Neues Jahr, neues Glück!
My last blog post was a while ago and I haven’t been able to stick to my blogging schedule, too. However, since it’s only 12 days in the new year 2016, it’s still fine to make some resolutions. Shall we?!
#1 First of all, I want to update this blog more often, I guess, at least once a month should be reasonably doable. (Also: this post will serve as the once per month for January, unless I decide to create another, more thematic one later.) The main reason I do that for is to keep track of my various academic activities and at the same time tell my audience about what it is I do: too often I found myself taking for granted that people I meet, on-line as well as off-line, know what a humanities researcher does in her day-to-day work. They don’t. So I decided to talk about it more!
#2 Finish THE project aka the doctoral dissertation. I have invested a lot in this project and I am at the point where I want it to be finally done: and out of the way. I will use this year to present my work at a couple of specialist conferences, discuss it with my supervisors and colleagues, but mainly: finish the write-up. The database, which is a pivotal part of my dissertation, will get updated and edited, too; I hope to get all the relevant publications of 2016 in before I deliver the thesis.
#3 Finish a couple of articles that are not related to my doctoral dissertation but I agreed on doing. This will be: an article (comprised of a series of blog posts on my Georg Greflinger project blog) on the Nordischer Mercurius and the spreading of news in C17th Germany. An article on the digital scholarly edition of early modern prints (from the perspective of German edition philology). Additionally, there are three articles in submission/peer review that I hope to get published in 2016.
#4 Publish the inaugural volume of the Georg Greflinger digital edition, the Ethica Complementoria edition. It looks like the edition, incl. studies on the Ethica and its transmission and transformation will be published within a book series as well as (the edited texts) online and open access. A lot of work has gone into making this project happen that has had no and still doesn’t have any funding or institutional affiliation. I am confident that it will see the light of day in 2016. More on this project can be found on the project website blog.
#5 And last but not least: Have the 1st conference and members meeting of the association for Digital Humanities in the Nordic countries (DHN) here in Oslo in March. I am very much looking forward to see the product of our combined efforts and experience a thriving, vibrant DH community in Norway and Scandinavia!
So: stay tuned!
“Textkritik som analysemetod” (textual criticism as a method of analysis) was the title of this years conference of the Nordic Network for Edition Philology (NNE), held in beautiful Gothenburg in the first week of October. The NNE gathers bi-annually editors, edition philologist, book historians and literary scholars from all the Nordic countries to discuss developments in recent research and editorial method, and present scholarly editions.
This year’s conference was the 14th in a row of successful gatherings in the North and the 20th anniversary of the NNE – with 60 participants (and an amazing 50/50 gender distribution!) and 12 talks in three languages (Swedish, Norwegian & Danish) on various subjects more or less closely tied to this year’s topic. The talks will be published in the NNE-book series and made digitally (XML-TEI P5 encoded!) available afterwards.
What became obvious in the discussions and debates not only here at the NNE meeting but generally in edition philology, is, that the scholarly editions we editors prepare in a very sophisticated manner and with a special eye for detail are not really suited for computer aided corpus analysis like topic modeling, text mining, stylistics etc. The issue is not under-complexity of the (digital) scholarly editions, but rather their complexity and depth of encoding and enrichment. In a corpus of 100.000 books, a textual error is statistically insignificant – no need to make the effort of emendation or provide an explanation and possible rectification. – I think it has to ‘sink in’ that especially quantitative (digital) literary or text studies ask very different questions from those commonly anticipated by edition philologists (that is: those of traditional literary studies). And since editions are not an end in itself but user oriented, what do we have to change in order to meet the needs (also) of those literary scholars who are interested in quantitative, corpus-based analyses & distant reading?
This is a work-in-progress, small scale study, inspired by some observations Melissa Terras made in her recent blog post about Frontiers in DH (regarding all-male editorial teams of journals), and a tentative research query of my own that left me baffled. – While I won’t focus on DH journals in particular or the DH community in general (see Scott Weingart’s series of blog posts (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) on this matter), I will take a look at my own discipline, which is German literature studies, especially, the so called “Inlandsgermanistik” (meaning: German literary studies in the German speaking countries, mainly Germany). I will also draw on my 2014 blog post on gender distribution in German edition philology.
