Tag Archives: DHevents

11/4/13 Kathleen Fitzpatrick: “Open Review, the New Peer, and the Future of Scholarly Communication”

A talk with Kathleen Fitzpatrick sponsored by the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative and the Digital Praxis Seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center November 4, 2013.

Recent experiments in open peer review, as well as a recent study of open review practices jointly conducted by MediaCommons and NYU Press, suggest that online scholarly communication may be changing the nature of the “peer,” as well as the shapes of scholarly communities. This presentation will explore the history and future of peer review as a means of thinking through the issues that open review raises for communities of practice online.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association and Visiting Research Professor of English at NYU. She is author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (NYU Press, 2011) and of The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). She is co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, where she has led a number of experiments in open peer review and other innovations in scholarly publishing.

Making and creating and not worrying about failure

William Turkel’s lecture “The Hands-on Imperative”, his subsequent talk to our DHpraxis class and then workshop had me thinking about a number of different things, specifically the issue of space, the issue of tenure portfolios that contain fabrication and physical experimentation projects, and how failure is something to embrace and not fear.

His discussion of space and the need for a place to make things, to play and create resonated with me.  In a blog post “A Few Arguments for Humanistic Fabrication” on his blog “Digital History Hacks 2008”  Turkel said

“The limitations of our physical spaces can be more difficult to circumvent. Most of the teaching and research environments available to humanists at my university are designed to support solitary or small-group office work. These spaces are almost comically unsuitable for the kinds of things I try to do with my students: soldering, mold-making and casting, building and lighting physical exhibits, programming in groups, creating displays or signage.”

One really has to always be aware of space and how and why a space is being used.
As a librarian I’ve always been aware and concerned with the physical space and layout of a library and how the space affects people’s use of the library.  If the space is not inviting, if it doesn’t match what people are using a space for it can be a real hindrance, stifling creation and education. The fact that humanities spaces in academia are not set up for play and creation of physical objects does not surprise me at all.  We need to be able to break out of the confines we find ourselves in but many times in academic or corporate spaces we are not allowed to break out.  Trying to convince administrations to permit a space in an academic department where you can vent fumes, use power tools etc. is not going to be easy, I mean we aren’t even allowed to pick a different wall color to paint our student lounge. If we cannot even personalize the color of the walls of our own student lounge, how can we expect to create a space where we can have “high ceilings, natural light, plenty of ventilation, cement flooring, workbenches on casters, locking cabinets, big blank walls where you can hand things on. No carpeting, no beige cubicles, no coffee tables with plants.”

Another hot topic in DH, which we have been reading and talking about in class, which Turkel’s talk and workshop had me thinking about were issues of tenure and how DH building projects and work relate and are counted towards an academic’s tenure portfolio. In Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell’s chapter “Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities” in the book Debates in the Digital Humanities the authors ask “how do we”  and “can we” count the work of builders, hackers, coders as scholarship?  How is work on and about XML, XSLT, GIS, R, CSS and C counted and evaluated?  Is it scholarship? How will it be evaluated and can it lead to promotion and tenure?  Lev Manovich believes “a prototype is a theory.” Stan Rueker and Alan Galey say that “the creation of an experimental digital prototype [should] be understood as conveying an argument about designing interfaces” and that digital artifacts themselves, not just their surrogate project reports should stand as peer-reviewable forms of research, worthy of professional credit and contestable as forms of argument.  “It is the prototype that makes the thesis, not discursive accompaniments like white papers, reports and peer-reviewed papers.”  My question is – are these beliefs truly occurring in practice in academia today?  Can a faculty member truly include the objects they make using Max 6, Phidgets, Arduino or Makey Makey in their tenure portfolio and have it count in a meaningful way towards tenure?  Are academic departments and institutions willing to accept this type of work as scholarship and worthwhile of tenure?  And if not then what does that mean?  Should we stop making things or should we continue to make things even if they are not counted? How can we work to ensure that this type of work is considered scholarship?

Finally, Turkel talked about failure and what can be learned from failure.  He talked about how some of the best students in his class are those who have no training in programming or shop classes and therefore have no preconceived notions of what can and cannot be done and are not afraid to fail.  At various library jobs I had, where I had staff, I would tell them not to be afraid of making a mistake when working on the library catalog.  I would tell them to be inquisitive and to explore the program and to ask questions.  I assured them I set it up so that they couldn’t destroy the catalog and that their exploring and using the system was how they and I would learn.  I try to follow this philosophy myself when setting up database interfaces and catalog systems. However, it is not always easy.  Fear of failure and the consequences of that failure on job security (and sometimes grades) are real fears.  I think it is great that Turkel is able to assure his students that they will not fail his class if their projects fail but in many instances, in many jobs, this is not a promise one is given.  I always joke that the only job where you can be wrong all the time and fail and not get fired is weather person.  I say it jokingly but it is somewhat true.  In academia or in corporate culture, having a project fail is not always looked upon in a positive light.  As the people feeling the heat from the Federal Government Affordable Care Act Marketplace web site can attest to, people do not seem to think the current problems are “learning experiences.”  How do we then promote inquisitiveness, willingness to take chances and possibly fail in the projects we work on in DH without the fear of the consequences of our failure?

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Said by Michael Jordan in a Nike ad, written by Jamie Barrett.  http://youtu.be/GuXZFQKKF7A



10/14/13: Matthew Kirschenbaum, “The Literary History of Word Processing”


Matthew Kirschenbaum spoke about his forthcoming book project, which was recently profiled in The New York Times.

Kirschenbaum’s research asks questions such as: When did writers begin using word processors? Who were the early adopters? How did the technology change their relationship to their craft? Was the computer just a better typewriter—faster, easier to use—or was it something more? And what will be the fate of today’s “manuscripts,” which take the form of electronic files in folders on hard drives, instead of papers in hard copy? This talk, drawn from the speaker’s forthcoming book on the subject, will provide some answers, and also address questions related to the challenges of conducting research at the intersection of literary and technological history.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH, an applied thinktank for the digital humanities).

Doug Eyman and Collin Brooke discuss writing studies and DH

On October 8, CUNY DHI and the Graduate Center Composition and Rhetoric Community (GCCRC) hosted a conversation about the intersection of writing studies and digital humanities with Doug Eyman and Collin Brooke. These two innovative scholars shared in an important discussion concerning the future of digital rhetoric. Doug Eyman is a professor of digital rhetoric, technical and scientific communication, and professional writing at George Mason University and the senior editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy; Collin Brooke is a professor of Rhetoric and Writing at Syracuse University and is the author of Lingua Fracta: Towards of Rhetoric of New Media.


SAT. OCT 4, 2013
Karl Kraus, media criticism, and the digital age. With Jonathan Franzen and Clay Shirky. Moderated by Henry Finder.

Jonathan Franzen is the author of the novels “The Twenty-Seventh City,” “Strong Motion,” “The Corrections,” and “Freedom,” parts of which first appeared in The New Yorker. His other books include “The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History” and the essay collections “How to Be Alone” and “Farther Away.” “The Kraus Project,” which contains his translations and free-ranging annotations of the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus, comes out in October.

Clay Shirky is Arts Professor at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and a writer in residence at the N.Y.U. Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He studies the effects of the Internet on society and is the author of “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” and “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.”

Henry Finder is the editorial director of The New Yorker.
October 5
90 MINUTES $35
Acura at SIR Stage37
508 West 37th Street