Category Archives: Seminars

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Canterbury Westland Regional Digital Forum 2017

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Last week we attended the Canterbury Westland Regional Digital Forum, held at the Halswell Library.  As well as being a valuable forum for discussing regional issues and sharing our latest projects with our colleagues across the sector, the day presented an opportunity for our Digital Projects Specialist, Antoine Landrieu, to show off his video editing skills, producing this short film about our day:

Digital Humanities Meetup: Online Collections & Exhibitions

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You’re invited to our 4th Digital Humanities monthly meetup: “Online Collections & Exhibitions: An Introduction to Omeka”.

When: Tuesday 30 May, 3-5 pm

Where: Puaka-James Hight Library Building, Room 388

Omeka (https://omeka.org/about/) is a free, open-source web publishing platform for the display of collections and exhibitions. It’s used by libraries, museums, archives, scholars and communities around the world – including students and researchers here at UC, with the support of the UC Arts Digital Lab.

Staff from the Lab will showcase two key Lab projects that demonstrate the power and versatility of Omeka, and will walk participants through setting up a simple Omeka site. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you bring your own laptop with VirtualBox (https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads) installed. If you don’t have a laptop, you’ll still be able to follow along on the main screen, or by pairing up with someone J

If you’d like help installing VirtualBox, feel free to drop into the UC Digital Arts Lab (Karl Popper 414) any day between 9-5pm, before Tuesday 30th.

Digital Humanities Meetup #3: Internet Memes

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When: 26 April 2017, 3.00 – 5.00 pm

Where: UC Puaka-James Hight Library Building, Room 388

The 3rd Digital Humanities monthly meetup is entitled “Internet Memes: The crumbling boundaries between the serious and the unserious”.

The study of Internet memes is new both as concept and practice. This is largely due to the novelty of the concept itself, as well as the academic resistance against the serious study of the unserious. But the boundary between the serious and unserious is crumbling, and cyberculturally literate scholars have emerged to tackle the task of studying memes.

This presentation will explore the three major traditions of meme studies in their historical, theoretical and cultural contexts, introducing the most prominent thinkers and how they are shaping the future of meme studies. The presentation will be followed by a workshop in which participants will learn how to start their own memepage on Facebook. A laptop or a smartphone is recommended for the workshop, but not required.

As always, feel free to invite others and we look forward to seeing you!

Eric Meyer visit

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We were delighted to welcome Professor Eric Meyer back to the University of Canterbury for a brief visit over the past two days. Eric previously visited the UC Digital Humanities programme as a Visiting Canterbury Fellow in 2014, and was back in New Zealand to speak at the National Digital Forum in Wellington earlier this week. He very kindly added a Christchurch leg to his trip, so we were able to hear him speak yesterday about work arising from his book Knowledge Machines (with Ralph Schroeder, published in 2015 by The MIT Press), then this morning we attended his workshop entitled “Metrics and Measurement: The Impacts of Digital Resources and Collections”.

The workshop stimulated some broad ranging discussion that moved from ways of measuring impact into exploration of data collection tools and methods of data analysis in various fields of research. A number of our Media & Communications postgrads took the opportunity to ask Eric about possibilities and limitations of using social media data, which led to some interesting debate.

Thank you, Eric & Michelle, for making the trip down to see us in Christchurch – we wish you safe travels for the journey home. And thanks National Digital Forum for inviting Eric to speak and getting him over to our part of the world!

 

Eric Meyer speaking at the University of Canterbury on 24 November 2016.

Professor Eric Meyer of the Oxford Internet Institute addresses UC staff and postgrads

Digital Humanities Infrastructure Workshop: Part Four

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Today I finish my series on the Digital Humanities Infrastructure Workshops held in November last year, by discussing my own perspective on cyberinfrastructure. But before I do this, I thought that I should outline my background in Digital Humanities and my role at CEISMIC in order to put my thoughts in context.

I was introduced to the Digital Humanities in the third year of my English degree when I took the University’s first DH paper, Electronic Scholarly Editing. This paper was run by Prof. Paul Millar, with the help of Dr Christopher Thomson as a tutor. It aimed to critically examine digital texts and equip students with the skills to create their own, namely through the TEI (a set of guidelines which specify methods for encoding machine-readable texts ). Over the next two years, I worked on two projects digitising manuscripts using the TEI. The first is a collection of World War I letters from a member of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (which you can view at http://editions.canterbury.ac.nz), and the other a memoir in letter form from New Zealand doctor Stanley Aylward. As well as teaching me how to encode texts with the TEI, these projects opened my eyes to the opportunities that digitisation offers the Humanities, and the intensive work that goes into it. In both projects, the manuscripts required more complex and nuanced analysis than computers were capable of giving and had to be encoded by hand – a common requirement for many Digital Humanities projects.

My position at CEISMIC has further highlighted this requirement, as I work daily to gather, organise, and describe large quantities of earthquake-related data. CEISMIC’s focus has always been on social data, with an aim to collect as many stories and documents about the earthquakes possible before they are forgotten or lost. Today we have over 100,000 items in the archive – a fantastic achievement, but not an easy one since we described and annotated every item by hand. On average, our team estimates that it takes us six minutes to describe and geolocate a photograph, a number which doesn’t sound too bad until you extrapolate it over the 46,447 photographs we currently hold in QuakeStudies (adding up to 276,682 minutes, or 4645 hours, or 580 days). And that’s just the photographs – we have also archived hundreds of stories (such as with our QuakeBox project), academic research, community data (such as newsletters and artworks), newspapers, and much, much more.

Given my experiences, it would be easy for me to agree with Paul Arthur that investing in the digitisation (or in our case archiving) of social data may be the most valuable form of infrastructure for the Humanities. However, I would argue that this process is not possible without people with the skills and knowledge required.  Often I hear Humanists and people from the GLAM sector comment that they need more people who have skills both in the Humanities and the digital, and yet there are very few programmes in existence training people in both skills. As readers of this blog are likely aware, the University of Canterbury offers Digital Humanities courses at honours and masters level, and is offering a Digital Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities minor to undergraduate students for the first time next year. However, we are the only university in New Zealand that has a Digital Humanities programme, and the impetus for this came from within the College of Arts and the University. As of yet, there is no national strategy in New Zealand for the training of Digital Humanists.

Moreover if the Digital Humanities, as Alan Liu argues, is tasked with critiquing academic infrastructure and its relation to larger society, this critique needs to represent the diversity in society.  My problem with the current ‘lightly antifoundationalist’ model and ‘hacking’ is that it can only be achieved by Humanists that have digital skills. As I have already discussed, people with these skills are usually in the minority, but they also tend to come from certain groups in society – e.g men and people from high socio-economic backgrounds who have had access to computers from a young age. The problem with this is that these tools are potentially being created by one group in society, and any critique that they allow is potentially coming from one perspective. If we want our cyberinfrastructure to reflect the diverse needs and values of society, then I would argue that we need to ensure that a wide range of people are participating in the field.

Perhaps this naive, but if, as Liu claims, the shaping of academic infrastructure can have a bearing on other organisations and the community at large, then perhaps training more people in the Digital Humanities will have a factor too. I personally would love to see a world where the tech industry held equal numbers of women and men, where there was more ethnic diversity, and where the average Humanities student graduated with some technical nous. In some ways this could be seen as a form of infrastructure – training people with the skills and sensibilities to critique digital culture both in their work, but also in their wider environs. It’s my hope that doing so would widen the pool of ideas, revealing new and innovative solutions, and more nuanced critiques of infrastructure.