Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities

The UC Arts Digital Lab is pleased to present a talk by Professor Eric Meyer of the Oxford Internet Institute:

Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities
Thursday 24 November, 2-3pm, Karl Popper 612

In this talk, Eric Meyer will discuss his 2015 book Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities, in which he and his co-author Ralph Schroeder argue that digital technologies have fundamentally changed research practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Meyer and Schroeder show that digital tools and data, used collectively and in distributed mode—which they term e-research—have transformed not just the consumption of knowledge but also the production of knowledge.

Digital technologies for research are reshaping how knowledge advances in disciplines that range from physics to literary analysis. This book considers the transformations of research from a number of perspectives, drawing especially on the sociology of science and technology and social informatics. It shows that the use of digital tools and data is not just a technical issue; it affects research practices, collaboration models, publishing choices, and even the kinds of research and research questions scholars choose to pursue. Knowledge Machines examines the nature and implications of these transformations for scholarly research.

Eric Meyer is Professor of Social Informatics and Director of Graduate Studies at the Oxford Internet Institute, a multidisciplinary department at the University of Oxford which undertakes teaching and research focused on understanding life online. Eric’s work focuses on shifts in work, knowledge creation, and human interactions when digital technologies replace previously non-digital counterparts. His research in this area has included studies of the impacts of digital collections in libraries and museums, digital practices in the arts, the use of digital images in biology, and digital information practices in the sciences and humanities.



Medieval and Early Modern Digital Humanities: Postgraduate Seminar at the University of Canterbury

This Wednesday 18 November the Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS) is holding a Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar (PATS) at the University of Canterbury. Organised in conjunction with UC’s Festival of Digital Humanities, the seminar will focus on digital research methods for scholars in Medieval and Early Modern history, literary studies, and musicology.

The full-day event will take place in Undercroft 101. It will be compered by Tracy Adams (Associate Professor of French, University of Auckland), and feature keynote presentations by Prof. Patricia Fumerton (University of California Santa Barbara) and Prof. Lyn Tribble (University of Otago). There will also be a hands-on session. In this, Professor Fumerton will give an overview of the English Broadside Ballads Archive, a multi-million dollar project funded by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities that has been digitising, transcribing, reconstructing music and songs, and creating scholarship for many thousands of early modern ballads (the “ephemeral” new media of the time), and James Smithies (UC Digital Humanities) will guide participants on how to write a digital project scope document. The day will conclude with a panel discussion by James Smithies, Chris Jones (UC History), and Joanna Condon (Macmillan Brown Library), chaired by Anton Angelo (UC Library Research Repository).

The PATS will bring 15 postgraduate students from around New Zealand and Australia to UC for the day. It will also be live-streamed on YouTube and simulcast in universities across Australasia. Archive versions will be available on this site afterwards.

The full schedule is as follows:

9.00                 Welcome
9.15–10.30      Keynote by Professor Lyn Tribble, followed by discussion
11.00–11.30    Morning tea
11.30–12.45    Keynote by Professor Patricia Fumerton, followed by discussion
12.45 – 1.45    Lunch
1.45 – 3.00      Behind the scenes at EBBA / How to write a digital project scope document
3.00 – 3.30      Afternoon tea
3.30 – 4.45      Panel discussion by Anton Angelo, James Smithies, Chris Jones, and Joanna Condon
6.00                 Dinner

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The Frontiers of DH: Humanities Systems Infrastructure

This Thursday 12 November the UC Digital Humanities programme is hosting an afternoon of short seminars, followed by a workshop, centered on humanities systems infrastructure. Please note the venue has changed to Undercroft 101. The time is still 1pm – 5pm.

The goal is to start thinking about what humanities systems infrastructure is, what it might become, and what values and goals should be used to develop it. The workshop is low-key but might be of interest to researchers interested in digital research and the politics of infrastructure, GLAM and university professionals with responsibility for digital strategy, and IT professionals with interests in the cultural heritage and research sectors. Speakers have been allocated 45 minutes but we’ll take a relaxed approach to timing. Input is strongly encouraged from all attendees.

1.00 – 1.15: Introduction by Dr. James Smithies, University of Canterbury Digital Humanities Programme.
1.15 – 2.00: Prof. Alan Liu, University of California at Santa Barbara, ‘Against the Cultural Singularity’.
2.00 – 2.45: Prof. Paul Arthur, University of Western Sydney, ‘Smart Infrastructures for Cultural and Social Research’.
2.45 – 3.30: Dr. James Smithies, University of Canterbury, ‘Towards a Systems Analysis of the Humanities’.
3.30 – 4.00: Afternoon tea.
4.00 – 5.00: Group discussion: ‘What is humanities cyber-infrastructure? Do we want it or need it, and if so how do we build it?’

