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CNI Fall 2015 notes

December 16, 2015

As per usual, this week’s CNI meeting offered a surfeit of updates and reports on a number of interesting and emerging projects. After making the hard choices about what to skip and what to see, I tried to take detailed notes on the talks below.

I’ve been doing this for a number of years–taking extensive notes and publishing them via this blog–and have heard from many of you via various channels that the notes are useful. They certainly help me with remembering what I’ve heard, as well as when and where and from whom. Please share any suggestions or requests with me through whatever channel works for you or via the comments below.

Digital Dissertations in an Increasingly Welcoming Landscape
Amanda Visconti, Purdue; Matthew Kirschenbaum, Maryland

Noted that she wants to move beyond a discussion of whether digital dissertations are ‘equal’ to written chapters to a broader discussion of the many ways that one can achieve scholarly goals. Interested in the work that takes public digital collections and makes them “truly” available to all, not just to specialized scholars. In other words, public humanities in a participatory vein. Read more…

OCUL Digital Curation Summit 2015

October 19, 2015
fall colours in dundas

Fall colours in Dundas

The 2015 OCUL Digital Curation Summit was held in the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship at McMaster University Library. The organizers did a great job pulling together a diverse array of topics and updates. Below are notes from some of the talks; the afternoon consisted of back-to-back introductions to Islandora and Archivematica. I chose not to take notes during those but rather to pay attention and pick up the details.

I am not going to tell you where to stick it!
Richard Godsmark, McMaster U

Provided a tour of data storage, noting that it’s a relatively recent development that we have had portable data. Dates to the 1980s and data cassettes. With the emergence of floppies, things go a bit further: Iomega Zip, optical disks, USB sticks, and the profusion of memory cards, e.g.- SD, compact flash, etc.

Now we live in an era of cloud storage services: Dropbox, Box, OwnCloud, Drive, etc. Many varieties, different function and services.

One of his concluding thoughts was that it’s less important where you put data than how you protect it. Also raised the very interesting point that how we assess data or information when we come across it is very tied to our time and notions. As we know in libraries, what seems useless or trivial may not be in the future. Of course, the challenge inherent in this is that the quantity of information and data created today is simply overwhelming. Read more…

ARL Forum 2015 notes

October 14, 2015
LeDroit Park Historic District in Washington DC

flickr, NCinDC

Designing Digital Scholarship: Research in a Networked World
Julia C. Blixrud Memorial Lecture
Tara McPherson, U of Southern California

Started by pointing out the issues of scale with digital scholarship: hundreds of hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, millions of Instagram images, etc. Beyond that, there’s also an explosion of data. She showed various examples of municipal use of data and pointed out that there are very valuable and rich scholarly datasets as well. As she put it, we hear about data from our provosts all the time.

Noted that humanists don’t typically use the term data, but that it’s data being used regardless of what one calls it. Archives such as the Shoah Foundation archive are simply a different kind of data when viewed in this light.

Interesting notion: “preservation is no longer separate from access.” Taken literally, that’s a very daunting challenge. Read more…

Access 2015 Toronto Thursday and Friday notes

September 22, 2015
wvrst in toronto

Wvrst – home to many good Access conversations

I chose to lump my Thursday and Friday noted into one post. I spoke on Friday, so obviously couldn’t take notes on that, and for the same reason was slightly distracted during the opening panel, so the only notes I took were for Amy Buckland’s excellent closing keynote.


Can I Actually Use It? Testing Open Textbooks for Accessibility
Tara Robertson, CAPER-BC; Kendra Levine, U of California at Berkeley

Believe this was the first time I’ve experienced a talk with a live DJ providing a soundtrack, although I’ve seen it done in recorded talks. It was … interesting, not least since it was the first talk of the day. It did wake me up! It also made it harder to multitask, which is a good thing. She had my full attention.

Tara gave an introduction to CAPER-BC (Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources BC). They are now working with open textbooks as a way to reduce the textbook costs for students. She showed a graph that clearly illustrates how textbook prices have risen in cost at a rate well beyond the CPI or even home prices. This leads to a situation where a majority of students now admit that they have opted not to purchase a required textbook for a class. As she put it, this often leads to students starting the semester without the resources they need. Read more…

Access 2015 Toronto Wednesday notes

September 22, 2015
access sponsors sign

McMaster supports Access!

For the first time ever, Access took place in my backyard. Glad that it finally cycled through Toronto. The local organizers did a great job, making everyone feel welcome and putting on a great event. Kudos to them for a unique locale for the opening reception.

Continuing a trend from recent years, I noted a decrease in the ‘technically-inclined cohort,’ with many familiar faces from recent years choosing to sit out this year’s version. Countering that, it was encouraging to see more people coming to Access who would likely never have considered doing so a few years back.

This year’s Access also had some wildly creative presentations, such as Tara Robertson’s use of a DJ during her presentation, Daniel Sifton’s RPG battle of scripted headless browsers, and Thomas Guignard’s hysterical Dr. Who / Night Vale performance piece on the failings of the ILS. Great talks, all, that highlight the creativity of the community and certainly raise the bar for those of us inclined to avoid the use of humour or other “non-serious” elements.

As always, my editorial comments and notes are in italics where I remembered to do so.

Public Computing and the Revolution
Opening Keynote & Dave Binkley Memorial Lecture
Molly Sauter, McGill

Started off by asking the crowd if they know that DDOS is; most hands went up, which pleased her. She explores in her book The Coming Swarm how networks–both cellular and the Internet–create spaces and possibilities for political action.

Showed some examples of oxymoronic “privately owned public spaces,” which are parks and open spaces maintained by corporations. The problem is that these spaces have regulations placed upon them by those corporations, not by law. They are private property. Read more…

DH 2015 Sydney notes – Friday

July 3, 2015
flickr, Colt Group

flickr, Colt Group

This was an excellent conference. Many thanks to the organizers and to the University of Western Sydney for their hospitality. It’s a beautiful campus and the crystal clear weather didn’t hurt.

Long Paper Session

“Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me”: Quantifying Kissinger
Micki Kaufman – CUNY

Work visible online.

Used a quote from John Ehrlichman about the record on Nixon as motivation for the work. Ehrlichman said, basically, that historians needed to listen to all of the Nixon tapes to form a complete picture.

Source material for this work comes from the Digital National Security Archive, a Chadwyck/ProQuest product. Scraping the 18,000 metadata records led to a cease and desist letter from ProQuest. There are now multiple gigabytes of Kissinger material available from his time as national security advisor. Read more…

DH 2015 Sydney notes – Thursday

July 2, 2015
flickr, Duncan PJ

flickr, Duncan PJ

Morning Long Paper Session

An Entity-based Approach to Interoperability in the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory
Susan Brown – U of Guelph, U of Alberta; Jeffery Antoniuk, Michael Brundin, John Simpson, Mihaela Ilovan – U of Alberta; Robert Warren – Carleton University

Proposing how applying linked open data to CWRC projects would facilitate “rudimentary interoperability.” Susan briskly described their entities and usage of authorities. Trying to balance two kinds of projects, those sophisticated DH projects that use well regularized metadata and those that use highly irregular data and metadata. The latter cannot be remediated, as she noted, but the goal is to make it interoperate with other sets. Read more…