Understanding DH through #DayofDH Projects

When I was in art class in high school, we consistently used the words “systematic investigation” and “creative problem solving” to the point where it almost became a joke: “My entire project just fell apart… I guess I have some systematic investigating to do!” The more the teacher used the term to guide us in creating, the more it made sense. We were using trial and error, asking questions, and working to solve problems in a creative way. I had never put together the experiences I had in art and digital humanities until I read David Lacho’s write up for his project for the Day of DH, “Mapping the Day of DH: Using Google Fusion Tables to build a map of #dayofdh and #dayofdh2016 from user’s location on Twitter.” 

One concept that Lacho touches on in the first part of his blog post is that of the archive, which we have written about on the blog before. He writes: “If anything [the project] will serve as an archive of a day where digital humanists participated in making a day that belonged to them.” The notion of making a space for ourselves as DHers made me oddly emotional. It reminded me that if there isn’t a space for something we want, or if there is information we want but can’t find, then we can create it (like the maps of day of DH). In elementary school, my friends and i created a holiday called nothingwhatsoever day where we would exchange gifts. It was in May, and we made it because we wanted to exchange presents, but there were no holidays in May where we could do so. We’re creating a Scalar project on humanity because we believe that it’s important to talk about. And with the globalization of the internet, technology, and ideas behind DH allow for ideas like this to be abundantly spread.

Lacho’s project also put into concrete terms for me the greatness of the open projects that exist on the internet, through the DH world. And the greatness comes from the projects and data collection all being open for interpretation. He writes: “I put the tools and the data in your hands.” The final post, where he links to the spreadsheet and all the data used, is even titled “And here be thy data: This project is for you.” The project demonstrates the DH community’s ability to interpret, share, and collect data. Through looking at the data and the maps that were created, I can draw my own conclusions. I didn’t have to do any of the problem solving of creating the tool or gathering the data, but now I can go into my own type of systematic investigation and close read the data to create an argument (if I wanted). It’s reminiscent of the “beginnings” of DH, where primary sources were uploaded to the internet so that people could gain access to these documents.

At the heart of it, Lacho defines DH in a way that is very similar to my experience in the art room:

To me, the digital humanities is exactly what I did today. I asked questions and I came up with a solution, which led to more questions. I would say the Digital Humanities is an iterative cycle in itself, always stepping towards another question, but remaining reflexive on our tools and processes.

It’s helpful for me to hear DH phrased in this way and looked at through this lens. Currently, I’m working in a group to create a project questioning the humanity in digital humanities. Many times, I’m finding myself having more questions than answers. And Lacho has assured me that this is just part of what DH is. If our project raises more questions, then it has done its job.

Reimagining the Remixed Remix of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”

When I was reading Breckenridge’s article, music is what first came to my mind. In particular, songs that have been (literally) remixed by different artists. Trap and dubstep are two of my guilty pleasures, and I bask in the genius of those who spend their time remixing popular songs into something new. Currently, my obsession is Mike Posner and the remixes that have been done of his songs. The remix of the song “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is done by SeeB (there are curse words in this version, I couldn’t find an unedited, legally posted version of the song. See below for similar examples of his):

(Ibiza is an island in the Mediterranean sea that’s known for it’s clubbing and nightlife scene and electronic music. It’s the place where Orlando Bloom punched Justin Bieber.)

But now listen to the original song:

The two versions inspire different feelings. The remix has almost all of the original lyrics in it, but the beat it is put to doesn’t give the impression of being somewhat tragic. But when I listened to the original song, I felt incredibly sad.

In fact, Mike Posner addressed the irony of the remix of his song becoming popular in an article he wrote for Observer Culture. He wrote: “To add to the irony, the talented Norwegian duo SeeB remixed and re-appropriated the song into an Ibiza-worthy club anthem. How can a song with depressing lyrics like ‘I took a pill in Ibiza to show Avicii I was cool, and when I finally got sober felt ten years older,’ be the soundtrack to partygoer’s tequila shots and sparkler-draped champagne bottle delivery?”