The session will be followed by an open meeting on Friday 13th November, 10am – 12pm in Karl Popper 414, to discuss possible actions and outputs.

The 3 keynote seminars will be videoed.

Seminar+workshop_brighter poster







Dr. Tim Sherratt: Towards a Manifesto for Tactical DH Research Infrastructure

A video recording of Tim’s seminar at UC on Wednesday 21 October.

Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities

events-liuTo kick off a 6-week Festival of Digital Humanities, our visiting Fulbright Specialist Professor Alan Liu (University of California, Santa Barbara) is presenting the first in a series of seminars and workshops, tomorrow (Wednesday 28 October) at 4pm.

Professor Liu is a highly distinguished figure within Digital Humanities circles, and we are privileged to have him at UC as a Fulbright Visiting Specialist, thanks to the generous support of the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Key Trends in Digital Humanities: how the digital humanities challenge the idea of the humanities

Wednesday 28 October, 4 – 5.30pm
Undercroft 101

How do such key methods in the digital humanities as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan will speculate on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media – most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning”.

Special Guest Seminar: Dr Tim Sherratt

Coming up this Wednesday 21 October is a seminar by special guest Dr. Tim Sherratt.

tim.sherrattDr. Sherratt is well known in the field of digital humanities, and recently received a standing ovation for his keynote presentation at DH2015, the annual international conference of the Alliance of Digital Humanities.

In his own words, Dr. Sherratt is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. He has been creating online resources relating to archives, museums and history since 1993, and is currently an Associate Professor of Digital Heritage at the University of Canberra, while also co-managing the National Library of Australia’s Trove database. Sherratt is a member of the THATCamp Council, an organiser of THATCamp Canberra, and a committee member of the Australasian Association for the Digital Humanities.

Details of the seminar are below:

‘A Manifesto for Tactical DH Research Infrastructure’

Wednesday 21 October, 1-2pm
Undercroft 101, James Hight

Digital research infrastructure is typically understood as big and expensive, but some of our most valuable tools live in the GitHub accounts of individual coders. Investment in digital infrastructure and coding education tend to be framed in the language of innovation and large-scale ‘disruption’, and yet DH offers a more critical and reflexive path based around small-scale interventions.

DH encourages us to share, to do our work in public, and yet…these are not simply matters of policy or strategy. They are real moments of uncertainty in the lives of individual DH practitioners. How do we help? How do we build an infrastructure aimed not at lofty national goals, but at supporting people who want to do things differently?

Professor Alan Liu, Visiting Fulbright Specialist: a 6-week festival of Digital Humanities in Aotearoa-New Zealand

The University of Canterbury Digital Humanities (UCDH) Programme is excited to announce six weeks of Digital Humanities activity, anchored by the visit of Professor Alan Liu from the University of California Santa Barbara. Professor Liu will be visiting as a Fulbright Visiting Specialist from October 19 to November 29, with the generous support of the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Professor Patricia Fumerton (UC Santa Barbara) will also stay with us as a Visiting Scholar in Residence, for the last two weeks of Alan’s visit. Patricia’s research interests centre on Early Modern culture and literature, and she will lead a trans-Tasman workshop on Early Modern digital humanities during her stay. We’re also delighted to have two Australian visitors who will be contributing to our conversations during this period: Assoc. Professor Tim Sherratt (University of Canberra, Trove), and  Professor Paul Arthur (University of Western Sydney). Dr. Sydney Shep, Reader in Book History at Wai-te-Ata Press, Victoria University of Wellington, will participate in our discussion on cyberinfrastructure on November 12th. Details of these talks are listed in the schedule below, and we’ll be posting more about our visitors soon.

Background on Alan Liu


Alan is a Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program. Previously, he was on the faculty of Yale University’s English Department and British Studies Program.

events-liuHe began his research in the field of British romantic literature and art. His first book, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), explored the relation between the imaginative experiences of literature and history. In a series of theoretical essays in the 1990s, he explored cultural criticism, the “new historicism,” and postmodernism in contemporary literary studies. In 1994, when he started his Voice of the Shuttle web site for humanities research, he began to study information culture as a way to close the circuit between the literary or historical imagination and the technological imagination.  In 2004, he published The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (University of Chicago Press). He also published his Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (University of Chicago Press) in 2008.

Everyone is welcome to attend our series of seminars and discussions, which will take place at the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington. Come prepared to extend both your own thinking, and ours!

See below for details of the upcoming events. Please note, time and location for some events are yet to be confirmed.

