Holiday Playlist 2017

It’s been a bleak year and the holiday blues are in full effect. Here’s a playlist that captures some old, some new, some sorrow, some joy. Dreaming of a peaceful new year.



Disrupting Student Labor in the Digital Humanities Classroom

Text of my talk “Disrupting Student Labor in the Digital Humanities Classrom” on March 11, 2016 at Rice University.

Abstract: Crowdsourcing labor and crowdfunding capital are two pillars of the new innovation economy. While these models have worked well for projects ranging from citizen science to music production, bringing crowd-think into the academy, and particularly the classroom, can be ethically fraught. Digital humanities pedagogy involving students contributing to faculty projects or producing durable work products is particularly vulnerable to abuse and misuse. Based on my contribution to the forthcoming Disrupting the Digital Humanities collection, I will offer a critique of these practices and offer ideas on how to avoid ethical pitfalls. Continue reading “Disrupting Student Labor in the Digital Humanities Classroom”

#arthistory: Mining Social Media to Historicize the Contemporary

Slides from my talk for the #arlis2015 panel “Creating New Worlds: The Digital Humanities and the Future of Art Research Methodologies


The ubiquity of image- and video- based social media platforms like InstaGram, Tumblr, and Vine give art history students an opportunity to engage dynamically with contemporary imagery in a live setting. This paper will describe how engaging critically with images in social media can provide valuable insights into audience response to contemporary and historical art, along with an ever-changing catalog of the contemporary gaze; as well as offering students exposure to concepts of metadata, text mining, information literacy, data visualization, and copyright and fair use.

I recorded the talk and will transcribe it later this week.

Digital Frontiers 2014

For the past three years I’ve had the honor to be the Director of Digital Frontiers, the best little digital humanities conference in Texas. The conference is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together scholars, students, librarians, archivists, and members of the community engaged with using digital resources for humanities research, teaching, and learning. My welcome address from DF2014 is here. If you’d like to see more, including Keynote addresses by Dorothea Salo and Miriam Posner, visit the UNT Digital Libraries Digital Frontiers Collection.

And watch the website – the CFP for DF2015 at UT-Dallas will be out in January!


Decisions and Revisions…

The ending of a recent CLIR report on research data management to which I contributed and edited had a sort of rosy, optimistic glow to it that the data in the report didn’t really support. Some of the stronger language about the risk to humanities research as libraries capitulate to the demands of increasingly technocratic administrations was defanged, and the final lines were reframed as a call to arms, rather than the abject pessimism (I still believe) that belied not only the data, but the state of the field that we observed over a period of two years.

Needless to say, none of that was my decision – the PI intervened after reviewing the final text and added the peppier language. I was able to reframe this a little in a blog post the publisher requested, but it’s been nagging at me that the report ended on such a note. So here, then, is the ending I wrote, after two years in the trenches observing librarians’ struggles with the latest great federal unfunded mandate: the retention and sharing of research data. Continue reading “Decisions and Revisions…”

My Favorite Holiday Movies

I grew up in Wyoming, where winters are rough and once the driveway was shoveled and chores were done, there wasn’t much to do. Once we got a VCR, rented movies saved my family from strained game nights (my mom hates to lose and my brother cheats creatively and unrepentantly). There are few things nicer than making a blanket nest, mulling some wine, and watching a movie on a cold winter night with friends, family, and, of course, pets. Here are a few of my favorites for winter viewing. Continue reading “My Favorite Holiday Movies”

The Data Doldrums; or, Reflections at the end of a Grant

(NOTE: Cross posted from CLIR Connect.)

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
‘Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798)

For the past two years, starting as a Council on Library & Information Resources (CLIR) Fellow in 2011, and continuing in my current role as Director for Digital Scholarship with the University of North Texas Digital Scholarship Co-Op, I’ve been working on the DataRes Project, an IMLS-funded initiative documenting and analyzing LIS responses to research data management. I wrote for the CLIR blog about the DataRes Project back in January  and have been busy wrapping it up since then. The final report for the project comes out today as a CLIR publication. It’s not unusual, I suppose, to feel a little elegiac at the end of a project, particularly one of this duration, but I’ve approached the end of this one with not a little ambivalence.

This project was my first exposure as a CLIR Fellow to the business side of libraries, and I learned a great deal about both libraries and the state of the 21st century academy as a result. As a humanities scholar, I learned quickly that my graduate education had not prepared me for the realities of university bureaucracy, and that many of the assumptions I had about libraries as a scholar were not well founded or just flat wrong. One of the paradoxes of university libraries that I was confronted with early (and often) in my experience as a CLIR Fellow was the fact that, though libraries are certainly tasked with supporting research, at many institutions much of their funding comes from student fees. This creates a tension in priorities for libraries that can be felt – without perhaps knowing the cause – throughout the university.

This problem is especially apparent when new, unfunded mandates come down arbitrarily to provide new services and new resources to support research data. The DataRes Project revealed a rift in priorities between university Offices of Research, which are reluctant to support new projects without a clear “return on investment” – even when grant applications to federal funding agencies are at stake, and libraries which are compelled by the interests of their users to deliver new services, often in a vacuum of resources, support, and sometimes expertise. To be fair, libraries and librarians sometimes step up to the plate to deliver support to researchers – especially where potential funding may be involved – as a way of justifying their continued existence in the increasingly technocratic and ROI-driven university culture. This may or may not be useful, since administrations often see the ability to provide a service without external resources as a good business model to be continued in perpetuity, and libraries’ and librarians’ willingness to serve can backfire.

Willem van de Velde II - An English Vessel and Dutch Ships Becalmed

Continue reading “The Data Doldrums; or, Reflections at the end of a Grant”