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Welcome back: It’s Year 2 for DHMS

As the semester gets under way, DHMS is ready to roll out a number of updates, news, and events for the new academic year 2017/18. Welcome back, everyone!

First a quick review of Year 1: following the creation of the brand new graduate certificate in Digital Humanities and Media Studies in February – with much-appreciated support from a number of colleagues in CLAS and the Graduate School – two students already graduated from the program. Britta Meredith (LCL/German Studies) and Elisabeth Buzay (LCL/French & Francophone Studies) each completed their course work and DHMS portfolios in the nick of time and with great aplomb (and, incidentally, helped the director navigate the new learning curve of certification processing). Importantly, both DHMS certificate holders are off to a tight conference schedule: Elisabeth Buzay received two invitations already, with presentations directly related to her DHMS certificate work, and Britta Meredith is continuing her jam-packed presentation tour with next-phase talks on her DHMS portfolio that is now getting integrated with her dissertation. Congratulations to both of them!

On video now from Year 1 on the Humanities Institute youtube channel: two of the events from last year, the inaugural DHMS Talks presentation by renowned University of Santa Barbara professor Alan Liu; and pivotal information on copyright issues (both analog and digital) for academics by University of Massachusetts lawyer/librarian Laura Quilter and our own UConn-local librarian Michael Rodriguez. Alan Liu’s talk is a must-see (my humble opinion) should you have missed his thought-provoking, à propos, and widely applicable discussion of “Toward Critical Infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.” Ditto for Laura Quilter’s and Michael Rodriguez’s talks, for very different reasons, of course. Both point to crucial elements concerning copyright and authors’ rights that take minutiae to a new level: watch for ALL the fine print in your contracts with book and online publishers to make sure you not only understand your intellectual copyright, but also what happens (or can happen!) once you’ve published that book or article and it all goes digital and multimedia… And, yes, there IS “Fair Use in Digital Scholarship.” 

Thank you again to Jennifer Snow, one of UConn’s Digital Scholarship Librarians, for making this important event possible.

Which brings us to Year 2. This fall and spring, we will take a break from the Digital Humanities Reading Group (for further notice please check DHMS Upcoming Events), but things will rev up in other directions. The list of Scholars’ Collaborative workshops for this semester is all set, with 5 workshops scheduled throughout the fall. Look out for Michael Young’s presentation on “Images and Permissions for Publications” (NEW) and two workshops on the popular Tableau by Steve Batt (also NEW). Suggestions for more workshops/tool intros always welcome.

Year 2 in DHMS will also inaugurate a new Fall/Spring rhythm with a roundtable discussion in the fall semester and the DHMS Talk in the spring. For the DHMS Roundtable, media studies scholar and NYU English professor Lisa Gitelman, interdisciplinary artist Emma Hogarth (RISD), and UConn’s own DMD department head Tom Scheinfeldt and I will gather to discuss “Interfacing Digital Humanities and Media Studies.” Please join us on October 12 at 2:30 on the 4th floor of Babbidge Library to participate in this conversation across disciplines and across media.

Another event to take part in is collaboration #2 between DHMS and the library on the occasion of Open Access Week in October. Director Jason Schmitt will come to campus to present his documentary film

“Paywall” (2018), a topic that is bound to invite debate on a number of fronts and issues. The screening and Q&A will take place in Konover on October 25 from 2-4pm. More information forthcoming very soon. Bring your students.

Finally, our once-a-semester DHMS Meet&Greet luncheon will take place after Thanksgiving on November 30 from 2-3:30pm. My colleague Jacqueline Loss (LCL/Spanish) will provide a glimpse into her work on “Finotype” that has been selected as one of the first Greenhouse Studios projects. The Digital Coffee Hour (ad hoc gatherings next to fountains of hot coffee!) will continue as well – however, the venue has switched from the Humanities Institute to Scholarly Communications in Babbidge Library – exact location TBA.