The song started as a ode to his used-to-be career (“I’m just a singer who already blew his shot”) and worked as a type of warning to those who were seeking fame. And now the song has brought back his “fame” and is celebrated as a nice dance song. Because, hey, if nothing else, the remix is a catchy beat. But we don’t always listen to the words when we hear songs for the first few times. Which, as Posner writes, is why he intentionally left his tracks with little instrumentals: to emphasize the words that he feels are the truth. There are two other songs of his that have been remixed from their original. And both have a different “feel” from the original songs. The original tracks have few instruments and there is an emphasis on the vocal and lyrics, which, as mentioned before, was an intentional choice of the artist.

As Breckenridge argues, it’s important to not just recognize that something has been remediated, but how the remediation process works. To do so, Breckenridge writes we must “interpret the most important ideas from the original text” and transfer “them in such a way as to give new meaning to the interpretation without misrepresenting the original.” With that in mind, we look back at the remixes of Mike Posner. The most important idea in the original song would be that the things we associate with fame are not actually as glamours as we may be led to believe. It’s a testament to what happens after fame. As such, we then look towards the remix. While the remix does have almost all of the lyrics still in the song, the meaning is not the same. The beat and the intentional composition that put emphasis on the words is gone, and we are left with another song that we can dance to and enjoy without thinking too much. (Isn’t that the purpose of popular music, anyway?)

I can do nothing but conclude, then, that while the intent of the reproduction/remediation of “Ibiza” is catchy, and I literally cannot get it out of my head, it misrepresents the original text it came from.

(As a footnote, when I was doing research, I found this website that lets the artist and the general public annotate song lyrics. The page to “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is here and so incredibly interesting.)

#DHJournalReport

The journal that I looked at was Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. It seems like this journal is pretty accessible for everyone looking to learn about Digital Humanities and it’s many incarnations. Though I think there is some sort of subscription through a university that is necessary. That could be because of the connection through the Oxford University Press.  I thought this quote was interesting that I found on their about page, “ but not limited to, the field of what is currently called the Digital Humanities.” This seems to imply because of the constant changing nature of DH that this name may not last much longer. I thought that was interesting. Though their site is interesting their navigation and interface if pretty terrible to figure out.

This site was very hard for me to navigate. I didn’t even know if I was on the right website because it is part of the Oxford University Press website so find the main page of this website was pretty challenging for me. It’s pretty plain looking and seems like the site might still be under some development because there are only two volumes listed. This year only has one issue and it’s for April. The issues also start 30 and I couldn’t find the previous 29 very easily. I am thinking that it is an extension of an older journal? Although a feature I really liked is the latest and the “Most Read” section. Also that the articles have a data section where you can see how the people who have submitted go there information from. I think that’s something useful to tell us who is reading what and what is trending in the DH community on this website and how people got their information. This is part of the submission process.

The submission to this website it seems pretty simple it can be done online or a paper copy and it provides the necessary instructions to do so. If someone wanted to submit their work it would seem as though they set up a great way to get work into this journal.

Though the submission site is nice and provides a simple way to put the submissions out there. This site is not overwhelmingly appealing. It’s hard to navigate and is really blocky. However, this may appeal to more audiences because everything is large and pretty easily labeled. But I still think it’s a little difficult to navigate and even find the articles. It took some clicking around before I figured it out. But after all this clicking I found a good article that will help me in my future.

The article I chose was about how to teach in the online classroom. I want to be a teacher and I thought it was an important to look at the online classroom. This article discusses the many factors that influence the online classroom. And as we move more toward technology this is becoming more and more of a reality that the classroom is going digital or even partly digital and as this becomes more of a reality the more we need to look into information about how to make it successful.

 

Digital Humanities Quarterly: A Review

 

Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ) is a journal that publishes at least once a year. The publication includes articles, issues in digital humanities, reviews, and case studies. The journal is mostly read by those in the DH community. However, the website specifies that the journal “extends more broadly to related domains and to the interested non-specialist: for instance, humanities faculty, digital artists, museum curators, archivist, and the like.” Some of the journals are labeled as special editions because there is a particular theme woven throughout every piece published in that edition. For example, 9.2 is Feminisms in Digital Humanities. On a larger scale, the journal addresses the interests of the rhetoric of digital authoring, addressing the divide between the print and the digital, experiments in interactive media, reviews of different books, websites, news media art installations, and digital humanities systems and tools. The journal is versatile and relevant in its content. Some topics that the journal’s readers may be interested in include the new and upcoming tools in DH, being able to read about tools before the use them, the discussions and debates within the community, theory related to DH content.

