05. August 2016 · Comments Off on VR is here! Digital Humanities Conference in Kraków, July 11-16, 2016 · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

It’s been 4 years since my last annual international DH conference (in Hamburg), so it was about time! Kraków seemed reasonably close and affordable, and even though I had not submitted a proposal for a presentation myself, the preliminary programme and this year’s ‘hot topics’ were intriguing enough to give it a ‘participation only’ go! Also, a DH international conference is a great way to meet all the people I usually interact with online only live and in person!

Even though I had been entertaining the idea of immersing myself in stylometry and computer aided/assisted textual analysis, I ended up with a different choice of topic: High End Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / 3D Modelling – with a number of sessions spread over 2 days on a variety of projects. Since I am planning a large(r) scale project in VR/AR myself, it seemed wise to check out the field and see what others are up to, what tech they use and have experience with, and how their projects are and were received by the DH and non-DH scientific community.

I was most impressed by the following presentations:

  • The Evolution of Virtual Harlem: Bringing the Jazz Age to Life (presented by Brian Wilson Carter) – more about the project, that has been started in 1998 and is constantly being developed, here.
  • Contested Memories: The Battle of Mount Street Bridge. Problems, Perspectives, and Challenges (presented by Susan Schreibman and Constantinos Papadopoulos) – their project can be viewed here.
  • OVAL: A Virtual Ecosystem for Immersive Scholarship and Teaching (presented by Bill Endres, Matthew Cook, Will Kurlinkus).
  • Using Computer Numerical Control Techniques to Prototype Media History (presented by Tiffany Chan)
  • An Augmented Reality Mobile Application for Intergenerational Learning and Critical Connection (presented by Tamar Gordon)

The most impressive, I have to say, was the Virtual Harlem Project! I will review this project thoroughly as well as take a closer look at the different approaches and alternative solutions to problems of visualization in other projects when I map out my own ideas.

Apart from the engaging content, I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues as well as meet new ones, make plans for collaborations and pitched some DH ideas, promoted the upcoming DHN conference in Gothenburg and gathered people for an informal lunch meeting of friends and members of DHN!

And since the DH conference was going on in the same week the now viral augmented reality game Pokemon Go was released, of course me and a couple of friendly technophiles teamed up to ‘catch ’em all’ – right in the foyer of the venerable Jagiellonian University, our most hospital and welcoming host institution :)

Rare Appearance of Three Digital Humanists Trying to Catch a Drowzee That Spawned in the Foyer of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Rare Appearance of Three Digital Humanists Trying to Catch a Drowzee That Spawned in the Foyer of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

03. June 2015 · Comments Off on Software Carpentry – Or: What You Can Learn About Learning & Teaching DH · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: , , ,

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.

30. May 2015 · Comments Off on Collaborate! – A Visit to Forskningsparken · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

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!


Annika Rockenberger, Sasha Rudan & Dino Karabeg, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Oslo © Sasha Rudan - 2015

Annika Rockenberger, Sasha Rudan, Dino Karabeg – Dept. of Informatics, University of Oslo © Sasha Rudan 2015

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.

24. May 2015 · Comments Off on My Day of DH 2015 – Recap · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , , , , , ,

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!

26. August 2014 · Comments Off on Digital Humanities Forum (DHF) at the University of Oslo · Categories: Conference Report, Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

Alas! This fall starts the Digital Humanities Forum or digital humaniora forum (DHF) at the University of Oslo. Initiated by two members of the steering committee of the Digital Humaniora research network at the Faculty of Humanities and supported by the DH network at UiO, there will be a series of six events, each under a specific topic; with short presentations of projects, tools, services, and best practice.

The DHF will be held at the Læringsoasen at the University Library, Georg Sverdrups Hus, on Blindern Campus, tuesdays between 2–4pm starting on September 9, 2014. The event is open to the public.

September 9: Maps and Visualizations I: Geographical, Temporal, Social Networks

Christian-Emil S. Ore: Internet maps
Janne Bondi: Dialectal maps
Federico Aurora: Inscriptions of Linear B and Greek papyri
Jens Erland Braarvig: Euclid & Aristotle: Maps

September 23: Maps and Visualizations II: Geographical, Temporal, Social Networks

Frode Helland: Ibsen maps
Helge Jordheim: Historical Stemmata
Ida Jahr: Visualizing Historical Social Networks
Line Esborg: Folkeminne-collection

October 7: Digital Editions and Digital Philology

Espen Ore
Tor Ivar Ostmo

October 21: Lexicons and Bibliographies

Espen Ore: Norsk Ordbok 2014
Stephan Guth: Arabic Etymologies
Annika Rockenberger: Project Bibliographies for Everyone: Zotero

November 4: Datalinguistics

Janne Bondi
Atle Grønn
Dag Haug
Diana Santos

November 18: Digital Humanities in Research and Teaching

Anne Birgitte Rønning, Espen S. Ore: Moderation
Jan Engh, Andrea Gasparini, Federico Aurora: Plenary Discussion