The brain bytes blog (bi-weekly as of this year) will continue to post ideas, information, events and more – and readers are welcome to contribute a guest blog and/or recruit more readers who might have an interest in sharing their DHMS-related work (or quests). While there are several Q&A features in the making, you should feel free to suggest topics of potential interest or colleagues whose work deserves to be noticed. Two new items have been added to the Resources page: a Social Media Guide for Academics (JustPublics@365 Toolkit) and Guidelines for Digital Dissertations in History and Art History (GMU). If you have any resources or projects to share that need to find their place on the DHMS website, please just send an email to anke.finger@uconn.edu. Better yet: join the DHMS mailing list or the DHMS facebook group. Wishing everyone a productive and inspiring academic year!

 

Watch Your .edu, Know Your Repositories

fineprintIn a January 2017 Forbes article on scholarly publishing, historian Sarah Bond takes aim at platforms ready to host academic articles or chapters. For pay. Her case in point is academia.edu:

As privatized platforms like Academia.edu look to monetize scholarly writing even further, researchers, scientists and academics across the globe must now consider alternatives to proprietary companies that aim to profit from our writing and offer little transparency as to how our work will be used in the future. In other words: It is time to delete your Academia.edu account.

In order to broadcast our academic work beyond the conference panel or occasional tweet or personal webpage – and depending on the copyright and marketing arrangements we have with our print publishers – hosts like LinkedIn, academia.edu, ResearchGate and others have become common “marketplaces.” Here is another opportunity to connect with international scholarship, browse, and
offer our own to share and discuss. But as we saunter and sample, how many of us look at the fine print to know how these repositories actually work? Do we understand what happens with our work once it gets uploaded? How is it distributed? Who can access it? Does it get altered when it’s downloaded? Who owns the copyright?

“Monetizing scholarship” is the big, mysterious, compound noun Bond seeks to warn us about, and she has a point. Copyright issues, including where and how we share our finished work, are usually only part of our research conversations when keeping ideas close to our chest. We don’t always trumpet copyrightissuesthe thesis of our next book or article out into the world, partly because it has not been tested, partly because we might be wary of someone else snatching it up. Yet, how many of us are well trained, or at least reasonably conversant in, the minutiae of legalese it takes to comprehend a publisher’s contract? Do you know or remember what media rights you signed off on in your last contract? I can only speak for myself, but getting to my first contract had me so thrilled and excited that all I needed to comprehend was that there was a line for my signature. Exclamation mark.

green-publishingThat has changed. In a landscape of oscillating international copyright law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, which has also become a verb), and increasing hybridization or digitization of scholarship, your old contract arrangements are no more. Your scholarship now has the potential to move or be translated into many different media, and for-profits such as academia.edu are just one way to monetize your work.

Publishers and librarians have long been aware of these trends as they impact purchasing, disseminating, curating, and archiving. Scholars? Not so much – unless you had the good fortune of receiving detailed advice from a mentor or peer group or learned the hard way over time. And the dismissive will argue that most of our books or articles are not on the fast track to be signed as a major motion picture deal or radio show anyhow. Still, we often sign away rights to repurpose our work, host our work elsewhere or don’t take advantage of how our ideas and scholarship can work in a world of media convergences.dice

To address some of these issues, Jennifer Snow, a Digital Librarian at UCONN, is organizing a mini-conference on copyright issues in (digital) publishing on April 14th, 8:30am-2pm. Understanding your rights in scholarly publishing is key to maneuvering the treacherous territory of multi-media and multimodal communication, including open access outlets and platforms. And often, we don’t even know of the repositories that are directly available to us from our home institutions: for those of you interested in learning more about UCONN’s own Digital Commons, please take advantage of Marisol Ramos’ workshop this coming Monday at 3pm!

New Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities and Media Studies

graduates-4555027fc37869a5The first brainbytes blog of the spring semester serves as an announcement: UCONN has a brand new Graduate Certificate! Welcome back. Pending final approval by the Board of Trustees, the Humanities Institute is pleased to announce a Graduate Certificate in DHMS. This certificate will supply interested graduate students with crucial training and with marketable skills and approaches for careers within and outside of academia. As the initiating director of this certificate, I am providing a summary of the contents below.

