Building Capacity for Digital Humanities

This EDUCAUSE paper about Building Capacity in DH has been on my mind ever since I returned from the conference in Philadelphia. The session where it was discussed was somewhat sparsely attended, and I wished it had offered a greater opportunity for conversation and community-building. I suppose I was longing for the “good old days,” back when we had regularly scheduled THATCamp conferences and ResearchSlam events here in the southland.

In any case, this matrix (found on p. 13 of the article), is going up on my wall as I consider what resources we already have at my institution (such as, coursework in DH and a Digital Humanities librarian) and what we lack (TT faculty committed to DH and sound data management practices):

DH Capacity-building matrix


THATCamp DHSocCal 2014: “Diving into the Digital Humanities”

DHSoCal | THATCamp: Diving into Digital Humanities

October 24-25
San Diego State University@ The new Aztec Student Union

This ThatCamp is special because it is organized through a unique collaboration between 4 regional institutions: San Diego State University, UCSD, Cal State University at San Marcos, and University of San Diego. Inspired by the open, grass-roots efforts of our regional networking group, DHSoCal, this ThatCamp promotes working together and collaborating across disciplinary, departmental, and institutional divides.

All ThatCamps are open to all kinds of campers, but this one is envisioned as a way to get new folks engaged in the DH and to create new networks of collaboration. So, if you have any kind of inkling to learn about the Digital Humanities– whether you’re already a dedicated digital humanist researcher or an absolute newbie, whether you are a student, teacher, or curious community member– come to camp!

Our ThatCamp is about jumping into the Digital Humanities, getting wet, and learning to swim.

Dive in. The water’s fine!

For information and registration, please go to the THATCamp DHSoCal website.

Note that there have been issues with the THATCamp server. If the THATCamp DHSoCal website is unavailable, you may consult the following documents.

Directions and Parking:

A copy of the schedule is provided below:


8:00 am        Registration and Light Breakfast
9:00 am        Welcome and Sticky-Note Voting
-Joanna Brooks, Associate Dean of Graduate and Research Affairs
-Jessica Pressman, Digital Humanities Initiative, SDSU
10:00 am      Opening Talk by Miriam Posner, Digital Humanities Program Coordinator at UCLA
11:00 am       Workshops I
12:30 pm      Lunch
1:30 pm        Workshop II
3:00 pm        Coffee and Snack Break
3:30 pm        Workshop III
5:00 pm        Debrief
5:30-7:00 pm  A Cocktail Hour, with free appetizers, will be served at the University of San Diego’s Hahn University Center, Forum C.
7-10 pm      All THATCamp attendees are invited to the Closing Reception for Occupy Thirdspace, an art exhibition featuring art from students in UC San Diego’s Visual Arts department and artists in and from Northern Baja California.More information here. Hosted by Space 4 Art in San Diego’s East Village.
8:00 am
      Registration and Light Breakfast
9:00 am      Welcome and Sticky-Note Voting
10:00 am    Opening Talk by Elizabeth Losh (UCSD) about FemTechNet
11:30 am     Workshop IV
12:30 pm     Lunch
–Performance artists during lunch!
1:30 pm      Workshop V
3:00 pm      Coffee and Snacks, Debrief

What’s in a name?

I wanted to follow up on a comment from our recent DHSoCal gathering.  Someone (I’m sorry that I can’t remember exactly who it was), mentioned that the term “Digital Humanities” is a loaded one, and said that they avoided using it with their colleagues.

I’d like to know if you also avoid using the term DH.  And if so, what ways do you describe your DH-related work, if not with that term? 

4Humanities Event at CSUN


Date: May 16, 2014
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: The Linda Nichols Joseph Room of Jerome Richfield Hall (JR 319), California State University, Northridge (Map)
Contact: Scott Kleinman (

4Humanities is a group of digital humanists who seek to assist in advocacy for the humanities by harnessing the skills and resources of the digital humanities community. On May 16, the local Southland 4Humanities chapters will meet at California State University, Northridge to work on the WhatEvery1Says Research Project (#WhatEvery1Says).

