Spatial Humanities (2.30-3.45p, Room 246)

Jason Cohen facilitated this session for introducing THATCampers to the possibilities of spatial humanities. My notes are particularly scant here, limited almost entirely to resources mentioned.

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Omeka (1-2.15p, Room 246)

Patrick Murray-John of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University (though I hear he does have a separate existence as well) led a very practical session on Omeka, also from CHNM. My notes are available, with the disclaimer that I knew some about Omeka already and thus that there are likely a bunch of unexamined assumptions and lacunae in there.

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Notes from Teaching Literary Reading through collaborative annotation

Google Doc link

  • Do students respond to peer pressure?
  • What do you do about students’ need to “grope for meaning” (privacy)
  • Disappointment with available texts (not enough editions available authoritatively annotated)
  • Can students embed their research in a text?
  • Can students refer back to their own annotations? Others’ annotations?
  • Check out H20 from Berkman center — legal texts, casebooks
  • Is a “commonplace” book the same as annotation?
  • Annotation of objects — 3d models at MetaLab (eg for museum collections)
  • SocialBook — works well — community lacking?
  • Annotating library catalog records perhaps?
  • Digital Public Library of America — example of the effort to make resources accessible
  • We might need a taxonomy of kinds of annotations
  • To build that into the tool or not? (Annotation Studio’s approach is not to build-in this sort of pre-determined interpretation of annotation activity — Jamie)
  • Link to Annotation Studio website (explanatory context) Link to Annotation Studio public demo version (let me know if you’d like help getting set up)
  • Crocodoc “kind of fun!” — ingests PDFs
  • What changes about our idea of texts if/as we annotate? What does the tool do for us/to us?
  • “Agon of multiple intelligences” within a text — what does that do to our reading?
  • Idea from Best American Essays: students can’t sit alone with a text as easily anymore Garrett Keyser (sp?)
    • Two girls who got through Ethan Frome by reading together via Skype (cool! cool?)
    • Some students are more interested in Drama and Poetry (because it’s performance and/or somehow more social in nature)
  • To have a social reading experience is not just to be distracted, but also to be more connected to other people.
  • Do students still have the capacity for sustained focus?
  • Tension between close reading and just skimming
  • Over-achievers clobber the text with their annotations in crocodoc.
  • “Annotation that kills” (discussion), is not helpful — provides an answer, not a question!
  • We have to teach student these things if we ask them to annotate. Make those ideas explicit.
  • Instructor gets more visibility into the students’ reading of the text.
  • Might eliminate some of the class time spent on locating areas of interest, allow discussion to cut to the chase, as it were.
  • “Motion away from the text” — note-taking as a precursor to analytical activity
  • Collaborative essay writing? Interesting idea. Bold!
  • Micro to macro reading
  • Start with a text that students are annotating, and going to a text that they produced, maybe all the way to an Anthology
  • How would you annotate a video (or other time-based text?)
    • Like tweets during a TV viewing?
    • Soundcloud for audio is a nice example
    • Timeline — visualization
    • Google search/books
    • Internet archive — thumbnails culled from
  • Zeega — annotation of video — very cool!
  • SavePublishing — bookmarklet to locate “tweetable” sentences — interesting proof of concept — it’s not too hard to do some kinds of “computed preprocessing” of text, perhaps as a scaffold to close reading.
  • Voting — thumbs up/down might be a good feature for annotations/documents to locate best notes.
  • Make selection of high-quality annotations a task for students?
  • Overall activity could have as a goal to create a product that is somehow better than the original text.
  • Perhaps collaborative online annotation can “make students aware of the ‘meaning of the screen’” — Great point!
  • A paper-based text is easily annotated, but we can all remember the first time we realized that it was “licit” to make notes in a book — a revelation! A screen-based text is somehow beyond reach until/unless we provide screen-based annotation tools.
  • Same with the screen — power is in play.
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THATCamp evaluations

Please take just a moment and fill out an evaluation form for THATCamp — only two required fields, but plenty of space to wax loquacious:

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Notes from Teaching Digital Archives session

Here are the notes from the “Teaching Digital Archives” session proposed by Paul Jaussen:

Session notes

How to teach archives? How to add historical context to 19th-century poems as well as doing close reading of poems?

Emphasis point: work with librarians and archivists to develop the course and support the technology. Take students to an actual archive (if possible) and talk to actual archivists, especially about the process of digitizing.

Examples of assignments and tools:


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Notes from network analysis


Basic network analysis: nodes (characters, places, words, books) and edges (connections between those nodes, ideas that comes up, books mentioned etc.) weight?

Software that can be used to do this:
A plug for GELPHI, export to earth.
Republic of Letters
Google refine (allows you to clean up big data sets)

Interested in seeing other people’s experiences in starting a network analysis project. Digital component add on to dissertation, uses a text based. Evaluated in computer science dept. not in English dept.