(1) I want to know the gender distribution among (senior) editors and editorial boards of the leading contemporary German-speaking, German literary studies journals, especially (1a) how many of the journals have all-male editorial teams (e.g. the editors, if there are more than one) and (1b) all-male or mainly male editorial boards. (1c) I want to know the number (and percentage) of non-male persons in both editorial teams and boards. (2) I then want to compare the gender distribution to the general gender distribution within the Inlandsgermanistik (if I can manage to get recent data).
(1) One could expect the distribution of gender among editors and editorial boards to be more or less the same as the general distribution within the academic field in the respective countries (and Germany is one of the worst when it comes to the ratio of male to non-male tenured (senior) professors in the humanities). While the ratio might not be representative of society as a whole and far from what we as the academic community want, it would at least be representative of the field of German literary studies in the German speaking countries when it comes to gender distribution of senior academics. However, ensuing from my own experiences, I expect (2) the gender distribution to be to the disadvantage of non-male academics and even lower than the ratio in the field. I further (3) suspect, that the majority of leading journals has all-male editorial teams and mainly male editorial boards.
(1) First, I will compile a list of leading German-speaking, German literary studies journals. “Leading” meaning that the journals are well-known, well-distributed (have a high enough number of subscriptions from libraries) and established (meaning, they cannot be recently founded journals; which excludes almost all digital-only journals, though). I aim at a set of ~100 journals; I take my starting point with the collection of journals on germanistik.net. (2) I will than create an Excel-sheet listing all selected journals where I enter the total number of people in editorial teams and consulting editorial boards (and executive editors) and the number of male and non-male persons each. (3) I will calculate the proportion for each journal and (4) compare it to the general gender distribution in the field. (5) I will then try to provide some explanations for the findings and finally (6) draft some normative suggestions on the matter, namely: what we as the academic community (of German literary studies) could and should do about the status quo in regard to gender equality and representativeness in academia.
I plan to do this small scale study ‘in my free time’, without any funding and without an assignment. I will publish the study and its results as a series of blog posts on my personal private blog under a CC-licence. I might, upon request, publish the findings in a more traditional format in a journal at a later date. All research materials will be published on the way under a CC-licence on GitHub (Excel sheets, graphics, drafts).
The material I am going to use might contain some sort of personal data as far as it involves names, professions, institutional affiliations, academic titles and the like. All of this data is already published and openly available. I will use this data, and only the data I can get from journal impressa and editorial notes.
P.S. This post will probably be updated later, if so, I will add a version statement & date at the beginning!
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)
[a little out of the ordinary, this bloggage is in German]
Am 24. Juli war ich zum Expertengespräch und Workshop im neuen Digitalisierungs- und Editionsprojekt Narragonien digital der Universität Würzburg, welches im Rahmen des Würzburger Digitalisierungszentrums Kallimachos gefördert wird, eingeladen. Anlass war eine erste Orientierung sowie Sondierungs- und Konsultationsgespräche in Vorbereitung der Digitalisierung und editorischen Bearbeitung der für das Projekt ausgewählten Narrenschiff-Drucke. Gemeinsam mit zwei weiteren externen Kollegen (aus der Latinistik und der Romanistik) fand der Workshop im kleinen Kreis mit den Projektleitern und -mitarbeitern in informellem Austausch statt. 2009–2011 hatte ich mich bereits umfänglich mit der sog. editio princeps (Basel 1494) des Narrenschiffs von Sebastian Brant unter druckanalytisch-medienhistorischen Gesichtspunkten sowie programmatisch zu einer Neuedition im und für das digitale Medium geäussert, und es war schön zu sehen, dass in einem so groß aufgestellten Projekt wie Narragonien digital meine Überlegungen zur Wahl der Editionsgrundlage, zur Transgraphierung und zu den editorischen Beigaben Eingang finden werden (vgl. hierzu: A.R.: Sebastian Brants »Narrenschiff«. Kritische Würdigung vorliegender Editionen und prinzipielle Überlegungen zu einer Neu-Edition. In: editio 25 (2011), p. 42–73).
Narragonien digital fokussiert vor allem auch die Übersetzungen, Übertragungen und Bearbeitungen des Narrenschiffs um 1500 (in verschiedene deutsche Druckersprachen, aber auch ins Lateinische, Französische, Englische), die bisher von der Forschung eher vernachlässigt worden sind und auch keine editorische Aufbereitung erfahren haben. Darüber hinaus versucht das ambitionierte Projekt, eine OCR (optical character recognition) für Frühdrucktypographie zu trainieren, die zuverlässig Drucke der in Frage kommenden Offizinen, in Antiqua- und gebrochenen Schriften, erkennen – und die Texte damit auch maschinenlesbar zugänglich machen – kann. Eine funktionierende und in ihren Resultaten zufrieden stellende OCR für gebrochene Schriften (der Frühdruckzeit) ist seit langem ein Desiderat und es bleibt zu hoffen, dass im Rahmen des Würzburger Projekts hier signifikante Fortschritte gemacht werden, von denen die community der Frühneuzeitforscher und -editoren – auch und vor allem in kleinen und Kleinstprojekten – wird profitieren können.