Need for the DHMS grad certificate

The UCONN grad certificate in DHMS is unique insofar as it is fundamentally interdisciplinary: it will not be solely oriented, as certificate programs are at other schools, towards digital humanities methods, research, and practice, but also towards integrating media studies as an interdisciplinary and international field of critical inquiry and theory. It seeks to enhance the talents, interests, and success rates of our humanities graduate students entering the academic job market, as digital humanities and media studies research and scholarship has proliferated across North American campuses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as internationally. In addition, employment opportunities for graduate students with training in digital humanities and media studies have increased in non-governmental organizations, libraries, museums, and other public and corporate entities as such training is often closely linked to public humanities.

Educational Objectives of the Graduate Certificate

The certificate prepares students to conduct humanities research with digital tools by providing digbookparticipants with the knowledge about same tools, about methods, and, importantly, about theoretical issues central to the interfaces between digital humanities and media studies. These may include: text analysis, data mining, visualization, geo-spatial inquiries and mapping, multimedia and digital storytelling, hybrid and digital publishing, information or knowledge design, network analysis in combination with the history of media, media archeology, media aesthetics, media theory, media philosophy, digital cultures and game studies.

Outcomes include:

  • a DHMS Portfolio (see requirements below)
  • a deepened and theoretically sound understanding of the interfaces between Digital Humanities and Media Studies
  • an in-depth practical and theoretical understanding of the humanities in the digital age as they apply to sectors within and beyond the academy
  • an understanding of and experience with collaborative practice in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts as such practice applies to research and teaching with digital tools

Course Sequence and Educational Objectives

The Graduate Certificate in DHMS for graduate students enrolled in CLAS or Fine Arts PhD or MA/MFA programs will require a total of twelve credits: 3 credits in one of the core courses, two 3-credit electives, and one 3-credit independent study, working on the DHMS Portfolio.

Electives (students take two electives and one independent study, with 3 credits each)

Electives will be chosen based on the student’s major field of inquiry, her/his departmental home, and her/his dissertation or thesis research, in consultation with the student’s PhD or MA/MFA advisor and the director of the DHMS grad certificate. One of the courses as well as the independent study can overlap with the requirements in the home department. Other courses might qualify as electives if they meet the following criteria: electives should deepen the student’s understanding and theoretical and practical application of DH and Media Studies and facilitate her/his direct translation of these skills and knowledge to her/his scholarship.


DHMS Portfolio

dig_scholThe DHMS Portfolio serves as an independent research project, realized alongside and as a product of the independent study and culled from work accomplished over the course of working on the DHMS grad certificate. Students should be able to communicate the intellectual rigor and theoretical foundations of their project. They should also address some of the evaluation guidelines put forth by the Modern Language Association, the American Historical Association, or the College Art Association, as listed below:

  • describe the process underlying creation of work in digital media (e.g., the creation of infrastructure as well as content) and their particular contributions
  • describe how work in digital media requires new collaborative relationships with clients, publics, other departments, colleagues, and students
  • explain and document its development and progress and its contributions to scholarship
  • include colleagues and take advantage of opportunities to explain how your work contributes to the scholarly conversation in on-campus forums, professional meetings, and print or online publications
  • consider process as a form of scholarship and as a valid, even essential, part of knowledge creation

The final product must be publicly accessible on the web and include examples of the student’s work as well as how the project contributed to the student’s growth as a scholar (process writing). The portfolio must include a short statement of purpose.

More information on the application process and certificate details will be available on the DHMS website. The first core course, “Digital Humanities, Media Studies and the Multimodal Scholar” (LCL5020), is on offer this semester. Feel free to ask questions, share with colleagues, and join in on the conversations and events at DHMS in 2017!