In terms of navigation, the website is incredibly easy to navigate. The left side of the page has the different issues, which link you to the table of contents. In the table of contents, there are links to the actual articles. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the way the website is set up is that you can click on a plus arrow below the author’s name and it will open the abstract for you on the page. This makes it easy to navigate and get a preview of the article before you open it. There were no issues I ran into while moving throughout the website. DHQ is specifically designed to be able to withstand times and changes in formatting and the internet. The format in which they publish is meant to be easy to navigate and not change if the internet does.

DHQ is not particularly beautiful, but it is simple. The main logo is in the top left corner, and the banner is easy to navigate and is set up in a way that makes sense. No matter what page you move on to, the issues stay on the left hand of the page which makes it easy to click around and still get back to where you need. I did not find myself getting particularly “lost” in the website. Perhaps one of the most appealing parts of the website is how easy its appearance makes it to navigate. The aesthetics, overall, do converge with the content in ways that make visual sense to me.

The submission tab is on the top of the navigation bar and is easy to find. The tab links directly to the submission guidelines. DHQ accepts submissions at a rolling two-month intervals. The submission must be in XML encoded in the DHQ markup language, XML encoded in TEI, or RFT, Open Office, or MS Word. In order to be published, the editors specify that the submission “must fall within the content of the journal, it must be addressed to an appropriate audience, it must have an argument and should represent an original contribution to the research and practice of the digital humanities field, or should offer an original analysis, critique, or viewpoint on some aspect thereof, and it must be well writing, and must present its argument clearly and interestingly.” After the article is submitted, it is peer reviewed before being considered for publication. There is no guideline specifying whether or not there can be co-authored submissions. However, there are many co-authored articles and case studies that are in the journals. The articles can have visual images in them (including images, audio, video, and accompanying data sets). The biggest thing for DHQ, though, is to be able to maintain long-term access to the journal content so their guidelines for formatting visual images are very tight. DHQ encourages the writing submitted to be inclusive of people who may not be privy to the DH scene. However, they do only accept articles, issues in DH, reviews, or case studies. If something creative or non-academic could fit into one of those categories then there is a chance. But most of the articles I found were centered around more academic topics.

I wish I could spend all my time reading the articles that are in the journal.

#UsingDataSets

What possibilities can you envision for using datasets, maybe beyond literature? In gaming? In soci0-cultural study?

When I saw this question my mind went blank for a little bit at first but I then remembered something I did in my Teacher Cadet experience that I used data sets for. They were used to track students progress in the classroom. I would have to input data from the tests that they were taking in order for the teacher to track growth and understand the content that she needed to teach. Certain questions aligned with literature and some aligned with mechanics and she could track the growth of the student and then also track the classroom needs. Most of the students, in the seventh grade class still struggled a little but with reading comprehension and we knew this because of the data sets we had created. It made the classroom easier to navigate because then we could pinpoint the exact needs of the individual or the group. While this isn’t exactly what we did in class I think analyzing the data sets of progression can help teachers in the classroom. Although testing the students day one is not ideal, it may help give the teacher somewhere to start and then continue to track. It also doesn’t have to be an assessment it could be a series of assignments to track and have them do the same kind of assignments throughout the term to track. I would employ it the same test at different checkpoints during the year to measure the data sets and begin to understand the student’s achievements in the class. This test is not necessarily for a grade it is for measurement purposes more of a formative assessment to address over the course of the year. Also if I find one particular student struggling I know exactly what to give them to achieve more in the classroom.

Data points are helpful tool for organization of many items and materials. I think this is more of basic way of think about datasets, and I could have possibly misinterpreted the question, but this something could, once it’s set up, be an easy tool to use in the classroom. I think the set up would take a long time just like the data set we saw in the Journal but I creating data sets can help inform the teacher on what the students need. Create a team of teachers that use the same data sets and send them to other teachers to use as the student progresses through school that way the student growth because a data set and can show students too the growth they have made in school. This could be done easily once started but creating the data set would be the difficult part.

Defining DH: There’s Never One Right Answer Anyway

I believe that people, in general, like to define ideas, concepts, etc. When we define these things, it can help us to begin to understand them. We can talk about them. We can study them. The definition of Digital Humanities may not be a concern for those who are currently participating in the discipline; however, for the people who may be interested in Digital Humanities, the definition or lack there of could be so important.

