scholarly communication

Jennifer Snow, Digital Scholarship Librarian

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 11.29.44 AM1. What initially intrigued you about research/teaching in digital humanities or media studies?

I began my work at UConn as the History Librarian six years ago, and I have slowly grown my skills and interests from there.  I have a Master’s in History, although I was trained in the traditional research methodologies.  Digital humanities didn’t really feature in my education.  However, as I worked with scholars and colleagues on various projects, I saw key ways that the Library could be more involved in digital humanities.  As research and scholarship change, the Library must adapt as well to remain relevant.  My skills and knowledge in this area are mostly self-taught, and I enjoy teaching others and seeing students become excited over the research possibilities opened up by a digital approach. 

2. Has entering the DHMS realm changed your approach to research and teaching in general? If so, how?

Absolutely!  I find my research and teaching to be much more collaborative now.  I’ve learned as much from students and scholars as they have from me.  We each bring our own expertise to the table, whether it’s a technological skill or subject knowledge.  I also actively seek out from others what they would like to learn, so I can tailor workshops and research consultations to their specific needs.  Whenever I work on a new project, I immediately think about who else might be interested and have something to contribute.  It’s a very different experience from individual work on an article for publication.  The projects I work on are multidisciplinary, and I have grown as a researcher from these collaborative opportunities.

3. You have three (commitment-free) wishes to receive support for your research/teaching in DH or media studies: what are they?

First, I would love to have more staff in the library dedicated to DH.  Web developers, graphic designers, coders!  We are always trying to do more with less.  It would be nice to never worry about finding time to work on a project because there is plenty of people to work on it.  Second, the opportunity to offer student internships or assistantships would be great.  I think this will be forthcoming in the future, though, so I am very much looking forward to that.  It would be a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about DHMS and to work on interesting projects.  And third, more time is always welcome!  There are so many fantastic projects out there that I want to be a part of, but unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, and I have other responsibilities.  

4. First struggles and successes: do you have any best-practice advice?

My advice is really to just dive in!  If there’s something you’re interested in learning about, whether it’s a new tool, platform, or something else, don’t hesitate to start working with it.  Try and find other people who have a similar interest, and you can help each other.  Look for workshops, seminars, and meet-and-greets related to digital scholarship.  DH is collaborative by nature, so networking is hugely important.  There will definitely be struggles.  You may not master a particular tool as quickly or easily as you had hoped.  You will have other things competing for your time.  My advice is to not get discouraged and keep plugging away.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, whether from the library or from your own departments. 

 5. How would you like to challenge yourself in DH or media studies? Or what is a project you most seek to realize? 

As the Digital Scholarship Librarian, I am tasked with working beyond the humanities and branching out into the social sciences and sciences.  This is certainly a challenge for me as my background is squarely in the humanities.  However, I am working on developing skills in areas such as data visualization that can be of benefit to people in the sciences.  I would absolutely love to work with a researcher outside of the humanities who is new to digital scholarship.  We can educate each other and become more well-rounded researchers because of our collaboration.  I somewhat actively avoided the sciences in my academic career (to this day, I have never set foot inside the science buildings at my alma mater!) so this is definitely a new area for me.  The silos between the disciplines have begun to break down as research becomes more multidisciplinary, and I’m very excited to be part of that.

Jennifer Snow has a BA in History from Vassar College and an MA in History and Master in Library Science from Florida State University.  She currently serves as the Digital Scholarship/Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian for UConn.  Her academic background is in early modern French history, and she has worked on a number of digital scholarship projects on a variety of subjects.  She has published articles and a book chapter on topics related to digital scholarship and critical pedagogy.qa

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!

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’: