Project creep. Before pursuing a DH master’s at Trinity, I hadn’t heard this succinct term for a phenomenon which endangered so many of my previous undertakings. It disguises itself as too much ambition or too little planning, but in reality belies a sheer naiveté regarding what is feasible based on resources, time, and/or one’s own abilities. In hindsight, my internship at Marsh’s has been especially instructive in the art of becoming a human creep-seeking missile.
When I first began working with Omeka, I was pleased to find so many resources for getting started. However, it became apparent that many of these guides were written for people with a tenuous understanding of the Internet, which is great for bringing the technology to a maximum number of people, but terrible for us impatient Millennials who don’t need basics like “how to create a login” explained to us. And so, I present to you this guide to getting started with Omeka for people with a basic grasp of the Internet. The caveat being that I am extremely far from expert, and so even this masterful guide will remain on a very superficial plane.
“Where the author was once presumed to be the originating transmitter of a discourse next sent for management to the editor, publisher, and so on through all the other positions in the discursive circuit, now the author is in a mediating position as just one among all those other managers looking upstream to previous originating transmitters—database or XML schema designers, software designers, and even clerical information works (who input data into the database or XML source document).” (Liu 81)
A (very brief) history of the term “crowdsourcing”
In his 2004 article in Critical Inquiry titled “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse,” Alan Liu describes today’s digital information culture through the concept of “discourse network 2000,” a way of organizing information production and dissemination which has the potential to disempower readers and writers by prescripting their roles within an overly-articulated management-focused framework. Fast-forward one year and Wired writer Jeff Howe coins the term “crowdsourcing” to refer to:
the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.
DH and Project Management
Typically, when I explain to friends and family exactly what “digital humanities” means, I rely on examples of what it produces: digital editions of books, thematic research collections, virtual museums, etc. However, equally important to DH projects are the adoption and adaptation of STEM-born research methods. Many of the most successful DH projects are of a scale which necessitates collaboration amongst fields and universities. The result? “Corporate” concepts such as project management are filtering into university research. And as humanists begin to explore these production frameworks, they incorporate pre-existing concepts from within their disciplines, and adapt the methods to emerging concerns in their fields. My interest in project management in particular led me to do some preliminary research about the conversations DHers are having regarding its implementation. This post will focus on three main questions being asked by humanists who are restructuring their roles as researchers within a project management framework. Continue reading
A running theme for my blog posts this semester seems to be my newbie status. This term, I and my cohort are taking the concepts we have learned during our course and converting them into action. And in attempting to take action, I am discovering how little I really know.
My internship at Marsh’s Library is no exception. If you have not yet visited, I strongly urge you to go. Marsh’s is a beautifully preserved 18th century library and was the first public library in Ireland. It was founded by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, and was opened to the public in 1707. Entrance costs three whole euros, and entitles you to see the exhibits, sit at a table where James Joyce sat, walk where Jonathan Swift would have walked, try your hand at writing with a quill pen, and savor the magical dusty-book atmosphere. If that’s not enough, during a recent viewing, I realized the library makes an appearance in the 1996 film Michael Collins, so your three euros lets you walk the hallowed halls where Liam Neeson also tread.
TEI for Actual Beginners
This semester, I am taking Digital Scholarly Editing, a new module created by Dr. Mark Sweetnam at Trinity College, Dublin. Eventually, I will produce a fully-encoded TEI project; however, step one is wetting my feet with a practice exercise. Learning to encode demands balance between theory and practice, like learning to ride a bike. You need to know to sit in the saddle, hold the handlebars, and push the pedals before you start, but no matter how hard you listen, advice like “brake slowly” just doesn’t mean anything until you are on the pavement with a skinned knee. Initially, I spent a few weeks familiarizing myself with TEI and doing warm-up exercises. For those interested in getting started with TEI themselves, the next paragraph reviews the resources I used. If you want to read about TEI in practice, skip to the following section.
The promise of virtual worlds
In her blog post “Does a virtual world make our world better?”, Olga Vasileva celebrates the emancipatory possibilities of virtual worlds in online education. From her own experience as an educator, Vasileva knows that students with disabilities or in rural settings value the opportunity to seek education on the accessible, anonymous Internet. She embraces virtual worlds (VWs) for their ability to allow these students “to interact similar to the real class experience through their ideal avatar.”