I’m back from my leave – and starting right away with being the leader for the digital research methods team at the ‘new’ library for humanities and social sciences. The library has undergone a process of re-organization, changing internal structures, and making more room for cross-departmental collaboration. We’re now largely organized as teams instead of sections, and team members can be from any (former) department.

I will be leading the team for digital research methods, or better: research activities – with a special focus on the humanities, social sciences, and pedagogy. In the next couple of weeks, all new team leaders together with the department leaders will define the new roles and responsibilities and look into new ways and modes of working together in and across teams to best serve our patrons: the students and researchers of the University of Oslo.

I am looking forward to my new role – and the challenges and possibilities it entails!

In the meantime, there is a new weblog for digital research activities that will publish a new blog post at least once per month, hopefully, every other week. And we have created a new resource site on text mining which will be complemented with a series of information and resource sites on key methods.

Together with the Digital Scholarship Center, I expect to teach and host a couple of workshops this fall, too, with a focus on research data management and introductory coding.

What a year 2020 has been! For many of us, I suppose, it has been disrupting, frightening, challenging, frustrating – or at least odd. For me, it’s been a blast.

Today is my last day of work – not just for this year, but I will be on leave until August 2021: That’s seven months off – and if things go as planned – offline. To which I am looking very much forward to!

As one of my last tasks, I have been going through the last three months in my daily work log (which I started in August 2019), looking for open To-Dos and checking them off, or moving them to today, or cancelling them altogether. Pleasantly, there were only three open To-Dos, and they were all from the week before, and one of them was writing the end-of-the-year recap for 2020! Looks like I’ve been managing to keep my To-Dos reasonable and allocate enough time for them – or cancelling them when it was just too much. I count that as a great success.

Going through my daily log, even though I limited it to the last three months (I started in my new position on Oct 1), also gave me a chance to see what I have accomplished: I recommend this practice of logging your daily (work) tasks and reviewing the log regularly, e.g. weekly or monthly, especially for those of us who are constantly having the feeling they are not doing enough, not accomplishing enough or underperforming while they at the same time exhaust and overstretch themselves. It’s a good check-in with yourself, and it helps to make more realistic plans. If there are too many To-Dos in your list that are still open after weeks, they need to go. Say “no” more often, especially to yourself. Not every good idea needs to be made into a project, not every request needs to be confirmed, and it is perfectly fine to tell your boss or project lead that you cannot take on more tasks, or need some tasks removed.

I’m listing a couple of things I accomplished this year and that I am especially proud of and happy about:

I certified as a Carpentries Instructor Trainer – and with that joined the global community of Software, Data, and Library Carpenters for real! I’ve been involved with the Carpentries since my first workshop at the University of Oslo in summer 2015, soon after became a helper and co-instructor, and certified as an instructor in 2018. It’s been one of the most giving and satisfying engagements I’ve had in my life and I am happy about being part of this magnificent community!

I completed the Creative Commons Certificate – and with that got much better at understanding and using their licenses for my own work as well as giving (non-legal) advice to my colleagues and fellow researchers. I’m advocating for Open Science and Open Research strongly; I believe it is our duty as researchers, teachers, and technicians in public institutions to share our work openly, widely, and barrier-free. Using CC licenses can be a big part of it.

I developed and taught workshops on research data management – and with that did I not only build up and improve my own data management practice but also contributed to better practice among my fellow researchers and colleagues. It also gave me the opportunity to join other communities and meet great people, namely the DARIAH working group on Research Data Management and the RDA Nordic Hub. I had the pleasure of working with an incredibly competent team here at UiO, and even if I since have changed positions, I will continue learning – and teaching! – research data management as an essential practice. A small(?) side-effect is that I have spent quite a bit of time and effort on improving data organisation for all my projects. Setting up rules and routines for data collection, structuring directories and files, documenting, and version control. I believe it made my daily tasks more effective and made for a better overview and less stress in total.

I became senior academic librarian for digital research methods in the humanities and social sciences at the University of Oslo Library – and with that got my first permanent position ever in the field I have been dreaming of: Perhaps my greatest accomplishment this year! This position combines my strong interest in digital humanities and research methods with my love for teaching and mentoring while it also gives me the opportunity to contribute to strategic development of these fields here at UiO – and in Norway and the Nordic Countries. I’m excited to start this adventure for real when I will be back from my leave after summer. The library will become a crucial method partner for the Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education. We hope to finally find a home for the #DHOslo network and go all in with teaching foundational digital skills, programming, and data management. Since my position includes research, I will be able to continue my work as PI for the Norwegian Correspondences project and the Ethica Complementoria project!

