24. March 2017 · Comments Off on Digital Humanities Higher Education in Norway – A Preliminary Survey · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

Last week, DHN had its 2nd conference in beautiful Gothenburg. With nearly 200 participants and 60 presentations, over a dozen posters and three keynotes it was as well received as the Oslo conference in 2016 and supports the initial idea, that the Nordic countries could and should join their efforts in making Digital Humanities (in the broadest sense) more visible, more integrated, and sustainable.

Before the the conference, DHN had invited to participate in a variety of pre-conference workshops and I decided to join the one on Higher Education Programs in Digital Humanities: Challenges and Perspectives, organized by Koraljka Golub from Linnæus University in Växjö, Sweden. – Shortly after enrolling, I was asked if I could report on the situation in Norway which I agreed to do: after all, I thought, there isn’t much to report on anyways but it will give me the chance to do some research on what is happening DH-education-wise in my country of residence!

My initial suspicion was quite true, though: At the present moment, there is no DH-study program in higher education in Norway. (A DH-study program would be called “Digital Humanities” or “Digital Humaniora” but also “Humanities Computing” / “Humanistisk Informatikk”, either on B.A./B.Sc. or M.A./M.Sc. level.) However, finding that there isn’t anything called ‘DH’ does not mean, that there is no such thing like ‘DH’. I expanded my search and attempted also a more systematic approach:

  1. Which disciplines are commonly meant when talking about ‘Humanities’ and what does ‘Digital’ (or the older term ‘Computing’) refer to in this context?
  2. What are the institutions of higher education in Norway?
  3. Where in Norway are institutions located that provide a DH or DH-like or DH-near education?

I created a spreadsheet with all the institutions of Higher Ed in Norway and the study programs (1-year-studies, B.A./B.Sc., M.A./M.Sc.) that would fit – in the broadest and most inclusive way – under the DH-umbrella. This list can be seen here (and comments are welcome!), however, it is not finished yet. In order to get something presentable and discussable, I was rather lax in my categories: I included almost anything related to computer science, data science, data engineering, ICT-teaching; media (and film) studies; interface design and digital design; digital culture; but also statistics, e-Health, e-Administration etc.

This resulted in a large number of study programs on all levels at almost all the institutions of higher education. I think this is actually an advantage: It is easier to delete something from a list after re-evaluation of the search criteria than adding something new. The presentation of my preliminary results can be accessed (and commented on) here.

Although there is very little that would intuitively be considered DH-studies, Norway has a strong focus on the digital / data driven / computational and ICT studies. Especially in its application for society, research, the medicine and health sector, governance and administration (incl. law), and teaching. Within the humanities, the focus seems to be more on the ‘digital’ as an object of study, not so much as a set of methods and approaches to deal with cultural, social, and artistic objects. Almost exclusively within media and cultural studies, digital humanities aspects can be found; especially at the University of Bergen and Norway’s Inland University (formerly University College in Hedmark).

I also discussed what this means for DH in the Nordic countries and DH in Norway specifically: DH in Norway are both young and old, the state endorses higher education (including the humanities) quite substantially, and has a strategic plan for ‘Digital’ Norway as one, if not THE, sustainable industry and (public) service of the future. Which all in all looks pretty promising for DH in higher ed. If this necessarily means that we have to establish DH-study programs (in the narrow sense), I am not sure about. Or if it means that the ‘digital turn’ in ANY field of study, including the humanities, is inevitable. And I believe this is a good thing.

I plan to expand my preliminary study a bit, especially in making a thought-through, transparent selection of criteria as to what counts as DH-proper and DH in a wider sense (in Norway at least) and what I consider to be a study program (perhaps excluding the 1-year-studies altogether) and an institution of higher education. I will also conduct comprehensive interviews with Norwegian academics who research and teach in DH-related programs and future plans and do a more in depth analysis of the strategic plans of the Ministry of Education and Research, The Research Counsil of Norway and other science and education policy institutions in Norway regarding the ‘digital’. So: stay tuned!

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.

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!

03. March 2015 · Comments Off on A New Digital Humanities Center at Gothenburg University · Categories: Digital Humanities · Tags: , ,

Another short note:

The Faculty of Humanities at Gothenburg University, Sweden, founded a Digital Humanities Center that began operation in January 2015. Last fall, the DH people at Gothenburg started a seminar series in digital humanities that continues in 2015. So far, there have been two seminars/lectures this year, the opening one delivered by Julianne Nyhan (University College London) on “Digital Humanities: Origins and Future Possibilities” on Feb 4. Joseph Trotta (Gothenburg University) presented his interdisciplinary work in the second talk “The Empirical Strikes Back: Corpus Linguistics, Stylistics & Literary Analysis” on Feb 26. There are four talks on a variety of humanities topics to come (the programme can be found here).

The Gothenburg DH-center works on a DH curriculum (BA, MA, perhaps even Ph.D.?) and seeks to establish new and strengthen already existing networks within the Scandinavian and Nordic region and to the European and International DH community. Gothenburg University and the University of Oslo will collaborate as much as possible in fostering the Nordic Digital Humanities Network.

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