A Skype Call En Famille

Home. Time for a quick Skype (mostly about the Quebec election results) with family members in Ottawa.

Just as the telephone early-adopters weren’t sure what constituted an appropriate telephonic opener (would it be “ahoy-hoy”? “hullo”?), my mother is experimenting with Skype sign-offs. As “I am hanging up now” sounds a bit stiff, she has taken to imitating the noise Skype makes as it disconnects: “Beeeuweep-bueep!”

DH in the Classroom and on the Web

And now for some tweaking and fussing and fiddling about with John Walsh’s TEI Boilerplate css and xslts.

Every year the Day of DH falls at a pleasantly digital humanitiessome time of the semester. At UBCO classes ended yesterday, which means that I have a few days to get my students’ final DH projects up online, so that they can show them off to friends and family after the exam period.
The assignments in my two classes this semester were predicated on the idea that students need not limit their audience to their peers. In both ENGL355O: The Self-Conscious Text and ENGL201: Children’s Literature and Publishing students participated in international scholarly initiatives. In ENGL201 students worked with 18thConnect’s TypeWrite to improve the OCR-produced transcriptions that underpin Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, for which the students get permission to use the otherwise closed access Cheap Repository Tract text for their own digital editions (which aren’t up yet, I’m afraid). The HTML editions are done, and we celebrated with a local launch on Thursday. The ENGL212 students also wrote Wikipedia articles for award-winning Canadian children’s books. This exercise was part of a class module on digital civics, as all the 212 students used Wikipedia but only one student had ever contributed to it. They took the plunge: students had to learn to code, conduct research, and negotiate with other Wikipedians.

The Cheap Repository Tract Digital Edition Launch (I can be a rather proud and boastful mother hen)
The Cheap Repository Tract Digital Edition Launch (I can be a rather proud and boastful mother hen)

Some of the students in ENGL355O this year are participating in the Day of DH–I won’t out them, but I am sure that a quick search for our course code will show who they are. I am fussing away with their TEI-encoded edition of Lady Audley’s Secret–a few chapters have yet to come in– but feel free to have a look at the under-construction version. The real pay off, for the TEI wonks out there, will be the comparative encoding rationale, in which the students share which elements they chose to represent their text, their adventures with the TEI Guidelines, and their reflections on the encoding process.

Standing Meeting, Standing Up

On Tuesday afternoons I have a standing meeting with my research assistants in the Spark Research Incubator, a start-up lab for research projects in the early stages of development. I have delightful RAs this year, and best of all, they have been willing to work together as they wrangle TEI, HTML, CSS, and Python. The meetings are often the highlight of my Tuesdays, but this one will be rather short — another meeting, on all things CFI, has cut into our time together. Must dash!

Introducing the Birds and their Feathers

The DHD is off on the right foot. I have just met with Alyssa Arbuckle and Aaron Mauro on our joint introduction to a special issue of Scholarly and Research Communication, arising from INKE’s birds-of-a-feather gathering on Scholarly Publishing. The conference itself featured a great mix of scholars, librarians, publishers, SSHRC, and Compute Canada folks, about half of whom were fresh from the Digital Infrastructure Summit in Ottawa. We were glad to hear their reflections. Alyssa, Aaron, and I hope that the special issue will capture the spirit of the day.

At the Scholarly Publishing gathering, in addition to sharing scholarship, participants pinpointed areas of growth and potential pitfalls in the future of scholarly publishing. I won’t give away the milk before the cow’s gone to market (look for the special issue in early January) as they say, but my tete-a-tete group identified the following challenges and solutions:

1. The Sustainable Future of Open Access
Challenge — There’s a gap between where we are now and the benefits promised by an open access future.
Action — We need research on how an AO funding model will work 30 years from now, without bankrupting publishers and journals.

2. OA Awareness
Challenge — scholars and students do not know about the cost of journal subscriptions, the benefits of OA, or the download rates and reach of open institutional repositories, or which publishers and content providers are in trouble (If Gale goes, that will be, and I understate, a huge loss).
Action — We need education for students and faculty.

3. Prototyping and Tool Building as Research
Challenge — We have nowhere to talk about tools and projects that have been laid to rest.
Action — A journal dedicated to arguments about prototypes and how to use tools, which could be recognized by tenure and promotion committees and might help colleagues learn from our less-than-successful tool-building attempts. We need support for the null hypothesis.

Laura Mandell gets the credit for this last idea — brill!

My Birds of a Feather Skype meeting (image brazenly stolen from Alyssa Arbuckle).
My Birds of a Feather Skype meeting (image brazenly stolen from Alyssa Arbuckle).

Just another Day of DH 2014 site

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