Meine Beschäftigung mit dem Narrenschiff war und ist zunächst druck- und buchgeschichtlich, genauer: typographiegeschichtlich. Vor diesem Hintergrund würde ich mir vor allem wünschen, dass die OCR nicht “nur” den Text möglichst fehlerfrei erkennen kann, sondern auch die jeweiligen Schriftklassen: für eine computergestützte Analyse der Typenverteilung im Narrenschiff-Erstdruck wäre dies enorm hilfreich und könnte wesentlich dazu beitragen, den Satz und die Korrekturfolgen der editio princeps für alle Bogenseiten zu rekonstruieren (mir war dies im Rahmen meiner Studie nur für die Lage E möglich). Die Buch- und Druckforschung, insbesondere die Inkunabelkunde, könnte hier in der Breite neue Erkenntnisse zur Frühdruckzeit gewinnen und gesicherte(re) Schlüsse aus dem überlieferten Material auf dessen Herstellung sowie die Verbreitung und den Handel mit Drucktypen ziehen!
Nach dem Workshop und den vielen intensiven Gesprächen plane ich, meine Arbeiten an der causa Narrenschiff-Erstdruck in naher Zukunft wieder auf zu nehmen und stelle diese gerne dem Narragonien-Projekt als Addendum der digitalen Edition sowie zur Weiterarbeit zur Verfügung.
A few days ago I had the pleasure to take part in my first Software Carpentry hands-on workshop at the Realfagsbibliotek at the University of Oslo on June 2–3, 2015. It was a last-minute decision – a colleague from computer science suggested the event to me since I wanted to learn some Python (and SWC’s workshop was offering that, among other things…).
Basically, the course was meant to provide an introduction to and hands-on work with Unix Shell (i.e. using the command line and thus interacting with your computer without using a graphical interface), GitHub for version control and Python, incl. using iPython notebook and TextWrangler.
I’ve participated in my fare share of technology and programming workshops over the past years and I have to say: I was awestruck! I was the only humanities person there (well: the only one who ‘outed’ themself), without much prior knowledge (of either Unix Shell, GitHub or Python). And I didn’t really know what to expect – but it was fantastic. The instructors were wonderful, the ‘mode of teaching’ (especially using the sticky-notes for trouble shooting and keeping track with where people are where they got stuck) was working refreshingly well with quite a heterogenous group of learners, and the overall atmosphere was friendly, helpful, encouraging and explorative.
As I learned, SWC has an instructor training (they’re always looking for people who want to become teachers) and pays special attention to the pedagogy of teaching ‘scary computer stuff’ and programming skills to researchers with all kinds of disciplinary backgrounds. – Apart from learning some / getting comfortable teaching myself Python (which was my personal goal), I also took the workshop to observe and evaluate it from a digital humanities point of interest. I asked myself: Would the SWC-format be of use in a DH-context. At the University of Oslo? Who would be the intended audience from SWC’s point of view and who would think they could use this workshop from the Faculty of Humanities? Would their needs and wants be met? (And what would those be?) Would an SWC ‘standard’ courses meet the needs or be too far from what a humanities researcher’s day-to-day work looks like?
After the workshop I talked to one of the teachers, Lex Nederbragt, about SWC, its outreach, the humanities, and UiO. He was, too, much interested in the matter and suggested to investigate a little further. I’m not going to provide results of an extensive search on the web, however, I will link to some posts I found that specifically made a connection between SWC and Digital Humanities.
What I found out was:
- Most of the workshops (it were only a few in number) that were targeted at DH folk had been held in the US (as far as I could see), often within some bigger workshop event or a THATcamp or HASTAC thing. Those schooling events are quite common and well received in DH and thus a good entering point.
- The overall experience of the learners was positive with few suggestions on how to tailor the SWC workshop program to meet the specific needs of DHers even better. However, as a first step, those needs have to be pointed out (from the DHers)!