 

 

Who’s my Audience? Defining Readerships and Joining Conversations

On October 24th, about 25 people gathered for the first DHMS Meet & Greet at the Humanities Institute’s new library location. Representing different campus groups, including librarians, professors, graduate students and one undergraduate, the group discussed how to build our fledgling community, how to obtain training in digital tools, and how to translate familiar methods of scholarly inquiry and venues of publication into digital formats. Brendan Kane gave a superb and inspiring presentation of his “Project in Process”: “Reading Early Modern Irish” with the help of interactive texts in the original and in translation, complete with grammatical and lexical references built by an international network of scholars. While political issues surrounding the use of social media, for example, were on many peoples’ minds – what happens to privacy? – one particular question stuck with me: who is my potential audience outside of print formats? Indeed: how DO you determine, find, and even secure an audience for your scholarly blog, your tweets, your online exhibition or your video?

twitter-wants-youIn print venues, the path from author to readership is pretty much set in stone or paved in concrete: you present your research paper to small audiences at various conferences, in addition to soliciting responses from your peer reading networks or teaching some of the content in your classes. Following feedback and rewrites, you submit your article to an established, peer-reviewed journal, and, upon some more revision, the journal publishes your work. Voilà, your print article is available to those who subscribe to the journal or who search specific databases for your topic. Unless your publisher presents your article – or your book – to a larger public via open access platforms, your audience is limited to closed infrastructures. At the same time, you can rely on thorough quality control and on tapping into an established brand within your field. You know scholars in your field read the journal. There are slight deviations of this path, but this is essentially it. Ah yes, and then there are copyright issues and monetary transactions. But that’s not for this blog post…

media190139enDigital venues, in contrast, offer a MUCH bigger audience – a website or blog with, potentially, a global audience, and your social media accounts can invariably be found on the internet. So how do you reach those you seek to speak to or with whom you would like to engage in conversation? The Chronicle’s ProfHacker is a solid source for these sorts of questions, with Ryan Cordell addressing the benefits of tweeting, and Lee Skallerup Bessete reflecting on how twitter usage has changed over the years. For starting your academic or scholarly blog, InsideHigherEd published Liana Silva’s recommendations, while Pat Thomson’s recent article in the Times Higher Ed points to more selfish reasons to start your own blog: improving your writing. Of course, there is a top-10 list for this new enterprise as well, in this case assembled by Tom Crick and Alan Winfield. And it is always instructive to study some of the best, as curated and presented by Alexis Madrigal in 2013.

Most of these authors point to one important element of establishing an audience, no matter what part of your research you make available or which venue or medium you choose: you should not engage one without the other. If you are blogging, let others know on twitter or other social media that you just published a new post. Read others’ posts. Follow others on twitter. Mention your just-out print bobuild-audienceok on your blog or add the link to your twitter account on your website. You don’t just seek an audience – you also become one. You don’t just build networks within your research community and audiences “out there” that may find your work interesting – you also network within audiences yourself. So, it’s really not that different from print, it’s just much bigger and much more public. As Bianca Elena Ivanof and Caspar Addyman argue: it’s how to be an academic in the 21st century. Thank you, everyone, for coming on Monday!

Can’t Find Your Way to Victoria? Here’s a “How To” for Home Use Blog Double Feature

In last week’s guest blog Marc Reyes enthusiastically reported back from the DH Summer Institute in Victoria. It is by all accounts a terrific first step towards all things Digital Humanities, if one can swing it, time wise or money wise. For those who will have to wait or who just want to try another route, there are plenty of opportunities to find one’s very own answers to: How do I get started with Digital Humanities??? It all depends on what you want to explore: the theoretical, the practical, the experimental or the just plain playful? Because there are so many ways to go, this blog is extra-long and therefore a double feature.

