*Micah’s Note: This is a guest post from Matt Hunter, who interned with me this past academic year. Matt’s enthusiasm and knowledge were an incredible asset to DRS this year, as we established our office, hosted events, and kicked off our program of digital humanities support. His time and efforts provided great momentum, and we’ll be the lesser without him. Good luck Matt!
Over the past academic year, my last in the MLIS program at FSU’s iSchool, I worked as an intern in the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship (DRS). I joined the DRS in the summer of 2015 after connecting with classmate Camille Thomas, who worked under Micah at the time. Camille spoke of some cool vaguely-digital projects underway down in the Stygian depths of Strozier Library’s basement, and I asked if I couldn’t join in on the fun.
My introduction to digital work in libraries was a weekly “R&D” group meeting where some nascent DRS staff brainstormed media-rich mapping projects to build a portfolio of a tools and services to support. Although the project ended up falling through a couple weeks later, it was still cool to play around with HistoryPin and the library’s digital collections. Looking back now, that brainstorm session couldn’t have been more ideal; we covered a variety of digital scholarship topics in one meeting – content development, tool analysis and selection, copyright considerations, to name just a few – and even had to deal with what happens when a project fails! After two semesters working on projects, reviewing tools, writing proposals, and learning more about modern librarianship than I could imagine, I still think back to that first discussion as a distinct turning point in my library career.
As a new office in a new area of librarianship, DRS is somewhat unique and unfettered by tradition and long-established departmental rules or guidelines. This freedom allowed me to blaze my own path in projects, and be part of a creative support network spreading across campus. I jumped onto as many projects as I feasibly could, and covered a pretty wide spread. Over the year, I worked on things ranging from metadata entry to drafting a digital humanities strategic plan for FSU Libraries, to digital publishing. Here’s some of the highlights.
Internship, Fall 2015:
This semester was dedicated to learning how librarians worked in the research process of universities, and understanding the state of digital scholarship as a discipline.
Il Secolo metadata – The very first week working for Micah and DRS, I was assigned some “proper intern work” – cleaning up metadata records for a 19th-Century Italian newspaper housed in the FSU Digital Library. This was my first introduction to digital library systems, and despite Micah’s efforts to relegate me to Data Entry Intern, I used the experience to explore the guts of Islandora.
Digital Bibliography project – This started out as a simple faculty request for the management and display of a bibliography online. After researching possibilities, I developed a (semi-)functional prototype, which can be viewed here. The faculty member liked it enough to pitch it to DRS’s upcoming Project Enhancement Network and Incubator (PEN and Inc.) program for full development support!
I was also introduced to Tableau and CartoDB, providing cool entry points into mapping that I now have in my quiver of tools.
I took the initiative to develop a Digital Humanities Strategic Plan, outlining how FSU Libraries might develop services and support infrastructure to support non-STEM researchers doing digital scholarship. After interviewing a handful of faculty who were already heavily involved with digital humanities research at FSU on what they would like to see, I drafted and presented this plan, which is under consideration and has been (I’m told) used as the framework for future support plans! This was a huge experience for me.
Acronym/abbreviation research: I had briefly heard of some of the alphabet-soup of topics DRS worked with on a daily-basis, but to go from recognizing to being able to knowledgeably talk about OA, TEI, DataViz, GIS, CC, Digischol, DH, TaDiRah, DiRT, R, and all the names of tools and processes that are thrown around took a goodly chunk of the first few months of my time. There is a serious reliance on jargon in the office, and it took a while to really be able to keep up! Micah also likes to coin business-y sounding new buzzwords for fun, which is weird – “coordinize”? “re:mergence”? I fought him on this a few times. It was a good time.
Scalar, Zotero, Slack – Among the dozens of other tools I was exposed to I spent the most with these three. Scalar and Zotero because of the bibliography project I was working on, but Slack was a great way to communicate with the team outside of my in-person hours and really helped with feeling like I was connected to and a part of the office. Being able to send emoji in “work” correspondence was also pretty cool.
Signed on for Internship Part 2! As December rapidly approached, I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be with the completion of some of the projects I had spearheaded, and I asked the team if they wouldn’t mind if I stuck around for just a little bit longer so I could wrap things up as best I could. This set the stage for Internship, Part Deux.