Date / Room Title Description Location
Wed. 21st October, 1-2pm

Undercroft 101

A manifesto for tactical DH research infrastructure A seminar by Assoc. Prof. Tim Sherratt, U. Canberra / Trove. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 28th October, 4-5.30

Undercroft 101

Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 28th October, 1-3pm

Seminar Room, Ground Floor, Science Library

Digital Interventions A seminar by Assoc. Prof. Tim Sherratt, University of Canberra / Trove. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Thurs. 5th November, 3-5pm

Undercroft 101

The Future of the Humanities A workshop led by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Thurs. 12th November, 1-5 pm

James Hight 210

Alan Liu, ‘Against the Cultural Singularity’, James Smithies, ‘Towards a Systems Analysis of the Humanities’, Paul Arthur ‘Smart Infrastructures for Cultural and Social Research’ followed by workshop The Frontiers of DH: Humanities Systems Infrastructure: Alan Liu, Paul Arthur, James Smithies followed by workshop discussion. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.


Fri. 13th November, 10am-12pm

Popper 413

Open meeting Follow-up from Humanities Systems Infrastructure workshop University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Wed. 18th November

Undercroft 101

Early Modern DH: A Trans-tasman Conversation A workshop led by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Thurs. 26th November

Time & Place TBC

Broadside Ballads and Tactical Publics: ‘The Lady and the Blackamoor,’ 1570-1789 A public lecture by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Fri. 27th November, 2-3 pm.

Place TBC

Literature+ A conversation about Alan Liu’s Literature+ course. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Fri. 27th November, 5.15-6.15 pm.

Place TBC

What Everyone Says – 4Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Otago, Dunedin.
Tues. 1st December, 1-2:30 pm

Stout Centre, Kelburn Campus

Key Trends in DH & their challenge to the idea of the Humanities A public lecture by Prof. Alan Liu, UC Santa Barbara. University of Victoria at Wellington
Tues. 1st December, 3-4:30 pm

Stout Centre, Kelburn Campus

Samuel Pepys and “Greensleeves”: A DH Perspective A public lecture by Prof. Patricia Fumerton, UC Santa Barbara. University of Victoria at Wellington


Taping off the Radio: memory and identity in the RDU archive

The tenth seminar in our digital research series is a joint effort by Dr Zita Joyce (Language, Social and Political Science) and Erin Kimber (Macmillan Brown Library). Please note the different day and venue for this one!

“This seminar will use the RDU archives – donated to the Macmillan Brown Library in 2012 – to explore some of the broader issues of collecting and digitally preserving archives, both from a technical and cultural viewpoint.

The archive of RDU, the former UCSA radio station, contains a mix of photographs, business records, and cassette tapes; a fascinating glimpse into Christchurch’s social history. However, the collection is not without challenges. How do you preserve something which is inherently ephemeral? Is it really that easy to link a distributed archive in the digital world? Does the archive need to reflect the changing tastes and practices of its audience, or is it fixed and static? Has the digital world changed the way we listen? In the future, will anyone remember what it was like to sit next to the radio and press record?”

When: Tuesday 20 October, 11am-12.30pm
Where: Psyc/Soci 252

Digital Research Seminar#10 poster







Number Made Audible, Made Digital: An introduction to digital musicology

Coming up in our Digital Research Seminar Series: a talk by Dr. Francis Yapp, Lecturer in Music.

It is often said that music is the last of the arts to adopt new stylistic trends. In a similar vein, the discipline of musicology has been relatively late in adopting digital methodologies. However, the inherently mathematical nature of music makes it naturally suited to digital encoding and analysis. In recent years, a number of new methodologies, approaches, and projects have arisen, which use digital technologies and computational tools to answer long-standing musicological questions, as well as allowing scholars to pose new ones. In this seminar, Dr. Yapp will explore key developments in digital musicology, including the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI), and examine several ongoing projects based in Denmark, the UK, Canada, and Australia. This seminar will both shed light on what digital musicology can offer its sister disciplines in the humanities, and explore what it can learn from them.

When: Monday 12 October, 11am-12.30pm
Where: Psyc/Soci 151

Digital Research Seminar#9 poster

Parsing Parliament: Parliament’s proceedings as speech, text and data

The next talk in our digital research seminar series is by Political Science PhD candidate Geoff Ford. Geoff will discuss construction of a corpus of New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, what can be learned from the corpus about Parliament’s proceedings, and how political parties are using Parliament. He will discuss and illustrate a range of ways of approaching analysis of the text of parliamentary speeches (including basic programmatic parsing, techniques from corpus linguistics, and topic modelling) and some of the associated problems. Geoff will also reflect on his transition from working as a software developer to PhD candidate and the importance of remaining critical when the rhetoric of new technology combines with the rhetoric of academia.

Time: Monday 5 October, 11am-12.30pm

Place: Psych/Soci 151

Digital Research Seminar#8 poster