Part I: Retracing Steps and Missteps

When I think back to my own “humanities + digital” beginnings, I recall

  • visiting my very first web page in 1993. The always up-to-date Lab Director pointed at the screen and said: “This could change a whole lot in language learning!” No kidding. Will this become part of my teaching?
  • getting involved in what used to be CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and teaching myself HTML (remember Netscape?).  But I was also writing my dissertation, so I had no time. The motto was, expressly, “publish or perish”: how could I possibly squeeze in this new digital stuff?
  • receiving a grant in my first job that allowed me to buy two SMART boards, revolutionary technology at the time and quite a mystifying wall of multimodality to all who dared start teach with it. Not everyone was gung-ho, though. That experience begged the question: is all new tech fundamentally good?
  • co-founding an online peer-reviewed open access journal, against my peers’ and mentors’ advice. It would either not count for tenure or cast doubt on my scholarly integrity. To me, it was all about matching form with content, or, in this case, the other way around: a media philosopher’s work should also be presented and discussed digitally, no? Yet, would digital publishing be recognized in merit reports?netscape-navigator

Let’s face it, these are recurring questions for most of us, no matter whether we are at the beginning of our Digital Humanities explorations or well traveled. Often, engaging with DH is a start and stop process, testing our patience, our capacity for the new, and our skill sets. No one can deny that the humanities have long entered the digital realm. But can you define your own involvement with it?

 

Of course! You don’t have to pull all-nighters or pursue perfection to learn how to

  • build webpages for teaching or research. A profile of your own making matters today, and it is often the first thing you learn at DH workshops. But no rush: take days, take months, take a whole year – practice makes playful. My own webpage changes frequently, whenever I have a moment to try out a new widget or add a piece of media.
  • blog. It’s like writing a scholarly journal or reflecting publicly on any aspect of your work. Yes, it’s public. Yes, most of us are share our process only with a select few. Yet, most of the time, I am surprised about how learning to blog (or using digital tools in general) also helps me reflect on how I think. I started various blog writing enterprises on different topics, sometimes with colleagues. I found out that I am not that good at collaborating in the blog venue for practical reasons and just do better composing by myself.
  • participate in social media. Even if you have no interest in building a profile or tweeting to announce your latest article publication to the world, do set up an account and try it out. You can always delete your profile if it’s not your channel – but you move on and find out what is.
  • take your visualization skills to the next level. You like taking photos? You have made videos on your digital camera? You want to create images from your data? My own latest exploration is with digital storytelling and video essays: writing the script, assembling the imagery, recording my own voiceover, and producing. This took a number of missteps and misadventures, but the results are passable. That’s good enough. And it will get better with time. I was also thrilled to find that there was an audience – vimeo has scored the work at over 12,000 views.

Try and fail, and enjoy the process. You have no interest in coding? Don’t. You want to hold off on writing a blog, it’s just too personal or too public? No problem, a tweet only has 140 characters. No interest in data mining? Certainly – perhaps text editing is your thing! Entirely your choice, in your own time and your own place. Your medium at your leisure.

I continue to try numerous tools, depending on what’s new, what interests me, and what is of relevance for my research and teaching. Does that make me a Digital Humanist? I don’t know. I think of myself as working in media studies with DH proficiency or a DH intermediate with a strong background in media studies. I do not code. Ditto for mapping. I do not mine data; so far I’ve just had no purposeful interest in it, but that could change. I do not (yet) work in a large collaborative team on a big multi-level, multi-year project, with substantial grant support promising a formidable outcome. But I’d like to. That’s next – at least I will try.

 

Part II: Building your own map

So how can you start on your own way into the Digital Humanities? I remember looking at Lisa Spiro’s recommendations several years ago. Although her thoughts date back to 2011 – five years is a long time in DH – and some of the initiatives and/or links are out of date (thatcamps don’t seem to happen as frequently as they used to), I still agree with many of her pointers. Most everyone just insists: start somewhere! That “somewhere” can be anywhere, really. Ideally, it connects with your ongoing research or teaching, unless you just want to take a break from that very research or teaching and occupy a different part of your brain (as in, PLEASE give me a break so I can reboot!).

