Digitised Manuscripts hyperlinks July 2018

Hot on the heels of our recent announcement that the British Library's Anglo-Saxon charters are now online, we are pleased to provide you with another phenomenally fantastic list of digitised manuscripts hyperlinks. As usual, we are making this list available to download in two formats: as a PDF and as...

Yet another list of things we can do to have more diverse sets of invited speakers

I am super reticent to write this because so many people have written similar things. Yet despite that, we still have things like an initial workshop program with 17 invited speakers of whom 16 are men (at ICML 2018) and a panel where 3 of the 5 panelists are or were previously in the same group at Stanford (at NAACL 2018). And I (and others) still hear things like "tell me what to do." So, here it is, I'm saying what we should do. (And I'm saying this mostly so that the others, who are usually women, don't have to keep dealing with this and can hopefully point here.)

Like any such list, this is incomplete. I'd love suggestions for improvements. I'm also taking for granted that you want a diverse set of invited speakers. If you don't, go read up on that first.

I think it's also important to recognize that we all mess up. I (Hal) have messed up many times. The important thing is to learn. In order to learn, we need a signal, and so if someone points out that your event did not live up to what-should-be-expectations, accept that. Don't get defensive. Realize that this learning signal is super rare, and so apply some inverse propensity weighting and do a big learning update.

This list was created by my first brainstorming ideas (largely based on my own failures), then going to some excellent sources and adding/modifying. You should also read these sources (which mostly focus on panels, not invited speakers, and also mostly focus on gender):
 Okay, so here's my list, broken down into "phases" of the workshop organization process.
  • Before you begin inviting folks
    • Have an goal, write it down, and routinely evaluate yourself against that goal. If you succeed, great. If you fail, learn (also great!).
    • Have co-organizers with different social networks than you have, or you'll all only think of the same people.
    • Start with an initial diverse list of potential speakers that's mostly (well more than half) women and/or minorities, covering different geographic regions, different universities, and different levels of "seniority". You need to start with well more than half because (a) you should expect many to say no, and because (b) many of your contributed papers are highly likely presented by abled white guys from privileged institutions in the US, so if the event is to be even remotely balanced you need to compensate early.
    • Scan through the proceedings of recent conferences for people that aren't immediately on your radar.
    • If you can't come up with a long enough list that's also diverse, then maybe consider whether your topic is just "you and your buddies," and perhaps think about if you can expand your topic in an interesting direction to cast a broader net.
    • If you can't come up with such a list, maybe your criteria for who to invite is unrealistic already very white male-biased. For instance, having a criteria like "I only want full profs from US universities" comes with a lot of historical/social baggage.
    • Ask everyone you know for suggested names. Check out existing resources like the WiML and Widening NLP directories, but also realize that there are many forms of diversity that may not be well covered in these.
    • Once you have long list of potential speakers with many women or minorities on it, ensure that you're not just inviting women to talk about "soft" topics and men about "technical" topics.
  • In the invitation process
    • In the invitation letter to speakers, offer to cover childcare for the speaker (regardless of who it is) either at the workshop or at their home city. Women in particular often take the majority of child rearing responsibilities; this may help tip the scales, but will also help everyone who has kids.
    • In each invitation that you send out to men, or people who are not under-represented, ask them explicitly for suggestions of additional speakers (who are not white men) you could invite in the initial invitation (i.e., not just when they decline).
    • Invite speakers from under-represented or historically excluded groups very early before they become even more overcommitted. But also give them an easy out to say no.
    • When you start sending invitations out, invite the abled white guys at privileged institutions slowly and later. That way, if you have trouble getting a diverse set of speakers, you’re not already overcommitted.
  • Dealing with challenges
    • If the diversity of your event is being hurt by the fact that potential speakers cannot travel, consider allowing one or two people speak remotely.
    • If you do find yourself overcommitted to a non-diverse speaker group, it may be time to eat crow, apologize to a few of them, and say directly that you were aiming for a diverse slate of speakers, but you messed up, and you would like to know if they would be willing to step down to allow room for someone else to speak in their stead.
    • Go back to your goals. How are you doing? What can you do better next time?

