Afternoon

1:45pm. Finished marking the intermediate exam of a student of mine. It was on digital editing.

2:45pm. I wonder whether I can get some intellectual work done today. I have just spent an hour (thanks to the bloggy, I can tell precisely!) formatting the bibliography. Unnerving. Although, most is done automatically. I use citavi as database which has a nice BibTeX export function which in turn can easily (more or less…) be used within my LaTeX document. Don’t dare to imagine to do all these 400+ entries manually.

2.55pm. The word cloud tool just tells me that “work” is the most used word by me, ahead of “day” and “digital”. Now, they will all score once more…

2.57pm. No, they don’t. Because they are in quotation marks?

3:00pm. Checking emails again. Good news from a friend and colleague from Galway. Well done! This message reminds me also on some other work that needs to be done. We are lecturing on manuscript encoding at the next Galway spring school. This needs to be prepared. Will reserve a couple of hours for this tomorrow to get started.

3.15pm. The computer’s been on for almost six hours now. Time to switch it off for a while. Spring has finally come and the sun is shining. It is pretty warm outside, 16C or something. Würzburg, where I live, is in the south of Germany. Well, it is not really in the south of the country, just a little bit. The north of the south so to say. One of the cool things of this job is that there are many days when you can decide yourself where and when to work. This is one of these days. I often work early in the mornings, have a break in the afternoon and resume in the evening. Looks like something I will do today, too.

Getting Started

Sign in front of the CHNM office door. Room 470 in Research One

CHNM is in Research One, one of the research buildings on the campus of George Mason University. We are, as much as I can remember, the only humanities research group in this building.

At this point, I haven’t checked anything on my computer: No email, Twitter, foursquare, et cetera. I haven’t even turned on my computer yet, and don’t look at my iPhone. I don’t do any of this stuff until I get to work in the morning. I like to think of my morning before work as the calm before the storm. But its a great storm. I like thunderstorms.

Most of the time I’ll work at the big table in front of my office, which is in the “Robot Room” at CHNM. We call it the Robot Room because this space used to be occupied by the Autonomous Robotics Lab, until they moved in a new building. The space is really nice for collaborative work.

Getting Started

Sign in front of the CHNM office door. Room 470 in Research One

CHNM is in Research One, one of the research buildings on the campus of George Mason University. We are, as much as I can remember, the only humanities research group in this building.

At this point, I haven’t checked anything on my computer: No email, Twitter, foursquare, et cetera. I haven’t even turned on my computer yet, and don’t look at my iPhone. I don’t do any of this stuff until I get to work in the morning. I like to think of my morning before work as the calm before the storm. But its a great storm. I like thunderstorms.

Most of the time I’ll work at the big table in front of my office, which is in the “Robot Room” at CHNM. We call it the Robot Room because this space used to be occupied by the Autonomous Robotics Lab, until they moved in a new building. The space is really nice for collaborative work.

in which I heartily recommend…

…a colleague’s proposed NEH project (ie. last-minute letter-writing) and make Alice-in-Wonderland analogies for the present state of the library’s digital collections.

I should also talk about what’s been going on this week generally in the Scholars’ Lab, by way of explaining my last-minuteness on some correspondence. I’ll come back later and describe visits to the Scholars’ Lab by Julie Meloni, Mark Matienzo, and Dave Lester. Julie and Mark left yesterday, and Dave’s still here working with us today.

(Later…) Actually, I don’t think I’ll have time today to come back and flesh this out more than to say that Julie gave a fabulous talk in the SLab on Tuesday, at which Jerry McGann and I served as respondents, and it was wonderful that she could stick around for an extra day to spend some time with us all. Mark was here to work with some other units in the Library on the AIMS project, which is a Mellon-funded initiative related to digital preservation. We snagged him to go out to lunch and talk about EAD issues in our Neatline project and in an XForms editor Ethan Gruber, who works in my department, has been playing with on his “research days.” (That’s Friday, for everybody, when I can harangue them into taking advantage of it!) And Dave is here to work on his own stuff and get consultation from us under the rubric of our visiting scholars program. Here’s Dave, in his temporary digs.

in which I heartily recommend…

…a colleague’s proposed NEH project (ie. last-minute letter-writing) and make Alice-in-Wonderland analogies for the present state of the library’s digital collections.

I should also talk about what’s been going on this week generally in the Scholars’ Lab, by way of explaining my last-minuteness on some correspondence. I’ll come back later and describe visits to the Scholars’ Lab by Julie Meloni, Mark Matienzo, and Dave Lester. Julie and Mark left yesterday, and Dave’s still here working with us today.