There are a great many “how to” pages that provide you with lists, similar to the one Spiro set up. She remains the most cited, with the Modern Language Association and the NEH still linking her site. Duke’s DH Initiative has put together a plethora of tips and resources that get you going. Our colleague Tom Scheinfeldt created his own list, making it exceedingly easy to get your feet wet. An excellent mélange of links and lessons comes from the College of Charleston, complete with videos and tutorials. Then there is the ACH’s Digital Humanities Questions & Answers section that connects your pressing issue with someone who can assist. In fact, most libraries or DH centers and initiatives now offer some sort of “How to Get Started” page or workshops that generate ideas. Just choose what appeals to you. And most everything gets explained on youtube these days anyway. Take a look at a series on Humanities + Digital Tools available from Stanford or search for the presentation of a particular tool.

A decided favorite (DH sleuthing!) still is Miriam Posner’s “How did they make that?” She presents the finished project (what is it?), traces it back to its origins (what you’d need to know), and then gives tips on how to do it yourself (get started). This reverse-engineering perspective is great for analyzing process because once your project is done you are most likely on to the next thing. And your failures and missteps cannot inform your succeeding projects or generate new ideas and approaches. Posner also produced a video about these steps – yet another way to show her own process.staedtereise_urlaub_leipzig_innenstadt_11

Well, here we are. Understood if this load of suggestions on how to get started is exhausting. You have not finished that article. Your students’ exams remain untouched. You haven’t read the report for the meeting that starts in 20 minutes…. And it’s time to get some fresh coffee! Then don’t start today, start tomorrow. Sleep on it. Or come to the “DHMS Meet & Greet” on October 24th from 12:30-2pm at the new UCHI location on the 4th floor in the library (209).

choosing-a-college

Meet colleagues who are thinking about DH, have started or are well on their way. Enjoy lunch together. Discuss the DHSI in Victoria with other participants. And if Victoria does not appeal to you consider a DH summer in Leipzig or Oxford.

As We Think: Designing Knowledge in a Maze of Hardware, Software, Middleware and Wetware

computerlibTwo weeks ago, I featured Jeffrey Schnapp’s video on Digital Humanities where he mentions emerging genres within DH that “don’t look like anything we are familiar with.” The go-to concept here has become knowledge design, a kind of humanist merging of information design, graphic design, and communication design. In truth, the more conventional – and boring – term would be scholarly communication. There’s no debate, however, that the changes communication is undergoing are profound.

Seriously: we are at the point of an epistemological turn in our digitized cultures. How do we gain, analyze, and disseminate knowledge? How is knowledge curated and archived? How do we translate ideas? How do (not only Western) notions of creativity, imagination, and production evolve and change in a multi-media environment? It is the task of the humanities to contribute to the shaping of new knowledge that is not accessible only in print and linear forms.

Ok, then. How do we do that? This scholarly-communication-cum-knowledge-design question presents, actually, a poignant issue for DHMS perspectives. Media studies scholars have engaged these design challenges for a while now, with Katherine Hayles’ how we think (2012) announcing that the “Age of Print is passing” and that we better acknowledge the accompanying changes in our wetware (aka neuro-network). Her title, of course, is a play on a much older piece by Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think” (1945), in which he describes the concept of the “Memex.”

The Memex, then, foreshadows Ted Nelson’s “hypertext,” coined in 1965. And his Computer Lib/Dream Machines already in 1974 emphasized the use of computers for knowledge design, decidedly a creative process in collaboration with audiences and through open access.memex

So knowledge design is not new. The end of books is not near. The humanities aren’t dead. But we are finding ourselves in the non-linear, multi-media, digitized universe of scholarly communication that appears to scream Nelson’s “You can and must understand computers NOW” at us. So as we may scramble somewhere between hardware, software and wetware, reaching for the comforting book or printout, it’s the middleware I find particularly interesting.

In 1986, the media theorist Friedrich Kittler declared that “media determine our situation.” Johanna Drucker and Patrik O. Svensson, based on their just published “The Why and How of Middleware” (2016), would argue that “middleware determine our knowledge design.” Whether it’s PowerPoint or Scalar or Zotero, middleware presents a “set of mediating and remediating protocols,” compelling us to look under the hood of the platforms we use as their design is set up to structure our thoughts. “At stake is how we may think as well as what we may think as we struggle to design environments that contain tools for thinking in arguments.”

