By Ayse Gursoy on July 19, 2012
I sat in on several sessions today, the first day of conferences. In the morning I checked out the short paper session, and later I went to two long paper sessions. All of the talks were interesting, quick paced (only ten minutes each for the short paper sessions, something to watch out for tomorrow!), and made me think of digital humanities in, if not a new, a richer light. The twitter stream (hashtag #dh2012) was lively throughout the day and offered many a chance to respond to the talks (only a few minutes for questions, unfortunately—though questions were many). Some of the key issues according to the twitter stream: the constant issue of digitized versus born-digital projects, the openness of data and access, and the insufferable hardness of the chairs in the lecture halls (no, really).
There were a few talks that resonated with my background and interests, and I”ll probably get to each of them in some way. But I”d like to focus one one of the long papers, and the questions of design, purpose, and audience that it made clear. The talk in question is Claire Ross, presenting “Engaging the Museum Space: Mobilising Visitor Engagement with Digital Content Creation”. While at first glance this might seem like an interesting topic that isn”t directly related to academic research in Digital Humanities, the central question was actually an extremely important one for any DH researcher: how do you get audiences engaged with digital content? Ross”s case study, the use of QRator at UCL”s Grant Museum top online casino of Zoology, offered one approach to this question. If you have a discussion forum tied to the object on display, accessible with a smartphone or tablet, then give your visitors a tablet and let them talk! We could go on for days about the actual mechanics of this approach or the validity of competing approaches such as short URLs and established social media sites. What I”d like to suggest, however, is that Ross” talk asks us to reframe the question.
It isn”t about engaging with digital content.
It”s about engaging through digital content.
We need to design systems that unobtrusively let people do what they are already good at doing, that step back and make conversations happen. I know this is hard. I know it might mean changing the definition of “conversation”, or expanding it a teensy bit. But I do believe this will impact digital engagement in a positive way.
I”d like to offer the example of the games Demon”s Souls (From Software, 2009) and Dark Souls (2011). These games feature a unique and much-discussed multiplayer engagement in an essentially single-player game: the two games are always-online (unusual for a single-player game), allowing other players to intrude upon your game. The game has been written about in many places and in better ways than I could right now. But there is one particular engagement that I think is highly relevant here: players can leave messages tied to in-game locations, that appear to any player who accesses that location. Yes, it takes an active will to leave a message, but once that message is placed, any player, not just a player with the equivalent of a smartphone, can read it. The systems that we design for digital engagement with physical spaces need to, dare I say it, intrude upon the corporeal experience of the visitor. And doing this is hard. I don”t pretend to have a solution, but it”s something that”s been on my mind.
By Kurt Fendt on May 7, 2012
Text by Elyse Graham and Jia Zhang.
By Kurt Fendt on April 9, 2012
We are happy to announce that HyperStudio has received a Level II Start-Up grant from the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for “Annotation Studio – Multimedia Text Annotation for Students”.
Annotation Studio is an open-source web-based application that actively engages students in interpreting literary texts and other humanities documents. Initial features will include:
1) Easy-to-use annotation tools that facilitates linking and comparing primary texts with multi-media source, variation, and adaptation documents;
2) Sharable collections of multimedia materials prepared by faculty and student users;
3) Multiple filtering and display mechanisms for texts, written annotations, and multimedia annotations;
4) Collaboration functionality;
5) Multimedia composition tools.
While strengthening new media literacies, Annotation Studio will help students develop traditional humanistic skills including close reading, textual analysis, persuasive writing, and critical thinking.
By Ayse Gursoy on October 10, 2011
Hear ye, hear ye!
Join us for “Fluid Texts and Critical Archives: Textual Studies in the (Digital) Humanities” on Friday Oct. 14th, 1:00 – 2:45 pm., in E51-095. This session – free and open to the public – will be introduced by Wyn Kelley (MIT), followed by a presentation of recent work by HyperStudio – Digital Humanities at MIT and will conclude with a panel discussion with John Bryant (Hofstra University), Amy Earhart (Texas A&M University), Kurt Fendt (MIT), Laura Mandell (Miami University of Ohio), and Martha Nell Smith (University of Maryland). This session is part of the three-day Melville Electronic Library Camp (MEL Camp) at MIT.
This session will focus on the concept of “fluid texts”, introduced by John Bryant in his 2002 book, The Fluid Text. Looking at works as “fluid texts” calls attention to the processes that go into the construction of a text, and how these processes are often interactions between a writer and an editor, an editor and an audience, a writer and an audience, and so on. What tools does the digital age give us to study texts as fluid texts, and to capture the dynamism of these texts?
The sketches are part of Jia Zhang’s work on textual visualization and reader interaction as a HyperStudio Research Assistant. “They have 2 main objectives, the first is to map interactions recorded on Frankenstein as students/readers/scholars annotate and explore the text to build thicker layers of context around it. The second goal is to be able to express the text as a whole, an object, relating it back to its book format. The end result of this exercise being to design a navigation which will allow people of different levels of expertise to gather around a particular text and to move with ease between the text itself on many scales and different types of supplemental materials.” Jia Zhang is a Graduate Student in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) at MIT.
By Kurt Fendt on October 6, 2011
Check out the premiere of Augmented Harvard by our friends “down the road” at Harvard’s metaLAB. It’s a mystery tour across the Harvard campus, full of curatorial experiments, ranging from an archive of ephemeral Cold War films to a mysterious hanging aluminum tube to a collection of participatory stickers that guide journeys across the campus. Full details can be found here. Have fun!