Internship, Part 2: The Internship Strikes Back
Percolator – When Sarah Stanley joined the team in November, she brought a ton of cool ideas to the table, one of which was having an open space and time for anyone to come discuss digital projects. I loved the idea because it put the library center stage as a valuable part of the scholarship process (something that I’ve come to feel very strongly about being a Good Thing To Do). We started hosting the Percolator every Wednesday 3p-5p, and this is where I spent most of my intern time. These meetings were absolutely amazing introductions to new ideas and tools. For example, I:
learned how to use TEI to encode a 19th Century cookbook with elements that could be referenced and queried in corpus searches;
looked at ArcGIS projects to see socio-economical divides in food availability between greengrocers and fast-food shops
Publish or Perish: Conversations on Academic Publishing and the Institute on Copyright in Higher Education – in February, I took a few days off from my real job to attend these fantastic events hosted by the library on the topics of publishing and copyright. I can’t say nearly enough about how amazing the speakers were or how much I learned from taking part in the conversations that happened those two days, but I am incredibly grateful I got the chance to attend and learn so much.
Proposed and presented at THATCamp Florida! – This was one of the cooler experiences I had in my internship year, for a bunch of different reasons. The biggest is that this “un-conference” was really the first time I felt like I knew enough about digital scholarship stuff to talk knowledgeably about it and not feel like I was faking it. My proposed session there was supposed to be a conversation about funding and research and libraries, but it ended up with me just talking about how things work at FSU (as I understand them). This was fine and well and good, and still a fantastic experience, but my main takeaways from this conference came from outside my own session.
Proposed (and was accepted to present) a paper at the 2016 Keystone Digital Humanities conference with Sarah! – Because my traditional academic background (Classics/Latin) values papers and conferences so highly, I feel like this acceptance (and the super awesome paper we’re going to present) is the encapsulation of my accomplishments in the internship. Talking about funding and digital humanities at a conference with notable and highly-respected players in the digital humanities fields is beyond anything I could have expected when I joined the team last summer, and I think it’s rather fitting that it’ll be a year after my original R&D meeting. I am beyond excited about this opportunity, and I can’t wait until June!
For the life of me, I can’t imagine a better way to be immersed in the culture and community of digital scholarship than my time at FSU’s Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. My official association with them may be coming to a close, but I plan to stay in touch with Micah, Sarah, Devin and the rest of the DRS team as I continue in my library career. The guys and gals down in that sequestered little basement cubby were absolutely wonderful to work with, and I want to thank them immensely for the opportunities they afforded me. I doubt I’ll ever really be separated from DRS for as long as I’m at FSU, and I’m going to make sure the social and professional connections I’ve made there will survive even longer.
Here at FSU, we are starting to create connections between different members of the campus digital humanities community. Now, we hope to build a network within a wider global community.
Day of DH is a yearly event where digital humanists from across the globe share what digital humanities means for them. This year’s theme, “Just what do digital humanists really do?,” is meant to highlight the day-to-day work of a those identifying with the larger DH community.
FSU is picking up steam on the teaching and learning side of DH. Our Program in Interdisciplinary Humanities is launching an M.A. in Digital Humanities and is accepting its first class this fall. Dr.’s Lisa Wakamiya and Allen Romano are at the helm of that program, and working diligently to interweave broad research interests, affiliated faculty from around campus, and the libraries into a rich program of study.
University Libraries plays an active role in the DH community. Our Office of Digital Research and Scholarship and Special Collections and Archives department are center points for content and expertise on developing digital projects. We are excited to partner on the upcoming symposium, Invisible Work in Digital Humanities, set for Nov. 17-18th. We are also developing a model for growing our DH community, pedagogy, and projects simultaneously: we percolate (open office hours), incubate (structured proposal/project development cohort), and then accelerate (project management and completion.)
Finally, we are proud to feature the work of a few faculty members doing digital humanities here in Tallahassee in the featured profiles below. This list is by no means exhaustive, just the 6 folks that emailed us back to be included here. 😉
Our Digital Humanists
Digital humanities work is being conducted across several departments, from the iSchool to the department of English. FSU is even starting to think about how to do work collaboratively across multiple departments:
Paul F. Marty is a Professor in the School of Information at Florida State University. His research and teaching interests include museum informatics, technology and culture, innovation and design, and information and society. His academic work centers on the study of museum informatics, which explores the sociotechnical interactions that take place between people, information, and technology in museums. He has long been interested in how digital technologies can improve understanding of and access to our shared culture, and his research in this area looks at the intersection of technology and culture in our schools, our professions, and our everyday lives.
