TALK Session: Makerspaces On and Beyond University Campuses

The purpose of this session is to explore shared ideas, interests, and emerging work involving “Makerspaces”. At THATCamp 2013 in Tuscaloosa, a group met to simply talk about the concept– “Makerspace”. Participants mentioned various resources such as websites and authors that had helped them forge ideas and activities to begin designing “makerspaces” (e.g., Fablab, Innovation Hall, etc.) at their respective university campuses. Some participants were becoming involved with off-campus partners such as local public libraries and youth centers. It would be useful this year to revisit our notions about “Makerspaces”, and to learn about what various partners are doing (planning to do) in this line of work. Additionally, we could discuss possibilities for cross-pollination among Makerspace sites  to extend usefulness of materials and people across these spaces.

Categories: Session Proposals | Tags: , , | Comments Off on TALK Session: Makerspaces On and Beyond University Campuses

“Reblogging” the diaries of World War I soldiers

I’ve recently started a blog about tribute books written to commemorate soldiers who died in World War I. My original interest in the these books was a personal one, stemming from a book written to honor my great uncle, William Bradford Turner, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after his death on the Western Front on Sept. 27th 1918.

Typically, these books comprise collections of letters, diary entries, and biographical tributes, “printed for private circulation” in small runs of 50-100.  The rarity of these books meant that in the early nineties, when I first became interested in the them, they were very difficult to find. Over two decades later, with the advent of the internet, things have changed. Many such books have been digitized and are available online. This state of affairs contributed greatly to my initial efforts to develop a collection of tribute books. Of course, the internet has, in addition, created new venues for disseminating scholarly research, and so while I am working on a monograph based on these materials, this blog offers a way to organize them in a different format and reach a different audience (hopefully). While the monograph will analyze these books thematically, the blog seeks to convey their original, chronological nature, posting excerpts day by day, one hundred years after the fact as a way of re-commemorating lives cut tragically short in the first catastrophe of a bloody twentieth century.

In this session I would like to stimulate a discussion of the possibilities and pitfalls of academic blogging in general and the strengths and weaknesses of this blog in particular. I would be especially interested in suggestions and advice about how I might use the blog as stepping stone to a more ambitious (and perhaps fundable) digital humanities project.

Categories: Session Proposals | Comments Off on “Reblogging” the diaries of World War I soldiers

Cards Against Digital Humanities

Inspired by Cards Against Humanity and Emily Lloyd’s Cards Against Librarianship, Cards Against Digital Humanities, a free, printable card game, is happening.

Please submit your suggestions for cards via this Google form. If we receive enough submissions before Friday, I’ll print a deck for us to play during THATCamp Alabama; otherwise, we’ll continue to collect suggestions throughout our camp in hopes of having a deck to share with THATCamp Games prior to their upcoming camp.

Note: Cards Against Humanity contains humor that some find objectionable (here’s one author’s take). While Cards Against Digital Humanities is inspired by CAH and its gameplay, the creators of Cards Against Digital Humanities will reject suggestions that are not respectful to all potential players, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, etc..

Categories: Games, Session Proposals, Session: Make, Session: Play | Comments Off on Cards Against Digital Humanities

Accessibility and the Digital Humanities

Last year, I presented an Alabama Digital Humanities Center brown bag on accessibility and its impact on digital resources and practices. Here’s a description:

How can we broaden our understanding of the ways that people use digital resources by considering the experiences of users with disabilities? In this brown bag, we will discuss contemporary DH conversation about “access,” strategies for widening this access in our own projects, and issues, such as heavy reliance on visualization, that exclude some users from working with particular digital tools and resources.

If there’s interest, I’m happy to offer a similar session at THATCamp Alabama. In a hybrid Teach-Talk session, I’d talk about some the ways that people with disabilities use digital resources, some of the challenges they face, and possible solutions for those challenges. I’d then share some of the conversations about accessibility that are happening in the digital humanities community and prompt participants to engage in some conversations of our own.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk, Session: Teach | 2 Comments

Talk Session-Rethinking the Relationship Between Writing and Civic Education in an Age of “Mass Self-Communication”

How do the increased opportunities for public participation and engagement brought about by digital composing technologies shape the way we teach writing?

The rise of what Manuel Castells has called “mass self-communication” technologies–open-access web publishing platforms, social networking technology, curation software, etc.–cannot help but radically reshape what we think of when we talk about “writing.”  A wide range of technologists and researchers have reminded us of the increased public agency we now possess as a result of these technologies of/for writing and have pointed to their role in expanding the public sphere. The rise of these technologies also roughly parallels the rise of a renewed interest in civic education and global civic education in higher education.  If mass self-communication technologies have expanded opportunities for civic writing and public participation, and we believe that higher education has a civic role, then how must our approaches to teaching writing adapt and change? What types of digital literacies, writing processes, and rhetorical capabilities do our students need for lives of civic engagement?

In this talk session, I would like to draw upon examples from a variety of writing courses to explore the possibility of an integrated, interdisciplinary understanding of writing, digital literacy, and rhetorical education that can help define more concrete goals and outcomes for civic education. I am interested in working together with participants to identify potential civic outcomes for the teaching of writing in an age of mass self-communication.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk | 2 Comments

Digital Social Editions and Interdisciplinary Communities

This topic may be rudimentary, but I am interested in having a conversation about how technology can facilitate collaborative narrative or “social editions” of texts and how these texts can enhance a curriculum.

