“Standing on the shoulders of giants” has long been the metaphor of choice to describe the scholarly workflow of discovering, reading, and citing literature. However, for the past decade this workflow has been influenced significantly by the availability of academic search engines. In this field, the search giant Google has come out as the discovery mechanism of choice. How does “standing on the shoulders of the Google giant” impact the scholarly workflow? This is a question I look into in a post on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog. Read the entire post here.
Methodological Intersections, the Digital Humanities Autumn School organised by Trier University and University of Luxembourg was held this year from 28 September to 3 October. With four days of theoretical reflection in Trier, and two days of hands-on courses in Belval, this autumn school provided a great introduction to the Digital Humanities for PhD students.
This blogpost is not intended to provide a complete overview of the autumn school, but rather to show the discussion from my perspective. The main theme I will follow is the discussion of tools, and that there is a need for tool appraisal.
In the first week of June, my supervisor Andreas Fickers and I went to the US to visit several Digital Humanities centres, specifically ones working on Digital History, in Boston (MA), Lincoln (NE), and Fairfax (VA). Since the University of Luxembourg will get its own DH centre soon, we went with the goal of learning how others set up their centre, how DH is incorporated into the curriculum, and how collaboration takes place.
This blogpost is an attempt to summarise what we learned during our visit to the US. The structure I will follow is not chronologically, but by the title of John le Carré’s novel: Tinker (building and making), Tailor (specific versus generic tools), Soldier (collaborations of people), Spy (digital literacy regarding online tracking and other subjects). At the bottom of the blogpost is a numbered list of the people we met; I will refer to sources of information using these numbers.
DHBenelux 2015 (8-9 June 2015, Antwerp, Belgium), the second edition after 2014, demonstrated a nice growth from last year with 150 attendees, 62 presentations, plus seven more demos-only and three posters-only (some presentations were also presented as demo or poster): an acceptance rate of 90%.
This blogpost is not intended to provide a complete overview of the conference, but rather to show the discussion from my perspective. The main theme I will follow is that no tool can do all research for you.
Digital History signifies a transition wherein digital methods are incorporated in historical research. Digital History thus introduces techniques developed by computer scientists or engineers into the practice of historians, so that we can speak of methodological interdisciplinarity.Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/dh.12869322.0001.001 However, how digital methods affect the practices of History, in methodology as well as epistemology, remains unexplored. My PhD research aims to address this gap. This blogpost introduces some initial ideas and concepts that I will be investigating with an ethnographic study for which I hope to find interested historians, computer scientists, or other relevant actors of Digital History.
|1.||↑||Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/dh.12869322.0001.001|
I used to always write using MS Word. I actually like Word since Word2010, and have not really felt the need to move to the unusable Windows TeX editors that I have tried in the past. But since starting at the University of Luxembourg I also work on a Mac, and switching between Word on two different OS’s is quite annoying. In the meantime, Overleaf has managed to become a rather usable TeX editor, so I have been working with this for the past months and must say I have grown to rather like it.
There is however one caveat; Overleaf manages all files itself and integrating it with Dropbox is almost $100/year. I do not want to just trust Overleaf with my entire thesis, so I set out to automate backups of my work. Although Dropbox does versioning, it doesn’t show the exact changes like git allows, so I wanted to also backup to BitBucket, which allows private repositories for free unlike GitHubI don’t need my entire thesis writing to be public yet.. This proved not a trivial task, so I will write here how I managed to create a workflow of automatic backups for Overleaf → Dropbox → BitBucket.
|1.||↑||I don’t need my entire thesis writing to be public yet.|
Currently I’m following a MOOC on Information Visualization offered by Indiana University called IVMOOC. Each week a course is made available and thus far I’ve done the “when”, “where” and “what” modules. As an additional incentive, students gain access to the Scholarly Database (SDB) with which I have been having some fun.
A did a search in all NEH awards, for which the database contains 47,197 records from 1970-2012 SDB NEH explanation: http://wiki.cns.iu.edu/display/SDBDOC/NEH+Awards. Do note the chart at the bottom showing the distribution of records..
SDB offers full-text search in titles and abstracts. I tried the following:
- “Digital Humanities” in titles: 20 records from 2001-2012
- “Humanities Computing” in titles: 0 records (to see if there was DH-related work before coining of the term “DH”)
- “Digital Humanities” in abstract: 82 results from 2001-2012
- “Humanities Computing” in abstract: 3 results from 2006-2008
In order to create an interesting visualisation, I wanted a nice bunch of result, so I made the searches broader by searching for digital OR computational in abstracts, resulting in 654 records from 1985-2012, with a total “original amount” of $95,248,977.4 The data contains several figures, namely approved_outright, approved_matching, award_outright, award_matching and original_amount. I’m still figuring out a bit which figures I should focus on.
|1.||↑||SDB NEH explanation: http://wiki.cns.iu.edu/display/SDBDOC/NEH+Awards. Do note the chart at the bottom showing the distribution of records.|
|2.||↑||The data contains several figures, namely approved_outright, approved_matching, award_outright, award_matching and original_amount. I’m still figuring out a bit which figures I should focus on.|
Today marks the tenth birthday of Google Scholar. In anticipation of this celebration, the Google Scholar team has been disseminating more information about what the idea behind Google Scholar is, and how they see the future. Since I wrote a blog post titled “What if Google killed Scholar?” a little over a year ago, an update with answers from Anurag Acharya himself is worthy of a new post.
From Monday 6 to Friday 10 October, the Talk of Europe project held the first creative camp at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, the Netherlands. The goal of the creative camp was to create proof-of-concept applications that make inventive use of the ToE dataset, consisting of Linked Data about the European Parliament. Following a call for participation, five teams participated from the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Italy and the UK; ten participants (not from the ToE-team) in total.
With great excitement I can now write that I have acquired a position as PhD-candidate at the University of Luxembourg, starting November 1st, 2014. Under Prof. Dr. Andreas Fickers, Professor for Contemporary and Digital History, I will get the chance to further investigate the development and consequences of digital technology for the field of History. Of course, moving to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with my wife is quite a step (on such short notice!). But this is a really wonderful opportunity for me to continue working embedded in the History department (as I have done at Erasmus University Rotterdam), under the supervision of Fickers who has been asking questions in recent papers and keynotes very close to my own (see e.g. the slides for his keynote „If content is king, context is its crown“ (PDF) at the AVinDH workshop I happened to have co-organized at DH2014). Fickers will be heading a Digital History Laboratory, and I will be collaborating with him to develop this lab and investigate the possibilities for the profession of History with digital tools. Continue reading