Information Overload in Network Time II: How to Find Your Media Studies Community

Remember how last week I described trying to find the DH crowd that speaks your (disciplinary) language – only in “digital” – as getting lost in network time? Unsurprisingly, the same applies to trying to look for aspects of your work that overlap or integrate with media studies. Here, too, I predict you will need perspectives and platforms to rest upon. But “rest upon” becomes more like a balancing act on a tiny pole that struts out and may disappear again, should you linger too long. That’s because DH communities seem to be a lot more organized and structured compared to media studies folk. Which, of course, is part of media studies folk characteristics, what with interests in virtual reality here, cyberpunk lit (WHA???) there, game studies over yonder, and media theory as cultural theory way up back there. As maddening and disorienting as that may be, here are some coordinates to start with:

 

As Mitchell and Hansen, in their Critical Terms for Media Studies introduction, pointed out (see Blog #1), there are really two sides to media studies, empirical and interpretive. One is primarily focused on mass media, the other on the constitution of media and on knowledge design (see video in Blog #2), based on pretty classic humanities questions: how do media and technology change us over time? How do we change ourselves using media and technology? Here’s how media archeologist Erkki Huhtamo approaches these questions (think materialist anthropology by way of media studies):

 

 

 

Or watch DJ Spooky present The Secret Song and walk us through the mediation and remixes of music by way of – who’d have thunk it – Dziga Vertov:

 

 

 

 

How did I get to Paul Miller? By way of Martin Irvine’s ever-evolving introduction to Media Theory and Meaning Systems. For those with less time but in need of some basic terminology, the Keyword Glossary from the University of Chicago remains helpful. You could also get into the 7-volume International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, but, nah… not so much. Just saying.

 

I often find my vantage points by looking at the medium itself. What are some developments in books and literature and our reading habits? Visit the ELO and decide for yourself. The video essay, as mentioned by Miller above, is gaining traction for creative and scholarly communication, and there are different ways to explore it, for example, with media commons, especially [in]Transition, or by pinning down what it actually is. Interestingly, you will find most of them on vimeo, not youtube. For someone else to analyze… Then there is media art and a great many variations on the theme, including Leonardo, or ISEA. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the largest scholarly organization in the US to promote and study these different forms of media. Their site includes a long list of media studies journals. However, SCMS does not including really interesting works like ADA or Imaginations or Game Studies or Vectors, or… These gems you have to find on your own!

 

Information Overload in Network Time I: How to Find Your DH Community

As definitional efforts in Digital Humanities and Media Studies are ongoing – which better be the case in any field deeming itself vibrant (see last week’s post) – news items in these fields become a maze of hyperlinks. So you want to find out what’s going on? Where the workshops, conferences, unconferences, not-so-much-talks and virtual happenings are? This requires some structuring. Which topics do you seek to learn more about, which skills should YOU like to acquire, organizations to tap into? Or, for now, finding the crowd that speaks your language, only in “digital”? Not so user friendly. Because once you get lost in network time (I roughly define that as a virtual dangling off vines: you swing from one link to the next, working the rhythm of however fast your wifi allows, while utterly losing connection to a world that hosts material objects or human needs; just read Kenneth Goldsmith’s new book, Wasting Time on the Internet, he knows )… Because once you get lost in network time, I predict you will need perspectives and platforms to rest upon. Here are some:

 

DH organizations and tools exist aplenty, with the global network of institutes a good bet for basic information. Their publication initiative, DHCommons, provides a plethora of information on “how to”, “with whom,” “where,” including peer reviews of projects in progress or completed. Ditto for the ADHO, who also offer all kinds of resources. If playing with tools is your thing, a good place to start remains the DIRTdirectory. It pretty much provides a list of what you can do in DH with links between your desired task and the program that may help you accomplish it. Experimenters welcome. Alan Liu’s DH Toychest is another collection worth exploring, with clear connections between task and tool. Alert for your calendar: Alan Liu will join us at the UConn Humanities Institute in February 2017!