- SWC itself went out to gather suggestions for workshops specifically targeted at DHers and wanted to know what to expect from humanities folk who want (or should) take one of their workshops.
- What they learned was: you have to first know the DHers tech-background, familiarity with the command line and their computers files system, with using a database and programming etc., starting then perhaps with a very basic workshop that teaches “getting used to using your computer”, as, for example, suggested by Fiona Tweedie when asked by SWC.
- However, this by no means is to suggest that humanities researchers are less computer savvy than natural and social sciences people (they’re also often not that experienced and fluent in tech and informatics), but that their exposure to technology is discipline-specific and data-specific and thus often quite different from “the sciences” who make up the usual participants of an SWC workshop. (Meaning: where they will ‘get lost’ during a workshop setting might be unexpected by the instructors as well as some of the questions and issues might be surprising.)
- It was suggested that it might be useful for SWC to have amongst their teaching staff either humanists or digital humanities people who know the needs, wants, and requirements of (digital) humanities researchers, their ‘data’ and research methods as well as their habitual attitudes towards technology, computer science, and programming.
I particularly liked what I found on Audrey Watters Tumblr about SWC and teaching programming and basic computer skills to non-tech and non-natural sciences people:
“I focus more on some of these questions surrounding how do we create learning environments for non-programmers to learn programming […] by helping train scholars in new tools (and, as such, in new methodologies); learning to work with technologists; coming to terms with the ways in which storage, processing, interactivity, data, and so on might enhance teaching, research, and their dissemination”
Perhaps, SWC’s local UiO instructors and the Digital Humanities Network in Oslo could stick their heads together and see if they could come up with some suggestions for a basic, introductory hands-on workshop especially tailored to (digital) humanities researchers!? I would very much appreciate this and consider taking the instructor training with SWC for some of the technologies commonly used in a DH context: XML and the other X’s (XSLT, XPath, XQuery, eXist database), HTML, Python, and (My)SQL.
As a generally curious person – and as a Digital Humanities networker at UiO – I like to explore new fields and places, sideways, and the lesser-travelled paths. I also like to meet new people. A little while ago, a friend and colleague introduced me to an DH-affine researcher who just finished her Ph.D. in comparative literature and was visiting Oslo. We met, because I wanted to find out more about what she was working on and because meeting literary studies people with a strong DH-angle is always fruitful (and we are a small, sworn community, where it is actually possible to know almost everyone involved which makes communication and collaboration so much easier!). The social meeting, to which both of us invited a colleague, turned out to be very nice – and I met another Oslo-based fellow traveller: this one geographically much closer but disciplinary quite far from where I’m at home: from informatics, especially: information and knowledge modeling. Well, not that far when you take a step back (I study communication; they do, too), but quite far when you believe in the ‘traditional’ distinction between ‘the humanities’ and the ‘natural sciences’ (and their respective ways of thinking). The conversation got me very interested in what is going on at the informatics department at UiO and I invited myself for a coffee and a tour!
Last Tuesday I took a stroll from the humanities campus (south of the Oslo city metro-line) to Forskningsparken (north of the metro-line), where the computer and tech people live (and a couple of drones, too!). Here I met with Sasha Rudan and – briefly – Dino Karabeg, who told me about their research and projects and ideas and plans and I did the same. As it turned out, we had a lot to discuss regarding collaboration, the process of (scientific) knowledge production and distribution, creativity, and sharing. They’re working on an impressive project called CollaboScience
CollaboScience is a platform and a paradigm for practicing collaborative scientific research and dialogue, designed (and developed) by ChaOS and Knowledge Federation (it is part of our Open-Systemic Design initiative)
and KnAllEdge, that does
general knowledge mapping (topics, relations, …), broadcasts knowledge and dialogue
I have to admit: I have yet to find out – or rather: explore! – the full dimension and capability of these. But I see an adaptive idea developing in my mind which I will keep tossing and turning until it is ripe to be tested within my current research on scholarly communities, their (published) communication, esp. their (discipline-specific?) modes of reasoning, their argumentation, and negotiation – not so much of truth claims but rather of the scholarly ‘how to…’ and the (implicit) normative assumptions and presuppositions of their research.