There are more things I have accomplished in 2020, many of them small and seemingly unimportant, but they still add up to quite a few! I’ve uploaded all unpublished papers, talks, posters, and presentations I held and that had a script to Zenodo.org. I did major restructuring of many of my GitHub repositories for research and coding projects. I updated and improved many of the UiO-Carpentry GitHub repositories and documents and made a big step towards improving efficiency of communication and hosting workshops. I held several Teaching Demos and Discussion Sessions for the Carpentries, and taught my first Instructor Training. I supervised and evaluated two Digital Humanities masters theses at the University of Stuttgart, both related to the NorKorr project. I published an article with a colleague from the National Library on Historieblogg.no and edited an anthology in digital musicology with another colleague from the National Library. I taught many workshops, both on-site and online. I served on two Boards (DHNB and UiO-Carpentry), moderated a poster slam and exhibition for the online DHN2020 conference. I joined a COST action and contributed to two major applications to the Norwegian Research Council’s call for research infrastructure projects, and will lead a work package in each of them in the event of receiving funding. I contributed to a UiO internal application for research infrastructure which has been successful and will massively support the digital strategy of the University Library. I’ve collected all publications of DHN during its 5 years of conferences (the data will be published in dataverse.no) and created a bibliography.

As I said initially, 2020 really has been a good year for me: despite the COVID-19 pandemic and all its challenges. Norway has been faring quite well, with relatively low infection rates and a really low total of infections and COVID-19-associated deaths. Moving from office on campus to home office had been easy, and after summer I could continue working from office because I could bike to work safely, avoiding public transport altogether. Even after moving back into home office in the beginning of December, it’s been quite alright.

I didn’t travel much (my last trip was in early March to the DARIAH teach event at Maastricht University), neither for work nor for leisure. I participated in a few conferences and seminars online, but less and less so since it felt like it didn’t give me much. I generally slowed down and it became me very well. With my leave approaching, I’m looking forward to slowing down, even more, staying offline for most of it. Let’s see how the world will look when I have reemerged after summer 2021. So long, see you & stay well!

As of October 1st, 2020, I am working as senior academic librarian for digital research methods at the Humanities and Social Sciences (SSH) library at the University of Oslo! The position is newly created to meet the needs and challenges of today’s students and researchers in SSH and located at the section for reference and research. If you ever come visit the University of Oslo, I am sitting in the big black marble building on Blindern campus.

It’s been quite a journey for me and I am glad to say that this is a permanent job – the first I’ve ever had! I’ve been employed in various constellations since 2005 when I signed my first contract as a student research assistant with the Peter Weiss’ Notebooks project at Freie Universität Berlin. I’ve worked at universities and libraries in Germany and Norway and even tried my luck – shortly – in the private sector working in data quality assurance.

In all these years, I’ve been doing a lot of project consultation, teaching skill-building workshops, providing individual research consultation within Digital Humanities, doing community building, etc. in a voluntary fashion: it wasn’t officially part of my “jobs”, but it certainly was where my passion was and I had the strong drive to help where ever I could and felt I was needed. And now I am actually paid to do so!

I am grateful for all the learning opportunities and the many experiences I could gather on that journey. I’m especially grateful to all the people I’ve met during this journey: they are my friends, my colleagues, my mentors and mentees, my trainers and trainees, my brothers and sisters in DH-spirit, my inspirations, my sparring partners, and my critics: my network. Thanks to you all for your support along the way!

If you are a student, a researcher or research support at the University of Oslo – work in the Humanities and Social Sciences – feel free to get in contact with me for anything that relates to digital research methods (including data management, research dissemination, etc.) within SSH. You can find me in Georg Sverdrups hus, or online on Twitter, on GitHub or on one of my research blogs on Hypotheses.org. Happy to meet you!