Finally, if you're a guy, or otherwise hold significant privilege, even if you're not organizing a workshop try to help people who are. You should have a go-to list of alternate speakers that you can provide when colleagues ask you for ideas of who to invite or when you get invited yourself. You can have an inclusion rider for giving talks and being on panels, and perhaps also for putting your name on workshops as a co-organizer. I promise, people will appreciate the help!

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Social Media + Society: Marginality and Social Media

Call for Papers
Call for Papers: Special Issue of Social Media + Society: Marginality and Social Media Social media and the internet have opened up new forms of empowerment and oppression that may particularly affect the lives of the marginalized. Marginality, as we are defining it, following Gatzweiler and...

It’s coming home

There are just a few hours to go before one of the greatest tournaments in the world reaches its glorious, nail-biting outcome. We have witnessed Gallic flair, English optimism and German hubris. And now, everyone, the wait is over. Yes, today is the final of the #ManuscriptWorldCup. Just for fun,...

Why Not Blog?

My friend Alan Jacobs, a key inspiration in my return (such as it is, so far) to blogging and RSS and a generally pre-Twitter/Facebook outlook on the scholarly internet, is pondering the relationship between blogging and other forms of academic writing in thinking about his next project. Perhaps needless to say, this is something I’m considering as well, and I’m right there with him in most regards.

But there are a few spots where I’m not, entirely, and I’m not sure whether it’s a different perspective or a different set of experiences, or perhaps the latter having led to the former. For instance, Alan notes:

If I had never blogged a single word I would have precisely the same job I have now…

By contrast, I know without any doubt whatsoever that if I had never blogged at all I would not only not have the same job I have now, I would not have gotten my previous job, and might very likely not have gotten promoted at the one before that. The blog was not just the venue in which I started putting together the ideas that became my second book, the one that made promotion and various subsequent jobs possible, but it was also the way that I was able to demonstrate that there might be a readership for that second book, without which it’s much less likely that a press would have been interested. And then, of course, there’s that blog-based open review project, which was crucial to the book turning out to be the book that it was.

In fact, all along the path, such as my career thus far has taken, the blog has been necessary if not sufficient. My first formal citations in the scholarly literature, for instance, pointed to blog posts rather than to more regularly published literature. So Alan’s not at all incorrect assertion —

Scholars will cite a dozen mediocre peer-reviewed published papers before they’ll cite even the most brilliant blog post.

— triggers in me an unfortunate case of #NotAllScholars!, which while perhaps literally true is just as unhelpful and privileged and key-issue-avoiding as all other versions of #NotAllX are. In fact blog posts are not the kind of thing one can detail on one’s annual review form, and even a blog in the aggregate doesn’t have a place in which it’s easy to be claimed as a site of ongoing scholarly productivity.

Alan, in any case, is working his way around to what the blog might actually do, regardless of what our shared profession thinks it might or might not do. And in a somewhat different way, I am as well. As I noted in an aside, I’ve never started a book project — and I mean that all the way back to my dissertation — in the way that I have always thought I was supposed to: (a) Having an Idea; (b) Researching that Idea; (c) Outlining the Book exploring that Idea; (d) Writing the Book detailing that Idea.

Mine have gone more like (1) having some vague annoying idea with a small i; (b) writing multiple blog posts thinking about things related to that idea; (iii) giving a talk somewhere fulminating about some other thing entirely; (4) wondering if maybe there are connections among those things; (e) holy carp, if I lay the things I’ve been noodling about over the last year and a half out in this fashion, it could be argued that I am in the middle of writing a book!

This is in my experience less a matter of, as Alan describes it, an idea pulling up in your driveway and sitting out there honking its horn, than it is me waking up in the driver’s seat on the freeway and thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to put my hands on the wheel after all.

All of which is to say: it hit me this afternoon that there’s an idea — small i; vague; annoying — that I’ve been writing and talking about in a weird range of forms lately (talks, blog posts, grant proposals). And today I’m wondering whether that might be the next car I wake up in, and whether there’s a way for me to prepare to take the wheel.

Perhaps that preparation might happen here. Perhaps what happens here might demonstrate that there’s no capital-I Idea after all. In any case, hi, thanks for reading, this space will not go wasted.1