WhatEvery1Says emerges from the local chapter of 4Humanities at UC Santa Barbara (4Humanities@UCSB) to identify public perceptions of the humanities, formulate the core value(s) of the humanities, and strategize ways to “frame” these values for effective communication (through framing narratives, metaphors, scenarios, paradigms). The project’s purpose is to canvass and analyze public and academic discourse about the humanities in order to help advocates develop a coherent message about why the humanities matter to people and society. The project will conduct systematic, strategic research on perceptions of the humanities, on what academics and others believe the core values of the humanities to be, and on the way people “frame” narratives about the humanities. Data will be gathered through text mining and analyzed through forms of computational analysis such as topic modeling. Further information is available on the Project Overview Site.

Anyone who would like to become involved with 4Humanities or WhatEvery1Says is welcome to join us. Although the primary goal of the meeting will be planning and strategizing for WhatEvery1Says, there will be a time slot for people to talk give short presentations on whatever DH topics they would like. Lightning talks to longer demos will both be considered, and the timetable below will be adjusted accordingly.

The following is a preliminary schedule which is likely to undergo some change before the date of the meeting.


  • Introductions
  • Background on the Project
  • Discussion of opportunities for grant funding to support WhatEvery1Says and/or other 4Humanities activities.
  • Creating some timelines for some smaller 4Humanities projects or discussion of structures for collaboration.

12:00-1:00: Lunch


  • Introductions of afternoon attendees and morning re-cap.
  • Preparatory work and training for topic modelling.
  • Collective or small group run-through on a small corpus.


  • A time slot for spill-over from the previous session and for people to talk about and/or demo their DH projects, either in the form of lightning talks or “extended” lightning talks.

Getting to and Parking at CSUN

Driving Directions can be found on the CSUN Visitor Parking Information website or from Google Maps. Please go to Parking Booth #2 on the corner of Prairie and Darby to purchase a daily parking permit ($6). The Parking Booth only accepts cash, but the parking lots have dispensers that accept credit cards. Please keep your receipt; you will be reimbursed afterwards.

Getting to JR 319

Walk down Prairie towards campus. Cross Etiwanda and walk to the right around Sierra Center. On the other side of Sierra Center there are stairs leading up to the third floor. These provide direct access to Jerome Richfield Hall right outside JR 319.

Wifi Access

Visitors from campuses with Eduroam may be able to access the internet using that service. Otherwise, you will be given a password upon arrival.

DHSoCal Meeting

Friday, April 18 from 10 to 1 p.m. at the Seuss Room in Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego

Digital Humanities – Southern California will be hosting a meeting open to all practitioners of digital humanities and those who are curious to know more. This meeting will be geared toward sharing our local assets, challenges, ongoing projects, and ideas.

Please RSVP if you plan on attending, either in person or virtually. Lunch will be provided for those who attend in person.

Tentative Agenda

1) Introductions

2) Discussion of current projects, plans, partnerships, and efforts underway

3) Discussion of desired future efforts: thinking strategically 5 years-out

a) West Coast DH undergrad conference
b) THAT Camp

4) Collaboration
a) Teaching DH classes/ student projects across campuses
b) Sharing successful models for teaching and institution-building
c) Pooling institutional contacts to funding agencies

5) Build out DHSoCal website

Additional topics for discussion:

May 16 4Hum event
SouthWest Regional DH event

Directions, parking, and bus information here

This event is sponsored by the Geisel Library and the Center for the Humanities.

Intertwingled, April 24 at Chapman University

EVERYTHING IS DEEPLY INTERTWINGLED. In an important sense there are no “subjects” at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly.

Theodor Holm Nelson wrote those words 40 years ago in his book, Computer Lib. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Computer Lib, Chapman University is hosting a conference, “INTERTWINGLED: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson,” on April 24, 2014.
The conference “INTERTWINGLED: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson” will examine and honor the work and influence of this computer visionary and re-imagine its meaning for the future.

