I am on leave until August 2021 and will mostly stay offline. See you after summer!
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!
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!
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!
It seems to be popular to list achievements and major events of the 2010s this time of the year (especially on Twitter…), but I have so far refrained from doing so. Partly because they often come across as somewhat braggy, partly because they mix private and professional (aka more public-suitable) achievements, which I don’t want to do. I’m still feeling unsure about the function of such a list – as a public item, not as a personal log – but anyways, here it goes:
- 2010: Finished my Magister Artium degree with Honours and published my first book
- 2011: Taught my first Masterclass (on Digital Editions)
- 2012: Got accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Oslo (and moved countries)
- 2013: Received a Digital Humanities Fellowship at the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel
- 2014+2015: Got sick and later diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease followed by a long-term sick leave.
- 2016: Picked up Ph.D. dissertation again
- 2017: Handed in my Ph.D. thesis
- 2018: Passed my Ph.D. defense, taught another masterclass and got my first “real” job after graduating (at the National Library of Norway as Research Librarian). Also: appendicitis and burnout.
- 2019: Resigned and accepted a new job offer (at the University of Oslo Library as Research Data Management Advisor)
I am still most proud and most fond of my master’s project on the Ship of Fools – and I think it is mostly because the time was untainted by health issues and other troubling life events (there were quite a few later which I didn’t list because of their private nature). I can now say that I am glad for the opportunity the Ph.D. program in Norway gave me: moving to a different country, learning another language and mastering it, and most of all: being independent. But where the journey will lead me, that I don’t know.
It’s mid-December, 2019 is almost done. This year, I have been supporting the following organizations with donations. Perhaps you want to donate something, too?
25 USD to the Internet Archive. I use their WaybackMachine for every link that I want to add to my Zotero libraries, to any article or blog post I write. Link rot is a big problem, and the Internet Archive helps to keep the knowledge of the W3 accessible. Consider donating to them!
2019 isn’t over yet – let’s see if I can make even more donations – and perhaps inspire someone else to give well! If you want to know what charities out there most effectively use your donations to save and improve lives, please check the GiveWell website.
I am working on a longer blog post about a project I created in 2018 about Norwegian Correspondences (NorKorr), linking the collections of letters and other correspondence materials in Norwegian cultural heritage institutions and other institutions that archive and curate such materials by making use of the CorrespSearch framework.
In the meantime, you may take a look at the paper “Norwegian Correspondences and Linked Open Data” that was published in the DHN2019 conference proceedings. You may also want to check out the GitHub repository for NorKorr and read about project-related activities on the NorKorr website.
In April this year I’ve successfully defended my Ph.D. thesis in analytic philosophy of literary studies at the University of Oslo and taught a master class in digital humanities as well as held a guest lecture (remotely) on medieval religious plays and digital simulation and reconstruction within the seminar on digital music studies at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtität Münster, Germany.
I will continue my work with the DH Network in the greater Oslo region and with the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries Association as well as the EADH. And I hope to continue teaching workshops with the local Software Carpentry Initiative!
For an overview of what I am doing at the National Library of Norway and the collaborations we have nationally and internationally, stay tuned!
Since summer is almost over and the fresh semester in Norway has already started, let’s make a plan for some blog posts I have been drafting during the last couple of weeks. Most likely, I will blog more than what I put on this “to-do-list” here – at least one post per month, additionally to the semi-regulary blogging on the Greflinger archive-edition website.
- An overview of DH & pedagogy books, articles, and (web) resources – focussing on modern language, literature and cultural studies (Sep 2015)
- A micro-study on gender distribution in journals (Aug 2015)
- Textual criticism & (computational) textual analysis – a report of the Nordic Network for Edition Philology-conference in Gothenburg, Sweden (Oct 2015)
- Die Rückkehr des Werkes (Return of the Work) – report of the symposion at Herrenhausen Palace, Hannover, Germany (Oct 2015)
- Editing early modern (German) prints in and for a digital environment: conceptual draft and teaser for an upcoming article (Nov 2015)
- Querying the archive: DH, European enlightenment newspapers, and the Nordischer Mercurius (Dec 2015)