Day of DH Postscript

At the end of the day, when Father Busa separates the computational sheep from the close-reading goats, and you’re asked, “What did you do on Day of DH 2014” you can be assured that yours will not be the most scattered and slippery answer. That, dear reader, belongs to me. What did I do on Day of DH 2014? I can hardly remember.

What I do recall are but mere images. Working with Karl Grossner to count artifacts for a chloropleth map of Çatalhöyük… Meeting with business services to better understand how bad I am at administrative duties… Posting some tweets… Discussing papers… Trying to convince Glen Worthey that my “Franco Moretti is not a statistician joke” is a really good one… Getting rid of commas in years on a slider… Posting a gist on Github… Agile training?

The one thing that I know I did was read proposals by Stanford scholars for digital humanities project support. So many good proposals, all of which are in areas that will require even more interloping than that demanded by business services. And even more disheartening reading, this time of all the super-efficient, highly effective habits of better digital humanists than I, who tweeted status reports from their palatial offices and seemed to each have accomplished more DH in a day than I’ve gotten done all year.

Fortunately, I have six more hours before midnight to do something really cool… that I’ll probably spend filling out forms.

Interloping

The first post for Day of DH has typically tries to give a general overview of what a day should involve, which actually ends up being an idealistic hope for what you’ll get done in your day, before sinking into the pain and shame of how your “Day of DH” turned into a “Day of being stuck in the quagmire of trying to understand the requirements for the paperwork for something that was supposed to be easier if we did it this way.”

With that in mind, as I categorize and organize my day, I’m struck by how much of what I do intrudes into other fields and disciplines and professions. Though I stick to my rather boring computational perspective on what digital humanities is, I find that what digital humanities does is interlope. This morning I spent some time finishing up a chapter of D3.js in Action, a book about an information visualization library that I’m under contract to write despite my not having a degree in Computer Science.

Images from Chapter 7 of D3.js in Action, which focuses on Geospatial Information Visualization.
Figures from Chapter 7 of D3.js in Action, which focuses on Geospatial Information Visualization.

Right now I’m trying to tighten up my keynote for the Texas Digital Humanities Constortium conference, which is focused on “Networks in the Humanities”. I’m giving a keynote, despite the fact that I do not have a degree in Network Science. As an aside, my keynote is about “neotopology”, the practice of creating network visualizations and using network analysis by people who are not network scientists–interlopers in network science, if you will–which is a subject I have some expertise with.

After this, I’ll probably get into the topic modeling and network analysis components of the Çatalhöyük Living Archive. Fortunately, Karl Grossner is handling the heavy lifting on that, but I’ve been developing a couple bits and pieces to represent network and text analysis pieces. Even though I don’t have a degree in archaeology or information science…

At some point I’ll get into the user testing guidelines for ORBIS v2, which is getting closer and closer to being done, and now the majority of our effort with the site is to try to make sure that the user experience and user interface are sufficient for such a complex application. I still haven’t taken a class on UX/UI, but I’ve seen people do it on YouTube…

A list of tasks that any user should be able to perform and which should elicit feedback on whether the interface is well-designed.
A list of tasks that any user should be able to perform and which should elicit feedback on whether the interface is well-designed.

This despite the fact that I don’t have a degree in Classics… Wait, no I was interloping in application design that time, not Classics. It’s hard to keep track of all the different areas for which I’m not credentialed that I find myself involved in, and it seems like that is a typical feeling for typical DHers on typical days.

 

Just another Day of DH 2014 site

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