End-of-Year Recap 2020

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!