I handed in my Ph.D. dissertation “Interests and Arguments. Towards an Analytic Philosophy of Textual Scholarship” in September 2017: almost to the day 3 years ago. I defended in April 2018 – and immediately moved on to a new job that had nothing to do with what I had been researching during my Ph.D. period. I admit I was a bit fed up with both my topic and the academia at this time. My thesis was properly printed as a book, and the copies I received for my personal use were quickly stored away in a moving box in the basement.

Some time had passed when I decided to submit the pdf version of the book to the University of Oslo’s Research Archive – so it could be accessible for anyone interested, without having to ask me for a copy or trying to get a copy of the book via cumbersome interlibrary loan. Once you have submitted your thesis at UiO, there will be a review process discerning whether it can be published openly: many of current day theses are article-based, and there might be copyright-issues with re-publication. My dissertation is – partly – article-based, so I was expecting to have to wait until it will be released.

Again, time passed, then COVID-19 happened and I shifted my focus to other things, not checking in on the review process. When I finally did, I couldn’t find the thesis in the research archive, thinking it was likely due to the articles not being released yet. Or me having made a mistake when submitting the digital version.

However, since I work door-to-door with one of the admins of the research archive, I thought it would be good to investigate why it was still “stuck”. Turns out it wasn’t stuck after all! I had just been unlucky in finding it… So, I am happy to announce that my dissertation is available for download via the University of Oslo’s research archive via a stable link. The format is pdf, the file is quite large (ca. 33MB). The pdf version has not been changed or edited and mirrors the physical book publication, except for the book cover. There’s a summary in English, however, the thesis itself is written in (academic) German, so be warned. It’s also 600+ pages long and there are 1.443 footnotes…

Feel free to get your digital copy of “Interessen und Argumente” here: http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-80732.

I might, at some point, re-publish parts of it in a different, re-worked format, not least my bibliography of almost 7.000 items: as a re-usable data set as well as an open Zotero library.

I did it! I certified as instructor trainer for the Carpentries!

Design by The Carpentries.
This is the personal certificate issued to Annika Rockenberger. All rights reserved.

During the first quarter of 2020, I was one of roughly a dozen successful applicants that got a spot on the Trainer Training that the Carpentries holds once per year and for 8 weeks my group and I worked through a packed syllabus. In addition to weekly discussions and learning how to get good at using Zoom as a teaching platform (before anyone else had to become a pro, too, thanks to COVID-19) as well as taking on different roles in an online discussion setting, we got to be observers of teaching demos and an online instructor training.

Even though the workload was heavy (I was taking the Creative Commons Certificate at the same time thanks to very ambitious scheduling…), being part of the Carpentries community is such a joy! There’s such an incredible niceness and kindness in this community: It really feels like home.

As a certified trainer I will host four teaching demos per year. Teaching demos are a mandatory part of the instructor training checkout process, which all of our aspiring Carpentries instructors have to do after their two-day training. It’s about showing that you can handle the lesson material, have gotten the core idea about how we teach in the Carpentries, and a really valuable opportunity to get feedback on your teaching and participatory live-coding.

I addition to hosting teaching demos, I have pledged to co-teach at least two online instructor training events per year. The Carpentries do the majority of their instructor training (i.e. where you learn how to teach Carpentry-style and get to know the community and the spirit of the Carpentries) online. There are always a fair number of open training events to which you can apply, but there are also quite a few training events that are held for applicants from member institutions. In addition to these online training events, some member institutions will host on-site training, too. I did mine at the EMBL in Heidelberg.

Lastly, I will also host two or more discussion sessions during the year. Discussions are a vital community part of the Carpentries: they are the place for instructors to talk about upcoming workshops they’re going to teach or do a short recap of past teaching experiences. Discussions can also be on specific topics – or put a region or local community in the focus. Participating in a discussion session is a mandatory part of the instructor checkout, too, but apart from the formalities, it is really where the global community of the Carpentries meets!

The thing is that all these events are online-events, and they are time-zone based. Which means that you get the chance to meet people you would otherwise probably never have met. Oslo being in UTC+1 means that you will likely be meeting people from all over the African continent. With many other academic events being incredibly Europe and Northern America centered, this is such a refreshing change. It not only means having the chance of discussing workshops or learning with each other, but it also means that we can teach each other – and together with each other!

In the spirit of Greg Wilson, founder of Software Carpentry and the Carpentries spiritus rector:

Be kind! All else is details.

