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The missing ingredient: sleep.

When someone invents a WordPress plugin that can attach directly to one’s brain, then all the blog posts that I compose in my mind but not on any recording device could be recorded. I composed at least two thought-posts earlier today, but this summary version will have to suffice.

Today was a recovery day for me after a big DH oriented weekend. On Saturday, I gave a keynote talk at the Coastal Plains Graduate Conference on Language and Literature, a graduate student conference organized by students in my department that has grown significantly over the past three years.  This year’s conference had attendees from universities not just in our region and state, but even nationally and internationally. In response to this year’s conference theme of Revolution, My talk was entitled “Digital Humanities and the Future of Literary Study: Evolution or Revolution?”. I explored the cultural history of those two models for thinking about change, and suggested some ways to think beyond the binary oppositions that those terms tend to produce when paired. Along the way I talked about one of the ways I see DH as benefiting literary studies more broadly, which is the emphasis on making methodology more explicit.

Over the same weekend, Rice University was hosting a series of DH workshops entitled Digitization in the Humanities. I was able to attend four of the six workshops and still meet my obligations at the UH conference. I had lots of take-aways from this event, ranging from articles added to my “to-read’ queue, some software tools to download and play with, and at least three ideas for small research projects I’d like to explore this summer. Plus, I got to spend time with DH colleagues from a variety of institutions.  I was particularly interested in the different methodological perspectives offered by Derek Ruths and Dennis Tenen‘s presentations about network graphs. On the one hand, the methodological rigor of traditional approach to statistical analysis: develop a hypothesis that can be expressed in formal terms, and use visualization only at the very end so that it doesn’t mislead your interpretation of the data. On the other hand, an exploratory data analysis approach: develop a set of questions about a dataset, and use visualization to explore and refine your understanding.  Two very different approaches, each with attractive strengths and important applications.  It was nice to have them both expressed in the same workshop situation.

My cursory glances through the DayofDH activity stream today has been comforting, in that it’s nice to see that I’m not the only person who spends a lot of time with administrative work, teaching prep, grading, meetings, and other things that are far removed from the terminal window.

My DH related work today included: sketching some ideas for a future project; checking arrangements for Matt Gold‘s upcoming talk for the DH Initiative on our campus; collecting ideas for the graduate Intro to DH course I’ll be teaching in Spring 2014, and refining some CQL queries for the large-scale bibliographic metadata project I’ve been working on for the past year. But I also did administrative tasks related to the internship program I direct, graded essays for my Speculative Science Fiction class, and prepped for the week’s teaching and meetings.

Probably the most important thing I did today was to take advantage of a day spent working at home: I took a nap.