Call for papers:Digital Humanities 2010

Next years Digital Humanities Conference is to be held at King’s College London (c0-hosted by CCH and CeRch). The call for papers is now out.

Abstract Deadline: Oct. 31, 2009

Proposals must be submitted electronically using the system which will be available at the conference web site from Oct. 1st. Presentations may be any of the following:

  • Single papers (abstract max of 1500 words)
  • Multiple paper sessions (overview max of 500 words)
  • Posters (abstract max of 1500 words)

Call for Papers

The International Programme Committee invites submissions of abstracts of 1500 words on any aspect of humanities computing, broadly understood to encompass the common ground between information technology and problems in humanities research and teaching. We welcome submissions in all areas of the humanities, particularly interdisciplinary work. We especially encourage submissions on the current state of the art in humanities computing, and on recent developments.

Suitable subjects for proposals include, for example,

  • text analysis, corpora, language processing, language learning
  • * IT in librarianship and documentation
  • computer-based research in cultural and historical studies
  • computing applications for the arts, architecture and music
  • research issues such as: information design and modelling; the cultural impact of the new media, scientific visualization.
  • the role of digital humanities in academic curricula

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event: Imagining a History for the Future of the Book (London Seminar in Digital Text and Scholarship)

(Punters should come to this if in London. Ray is Good!)

No form of human knowledge passes into a new medium unchanged. Digital
technology is fundamentally altering the way we relate to writing,
reading, and the human record itself. The pace of that change has
created a gap between core cultural and social practices that depend on
stable reading and writing environments, and the new kinds of digital
artefacts – electronic books, being just one type of many – that must
sustain those practices into the future. This paper will discuss work
toward bridging this gap by theorising the transmission of culture in
pre- and post-electronic media, by documenting the facets of how people
experience information as readers and writers, by designing new kinds of
interfaces and artifacts that afford readers new abilities and by
sharing those designs in online prototypes that implement new knowledge
environments for researchers and the public (link).

Quick Response: Oxford Social Media Convention 2009 #oxsmc09

(Transcript below if you can’t follow my polemical prose; and sorry but the synchronisation in this clip has a mind of its own).

I attended the Oxford Social Media Convention 2009 on Friday (18 September) at the Said Business School. The theme of the Convention was ‘assessing the evolution, impact and potential of social media’; a fairly monumental tasks for a one day convention with speakers from both sides of the Atlantic and from the Academy, business, media, and politics. The Convention was ordered around panel discussion with a lot of participation from the audience. At times subversive and always humorous ‘tweets’ from the audience were also projected on the wall behind the speakers (we voted to do this earlier in the day).

Rather than divide my time between all the speakers, I will concentrate on two of the most distinctive speakers that hopefully convey the timbre of the conference. The first speaker is Mathew Hindman, an academic at the University of Phoenix and author of the recently published ‘The Myth of Digital Democracy (Princeton University Press; 2009). The other speaker I will discuss is Kara Swisher, the Technology Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.
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Report: XXIII International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Budapest Hungary


(image of statues from ‘Memento Park’; the Communist statue park).

I recently attended the XXIII International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Budapest Hungary. The conference was a large and truly international event with 1400 delegates from 60 countries. Set in the Budapest University of Technology and Economics; the university is one of the oldest technological institutions in the world (1772) and has a long history of major contributions to Science and Technology (the conference was however, set in a rather grim building).

Broadly speaking, the History and Philosophy of Science and the Digital Humanities do cover some similar academic territory as both are concerned with understanding technology through humanities approaches. Whist HPS is about critically understanding the history of technology in broader social and cultural contexts, the Digital Humanities is about applying computing technology to humanities problems.

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OpenTech ’09

I attended the OpenTech ’09 forum on Saturday; organised by the UK Unix Users Group and friends at the University of London Union (ULU). For those interested in the social and political aspects of computing; this is an excellent forum to discuss new modes of political communication, privacy, advocacy and other issues that arise from the broader computing movement. There was an excellent talk on the two cultures of science/technology and the humanities from Bill Thompson who compared CP Snow’s pioneering work to present social circumstances. Bill basically argued that technological literary needs to rise considerably; especially in the political classes, otherwise we are doomed! He argued that many people in senior positions (as well as the broader public) do not understand the ‘power in code’ and this is perhaps why so many large government systems have failed in the UK (I just ordered CP shows book on Amazon for 10 quid).

Another interesting session was from a representative from the Guardian newspaper who discussed their experience of reporting the Ian Tomlinson death at the G20 protests earlier this year. The speaker explained how the video footage was released immediately  on the web rather the usual slower way through the print-edition. Although the analysis of this technique was not well communicated by the speaker, he did made the interesting observation that the Guardian in this instance had used their online distributing power to ‘crown source’ news rather than simply publish it. They had allowed others to use the video of Tomlinson’s death in Blogs and Youtube etc. rather than slowly releasing it thorough the print edition.

Another speaker from the Guardian talked about the paper’s very bold initiative to make much of their data open to the public. They have RSS feeds, an API system, and a sophisticated tagging system. I found their DataBlog one of the most interesting initiatives in that many of the facts that are researched by journalists have been aggregated for later use and open to the public.

The Guardian’s initiative to crowd source the expenses claims-documents of MPS was also discussed; along with the limitations and opportunities of this approach.

Leaping Hurdles: Planning IT Provision for Researchers

I recently attended a workshop sponsored by the Joint information Systems Committee (JISC) that presented some of the findings from the JISC funded community engagement and virtual research environments (VRE) projects. The three community engagement projects presented were the engage project (engaging researchers with e-infrastructure), the e-uptake project (enabling uptake of e-Infrastructure Services), and the eius project (e-Infrastructure Use Cases and Service Usage Models).

And the Virtual Research Environments (VREs) presented were MyExperiment (sharing scientific workflows), the VERA project (Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology) and the BVREH Project (Building a Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities).

Rob Proctor presented the findings from the e-uptake project, one of the community engagement projects concerned with understanding the barriers to researchers applying new e-infrastructures within their work practices. One of the aims of the project was to identify recurring and wide spread barriers rather than localised and contingent barriers. The people interviewed for the study were primarily researchers but alos intermediaries who provide support services.
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The Internet as Playground and Factory


(This conference about Labour online may be of interest.  From my rudimentary understanding ‘free’ labour online is a fairly contentious issue as online labour may be pooled by large commercial interests and used to accumulate profit without distributing the fruits of this labour to users).

Dear all,

You can now join the discussion about topics of user “labor” related to the conference “The Internet as Playground and Factory.”


Join the list and introduce yourself:

Follow the conference on Twitter:

A few questions from the introduction:

* Is it possible to acknowledge the moments of ruthless exploitation while not eradicating optimism, inspiration, and the many instances of individual financial and political empowerment?

* What is labor and where is value produced?

* Are strategies of refusal an effective response to the expropriation of value from interacting users?

* How is the global crisis of capitalism linked to the speculative performances of the digital economy?

* What can we learn from the “cyber sweatshops” class-action lawsuit against AOL under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the early 1990s?

* How does this invisible interaction labor affect our bodies? What were key steps in the history of interaction design that managed to mobilize and structure the social participation of bodies and psyches in order to capture value?

* Most interaction labor, regardless whether it is driven by monetary motivations or not, is taking place on corporate platforms. Where does that leave hopeful projections of a future of non-market peer production?

Trebor Scholz
— iDC