Greg Wilson: Teaching Tech Together. https://teachtogether.tech/#the-rules

DHN – Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries – was supposed to have its 4th International Conference and Annual Members’ Meeting in beautiful Riga/Latvia in March 2020. Then COVID-19 happened and the conference was postponed to late October 2020 – and with it the Members’ Meeting and the announcement of the results of the Board election and the election of the officers of the Board.

Nevertheless, work for the Board did not stop – with very short notice, serious and long-sighted decisions had to be made in times of great uncertainty, stress, and worry. So, it was without the appropriate festive framing and severity that we said farewell to our retiring Vice-Chair and long-standing Board member Bente Mægaard who had substantially shaped DHN and chaired the DHN2019 conference in Copenhagen/Denmark last year. And it was under equally modest circumstances that we welcomed our new Board member, Costanza Navarretta, and to welcome our re-elected Board members Olga Holownia and Ditte Laursen for three more years. Due to Bente’s retirement, the office of Vice-Chair had become vacant and the election of officers by the Board members was to be held during a virtual meeting, too.

I have been on the Board of DHN since its foundation on April 23, 2015, in Oslo/Norway. I had been one of the small group of people who had been working on getting the first Nordic DH conference going and who came to the assumption that it would be good to have an association officially backing a conference of that scale and to serve as a meeting place for all the disparate Nordic digital humanities scholars and ‘alt-acs’.

During the 5 years of serving DHN, I have been serving as deputy treasurer, then as treasurer and helped consolidating DHN financially and in this capacity also helped organising the membership management. I have been the EADH AO Forum liason and served in this role for more than two years. I’ve been handling a plethora of tasks as a Board member of a young association, and boy has it been a ride!

Since Monday, May 4, 2020, I have been elected as Vice-Chair of DHN! It was not an easy decision for me. I had stepped in as a deputy treasurer in 2017 and when I was officially elected as Treasurer in 2018, I set out to sort out DHN’s financial obligations, the membership management, the intricacies of DHN’s membership affiliation with EADH and the day-to-day business of a medium-sized, international association that has to handle a budget. My aim was to tidy up the workflows of the treasurer business and the membership management, to document tasks, and establish good routines. Even though I think I succeeded, it still feels like there is a lot to do. It’s no easy task if you are an association dealing with international membership and lots of cross-border payments (exchange rate fluctuations…) and the challenges that come with DHN being officially registered in Sweden but the treasurer is a German citizen living permanently in Norway.

So, when I was asked if I would consider becoming Vice-Chair of DHN, I felt that while I was acknowledged for my many contributions to DHN throughout the years and offered more responsibilities but also more visibility, that I was abandoning the treasurer office without having achieved everything I set out to do. Objectively, that is not the case. However, human nature is such that the person who has been working on a task long enough often only sees all the tiny threads they were not able to gather instead of the sturdy rope they have been twisting. I’m happy to be handing over the treasurer task to fellow DHN Board member Veronika Laippala whom I trust completely in that she will be doing an awesome job handling DHN’s account and membership obligations.

With this being said: I am proud to be now the Vice-Chair of the association that I helped bringing into life. I will be continuing the former Vice-Chair’s work on the DHN constitution and together with the other Board members shape DHN’s strategy and its short and long-term objectives. DHN-members should not expect anything less from me than passion, dedication, and excellence in fulfilling the office of Vice-Chair. It is my pleasure!

Home office during Covid-19 set up in the guest room. CC-BY-ND 4.0

The room that I call ‘kontoret’ (‘the office’, in English) at home is actually the guest room. It has already a small desk and we attached one of the screens for the PC unit to the wall with a mounting, so it could work as well as an extra monitor as it could serve as a screen for watching something online. I also use this room to hide my remaining analog books, mostly language learning textbooks, and a few fiction titles in various languages.

The microphone is a leftover from when I was incapacitated during a long term illness and couldn’t type, write, or use a mouse or touchpad so I had to dictate all my writing. I had planned to sell it since I no longer had use for it, but forgot about it after the move. Lucky me!