Having to define Digital Humanities was a problem that I ran into when I told people I was taking this class. Everyone I told seemed really interested and wanted to know more about it. The problem was that I wasn’t really sure how to explain it; I barely had an idea of what the class would be like myself. I love technology, and I love reading and studying literature. I knew that they are combined some way in Digital Humanities, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. I was invested enough to pursue it further, but I wonder how many people don’t pursue studying DH because they don’t know what it is.

There is the worry of limiting exploration of DH by defining it; however, I’d argue that it may be important to try to define it anyways. The definition of DH doesn’t have to be concrete and static. It can be a dynamic, fluid definition that allows for change and adaptation. We’re English majors; we don’t prescribe to the idea of one right answer anyways. There isn’t one way to read a novel. Why would there be only one way to define the discipline of DH. It is a field of study that is still  growing and shifting. That is the beauty in it. Everyone who participates in DH has the capability and possibility to shape the study of it all.

After gaining some more experience and background information about DH, I think I would define DH as the intersection of technology and humanities studies. DH asks the question: how can we use the tools and uniqueness of technology to expand our studies of humanities? DH pushes us to think of new and unique ways to present arguments and share research. The study of DH allows for more access to academic work and even more fun with it. The tools and projects that digital humanists are making bring humanities studies into the technological world. It allows for the possibility to expand the study of literature beyond the reading and writing that is currently the focus. Don’t get me wrong, the reading and writing are still so important; however, DH creates a space for the humanities disciplines to grow.

The space that DH creates is one that excites me. The more I learn about it the more excited I get. It would be a shame if someone was turned away from DH because they couldn’t find a good definition of it. While the fear of limiting the expansion of DH by defining it is valid, I think the bigger concern would be limiting the people who participate in DH by not offering at least some stable ground to stand on.

#TwitterThoughts

As we had the discussion about Twitter in class I thought a lot about what it means to use Twitter or even a social media. How does on get their face out there? I have used social media for years and I actually had a twitter back when Twitter was in its infancy and you could only have an egg for a profile picture. I know I’m just so old. Although that egg picture still exist to some extent twitter has hatched into something completely new. Twitter can provide us with valuable insight about people’s lives business projects or even links that may be useful to us for to find information on topic relatively unknown. As I type this, my father sits next to me on his iPad, something he has just recently learned how to use. I looked over at the article he was reading, no doubt about something car related, and there on his screen was a screen-captured tweet from a relatable source. Has twitter ingrained so much that even my father reads about it on his online articles? I think so. I think back to the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and how our brains are beginning to change. Our brains can only do certain things for a certain amount of time before we need to check the notification or, you know, your DH Twitter. Twitter provides use with 140 character news story that works with the way we are beginning to think about our culture. But how does one’s tweet get to the articles that dads read?

I think tweets travel if they make influence on someone or a group of someones much like when a book or theory becomes popular. Admit it, The Twilight Series made a huge influence on you whether good or bad. Tweets or most social media posts have become just as big as influence on us as books do. So how do I become the much-desired “Twitter famous person that one longs to be? Make an influence. Retweet the sh** out anything you find interesting use those hashtag. You are sharing information. Though I only have 7 followers on one Twitter account and 77 on the other, making connections is the first big part about becomes an influencer on Twitter. I sue to be very frugal about who I follow on most social media reserving it only for friends. But as the internet has expanded and we understand the nature of it a little more, you need to connect woth the starngers that share the similar thoughts about. Or for you Tumblr people follow people who share the same aesthetic as you. Mine is video games-stars-funny-quotes. (I know, get on my level.)

As we begin to discover out interests we need to continue the discussion. As soon as I followed a DH Blog they sent me this:

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A tweet from a trending DH Twitter

Then their partner twitter retweeted that and that’s the type of Twitter that we need to begin employing as we tweet. Of we see something worth noting we need to send it out to the world or follow them so others follow us and then we follow them to create our own twitter sphere.

As a special treat a #TeamInternet famous and YouTube personality infamously liked and unliked my tweet about his book and I screen-captured it so I could remember this forever. I then tweeted about the happening and gained, I think, two followers on my personal account. Progress is progress.

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