The challenge:
Very few texts online of women’s writing. Some through evoo but not good. When you don’t have a corpus online digitized you need to do work on your own: respondent took high res photos of docs, TEI of documents but it took six months to do one play out of 12 texts.

Question about social network analysis in times before there were social networks. Discussant is interested in intellectual network analysis. Particular theories, letters, travel areas etc. works with Margaret Cavendish

Issues with current tech:
Well known tool is Republic of Letters which can help to map letters and see basic connections.

Cordell: think of each letter as a connection and the more letters the more connection. Who is central to network who is on periphery?

What were challenges with GEPHI?
Response: it visualized people pretty well and so could see names and locations and it was fine, but to add in other data was harder and didn’t work well. Then used neat line to map locations and texts and that didn’t necessarily line up with GEPHI.

Can you get metadata from evoo? Negotiate with proquest…

Way to use excel, node xl: allows to create a network graph in the same way you create a pie chart in excel, can tweak the various visualization options.

Plug-ins for GEPHI, one written by Dave shepherd at UCLA. Takes network graph and if you have a field with XY coordinates, it lays out the data and you can export it into google earth. Can illustrate why network graphs are different from maps, because in regards to geographies it obscures more than it illuminates. The plug in is called export to earth.

What is the design method?

Inter textual and para textual connections between author and work being published during the period

What is that intellectual network?

How to determine edges after nodes are no longer made up?
Perhaps use literary theory to determine what is a node and what are edges.
Respondent notes that he used affect theory but it got more and more complicated and edges turned out to be affects.
Turns out the edges are more interesting than the nodes, yet the nodes are totally privileged. What about developing edge-based mapping?

Ontology of network analysis what counts as nodes and what as edges?
Human centered. Animal centered. Object centered. Etc.

Novels or authors being edges? And then connected based on who is talking about those things.

Trying to get this to a point to open it up as a project that people can critique.

Other theories that might include network analysis:
Actor network theory: distributed agency models… Among or across people and commodities. Mapping networks of commodity circulation.
Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Warner’s counterpublic vs public (outside of direct social interaction that are none the less conceived of…)
The conceptual community rather than the actual community…

All data about reprinted texts from newspaper archives.
Nodes are individual publications
Connections between them are shared texts and the more texts two publications share the larger the edge between them. If two texts reprinted fifty of the same texts in a decade then it is perhaps a strong connection. Age before copyright law. We can speculate about who was reading who and what publications were in conversation. HOWEVER the whole graph can be inverted with texts as the nodes and publication reprints as the connections between them.

Some questions:
What are the best sources for encoding data for network analysis?
How do we determine nodes and edges?
How do we conduct rigorous selection of nodes and edges in network analysis?
How can we collaborate on encoding non digitized/create collaboratives to save time?
Is it ethical to put “ghost entries” (letters that have been burned or lost) in data analysis?

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Notes from Cyberteaching

Ah-the pull/conflict between tech and trad classroom teaching

Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation
Real world things as opposed to classroom only activities
Going public is hard. Digital citizenship/digital identity. Privacy. Forced into going public
Create aliases for FERPA reasons. – what does this do to the nature of authorship?
Remember, these digital natives aren’t want we think they are. They use tech but aren’t necessarily curious about them
Children acquire language because they want things. Goal orientated learning. Outcome based learning- here are tools they can use to get to these things.
Class about networks, – personal /professional networks. How can this tool benefit me, how can I use this tool to achieve these goals?
It’s ok to learn together and explore tools to use and choose tools. Digital literacy. Choose tools for your end goal.
Ownership/portability of students work. Can I take this with me after class? What happens to my work when I graduate?
What is your post mortem that you can use after sessions?
Lots of reflection
Annotation studio – tool for collaborative annotation
Try to have students do work that is public, where prof is never the only audience.
Your eportfolio is  what comes up when you google your name. Make sure you are in control of what comes up!
Framing assignments that mediate between the personal and the public. Digital narrative identity assignment.
How do we make safe spaces that are private, and how do we decide when to go public. When to use paper and when to use social media.
Writing timeline–>publishing timeline. It takes time to write. Not everything is publication worthy right away. You need to draft.
Digital writing program
Participation in online only classes.
How to encourage intrinsic motivation?
What is it that motivates you to comment on blogs, to like things on Facebook, to retweet something.
Creative blog posts that people want to comment on.
Deliberately troll? Take a negative stance?
We want an organic engaged conversation.
Need to be explicit with everything. What do we mean by “organic motivation”
How to condense things into one paragraph of text
Modeling of what a good blog post or tweet is.
The instructor fear of blogging becoming a 5 paragraph essay.
More people have read this t-shirt than your bog?
On ground classes (vs online classes)
Script, edit, promote a viral video using an iPad in one hour. Or iPhone. Or droid. In a  group.
Condense a longer piece of writing into a tweet. Also, expand a tweet into a longer piece of writing.
Curation (storify, eportfolio) is a way to create longer writing and create a longer text/narrative
Googlesume= google resume
How to keep up with stuff? How to find stuff?
Where to learn more :
Hybrid Pedagogy.
Stack overflow.
Stack exchange.
Do not show fear when introducing new tools to class.
Handholding is OK.
“You won’t break the Internet”
Twitter and SMS are short, asynchronous ways to communicate with students. You as instructor set the limits.
Use google voice for student communication.
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Notes for Morning Session: (“Here In The Museum We Do Not Invite Trouble”)