Video of Michael Cuthbert’s and Matthias Röder’s Talk “Listening Faster – How Digital Humanities is Transforming Music Scholarship” is online.
By Kurt Fendt on May 19, 2011
Please check out the video (QuickTime streaming) of Michael Cuthbert’s and Matthias Röder’s fascinating talk “Listening Faster – How Digital Humanities is Transforming Music Scholarship” given on April 22, 2011 as part of HyperStudio’s humanities + digital conversations in collaboration with Harvard’s metaLAB.
Image of a fractal visualization of Philip Glass’ music by Russian artist Tatiana Plakhova (http://www.complexitygraphics.com/)
Talk: Culturomics: Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books, May 10, 12:30 pm Pound Hall, Room 100, Harvard Law School
By Kurt Fendt on May 10, 2011
From the announcement by Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel:
About the speakers:
Erez Lieberman Aiden is a fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and Visiting Faculty at Google. His research spans many disciplines and has won numerous awards, including recognition for one of the top 20 “Biotech Breakthroughs that will Change Medicine”, by Popular Mechanics; the Lemelson-MIT prize for the best student inventor at MIT; the American Physical Society’s Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Biological Physics; and membership in Technology Review’s 2009 TR35, recognizing the top 35 innovators under 35. His last three papers – two with JB Michel – have all appeared on the cover of Nature and Science.
humanities + digital Conversations: “Listening Faster”, April 22, 1:00 pm, room E14-633 (new Media Lab)
By Kurt Fendt on April 18, 2011
Please join us for the inaugural event of the new series "humanities + digital conversations", jointly organized by MIT's HyperStudio and metaLAB (at) Harvard.
April 22, 2011, 1:00 – 2:30 pm, room E14-633 (New Media Lab building, MIT, 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge)
Computers have altered so many aspects of musician's lives, from digital performance, to electronic composition, to how we acquire and share new music, but only recently have they had the potential to transform how we study and analyze music. Michael Scott Cuthbert (MIT) and Matthias Röder (Harvard) introduce the new world of Digital Musicology by showing the techniques and tools that allow scholars to "listen faster": to examine and analyze large repertories of pieces in the time that a human musicologist could only look at and hear a single work. Through computational analysis, clustering techniques, visualization tools, and data-mining of musical works, the landscape of our understanding of music is being shaken and new ground created for the wired music scholar.
View Event Poster (PDF)
Photo credit: photobucket
By Kurt Fendt on April 7, 2011
Please join us for our upcoming StudioTalk by Prof. Eric Klopfer and Scot Osterweil on "Learning Through Play".
Play has no agenda. Children play for their own reasons, and even though their play can exhibit fierce determination, persistence, and a will to mastery, it does so only in the service of goals that children set for themselves. Even as we celebrate the learning that occurs in children’s play, and specifically in digital games, we must acknowledge that such learning looks dramatically different from the world of school. Though starkly different on the face of it, we nevertheless believe the ecologies of play and school can be successfully integrated, something we have witnessed through our own experience as educators and game designers. We will examine these issues through concrete examples of existing best practices, and speculative designs currently under development at MIT’s Education Arcade, and elsewhere.
Lunch will be served. Please RSVP to email@example.com
Please also mark your calendar for our next HyperStudio Talk jointly organized with Harvard's metaLAB on April 22, 1:00 pm:
Prof. Michael Cuthbert (MIT) and Matthias Röder (Harvard) on "Listening Faster – How Digital Humanities is Transforming Music Scholarship"
Image © Andrew Lapara
By Whitney Anne Trettien on February 14, 2011
Walking through MIT to reach HyperStudio’s home base, you pass man-sized aluminum tanks of cryogenic nitrogen and share elevators with lab-coated technicians escorting racks of test tubes. It can be a bizarre world for a humanities scholar; yet the scientific labs with which HyperStudio shares a building are increasingly put forward as a model for Digital Humanities work — in fact, for the Humanities, writ large.
It’s easy to see why. Labs are collaborative environments where work, writing and credit is distributed. Labs are also “hands on” and experimental: things are poked, prodded and pulled apart; objects are made; hypotheses are tested. And, unlike in the humanities, teaching and research aren’t strongly distinguished in labs, since students — even undergraduates — are often solicited to assist with experiments.
But scientific labs aren’t the only model for future work in the humanities. During MLA, Kari Kraus pointed to the studio arts, emphasizing the role of process, building and design in evaluating Digital Humanities projects. I’m drawn to this idea not only for the kind of physical workspace it imagines humanists collaborating in, but for what it suggests about how humanities scholars should position themselves in relation to the world — namely, as individuals whose curiosity drives them to produce things that sparks the curiosity of others.
Last year, I began keeping a sketchbook in my office. Mentally, it’s the best addition I’ve ever made to my workspace. Whereas ruled lines demand writing, blank paper is an open field; and in the span of the month, I had already filled two books with everything from bored doodles to project designs mindmapping current research.
The search for models isn’t just about the kinds of physical spaces we want to work in, but the identities — artists, creators, designers, playsmiths — we choose for ourselves. Like a personal identity, the search doesn’t end: it evolves.
What other spaces inspire you to cross interdisciplinary boundaries? What changes in your methods of work have sparked more collaborative work?