The conference will take place in the Chapman University Boardroom, Argyros Forum 2nd floor, from 9:30 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Inquiries can be made to Doug Dechow at or phone  (714) 532-7781.

Join us as John Seely Brown and other innovators Reclaim Open Learning

September 26-27, 2013 at Calit2, University of California, Irvine

This international convening is the culmination of the Reclaim Open Learning Innovation Challenge, committed to surfacing individuals and organizations that are transforming higher education toward connected and creative learning, open in content and access, participatory, and building on a growing range of experiments and innovations in networked learning.


Please feel free to follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ReclaimOpen. Certain portions of the Reclaim Open Learning Symposium will be streaming live via theDML Research Hub’s YouTube Channel. For more information about the Agenda, the list of Innovation Challenge Winners, and how to watch select parts of the Symposium online in realtime, please visit


Radisson Hotel Newport Beach – 4545 MacArthur Blvd Newport Beach, CA 92660. The Radisson Hotel Newport Beach is pleased to offer a preferred room rate of $129 +tax for UC Irvine guests. This rate includes complimentary Full Hot American Breakfast Buffet for One(1), Scheduled round trip shuttle to John Wayne Airport, High Speed Wireless Internet, Self-Parking, USA Today Newspaper delivery Mon-Fri, and in-room bottle water.
Reservations can be made online at using the unique UC Irvine corporate code 49443 or by calling our hotel reservation line at 1-800-333-3333 and requesting the University of California Irvine preferred rate.
Please contact Radisson Newport Beach – UC Irvine Travel Manager TJ Ransom at or 949-608-1077 for any additional information.
For more information, please contact:
This event is sponsored and organized by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, University of California Humanities Research Institute, located at UC Irvine and is co-sponsored by the MIT Media Lab and Calit2.