Informal notes on the session can be found here. Thanks to all participants!

(Original session proposal can be found here)

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Notes from Tools for Literary Text Analysis

Here is a link to the notes for the session that largely focused on Voyant and similar tools: Session Proceedings.


Categories: Data Mining, General, Proceedings of THATCamp | Tags: | 1 Comment

Designing DH Projects for Faculty

Ron: Art historian, WIT
Interdisciplinary group
Trying to launch DH initiative, had faculty workshops w/ NITLE
Launched intro to DH course last semester
Working towards a program
Bringing humanities to technology/engineering students through DH
Faculty are interested, but timid about getting started
Looking for ways to introduce DH project as part of history, etc. course
Having difficulty finding projects that faculty can introduce to get their feet wet

Chris: Projects for faculty to design to give to students?

Ron: For students; some interested in enhancing own research, but teaching institution

Q: Something w/ ownership, can craft specifically for course?

Ron: Both– some would want to partner w/ faculty at other institutions and existing projects
One project they can control (esp. older faculty)– interested in developing a timeline

Q: What should students get out of it?

Ron: Why is provost/administration– interdisciplinary, project-based learning
Students are familiar with lab/studio culture, engineering/design labs, working together, building/making things
Humanities core courses: sit in a room w/ lecture, write papers
Bringing ethos of building/doing/making in group and individual projects
Learn material less through rote consumption/reproduction, build something
Know how to do lecture/discussion group, research papers, etc.
How to guide students along
“Bite-sized” project-type work to start with
Feel confident with digital humanities, ready to try a “bigger bite”

Vika: Faculty looking for student engagement w/ primary sources via apprenticeship?
Work in a library– how to provide support to faculty interested in getting started with DH
Success talking one-on-one (not sustainable, 45k faculty) — here’s things other people have done
Pointing to example projects; here’s how other people have helped students engage w/ primary sources –> this leads to ideas
First figure out what you want to do with the material, then figure out how to do it
“How” shouldn’t drive the direction

Asking students what kinds of projects/skills they’re interested in?
Students can lead faculty into experimentation with this
Chair of department, learn mostly from students, postdocs, etc.
“Tell me what tools are available, what questions can be answered, etc.”
Talking to teaching assistants/junior faculty, can do the same w/ undergrads

Ron: Surprised at lack of familiarity w/ tools
Spent first couple weeks of class giving links to numerous tools that do different things
Timeline, mind map, etc. — start playing with these, start critiquing them, working out what they do or don’t do, how they might be useful, etc.
Start culling from the list what seems like it might work for humanities content

Similar position to faculty– latched onto “problem” of problem-based learning
Trying to start with a problem: scholars haven’t been able to answer X, representative challenge
Not having skills to teach coding, but can bring sense of what constitutes an interesting problem in this discipline
Students use skills to solve those problems

Ron: Faculty are diverse, in traditional/non-traditional approaches to classroom
Divide between experimentally inclined and more traditional
How do you not create small group of faculty who are DH curious/friendly and others

Divide along tenure lines?

Not traditional tenure, but more or less
Younger faculty tend to be more experimental
As art historian, visual culture, material culture, part of humanities too
Non-text-based participants
Many composition, literature are the most resistant

Q: Emeritus faculty are sometimes most receptive
Younger faculty can be more conservative, tenure concerns
Get some “plants” in departments, and keeping up with the joneses follows

Graduate student– learning how to teach in general, and wanting to experiment
Pattern for understanding how to traditionally approach problems (you have to get that down to be a competent teacher)
Enabling students to undertake projects in their own discipline (bring your own project)
Teaching is new, and letting students talk back– challenging
The more seeds you get at an early phase, more younger academics will be more comfortable using those tools
You have to gain a lot to get to the point of having nothing to lose

Problem isn’t getting younger faculty interested, problem is higher threshold for engagement for permanent faculty.
What’s the carrot– relief from committee work, additional TA, $1,000 grant, etc?
How to make them feel supported for admin infrastructure

Problem is lack of exposure/knowledge of DH
More widespread professional development/exposure might reduce anxiety about “how do I teach DH/through DH”
Faculty anxiety will be there if they’re not sure what they’re doing