The Linked Women Pedagogues Project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between myself and Dr. Tarez Graban, Dr. Stephen McElroy (FSU Department of English) and Sarah Stanley (FSU Libraries, Office of Digital Research and Scholarship). The LWP project will extend Dr. Graban’s work to simultaneously trace the intellectual influence of women in the field of rhetoric and writing studies and contribute to critical historiography. Women’s archival representation in rhetoric and writing studies has been flattened by the incremental circulation of their texts, projecting significant gaps in public canons from about the 1870s to 1970. Sometimes these gaps are the result of archival collecting practices, but in other cases they are due to the contingent or untenured positions held by women pedagogues. This combination of archival practice and institutional mobility makes it more difficult to locate them in traditional venues such as conference programs, published textbooks, or faculty course lists, inspiring us to look for other locations or spaces where their influences might be visible. In response, LWP moves feminist historical inquiry towards a model of locatability: a flexible ecology that describes how histories get written as a result of historians’ interventions with them, how those histories get valued or devalued through the circulation of archival resources, and how intellectual capital is assigned or not assigned through various history writing practices.
FSU has several projects that bring together areas of study from across the globe, from Japan to Serbia to Italy. The following is just a sampling of the work being done today.
Understanding the Japanese Tea Ceremony (chanoyu) requires experiencing it in person and through one’s own hands. My course The Tea Culture of Japan (Spring 2016), in addition to traditional text-based learning, offers students access to the actual rare materials that are at the heart of chanoyu: they participate in a hands-on tea ceremony at the Tallahassee Buddhist Community, they make tea bowls with the CeramiNOLES (FSU’s student-led ceramics club), participate in a student-led Kimono workshop, and join a session led by a collector of traditional Japanese objects. As preparation for this fieldwork we use media analysis. Using the Mediathread online platform, I created two assignment that involve the analysis of visual media: in one of them students annotate collaboratively the film Rikyû (1989), which depicts the origins of chanoyu; in the other, students upload an image of a material object and annotate it on the screen. Both assignments ask students to comment on each other’s annotations. Students have consistently reported that these media analysis assignments contribute to their knowledge, capacity of critical evaluation, and interest in the discipline of chanoyu. Mediathread was developed by Columbia University; this summer I will work with a group of Computer Science majors at FSU to develop a similar tool for our specific environment.
The Southeastern Europe Digital Documentation Project (SEEDD) is a collaborative effort with Brown University’s Dr. Anne Chen. SEEDD aims to document and promote the prominence of southeastern Europe in the archaeology of the middle and late Roman empire. Sarah Craft, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics, is currently working with the Digital Research and Scholarship (DRS) team to develop a prototype with which to test and demonstrate the flexibility and usefulness of such an endeavor. As such, the SEEDD Project has a strong pedagogical component: undergraduate students in Dr. Craft’s current ARH4154/5161 Archaeology of the Later Roman Empire course are basing their final projects on SEEDD documentation procedures, and in the process, they are gaining important research skills while also contributing to an active research project.
In collaboration with the FSU Libraries Digital Research and Scholarship team, I recently completed a first sample of the digitization of the Italian newspaper Il secolo. As many other fragile primary sources, Il secolo was until now accessible only in situ, at Italian National Libraries, in microfilm or CD form. The digitization that is currently presented by FSU allows access to Il secolo from anywhere. While our hope is that each user will find different applications and ways to interact with Il secolo, the primary uses that we have envisaged in creating this resource are research and teaching oriented. The digitization enables researchers to easily access the periodical as a primary material source for their scholarly work. It also gives teachers the flexibility to use it in a classroom setting, as a resource tool through which students can acquaint themselves with the lexicon, style, and content of such an innovative newspaper. Within both contexts, Il secolo can be used as a linguistic tool, to analyze how the Italian language has changed since then; as a thematic and historical reference, to understand what events were deemed newsworthy by the journalists and the public; and as a literary source, as it allows today’s readers to access the most widely read novels of the time (feuilletons), published in installments in each issue. Finally, Il secolo contains several individual authorial voices that are very important to our understanding of that time period, and in particular to the evolution of the political and social thought of the Democratici (broadly speaking, the representatives of the left and extreme left in and outside of Parliament) in the post-Unification years.