What I learned as the worst student in the classroom

When professors teach, they teach what they love. What they are experts in. What it is easy for them to learn. Thus, it is easy to forget what it is like to be the student who struggles in the classroom. In fact, many professors may never have had the experience of struggling to learn–they probably effortlessly got A’s or at least easily understood how to teach themselves a topic. How can they, then, sympathize with and, more importantly, effectively teach students who do not intuitively understand their subject matter?
Teachers frequently talk about moments in which they became students again and how much that made them better teachers. For me, there has been no better way to improve my teaching, specifically my teaching in the composition classroom, than to take up a subject at which I am abysmal. A year ago, I started indoor rock climbing as a serious hobby. As someone who has always been terrible at physical activities, this was an enormous challenge. (To put this in some perspective, I was always the last kid picked for sports teams in school and am generally viewed as klutzy by all my friends–I trip over curbs.)
I signed up for some group classes to learn the basics of climbing. However, I felt silly because I could not do basic exercises that seemed effortless for other people and it was embarrassing to fail so publicly. Moreover, it was disheartening to see people come to the gym for the first time and climb routes that I had tried over and over again for weeks and still failed to climb. Finally, I hired a personal coach. Not just because I knew lessons would help me but because I couldn’t see what I was doing wrong. My coach was wonderful – encouraging without false praise (that I could tell, anyway), enthusiastic even when I felt disheartened, and patient. As good as this was, though, it was not enough. I had to rethink my learning style and adapt it to my new situation.
Generate small goals.
I had developed a series of goals, such as learning enough technique to climb safely outside within six months to a year, but these goals ended up being much too difficult to work towards – I constantly felt overwhelmed by all I needed to learn. I needed much smaller goals. So, for example, I decided I would work on using my feet more efficiently. This in and of itself is not a small goal and I spent many weeks just on that goal (I anticipate many more). As most of us realize, for students that struggle, goal-setting and repetition is necessary. In the writing classroom, for example, no student is going to write a good paper if they only have a handful of chances to write a thesis statement during the semester–and yet this is often all we give them. Each semester, I have all of my students diagnose their writing weaknesses and generate a plan to improve them. However, I was beginning to think that I should emphasize more repetition in these plans. Repetition has been much maligned in pedagogy, probably because of its association with rote memorization, but repetition is necessary if one is struggling.
Learn and celebrate small incremental steps towards goals.
In my efforts to learn to rock climb, I was aware enough of my own shortcomings that I could be impressed at my own successes, such as the first time I really balanced on a small foothold, not just stood on a large one. However, I began to realize that many of my students who struggled probably would not have this awareness yet, especially those who were young and in composition classes. How could I give my students the sense that they were progressing tremendously even if their grades were not improving? How could I show them that suddenly learning to see that a paragraph had no thesis was an enormous step – and the first step to being able to write a thesis? I’ve always been steadfast about not grading based on effort and I still believe that, but I have started to consider adding an “improvement” metric to my grading rubric. A few years ago, I did have an “improvement from draft” metric, but I found it too time-consuming to grade in large numbers. My experience climbing, however, has made me return to this idea and search for other solutions to this problem.
Embrace failure.
Ultimately, nothing was more helpful for me than failing repeatedly. Academics choose to pursue subjects in which they do not fail very often. When I went climbing, I was failing spectacularly–and publicly–every hour of every day I was climbing. This is quite different from job market rejection or publication rejection–those can all be justified or explained away in one’s mind. I was forcing myself to do something that I knew would cause me to feel fear, failure, and frustration. The mental and physical discipline it took for me to fail repeatedly and try again was completely different from the kind of academic discipline I had developed over the years. This is perhaps the hardest lesson I want my students to learn. They have been taught that all failure is something to be ashamed of and something to be avoided. Thus, I have decided that one entire assignment in my next writing class will be about writing failures, since all good writing entails drafts and revisions. The students will save their failed writing attempts and explain what they have learned from them. Focusing entirely on those drafts and revisions and why precisely they decided to delete paragraphs or change introductions will, I hope, make students feel more comfortable with this concept.
Write a new personal narrative.
For me, one of the most empowering outcomes of my year of climbing has been the new narrative I can tell about myself. I am no longer  “Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, and Wikipedian”. I am now “Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, Wikipedian, and rock climber”. This was brought home most vividly to me one day when I was climbing outdoors here in Los Angeles and people on the beach were marveling at those of us climbing. Suddenly I realized, I used to be the person saying how crazy or impossible such feats were and now I was the one doing them. I had radically switched subject positions in a way I did not think possible for myself. That, I realized, is what I want my students to experience – that radical switch and growth. It is an enormous goal and I would love to hear how others work at achieving it with their students.

Serendip-o-matic (and other good news)

Serendip-o-maticAnnouncing the online search tool Serendip-o-matic. From July 28-August 3, DH SoCal member Scott Kleinman worked with a fabulous group digital humanists to produce this tool from scratch as part of the One Week | One Tool project.
Serendip-o-matic connects your sources to digital materials located in libraries, museums, and archives around the world. By first examining your research interests, and then identifying related content in locations such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), EuropeanaTrove Australia, and Flickr Commons, Serendip-o-matic’s serendipity engine helps you discover photographs, documents, maps and other primary sources.
Whether you begin with text from an article, a Wikipedia page, or a full Zotero collection, Serendip-o-matic’s special algorithm extracts key terms and returns a surprising reflection of your interests. Because the tool is designed mostly for inspiration, search results aren’t meant to be exhaustive, but rather suggestive, pointing you to materials you might not have discovered. At the very least, the magical input-output process helps you step back and look at your work from a new perspective.

In other good news, Scott Kleinman has received an NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations grant for the first step in the creation of an Archive of Early Middle English. The project, a collaboration with Dorothy Kim of Vassar College (but who received her PhD from UCLA) and staff members from several other colleges, will produce a digital archive of manuscripts written in (or at least containing some) English between about 1100 and 1350. The project is just getting off the ground, but more information can be found on the Archive of Early Middle English web site.