Dino and Sasha have invited me to collaborate on their project using CollaboScience and engaging in an explorative process that started at their Tesla and the Nature of Creativity event in Belgrade, April 2015. Today was the ‘barn raising’ event via GoToMeeting (a virtual conferencing tool) and DebateGraph (the virtual working environment) and a rather large and geographically wide-spread group is working on the project for one week, while KnAllEdge maps what we’re doing in real-time…! I’m excited! I suggested to take the role of an observer (I still feel a bit too unfamiliar within this framework, but I’m open!), and I will see to do some learning by doing and developing my ideas into something I can make use of – and of course: they can make use of within their project.
I also see this involvement as a first step to open to DH network at UiO to the informatics side (we are ‘digital’ anyway) and I believe both sides (of the devided-by-the-Oslo-city-metro-line campus) will profit from this one way or the other. A first step could be a presentation of KnAllEdge (and CollaboScience as a use case) within the Digital Humanities Forum in the fall semester.
Puh! DayofDH2015 is long over now – thank goodness! That day was crammed with non-work related stressful appointments and my neat schedule eventually turned into a chaotic mess…
Well! In the meantime, I made some progress regarding the projects I had to-do-listed for Day of DH 2015:
- I edited the #NordicDH conference call for papers; the program committee is about to finalize it and we hope to get it out by end of May / start of June 2015. Time schedule and budget are also in their final editing stages!
- I outlined the Ph.D. seminar Academic Blogging for Early Career Researchers. An Introductory Seminar and Hands-on Workshop, including a budget, schedule etc. and submitted it to the Ph.D. program board. Hopefully, I’ll get funding from the Faculty of Humanities at UiO to do the one and a half day seminar. If so, it will be a great learning and teaching experience and there will be awesome academic bloggers who ‘talk out of school’ and do the practical, hands-on intro! The seminar will also be part of the Digital Humaniora Forum seminar series at the University of Oslo and is (roughly) scheduled for mid-September 2015.
- Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the #DHOslo steering committee’s monthly meeting, however, there will be another course of seminars in the DH forum series in the fall semester 2015 (probably monthly, on Tuesdays) at UiO. I prepared an internal report on DH Forum; in my judgement, the series went really well, we covered a broad spectrum of topics and humanities disciplines and attracted a diverse audience (and a small group of hardcore DHers who attended almost all of the seminars, regardless of topic and specialization). Audience sizes varied between 15 and 40, which is quite large, considering that the series is a local, small-scale initiative, held on a weekday between 2-4pm.
- I accepted the invitation to the Wolfenbütteler Arbeitsgespräch and hinted a topic I would like to tackle (and that the ones who invited me would like me to elaborate on). If everything goes well, I’ll be re-visiting the wonderful Herzog August research and special collections library in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, in November 2015. It would also be great to spend some additional days there to do some critical editing and descriptive bibliography for the Ethica Complementoria-edition in my digital edition of the works and writings of baroque poet, journalist, historian, and entrepreneur Georg Greflinger (1620-1677).
- I successfully transferred my old MS-Word project bibliography into Zotero. It was, however, more manually than semi-automatically. A very common (and very frustrating) characteristic of my field of research is, that a lot – if not most! – of the articles are not journal articles but articles in collections, conference proceedings, anthologies etc. And since my work – at least partially – deals with (modern) history of philology, they are also OLD, but, unfortunately, not old enough to be already out of copyright, digitized, and neatly catalogued with clean metadata, so that ‘picking’ them with the Zotero-button in the browser is easy done in 2 seconds. What adds to the frustration is that Zotero, unlike Citavi (and maybe other reference databases, I don’t know), is designed for disciplines that heavily rely on (digital) journal articles and for some reason does not feature an in-built connector for single articles in collections and the collection (and its editors, publisher, place, date…) itself! Which basically means that one has to type all the crucial information for each and every article of the same collection every single time. (OK: if you already know there is more than one you want to add, you can use the “duplicate this entry”-function. However, if you’re adding a lot of entries this is prone to failure (page ranges get duplicated as well as tags and other stuff you don’t want to have…) which leads to still a lot of manual editing and typing (or in my case: dictating & spelling… oh, those names and those fancy titles… how I hate them!)) – I did it, though, and will transfer some other MS-Word bibliographies as well as a number of pdf-scanned ones when I feel up to it ;)
- Apart from this: I really, really love Zotero! I will probably teach another Zotero intro course in the fall semester at UiO and try to convince my humanities colleagues of the many advantages of using a database instead of text-file bibliographies.
So, even though my (first) Day of DH wasn’t very representative of my usual days at work and also not very DH-ey, at least I got some work done afterwards and a couple of DH-projects are on their way! Looking forward to the fall semester at UiO!