Digital Scholarship is an area of growth in here in the Libraries. We’ve been flirting with the topic for a while now, and are finally getting around to launching our support infrastructure campus-wide. One decision we made early on was that we needed some hands-on training in a variety of areas. Our gracious dean, Julia Zimmerman, sent five of us to HILT (Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching), a week-long training institute with several different tracks to choose from. Below are brief report backs from each of the team members. Although most of the coursework we undertook focused on humanities-based content, the skills and aptitudes we developed will be applicable to many different types of projects.
I spend a considerable portion of my time convincing researchers of the benefits associated with publishing their data online in open repositories. Bringing up things like reproducibility of research and the idea of others using their original data sets to advance scholarship in their field or another are my usual selling points. Academics produce vast amounts of data that has value well beyond the scope of their original project. That being said, government agencies produce endless amounts of data and information as they conduct their day to day business. There are obvious products that have mounds of useful information in them, like the U.S. Census or the American Community Survey. Governments rely on information in all sorts of formats to perform countless tasks on a day to day basis. For example, many local governments rely on spatial data of their infrastructure (roads, sewers, power lines) to set maintenance schedules or to select an ideal space for new residential development.
*This post is from Abby Scheel, one of our three humanities librarians.
A couple weeks ago I was fortunate enough to represent FSU Libraries at two meetings near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. Both meetings dealt in different ways with one of the most contested issues for academic libraries and scholars: the scholarly monograph. There is so much to share from both meetings that I’m going to break this report-back into two parts. Today is the Association of Research Libraries Fall Forum: Wanted Dead or Alive – The Scholarly Monograph.
The ARL Fall Forum addressed the future of the book directly and with maximum controversy (see title above). Based on a title like that you might think this is yet another session extolling the demise of the book and the dawn of the age of all things digital. Yes and no. The scholarly monograph is still king in humanities disciplines because of its connection with promotion and tenure. But it’s time to stop privileging the monograph published in print by an academic press over other means of disseminating the “long-form argument.” How to and why do this? What are the ramifications of this move? This was what the presenters all addressed during the daylong forum that included points of view from all sides of the issue, from faculty, librarians, and publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Here are a few of the highlights of the day in my own words:Continue reading The Contested Future of the Book, Part 1
Data science is all the rage lately. Harvard Business Review even named it the sexiest job of the 21st century. Even though the term is rapidly gaining mind share, many are still confused about what data science actually is. When you cut through the hype, the core of data science is actually pretty simple: it’s the study of data. What kind of data is being studied, how it is being studied, and what the individual data scientist is looking for all depend on the specific case. Data science is just another field of study using digital methods, putting it firmly under the umbrella of Digital Scholarship.
The number one question I get when talking about digital scholarship, is what exactly that means. How is digital scholarship any different than regular (analog?) scholarship? Does one have to be a technophile in order to consider what they do to qualify as digital work? These sentiments are being echoed around higher education, so its no insignificant problem for those of us who walk around talking about this as something we do. Offering clarity is the key to creating connections, so… here is my take.
Digital scholarship is project-based, collaborative, innovation-prone and embraces new modes and means of dissemination.
The reason we call this “digital” work, is because of how this type of scholarship is done – through, because of and invested in internet and technology-based tools. A key aspect of my proposed definition of Digital Scholarship is that each part needs to be represented in the whole. For example, plenty of science scholarship could be characterized as project-based, and collaborative without necessarily being interested in innovating how or where it is presented to an audience. On the flip side, traditional humanities scholarly works seem to have a lot more ground to cover to meet these criteria, which is why, I’d argue, the digital humanities garnered so much attention quickly and widely in recent years.
One source of contention is the mechanism by which access is provided. Rather than directly hosting full text documents, the DOE portal, PAGES (Public Access Gateway for Energy & Science) will contain basic metadata with links to the full text on the publisher’s website when the Version of Record can be made available, or in a repository when the final Version of Record can’t be made available due to the terms of the publication agreement. Much of this is accomplished via the publisher-administered CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States). Critics have argued that CHORUS, itself a controversial topic, tips the scale of control too far towards the publishers, whose profit motive doesn’t always cohere with free and unfettered public access. Yet another point of difference centers on publisher-mandated embargoes, which delay release of the full text for a period of 12 months.
Of course, much remains to be seen as to how the public access policy will actually play out, which makes sense given that this is just the initial announcement. PAGES exists in beta right now and the DOE is inviting user feedback on the system. We should be seeing many more policies similar to this one in the near future as other agencies role out their own public access policies.