(Later…) Actually, I don’t think I’ll have time today to come back and flesh this out more than to say that Julie gave a fabulous talk in the SLab on Tuesday, at which Jerry McGann and I served as respondents, and it was wonderful that she could stick around for an extra day to spend some time with us all. Mark was here to work with some other units in the Library on the AIMS project, which is a Mellon-funded initiative related to digital preservation. We snagged him to go out to lunch and talk about EAD issues in our Neatline project and in an XForms editor Ethan Gruber, who works in my department, has been playing with on his “research days.” (That’s Friday, for everybody, when I can harangue them into taking advantage of it!) And Dave is here to work on his own stuff and get consultation from us under the rubric of our visiting scholars program. Here’s Dave, in his temporary digs.

Kelly Johnston meet Alexander von Humboldt

Charlottesville’s a fantastic book town.   When someone makes a choropleth map of used bookstore density, we’ll be on the high end of the range I’m sure.   And The Virginia Festival of the Book kicks it all up a notch this week.

Our map-savvy colleague Joel Kovarsky is moderating a session on AvH and the Shaping of America in just a few minutes next door in the UVA Special Collections Library.

With the subtitle “mapping of the early 19th century world”, I’m there!




Kelly Johnston meet Alexander von Humboldt

Charlottesville’s a fantastic book town.   When someone makes a choropleth map of used bookstore density, we’ll be on the high end of the range I’m sure.   And The Virginia Festival of the Book kicks it all up a notch this week.

Our map-savvy colleague Joel Kovarsky is moderating a session on AvH and the Shaping of America in just a few minutes next door in the UVA Special Collections Library.

With the subtitle “mapping of the early 19th century world”, I’m there!




My Day of DH: Lunchtime Update

I‘d written I would update the previous post instead of posting new ones as the day evolved, but I’ve realised that my day goes through so many different motions it may make more sense to have different posts so there are different ‘nodes’, so to speak, throughout my blogged day.

Something I’ve thought a lot in 8, 9 years of blogging is how the awareness of an audience changes the way one represents one’s self. Especially in a professional setting, how much information is ‘too much’ information? I think Digital Humanities, within the academia, is facing the challenge of playing with the blurring borders between the personal and the professional, the often artificial difference between what constitutes our ‘private lives’ and what belongs to the realm of ‘work’. (Unlike other professionals, I keep receiving academic work emails at all times 7 days a week). I am writing this from the perspective of a PhD student, but also as someone who has taught at undergraduate level and whose former students, sometimes from as far as 7 years ago, read what I publish online.

So I guess we are all taking for granted that this blogging our day in a life is confined within a particular discursive framework, where there are expectations of a certain kind. I believe Digital Humanities, by embracing personal blogging for example, is emphasising the need to remember that the ‘humanist’ part of the term, understood here as concerning ‘the human’, does affect the way we relate to and think about ourselves as human beings and particularly in relation to technology.

I was thinking about this in the gym this morning. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week, but because I’m doing now a shorter routine I am trying to go every day. As someone who works sitting at the computer for at least 10 hours a day, going to the gym is a question of survival. Unlike what some people may think the gym is for me a place to think and concentrate. It is the quintessential physical space defined by interactive design. Working out in a gym, regardless of what kind of exercise we do or what machines we use, is based on human-machine interaction. What a piece of work is a human body! And even the simplest of weights is an amazing piece of machinery, designed with the human body in mind.

My gym is a small one but like many other gyms in the economically-developed world it’s a place for screens. Screens and mirrors: going to the gym is about monitoring human-machine interaction. To go in an infra-red scanner reads the barcode on my card, which shows my personal information, including my photo, on a computer screen. The cardiovascular machines have screens so you can monitor what you are doing: speed, intensity, different interval training programmes, etc. You can plug your headphones and choose to listen to one of the four giant plasma TV screens showing different information. Usually the gym’s PA will be playing the audio from the music channel, but you will also be seeing the news channel, the sports channel and whatever the other morning TV channel is. It’s a complete multimedia, multisensorial experience. ‘Total screen’, as Baudrillard would famously write.

There are of course other things that get acted out in a gym, so ’screen’ does not only mean here the machinery’s displays, CCTV cameras, workstations where personal trainers keep track of the members’ progress, TV screens, mirrors and more mirrors. The gym, like the library, is a place for inwardness: though many people think of it as a social activity and chat more than they train, when you go early in the morning we are usually people who are not fooling around: we are there to train, but we are all focusing on many things at the same time, usually what we have to do next. It’s sheer multitasking. (I do not carry my mobile phone with me when working out; some people do, which I find annoying. I do sometimes take my iPod though, and listen to podcasts, usually interviews or lectures related to my research topic I have missed in ‘real time’.)

