_Forest Under Cloud, Eberhard Grossgasteiger, unsplash.com
Ah November, when the work of a semester comes due all at once, as the skies turn gray and cold. Due-date November, the most unloved of months. November, when that digital project you were excited about in September has to actually get done.
The best thing we can say about November sometimes is that it ends, eventually.
The DM from my student was succinct.
“This is all well and good, but… y’know.... how do I actually get started?
How do any of us get started? How do you design a program that brings in students and faculty from 13 different participating departments?
In our core class DIGH5000, we bring students together around the topics and issues of digital humanities, and then - instead of trying to teach everyone to code - we help guide the student towards tools and techniques that are appropriate for the domain and the question that the student wants to explore. Then we worry about the nuts-and-bolts.
It works, but with a lot of hands-on individual guidance and supervision. I don’t see that as a bad thing, though: why else are we here if not to provide that guidance and supervision?
I came to digital humanities through work in simulation. I built agent-based models, trying to re-animate social networks I could stitch together from the archaeological materials I was studying. Practical necromancy, as it were. My tool of choice? An environment & language descended from a tool developed to teach kids about geometry - Netlogo.
Not as flashy, not as sophisticated as some approaches - this was 15 years ago, so the hard-core folks were all using some heavy duty programming languages I couldn’t even begin to fathom - but it had the virtue of being something that worked, and something I could understand.
When the rubber meets the road, the best solution is the one that works and gets you towards your goal. Don’t get sucked into coder bravado: as Mar Hicks teaches us, most of that was a function of programmed inequality. DH is a team sport: there is no shame in asking for help, for a second pair of eyes to look at what you’re doing.
Shane Rounce, unsplash.com
Nevertheless, it sometimes would be nice if there was something a person could hold on to - as a towel is to a hitchhiker traveling the galaxy, some kind of basic step-by-step instructions would be a relief, eh? Something you could rely on?
Wouldn’t it be nice to actually see how all of this goes down? Wouldn’t it be a relief to see how someone else deals with the inevitable roadblocks and code snafus and bizarre error messages?
Now you can. We continue to be inspired by the work of Alex Gill & colleagues at Columbia. Moacir P de Sá Pereira and Alex Gill are live-streaming their work as they build a DH project that recenters the lives of enslaved people at the Rose Hill Plantation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Friday afternoons (if you miss it, the recorded stream is on their youtube channel).
…but if you’d like some step by step instructions that start from an assumption of no prior experience at all, ‘Crafting Digital History’, aka HIST3814o, might be a good starting point: https://craftingdh.netlify.app. If you’re feeling a bit more advanced, then do check out The Programming Historian.
(A few years ago, the DIGH5000 class considered the problem from the other direction, and built a deck-builder card game to role-play the project management side of DH; give it a play here. On a related note, Quinn Dombrowski at Stanford has a DH RPG).
We’ll help you find your DH towel.
Marcel Kovačič, unsplash.com
An excellent crowdsourced compilation of events, research, and opportunities is available at Digital Humanities Now. DHN depends on volunteer weekly editors; a one-week stint at DHN would be acceptable for DIGH5800. Find out more about the different roles. Check it out!
Digital Humanities Now is an experimental, edited publication that highlights and distributes informally published digital humanities scholarship and resources from the open web. Since 2009, DHNow has been refining processes of aggregation, discovery, curation, and review to open and extend conversations about the digital humanities research and practice.
Nov 4: Metadata and Instagram: Ways of seeing, Shawn Graham. U of O DH Toolbox Series “In this workshop, Dr. Graham will walk you through some of the ways you can retrieve the metadata behind the photos on Instagram. If time allows, he’ll also walk you through determining visual similarity with the Yale DH Lab’s ‘pix-plot’ package. You will need to have Python installed on your machine; Anaconda is an easy-to-install version https://www.anaconda.com/products/individual. ” Register here
Thursday Nov 5 11am-12pm CT; Monday Nov 9, 1-2 pm CT; Tuesday November 17, 2-3 pm CT. Hypothesis 1010: Learn More about Social Annotation. Hypothes.is is a web annotation tool; the webinar explores the pedagogical value of collaborative annotation and introduces the tool.
Şahin Sezer Dinçer, unsplash.com
Media creates horizons of possibility that in turn shape reality. When transgender people create audiovisual media, rather than simply being represented in it, their worldmaking helps change our collective world.
…the Transgender Media Lab at Carleton University investigates the aesthetic, political, and cultural work of audiovisual media created by transgender, Two Spirit, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming filmmakers and artists.
As part of that investigation, the lab is building the Transgender Media Portal, a collaborative digital tool that will enable new ways of analyzing these works and their circulation while making information about them available to trans arts communities and the public.
There are several opportunities to work and study with the Transgender Media Lab at the MA and PhD level, from fellowships to developer jobs.
If you know of someone else who might like to receive The DHCU Irregular, please do forward this and send them to the sign up page.
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