Editing Modernism in Canada


Posts Tagged ‘digital humanities’

June 10, 2010

digital anti-humanism?

Does anybody know if there has been much theorization of digital anti-humanism?

June 10, 2010

Speaking in Metaphors

With my now mandatory cup of java in hand to fight the jet lag, I take my charmingly wobbly seat in the Henry Hickman Building eager to hear another great round of Graduate presentations.  I was particularly enthusiastic this morning, as two of the presentations included the terms “Visual Representation” and “Curating” in their titles respectively – could these be indexes to the topics of visual arts or the handling of images in digital humanities (something I haven’t heard much [enough] about yet this week and which is central to my interests)?

No dice.  Well… this isn’t entirely true.  At least the paper with the promising “Visual Representation” in its title was about visual art—the Graffiti Research Lab to be specific.  I won’t go into much discussion about that presentation here (although I would be pleased to hear what others thought of it), because I want to focus on the other presentation that had a sexy, but somewhat misleading, title:  “Curating as Research: Digital Humanities and the Study of Culture in Real-Time.”  The presentation had little to do with visual art, and little to do with art or archival curation.  The premise: social media as curation.

The metaphor of social media as curation, although intriguing, sat uneasy in my mind for a number of reasons.  I know the expression “digital curation” is a widely used phrase; but today the term “curator” was presented as a signifier for the ideas of “aggregating” and “presenting”—central activities of blogging, twittering, facebooking, etc., and which are supposedly related to art or archival curation.  I started to feel sympathetic for any possible curators in the room, whose professional expertise was (in my opinion) greatly scaled down to two tasks.  Ultimately, my discomfort with the metaphor really got me to thinking about metaphor.  Why have a number of digital humanists this week  felt compelled to “metaphorize” their roles, tasks, projects and what are the implications of analogizing the profession?

The question brings to mind Zailig and Emily’s paper on the Digital Page and “Respect des fonds,” which some of us read at TEMiC the other week.  If I recall correctly, the brilliant  authors caution against the metaphor of the “digital archive,” which “conceals the fact that rather than being a new and improved version for the postmodern age…[it] is conceptually no different than the pre-modern archive-as-collection. . . .” Digital collections are useful; but they are not the same as a fonds or archives.  In fact, it may be the differences between these two resources that merit consideration and emphasis, and not the similarities.

My biggest concern is that by analogizing the role of digital humanists, we may be delimiting a fictive and unsuitable space for ourselves in the realm of scholarship and research.  What I mean to ask, in this coffee-induced unsophisticated way, is:  when we graph the activities and contributions of digital scholarship and research onto other well-known models of scholarship and research, do we risk imposing limitations on the field and under-acknowledging the value of what we do, and what others do?  Or am I being overly critical?  Besides the obvious communicative function, what value is there in speaking in metaphors?

June 9, 2010

EMiC @ DHSI in pictures

Emily, Chris et. al. were gracious enough to welcome us into their home-away-from-home for a little get-together this evening at DHSI. Fun was had – there’s photographic evidence:

June 9, 2010

Since we are fantasizing…

The really engaged posts on the EMiC blog have really got me thinking… If we put all this effort into developing the “EMiC” brand of digital mark-up…  Would it be possible to create an online graduate journal, or something similar, within which we could publish samples of our projects? Hosted through EMiC, or partnered with EMiC, but a distinct entity?

This way, like Chris suggests, we could develop a “house style” which all our projects could conform to, but also use and develop.

 It could be a collaboration, by both humanities scholars, digital humanists and other computer scientists.  If we worked with them to develop the tools we’d need to start out and get the ball rolling, then we would be able to self teach through forums like the DHSI summer course.

Some of the small projects we might be interested in pursuing don’t necessarily have a forum for publication.  This would give graduate students a chance to learn new technology, and then have an immediate application for it.  They would know that their work had a possible “home” within the journal.

Obviously this is looking a little bit longer term, but it would be really amazing if we were able to lay the groundwork for this in the next few years, while we have an EMiC to support and engage us.

Perhaps it could be split into two parts, half scholarly articles about editing in print and online, and half documents or editorial projects that are entirely born digital.

I realize that I am perhaps being a bit over ambitious…  But I couldn’t help but take it to the next level.  Thoughts??

Did I take it too far?

Did I?

June 8, 2010

Report to Scaling the Digital Humanities

In the unavoidable absence of Dean, Megan and I did a report on EMiC. The aim of Scaling the Humanities is to explore ways in which the Digitial Humanities can “scale up” to avoid unnecessary duplication, to encourage co-operartive development, and to produce the strongest possible face to granting bodies. The first couple days have consisted of a series of reports from a wide range of projects. Tomorrow we will be pooling our various experiences.

Meagan, who is more knowlegeable about EMiC than I am — or than anyone is except for Dean — did a quick survey of the origins of EMiC and I carried on with a brief version of Dean’s update on recent developments, focussing on:

1. image-based editing and markup
2. digitization
3. text analysis
4. visualization

Response to the report was very positive. EMiC is clearly seen as a model digital humanities project, especially in its flexibility and openness to development in previously unforeseen directions. I will report on the results of tomorrow’s discussions and their relevance to EMiC.

June 7, 2010

Initial Reflections from Day One: Lunch

Here it is, lunchtime on day one of the DHSI.  As I happily munch on lunch with my fellow roommates, I feel a tinge of jealousy that I can’t retake the TEI Fundamentals course.  This year, we are lucky enough to have 14 of the 19 EMiC participants enrolled in that class.  Having that large a group to commiserate with is very helpful at the early stages of learning a new language.  As P.K. Page struggles and goes silent because of the overwhelming nature of learning Portuguese in Brazil, so I too struggled with learning a language of angle brackets and abbreviations that has been a bit suppressed since my last visit to Victoria.

Returning now with a fresh face, I feel re-engaged with the digital tools.  My new course, Transcribing Primary Sources, is much more invested in the bibliographic and social text features of the text.  Matt just spent half an hour talking about all the ways you can describe the scribes who wrote the text and how to mark specific regional geography to “map” the transmission of the text.  How awesome is that?

Because lunch is fast wrapping up, the last piece of news I want to share is about our afternoon project.  I am doing digital mark-up fill in the blank!  This guy definitely understands my abilities.  I get to go hunting for the right information, but I also have the safety blanket of knowing that in this case there is a “right answer” which I can try to find.

Back to work, and I can’t wait to talk (and read!) about your experiences at DEMiC today!

June 7, 2010


Tonight we had a dinner gathering for EMiC participants at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, BC.  Zailig Pollock did a great impression of our fearless director, Dean, and discussed some of the digital humanities initiatives with which EMiC is involved. After Zailig’s presentation, I showed off the new (in-progress) website.

I encourage our EMiC contingent to blog and tweet while at the DHSI. I’ve now created user accounts for everyone, and you should receive an email with your login details. If you haven’t received an email, please let me know by posting in the comments, or sending me a message (mbtimney.etcl@gmail.com). I also encourage everyone to use twitter in conjunction with our hash tag, #emic (and #dhsi2010).

It was wonderful to see old friends, and to meet new ones, too. We’ve got a great group of folks who comprise a strong EMiC team. I am really looking forward to this week at the DHSI!