Going to the gym has helped me to remain human while working with digital technology most of the hours of my day. Online research forces me to sit for long hours in frankly ‘dehumanising’ body postures. Beyond the obvious health benefits, the gym is for me a laboratory to think about what digital humanism is. In the gym I have thought about the importance to rethink the idea of ‘The Man Machine’ [YouTube video] towards an ongoing, ever-changing discussion of the relationship between machine and human body, and what makes us what we are or are becoming.

The previous 794 words have only covered one hour of my morning. Then come trains, laptop, mobile phone, underground transport, cash machines, library cards, passwords, power plugs, desks, library, work, work, work, and writing this in the library. I’ll post about that later today.

If you’ve taken the time to read all of the above, thank you.

My Day of DH: Lunchtime Update

I‘d written I would update the previous post instead of posting new ones as the day evolved, but I’ve realised that my day goes through so many different motions it may make more sense to have different posts so there are different ‘nodes’, so to speak, throughout my blogged day.

Something I’ve thought a lot in 8, 9 years of blogging is how the awareness of an audience changes the way one represents one’s self. Especially in a professional setting, how much information is ‘too much’ information? I think Digital Humanities, within the academia, is facing the challenge of playing with the blurring borders between the personal and the professional, the often artificial difference between what constitutes our ‘private lives’ and what belongs to the realm of ‘work’. (Unlike other professionals, I keep receiving academic work emails at all times 7 days a week). I am writing this from the perspective of a PhD student, but also as someone who has taught at undergraduate level and whose former students, sometimes from as far as 7 years ago, read what I publish online.

So I guess we are all taking for granted that this blogging our day in a life is confined within a particular discursive framework, where there are expectations of a certain kind. I believe Digital Humanities, by embracing personal blogging for example, is emphasising the need to remember that the ‘humanist’ part of the term, understood here as concerning ‘the human’, does affect the way we relate to and think about ourselves as human beings and particularly in relation to technology.

I was thinking about this in the gym this morning. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week, but because I’m doing now a shorter routine I am trying to go every day. As someone who works sitting at the computer for at least 10 hours a day, going to the gym is a question of survival. Unlike what some people may think the gym is for me a place to think and concentrate. It is the quintessential physical space defined by interactive design. Working out in a gym, regardless of what kind of exercise we do or what machines we use, is based on human-machine interaction. What a piece of work is a human body! And even the simplest of weights is an amazing piece of machinery, designed with the human body in mind.

My gym is a small one but like many other gyms in the economically-developed world it’s a place for screens. Screens and mirrors: going to the gym is about monitoring human-machine interaction. To go in an infra-red scanner reads the barcode on my card, which shows my personal information, including my photo, on a computer screen. The cardiovascular machines have screens so you can monitor what you are doing: speed, intensity, different interval training programmes, etc. You can plug your headphones and choose to listen to one of the four giant plasma TV screens showing different information. Usually the gym’s PA will be playing the audio from the music channel, but you will also be seeing the news channel, the sports channel and whatever the other morning TV channel is. It’s a complete multimedia, multisensorial experience. ‘Total screen’, as Baudrillard would famously write.

There are of course other things that get acted out in a gym, so ’screen’ does not only mean here the machinery’s displays, CCTV cameras, workstations where personal trainers keep track of the members’ progress, TV screens, mirrors and more mirrors. The gym, like the library, is a place for inwardness: though many people think of it as a social activity and chat more than they train, when you go early in the morning we are usually people who are not fooling around: we are there to train, but we are all focusing on many things at the same time, usually what we have to do next. It’s sheer multitasking. (I do not carry my mobile phone with me when working out; some people do, which I find annoying. I do sometimes take my iPod though, and listen to podcasts, usually interviews or lectures related to my research topic I have missed in ‘real time’.)

Going to the gym has helped me to remain human while working with digital technology most of the hours of my day. Online research forces me to sit for long hours in frankly ‘dehumanising’ body postures. Beyond the obvious health benefits, the gym is for me a laboratory to think about what digital humanism is. In the gym I have thought about the importance to rethink the idea of ‘The Man Machine’ [YouTube video] towards an ongoing, ever-changing discussion of the relationship between machine and human body, and what makes us what we are or are becoming.

The previous 794 words have only covered one hour of my morning. Then come trains, laptop, mobile phone, underground transport, cash machines, library cards, passwords, power plugs, desks, library, work, work, work, and writing this in the library. I’ll post about that later today.

If you’ve taken the time to read all of the above, thank you.

pre-game scrimmage

A placeholder for talking about morning stuff, including the essential habit I’ve cultivated of dealing with some overnight DH email while waiting for various kinds of water to heat up: for tea, and for a morning shower. Also at stoplights. (Is there a special dispensation for illegal activity revealed on Day of DH blogs?)