Ron: Looking for baby steps
Have to learn how to approach long-term work differently
Get feedback from students about what they’re looking for, as a way to persuade faculty

1) Resources out there
2) Tools out there
Seeing there’s digital versions of materials, and how to work with those materials– excited about supplementing existing work in classroom
Having other faculty show what’s possible

4-5 faculty who’ve done something, show fellow faculty, extremely effective

Encouraged by administration to be experimental
Younger/newer people will be encouraged to do more for teaching/research portfolio in non-traditional direction– not problematic for tenure
Last year, whole-day workshop on tools– faculty were there (mandatory) but overwhelmed

Realization that students had fear of technology, had been faking it
Were being left behind; couldn’t do much besides Facebook/email
2 wks to get students using WordPress
Digital work as a way of not leaving first-generation students behind
Anonymous survey about how many people could bring laptops to class; less than 1/3 could (@ affluent school in general)

Ron: Students mostly first-generation college
All students are issued a laptop– how do you get them to put it away so we can have a conversation?
Did an anonymous poll about familiarity with tech, little beyond Facebook
Had to spend first few sessions giving links to tools

Vika: Creating small RAships, pair up students/professors in groups of 2-3 (1-2 students per prof)
Exploring doing DH in smaller than classroom setting, to scale up from there
Students do legwork, teach professor about tools to use
Outside classroom setting where they feel responsible

Work w/ faculty in other departments (e.g. CS)
Saw Ryan’s job talk, and saw presentation of what can come from those tools, now working with him to see how the machine functions
Start off w/ polished end result, which is inspiring, then look behind the scenes

Starting small– in writing classes, just beginning with discussion about what blogs are
Just a small portion of the class, not reworking the whole class as a DH course

Show faculty they can do something quickly/easily
One small step towards something that could be assessed through other means

List of tools you use

Husband is programmer, he finds it immersive
Steep learning curve personally to learn anything new with technology
Suspicious of anything that’s potentially a time suck
Technology is a time suck, to learn how to use it
Can spend 100 hours just to make banners on a blog
Quickly spirals out of control

Integrating this into students’ work in the classroom
Came across Crocodoc annotation tool, instead of worrying about how to use tool, learned just enough in advance, then spent a week as an assignment playing around with the tool
Created Google Doc to share with future students how to use it
Used it all semester long
Integrating it into an assignment/lesson plan
Fear of saying “I don’t know how to use this”

Asked students to research tools, write proposals about which tools to use and why
Students loved that they were teaching the instructor
Given students options to choose from, leave it open, sometimes students come with new tools
Faculty fear of saying they don’t know how to use something
Different work for students– this sometimes comes out badly in evaluations
Making play something that’s valued in classroom
How to assess experimentation
Promote failure

Q: Please post students’ work on Bamboo DiRT tool directory

Incentive– groups of students w/ constraints, competition
“We want a map of campus” — have to come up w/ different ways to do it
Time pressure, comeptitiveness
Using ethnography in libraries: anthropologists study how people use libraries
Study students, do more formal survey
Ways to reach them using these tools/methods

Ron: Have writing competition– faculty nominate existing papers, go to committee, specialty prizes
DH project competition?

Move from how to encourage faculty towards students
How do we let students influence faculty?
If faculty hear from students who want this, it could have influence

Faculty responded positively to student survey– students very familiar with some things, but not others
Some don’t want to use too much tech in classroom (don’t want cell phone integrated with class)
Eye-opener to hear from student perspective

Faculty resistance because this is unknown thing coming down from on high, when what they’ve been doing has seemed to work just fine
Much more persuasive to hear from students

Useful to think through tools students do know how to use
Assignment to take a class reading, turn it into social media site of some sort
Created Facebook page for Emily Dickinson (as a user)– comments, friends, poems, etc.
Annotations, links between texts, images, etc.
Interface they know how to use
They still have to write a final essay, but it’s a research tool
Foster learning you want in ways traditional stuff can’t do
Present to class, explain why you made the choices you made
Creates a climate of using digital tools in the classroom that might encourage faculty members to try something more advanced

Assign author & theorist, commentary

Creating historical friends to comment was students’ idea, could be part of assignment, to create dialog

Older student– had to dig through tape recordings to find what we can now access via mobile phones
Get over your fears, it can make a difference

Make it personal
Give students a small personal project (make digital artifact of a scrapbook, oral history, etc.)
Way to learn the technology (small % of grade, small scale)

Storycorps– submit to NPR
Have to create podcast audio file

Podcasts as final essays?

Podcasting as part of creating news stories for journalism course

In terms of teaching writing– more tangible relationship w/ language

No matter what, students will hate their voices, multiple recordings
Expect it, it’ll happen
Other than that, relatively easy
Audio less intimidating than video


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