A prime example of socially-edited text would be fan fiction; how these and other “living texts” are created in the context of an online community with ample feedback and communal editing are surely applicable to the composition or creative writing classroom, but may be pertinent elsewhere, too. Should we shelter student work from a larger, online community, or would having them participate within a larger beyond-the-university environment benefit their understanding of themselves as writers in a larger context?

But maybe these texts don’t need to be created and published online in order to achieve the same kind of communal narrative. Social editions might be anything from class soundtracks to digital photo albums/blogs.

These online communal texts might also work in the linking of interdisciplinary communities within the university—allowing for cross-course collaborative projects.

I’m curious to see what you find to be the relative value, practical application, and logistical framework for such a tool in your own courses or if you see the forming of interdisciplinary/intercourse projects as something we should be doing more of.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk | Comments Off on Digital Social Editions and Interdisciplinary Communities

Talk Session: THAT Spatial Turn

The Spatial Turn continues to transform understandings of space and human activity in many contexts, from broad strokes to nuances. Mapping and visualization tools facilitate the analysis of movement and phenomena in two and three dimensions, and from many perspectives, while innovations in teaching and technology make spatial concerns accessible to students and to (some) sectors of the public. In many cases, though, space is not problematized. As the Spatial Turn and the Spatial Humanities forge new frontiers, let’s consider these and other issues:
• Considering the diverse U.S. populace, should we introduce alternate philosophies/mapping traditions outside of European traditions?
• How do language, philosophy, and space intersect, and how can these phenomena be mapped? (In my own work, the Yucatec Maya language features deicitic time in which cyclical time is stressed at the expense of sequential time, and this affects notions of movement; some settlements in the Southwest U.S.-West Mexico are planned to be intervisible and interaudible–how can these phenomena be expressed visually?
• How can the ideas of theoreticians of space–W. Benjamin, Foucault, Bourdieu, Deleuze, J. Butler–be expressed visually?
• Share your success (or non-success) stories about spatiality and mapping in your teaching and research.

Guachimontones, Teuchitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, ca. 600 CE

Guachimontones, Teuchitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, ca. 600 CE. Round pyramids were intervisible at sites in the Teuchitlan archaeological tradition.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Talk Session: THAT Spatial Turn

Humanistic Computer Simulations

Computer simulations are used in the study of literature, history, anthropology, and philosophy, among others.  I'll illustrate basic concepts of "agent-based" simulations using NetLogo and my own POPCO software, and suggest that simulations can incorporate insights from traditional humanistic research.

Agent-based simulations are computer programs in which many instances of simple software components ("agents") interact to produce an overall pattern of behavior.  For example, in many simulations, each agent is viewed as an abstract representation of a person.  The goal of such a simulation is to develop insights about changes in groups of real people when they repeatedly interact in ways very roughly like ways that the simulation's agents are allowed to interact.  I'll explain why such simulations can complement both traditional humanities research and common kinds of digital humanities research.  I believe that new kinds of simulations such those I've been developing may provide new ways of meshing traditional and digital humanities projects.

I'll describe the process of developing simulations using POPCO, which is intended to help illuminate the influence of analogy, metaphor, and other "symbolic" cultural interactions on how culture spreads through a population.  For example, past POPCO simulations have been based on research showing that Americans' attitudes about crime can be influenced by whether crime is described, metaphorically, as a "virus" or a "beast", and on anthropological research suggesting cultural links between sex roles, food gathering practices, and stories about human origins.

Though this session won't try to provide participants with all of the tools to develop their own simulations, I'll provide information on how to get started on simulation research for those interested.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Teach | Comments Off on Humanistic Computer Simulations

Talk session: Wikipedia and oppression

I’m interested in having a discussion about bias and standards in Wikipedia’s editorial process, especially who decides and how is it decided what constitutes “worthy” sources of knowledge or if a subject is important enough to “deserve” an article. One recent example is the controversy over creating a standalone article for the twitter hashtag #yesallwomen. Most Wikipedia editors fit into a specific set of demographics- single, educated males in “developed” countries aged 18-30 with no children. What are the micro- and macro-level implications that arise when most of the editors come from the same social group- especially in one of the most dominant information sources worldwide? What solutions might attract a more diverse base of editors? Is the wiki model liberating (by putting power of knowledge creation in the hands of anyone who wants to participate) or does it reinforce structural oppression (access is limited to those with internet access and literacy, and it can be difficult to make edits that are not deleted)?

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk | Comments Off on Talk session: Wikipedia and oppression

Talk-Make Crash Course: Intellectual Property and Using Images for Classes, Blogs, and Websites

Photographs, drawings, and videos can enhance your digital persona. Unless these images and media are personal, though, this intellectual property should be copyright free or available to use with attribution (contrary to popular belief and usage, ArtStor images do not automatically fit these categories). I will present museum and other types of web sites that offer images to use with no attribution or just a line of attribution. After you choose some images from these sites, I will introduce Animoto (a video slideshow with sound) and ThingLink (to make images interactive)–you can use them in classes and embed them on blogs and web sites.
Note: Register on Animoto and ThingLink before THATCamp; sometimes the work goes faster if you have your images on a Goggle Drive

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Make, Session: Play | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Talk-Make Crash Course: Intellectual Property and Using Images for Classes, Blogs, and Websites