I also have a good amount of office supplies. It’s a bit of a passion, actually, and something I’ve enjoyed since my teenage years. Yes: I like browsing for – and owning – office supplies. Beat that! So I was lucky again to have a good supply of pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks in all shapes and sizes, a hole puncher, a magnifying glass, reading support, post-its, and whatnot. I also have a fair amount of adapters, extenders, and power cables (even though I found myself lacking adapters for the work laptop…). So I’m pretty well set up for doing the home office in that regard.

We bought wireless noise-canceling headphones and a proper webcam for the remote teaching and meetings we are having (a lot of), so not too much stuff and it will have a use afterward…

However, it turns out that there’s a significant difference between using a desk a couple of hours per month, on occasion, for short periods of time and using it every day for a full day of work. It’s not adjustable, it’s not deep enough, and it has these protruding knobs on the inbuilt drawers that poke me quite uncomfortably. There’s generally little space since the room is dominated by a daybed (which is not used at the moment). It’s also pretty cold in the room since we removed the electric radiator to replace it with a nicer one – which obviously didn’t happen because the room is so seldomly used…

I found out, however, that running folding at home on the old gaming PC hidden behind the daybed creates so much heat that it works as a veritable radiator replacement!

I’ve considered buying a small printer so that I can print out stuff to read (I get very quickly very tired and strained from reading long texts on pdfs on the computer screen), but I really don’t want to have it clutter the apartment. So I’m considering getting an eReader with notebook functionality instead. Yet another device, but it might work better in the longer term and it is smaller.

It’s day 15 of the Covid-19 physical distancing measures here in Norway now, let’s see how things develop in the future. My partner and I need to share the little office, so one of us will sit in the living room instead, which works well enough for reading and working on the laptop. But the sitting position is even less ergonomic and the environment invites for procrastination. There’s nothing else to do than trying out how to work from home like this and make adjustments where and when possible.

I consider myself incredibly lucky living in where I live – if I get cabin fever, I have the woods right behind the house. Stay safe!

Mushroom hunting in Lillomarka, Norway. © Annika Rockenberger

Norway responded to the Covid-19 pandemic on March 11 with broad restrictions and preventive measures. On March 13, my employer, the University of Oslo was closed for all students and staff which is not necessary for safety and security. Everyone who does not serve a critical role in society is to work from home, and those who have been abroad from February 27 onwards, have to go into quarantine for at least 14 days. So: as of March 11, I have had ‘home office’ and as of March 12, I have been in quarantine at home.

Today, on Twitter, Remi van Trijp coined the neologism “procoronastinate”, meaning “Not being able to concentrate/work because of the coronavirus” in his tweet while sharing an article in the BBC’s Worklife section on “Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time.” – Yes, this is exactly what has been happening to me. Even though I have an actual office/guest room at home, had brought my work laptop, have stable WiFi, a high-quality microphone, extra screen, and whatnot and no children, cats, or dogs to care for, I was not able to get anything done. My motivation was non-existent, I was feeling easily irritable and frustrated, not able to focus, let alone work! I am not afraid of contracting the Coronavirus, and I am not afraid of society breaking down. But I have never been in a remotely similar situation in my life, I have no experience to draw on, no frame for understanding what is going on.

Instead of working (or reading something), I found myself feverishly checking Twitter – my only Social Media platform – and the websites of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Ministry of Health for up-to-date information about what is going on, what to expect, what I am allowed and not allowed to do. I hit the refresh button in the browser constantly, checked emails, messenger apps. There was no panic, no drama, no one in my family and friend circles who is immediately threatened, but I could not let go.

Since then, a couple of days have passed, and I am slowly, very slowly, settling into the new situation. I’ve had a remote meeting with my colleagues from work, I’ve set up a couple of remote meetings with the StudyGroup I am part of, and I am looking forward to joining a webinar and a virtual Stammtisch in the next few days. I have also started doing “office-stuff”, nothing big or important, but some Zotero maintenance, replying to emails, cleaning up my Desktop and Downloads folders, etc. Small things, but it felt good to get something done, small accomplishments, progress.

This is only Day 7 of the Covid-19 restrictions, and it might be weeks, or even months of mainly doing work from home, remotely, and with reduced physical contact with friends and colleagues, going out and being around people. I want to try taking care of myself: taking it a day at a time, doing what I feel like doing, rather than trying to get as much as possible done. Let’s see how this will turn out. I am optimistic: All will be well, eventually.

See you all on the other side! Stay safe and #stayhome!