 

Individual clearing-house-type news outlets exist abundantly as well. I usually benefit from MIT’s Hyperstudio mailing, “h+d insights,” to which you can subscribe on their site. Info galore on conferences, blogs of interest, hot topics and more. DH Now is another informative outlet for digital scholarship. This week I applaud the Editor’s Choice on selecting Jason Heppler’s syllabus for Teaching Digital Public History. He has some great pointers, including a list by the untiring Beth Nowviskie, director of the Digital Library Federation, on how to start your digital project without incurring immediate headaches…

 

Then there is HASTAC, “reputed to be the world’s first and oldest academic social network.” ‘Nough said. Just visit and click, join a group, follow your interests. Especially graduate students are invited to become HASTAC scholars and benefit from the enormous network the organization makes available. A great teaching resource is also Hybrid Pedagogy, a journal that offers info on conferences, tools, critical perspectives on teaching with tech, and professional development.

 

Phew… This just a quick intro from my own vantage point to some DH resources out there, but this virtual dangling off vines can be exhausting. I invite you to take a break and view this lucid narrative by Jeffrey Schnapp, founder and director of Harvard’s metaLAB, on how computers and the digital realm entered the traditional humanities and move us beyond print knowledge into ‘knowledge design’:

The Digital in the Humanities, the Media all around Us

Welcome to a new academic year, welcome to a new initiative by the UConn Humanities Institute: Digital Humanities and Media Studies (DHMS) will feature prominently in future UCHI programming with talks, workshops, resources, news, dialog. Most importantly, we seek to build our nascent DHMS community across campus and beyond. Networks already exist between the library, the Department of Digital Media and Design, the Humanities Institute and the departments it brings together. However, a strong community still needs creating. What do I mean by a DHMS community at UConn? Faculty, grad students, and librarians who have expressed interest or are already experienced in exploring digital scholarship and media studies should feel welcome to meet, hang out, experiment, learn, seek support, and trade practices for research and scholarship in DHMS territories. Ideas and suggestions welcome!

 

These sister territories, despite established canons and modes of work, continue to require definitional efforts; integration with traditional academic scholarship; a multitude of technical support; and collaboration, an essential concept or tool for work in DHMS. For those new to DH scholarship, I recommend taking a look at the ongoing interviews with DH scholars in the LA Review of Books. Choose one, choose a couple, get hooked and read them all. The views presented will provide insight into diverse and interdisciplinary areas of inquiry with digital tools (in other words, don’t ask “what IS DH???”, just begin somewhere and continue). The views may also wet your appetite, whether you are an experienced participant or not, to (re)think, (re)do or (re)quest, based on where you are in your own intellectual scouting. As for media studies – and there is considerable overlap between DH and MS – I recommend the introduction to Critical Terms in Media Studies, edited by Mark Hansen and W.J.T Mitchell. Frankly, I myself have given up on definitional efforts. Media Studies, as most scholars willingly admit, is interculturally amorphous, pretty much all-encompassing if you go by the definition of “medium” and rich with a very long history, reaching back to classic philosophy (think Plato’s cave). Given this potential agoraphobia, sub-fields that have established their own canons by now help with orientation: media theory, media aesthetics, media ecology, media history, mass media, media archeology, software studies…

 

As the (brand)new Assistant Director for Digital Humanities and Media Studies at the Humanities Institute, I invite you to join me: come to events, share resources, collaborate, exchange ideas, brainstorm projects, request support, and look at this new UCHI initiative as a hub for coming together and join. Please write to me (anke.finger@uconn.edu) any time about information you seek, with information you seek to share, ideas and suggestions. Time permitting, I also invite you to write one of the weekly blog posts: present projects, discuss issues of general interest, or bring attention to items as yet underexplored. I look forward to hearing from you!

Anke