Posts Tagged ‘Session proposal’

  • Session Proposal: Electronic Publishing and the Practice of History


    We’d like to propose a general discussion session on the present and future of electronic publishing in the historical profession.

    We have all been involved in the creation of a new professional organization, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, which came into being during the summer of 2011.  (We’re so new that we do not even have a website yet, though you can find out about us on the U.S. Intellectual History blog, which is affiliated with S-USIH.)  S-USIH’s two major, existing projects are our blog and our conference, both of which predate the existence of the Society. But one of the reasons that we wanted to form a society is that we are interesting in exploring the possibility of creating some sort of journal. I think we all feel that this will likely be an electronic journal. But this immediately raises a series of questions that we have only begun to explore.

    What forms might an e-journal take?  Does an e-journal differ simply in its method of distribution? Or does its electronic format potentially allow us to promote and distribute different forms of scholarship from those that might appear in a printed journal? How does an e-journal credential itself in our discipline?  How have other e-journals answered these questions?

    Or is the very idea of an e-journal—an electronic version of a form created in a print-bound world—a failure to explore the horizons of electronic publishing and digital scholarship?  Should the publication program of a new professional society in 2012 take an entirely different form?

    In this session, we’d hope to gather those interested in exploring these questions in a more general context.  Among the general questions we’re particularly interested in exploring: What are the new scholarly possibilities opened up by electronic publication?  What are the expenses—in hardware, software, bandwith, etc.—associated with a serious e-publication program? How can some vital technologies associated with traditional scholarly publication—e.g. peer review—be translated to an electronic age?

    Ben Alpers, ude.u1508718278o@sre1508718278plab1508718278
    Lauren Kientz Anderson, moc.l1508718278iamg@1508718278nosre1508718278dnazt1508718278neik.1508718278l1508718278
    Ray Haberski, ude.n1508718278airam1508718278@iksr1508718278ebah1508718278
    Andrew Hartman, ude.u1508718278tsli@1508718278amtra1508718278ha1508718278
    Tim Lacy, moc.l1508718278iamg@1508718278ycal.1508718278n.yht1508718278omit1508718278

  • Session Proposal: Crowdsourcing


    “How many digital humanists does it take to change a lightbulb?”
    “Yay, crowdsourcing!”
    Melissa Terras

    Crowdsourcing seems to be a favorite THATCamp session idea, appearing in at least half a dozen of the THATCamps held since 2008.  Sessions I’ve participated in have developed from the basic “what is crowdsourcing” in 2009 to the more practical “how do you find and motivate volunteers” in 2011.  At THATCamp AHA2012, however, we are fortunate to have campers who are experts at running crowdsourced projects, including Chris Lintott of GalaxyZoo, OldWeather and AncientLives and Jen Wolfe of  the University of Iowa Civil War Diaries and Letters transcription project.  Though both run popular projects, their implementation could not be more different: the Zooniverse team developed sophisticated crowdsourcing software themselves, while  UIowa decided on a low-tech, partly-manual process to minimize the IT load on their team.  I think that range of perspectives should lead to an interesting discussion, and hope that other campers who have experience with crowdsourcing or are just interested in the subject will join in.

    Here are some questions that have been on my mind which might serve as conversation starters:

    • Are some tasks inappropriate for volunteer crowdsourcing?  Although it seems like people are willing to volunteer their time on the most obscure of subjects–including bugs and leaves–it still may not pay to invite volunteers to do data-entry on your institution’s old account books.  Is it possible to predict in advance whether your material is suitable for the crowd?
    • If a project won’t attract volunteer effort, might it still be worthwhile to use crowdsource-for-pay systems like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or various freelancing sites?  If so, how do you ensure accuracy?  (One recent project introduced known bad data to transcripts before paying users to proofread and transcribed a 19th-century diary for thirty cents a page.)
    • Volunteers seem to participate according to a power-law distribution in which a few users contribute the majority of the effort. (See the Transcribe Bentham leaderboard or the North American Bird Phenology Program’s top fifty transcribers chart for examples.)
      • Is this something we should be concerned  about or a phenomenon we should embrace?
      • Do all projects demonstrate the same participation patterns?  (My own small efforts have shown small-scale projects to be even more lop-sided than the large ones.)
      • How do we find those few passionate volunteers?  Where does a small project find a target-rich environment for its outreach efforts?
    • Is it important to provide users with context?  Christine Madsen argues that libraries and archives should stop presenting entire manuscript pages to users, as this can make their tasks feel more like work.  On the other hand, Andie Thomer and Rob Guralnick believe that context is an important tool for motivating volunteers and enabling accuracy.

    I hope that my fellow campers will add their own questions to these in the comments to this post.

  • Session Proposal: Activating the Archive


    I would like to propose a session on the question of the digital archive.

    At a panel at HASTAC 2011 (see and scroll down to Sessions D3 (Lightning Talks) – Rackham West Conference Room), I was struck that all of our digital humanities/history projects were driven by questions of how to design, use, and produce new historical knowledge from digital repositories. Intersecting dilemmas, goals, concerns, and ideas kept arising among the presentations. These suggested to me that there is an important discussion to continue to have about how archives might be transformed for the better in the digital age. This discussion might include what past practices should be discarded, what we should (pardon the pun) preserve from analog archival traditions, and most of all how we might reimagine the archive in the digital medium.

    Here are a set of questions that might serve to shape such a session:

    • Does the digital create new possibilities for archival study? There are the obvious possibilities of wider, more democratic access to the archive. There is the opportunity for quantitatively studying “big data” of archival materials. But how else, as historians, might we reimagine the archive—and the power of the archive—for the digital age? What might the archive look like in the digital realm? What might it be able to do (or not do) as compared to the analog archive?
    • What new theoretical questions does the digital archive raise? Do we need to rethink the boundedness or porousness of the archive, the authority of it, the nature of archival materials in the virtual realm?
    • What are the new methodological issues that digital archives present? How might historians contribute to the design, interface, and tools used to arrange, access, and make use of digital repositories (a good recent book on this topic is a collaboration between an archivist and a historian, Francis X. Blouin Jr. and William G. Rosenberg’s Processing the Past: Contesting Authorities in History and the Archives)?
    • Might previously separate parts of the process of “making” history—the archive, the research workshop, the publication, and the scholarly conversation/debate that follows publication—intertwine and interact in new, productive ways?
    • Does the digital archive bring us back to core historical questions about connecting evidence to argument in compelling ways (that’s a leading question, I admit, since I think it does)?
    • In the digital medium, does the archive, typically the precinct of primary sources, provide a starting point, a launching pad, for new modes of historiography to emerge?

    Michael Kramer, ude.n1508718278retse1508718278whtro1508718278n@kjm1508718278

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