeps up, in which case maybe I’ll try going to the library for a bit.


Weekend Update

For those of you who were following me on Twitter (@Laura_Estill), you’ll know that I was at the Renaissance Society of America this past weekend (#rsa13).  I was part of a series of panels on “Renaissance Studies and New Technologies.”

The best part of RSA, though, was that many panels I attended used/discussed/presented digital tools even if the focus of the panel wasn’t explicitly digital humanities.  I learned more about the online database component of Private Libraries in Renaissance England, the edited playtexts available from Queen’s Men Editions, the interactive blocking tool Simulated Environment for Theatre (SET), and the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project, to name a few.

As Michael Ullyot (@ullyot) said in our roundtable discussion (quoting Mike Witmore, I believe), “If digital humanities is successful, it will disappear.”  This, of course, doesn’t mean the end of DH; instead, DH will become so ubiquitous that it will be part of all of our scholarship.  I think RSA13 showed how that was already becoming the case.

Getting home from two back-to-back conferences (Shakespeare Association of America was last week!) has made me tired: I could already go for a weekend, but it’s Monday morning and these things aren’t going to write themselves!